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Counter Intelligence: Stack 'em up from scratch

By April Hamilton

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Over the years we have been building a collection of children's books that share the story of food and family. Additionally, we have always enjoyed selecting this genre at the library where there are lots of fun titles to choose from.

A book we reach for again and again is Eric Carle's beautiful story "Pancakes, Pancakes!" We get inspired to make pancakes per Jack's persistent request, "Mother, I'd like to have a big pancake for breakfast."

His busy mother is happy to fulfill his request, but reminds him that he must help gather the necessary ingredients. Jack goes about productively collecting everything they need: wheat from the field, which the miller grinds into flour; eggs from the backyard hen; milk from the spotted cow. Jack also churns some of the milk's cream into butter and is finally ready to take to the stove (which is actually an open fire).

This classic story is a great reminder of where our food comes from. This is critical to know now that we have fast-forwarded to a time where meals have become available in an instant. These heat-and-serve options might be fast, but do we know what's inside those colorful packages? Most factory-made foods contain things that we wouldn't consider to be food. Artificial colors, flavors, preservatives. And seriously long ingredient panels.

Jack's simple pancake recipe has just a few everyday ingredients, and in our fast-paced time, we most likely don't have to forage for flour. In my book, simple is delicious, even if it takes a few fun-filled minutes to cook.

This is the pancake recipe I was raised on. Friends always wanted the sleepover to be at my house because they claimed my mom made the best pancakes.

It's a perfect recipe to make with kids. I like to encourage kids to make an "X" and an "O" with syrup to help as a 'serving size' (make that West Virginia maple syrup!)

Grassy Meadows Maple Syrup is made on a maple grove in Greenbrier County -- Larry and his brother boil 50 gallons of sap to make just 1 gallon of syrup. It's a delicious treat and a great pancake topping.

Call Larry at 304-561-7433, and he might still have a quart or so to sell.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Homemade pancakes are so easy -- this is my most requested recipe!

      1/2   cup all purpose flour

      1/2   cup whole wheat flour

      2       tablespoons wheat germ (optional)

      1       tablespoon sugar

      1       teaspoon baking soda

      1/2       teaspoon salt

      1       cup buttermilk*

      1       egg

      1       tablespoon vegetable oil

      Additional oil for greasing griddle

      Butter and maple syrup for serving

COMBINE with a whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

ADD the buttermilk, egg and oil to the dry ingredients and whisk together until smooth.

USE a paper towel to rub a little oil all over a griddle or large frying pan.

HEAT the griddle or large frying pan over medium heat. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle or frying pan.

FLIP when the pancakes begin to bubble on the top and the bottom is golden brown. Don't rush the flipping or you'll just end up with a big mess. Cook the second side for about 1 minute.

Variation: Add 1 peeled, shredded apple and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to finished batter if you like. Cook as directed above. Adding grated apple to the pancake batter gives the pancakes a unique texture.

*Some buttermilk is very thick. You may have to add a few tablespoons of regular milk if your batter is really thick.

To make your own buttermilk, combine 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk.

April Hamilton has always said, "Cooking is fun!" She shares her easy, practical recipes for delicious food through her cooking classes for kids and families. April's husband and three daughters help with testing and tasting in their Charleston kitchen. April would love to hear from you: Email aprilskitchencounter@gmail.com.


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