happy birthday, c!

March 25, 2011 Comments Off on happy birthday, c!

There’s a happy kid.  C turns 11 today, and we had the first of several present-opening sessions over pancakes this morning.  (I had exactly 3/4 cup of buttermilk left–it was like destiny called).  Pretty good haul already: Legos from Grandparents L and (left) from Uncle C.  Uncle C outdid himself this year.  I told him that Nephew C was obsessed with Hero Factory stuff, and he scanned Amazon and asked which action figures the boy had.  “No idea,” I told him.  “A bunch of them, mostly mixed together.”  So Uncle C said no worries, he’d just buy something bigger.  As you can see, the nephew was pleased.

Every birthday we tell less and less edited stories of their actual birth days.  C knows that K woke me up at 7:00 saying she was ready to roll, and that I rolled over and asked if I had time to make coffee.  Not really the best response, apparently.  And he knows that he pooped on the way out, leading to a slightly frantic airway cleaning and a really good story (the technical term is “miconium aspiration,” but to an eleven year old “breathing in your own poop” sounds a lot better).

I’m getting them both books this year that meant something to me at their ages.  C gets Stan Lee’s “How to Draw Comics.”  I remember something similar as a kid, though it wasn’t nearly this elaborate.  I told him we could try to figure some of them out together, sort of a pre-Rome sketching course.  He was totally into this, and I suspect he’ll take over my drawing board downstairs at some point.  And he’ll need those skills if he does become a video game designer.  So it’s not nostalgia, it’s a career investment.

We’ve usually had to make sure the girl was out of the freaking house when C got presents, but she handled this morning pretty well.  Hey, she got pancakes, right?  And even though she wanted the Harry Potter Lego game that Mom and Dad got him, she knows that she gets to play it, because it takes two.  The sibling rivalry seems to be gentler these days, even now that they’re only “one year” apart for two months.

Of course the best present for either of them is the six hour drive this afternoon to pick up K.  I have to clean the bejeezus out of the house now, so I guess this is probably the last solo DC post, at least for a while.  I think I’m still cooking next week, though, while K reacclimatizes.  The kids and I have discussed a week-long festival of dinner, featuring the greatest hits (or at least the most sure-fire hits) of the last three months.  So no big wrap up.  Just, you know, Legos and Stan Lee.  And pancakes.

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Aebleskiver

March 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

Or, in local parlance, Viking pancakes.  Delicious fried balls of doughy goodness, filled with whatever happens to be in the fridge at the moment.  We went with Nutella and some nice organic apricot jam.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that O had Viking pancakes at a sleepover, and Mom responded with “Aebleskiver!  We know what those are!  And we have a pan!”  Any breakfast food that comes with its own high-tech equipment is something that I’m totally down with, so after asking around and doing some research, I figured this was something we had to try.  Mom offered us the pan as part of my inheritance (it will go so nicely with the Wegner chair, not that I’m overly keen, but you know…a Danish theme and all…) and she brought it out with her this weekend.  Apparently it cause a bit of a row at security, but she also had some Aebleskiver mix and was able to get it past the somewhat overly keen TSA folks.

So we made them this morning.  There’s the newly enshrined pan–very nice aluminum, heavy and with carefully milled hollows for the cakes themselves.  The mix is less important than the technique, apparently.  You dunk a tablespoon of batter into each hollow, then a quarter teaspoon of whatever yummy stuff you’ve got, and then another tablespoon of batter on top.  When the bottom gets toasty, you take a couple of skewers and flip them over.  The new batter runs down to the bottom, the filling (hopefully) stays in the middle, and the top gets to rest a bit.

We got most of them turned over successfully, after realizing the hard way that a full half-gallon or so of Pam Baking Spray was the missing secret ingredient.  And they were awesome with a little powdered sugar on top.  Crispy outside, doughy inside, and then of course the secret filling inside.  Would it be jam?  Nutella?  Who knew!

They’re a little work, but worth it.  I can totally see this filling in for Muffin Saturdays occasionally.  And the best part?  There are actual Aebleskiver tools–little wood implements that are custom carved for turning these things.  I’m not sure our lack of Aebleskiver turners is holding me back yet, but I think I may need some soon.

moby’s vegan blueberry pancakes

February 26, 2011 Comments Off on moby’s vegan blueberry pancakes

My brother flew in from Seattle last night to spend a weekend with us and to get some quality niece and nephew time.  Coulter is great, and it’s amazingly cool to have him here.  Among other things he’s a serious runner, so we did five this morning at the rec center.  He took it pretty easy on me.

The one tricky thing about Coulter is that he’s vegan.  And not the “oh, if there’s a little butter in it that’s not a big deal” kind of vegan.  He’s serious.  He spent two years on the road working for PETA.  So this meant some thinking about what we’d cook.  Dinner is easy–stir fry tonight and risotto tomorrow.  But breakfast?  Quick, think of a good vegan breakfast.  No eggs, no milk.  Yikes.

Fortunately, Epicurious came to the rescue.  Pancakes.  And not just any pancakes, but Moby’s Vegan Blueberry Pancakes.  By happy coincidence, some of my brother’s PETA time was spent on the road with Moby, manning a booth at his shows, so this seemed like destiny.  According to Epicurious, this is really his pancake recipe.  It’s based on spelt flour, which is gluten-free.  There’s also oat and wheat bran, just to prolong your time in the bulk section of the natural food store.

I have to say, I was skeptical–the ingredient list made it sound as though these would taste like grass–but they were really good.  Sort of like buckwheat pancakes, but a bit lighter.  The kids plowed through them, though they admitted they preferred the lightweight buttermilk pancakes I’ve been making.  I kind of do, too, but I think with a little vanilla and sugar these would be even better.  Lord knows we’ve got plenty of oat bran (the recipe calls for a tablespoon, I accidentally unloaded about two cups), so they’ll reappear in some form or another.

One of K’s relatives lives in rural Michigan, by chance across the road from the parents of Metallica’s drummer.  They shared their recipe for baked beans once, and we’ve always referred to them as “Metallica Baked Beans,” often to confused looks.  So now we can add Moby’s Vegan Blueberry Pancakes to our very limited but distinguished list of celebrity recipes.

pancakes

February 17, 2011 Comments Off on pancakes

Hey, look at that–four pancakes in the griddle pan, all of them just about but not quite touching.  This must be the seventh or eighth batch of pancakes I’ve made, and I think I’ve finally got this right.

Big couple of days.  The elementary school carnival is tomorrow night, and C is in the chorus that’s putting on a special performance.  So they’ve loaded in a couple of extra practices, meaning more days when both kids have to get up at 6:30.  This is not easy on the boy, who is used to lolling around in bed until 7:15.  So I have had to make certain promises.

And today’s promise was that they would be greeted with sunshine, singing robins, and pancakes with strawberries.  That seemed to work, or at least cut the whining a little.  I bought some new, pure maple syrup, which the boy didn’t complain about, even though he misses the chemical concoction of Mrs. Butterworth’s.  But my New England connections just won’t let that stuff in the house, at least not while I’m buying.

The best part about this recipe is that it makes seven and a half pancakes.  The kids eat five (or most of five), there are two to put in the fridge for snack one day, and Dad gets the runt for tasting purposes, which you see there to the left.  All I’m allowed today, since I nommed a pretty fair amount of the sherbet last night.  Off for a run in the new shoes, I think I’ll burn this baby off in about 3/4 of a mile.

Pancakes, Take 2

January 1, 2011 Comments Off on Pancakes, Take 2

So, yeah, we’ll get to all that stuff about who I am, and what this blog is going to be all about, etc., etc., in a bit.  But first, pancakes.

Yesterday I tried out oatmeal pancakes on the two testers (O&C, who will be introduced shortly).  Fail.  Part of the problem was that I told them there was oatmeal in the batter, which they equated with healthy, grownup stuff.  But the other part was that the recipe buried the “refrigerate the batter for two hours” instruction down in the bits that I tend not to read until it’s too late.  So the oatmeal was, to say the least, crunchy. The rest of the pancake was fine–light, airy, just a bit tart–but chewy isn’t really what you’re going for in a pancake.  Certainly not what the tasters were going for.

So, you fall off the horse, you try again.  I picked up another quart of buttermilk in the ice storm last night and this morning we plated up a round of Cook’s Illustrated’s “Light and Fluffy Pancakes.”  They were freaking divine.  The recipe has a couple of tricks–whisking the egg yolk separately with butter before combining wet and dry, and using that half teaspoon of baking powder and baking soda to get just a little bit of a rise out of them.  But that seems to be all it takes–that and some careful attention to the griddle.  (That was the other problem yesterday.  Taster #2 bravely said he’d try them again if “you could make them just a bit less burned.”  Bless him).  This plate got wolfed down fast, which was good, since yesterday I ended up nomming the leftovers, and I really can’t start doing that again.

It was especially cool that one of the mistakes (why can’t they make a pancake peel?) was the spitting image of the African continent.  “Why does he get Africa,” taster #2 asks, testily.  “Never mind,” say I.  “Have another Antarctica.”

So we’ll stick with this recipe for a while as a base.  I dropped a few lumps of leftover dark hazelnut chocolate that I found in K’s candy cabinet into taster #1’s pancakes, and that was hella popular.  There are some variations that I’ll spring on them–maybe toasted pecans?  Definitely blueberry.  And maybe I’ll sneak some Greek yogurt into the batter instead of buttermilk next week.  I shouldn’t be the only person who has to eat that.

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