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Archive for January, 2011

Mmm.  I’m eating pancakes right now.  No, I’m not eating them for dinner.  I had pizza for dinner.  I guess you might say they are my dessert or else they are my second dinner.  No matter, they are the best pancakes I’ve ever had. YES.  You read that correctly.  They are THE BEST pancakes I’ve ever had.

Let’s start at the beginning.  I’ve always been more of a pancake kind of gal.  French toast is nice, I enjoy it now and again especially if it’s made from challah bread.  But for some reason, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always gravitated toward pancakes.  Growing up, we didn’t have pancakes on a regular basis–my parents are the kind of parents who allowed us to have treats on Fridays/vacations/holidays/birthdays but not on a regular basis.  Even soda was banned from our house.  Thank goodness!  At the time I didn’t understand why we weren’t allowed to have a junk drawer, but now I am so very grateful for my lefty-hippie parents.

Anyhow, pancakes.  When I was young, they were a treat.  Summers we always spent at least a week in Maine at the family cottage.  Often that vacation fell within blueberry season and we would pick as many as possible.  I’m talking about wild berries–the small, sweet ones not the huge, tasteless factory farm guys!  Now, my Dad doesn’t cook much but he makes a mean blueberry pancake.  It was a special treat to enjoy his berry pancakes on the deck of the cottage (come to think of it, we still enjoy them from time to time even though we’re all grown up)!  Another pancake memory that I hold dear is eating a whole plate of silver dollar pancakes at IHOP with my Mom.  It was very late at night after one of my Nutcracker performances when I was in second grade.  Another little girl who had happened to have seen the show was there with her mom too.  She recognized me and I felt like such a star!

Ok, so now you understand my pancake past.  Let me tell you about my pancake present.  Lately, a few things have reignited my love of pancakes.   First off, I found some incredible recipes that I’ll share with you now.  But also, New York is getting a huge amount of snow and I think pancakes are perfect for snowy mornings when all you want to do is be lazy on the couch.  Finally, I’m training for a half marathon and my body is craving carbs like never before.

But enough about all that, on to the actual recipes!

Pancake Number 1

I’ve been hanging onto this recipe for a while now–wow, I think for almost a year and a half.  Perhaps some part of me knew I’d be going through a pancake period later on down the road.  These cakes cook up beautifully.  In fact, I thought they would be my favorite until I made the recipe I’m eating right now.  However, these are a very close second favorite. Now here is the link to it, on a food blog called 5 Second Rule but it is modified from The Silver Palate Goodtimes Cookbook.

They are yummy.  Don’t be fooled by the fact that they are “multigrain”.  Although they seem to be much healthier for you than a standard pancake, they are very very yummy.  These are sort of crisp and have a crunch and weight to them.  But they are still light enough to be a pancake.  I added cinnimon to them and I would have added apples if I had had them on hand.  Also, I had blue corn meal and since I used it they all had this nice purplish hue.  Good news!  The recipe makes quite a lot but the batter freezes splendidly.  So if you are a single gal such as myself, go ahead and make enough for a few days and freeze the rest of the batter.

Pancake Number 2

Ok so on to my new favorite pancake recipe.  I was hoping I could find it online since the recipe is Molly Wizenberg’s of Orangette but apparently it is just in her book, A Homemade Life.  I can’t really get into it right now, seeing as this post is already too long, but I almost couldn’t start reading this book.  It wasn’t because I didn’t want to–after all it is a memoir/cookbook, two things I love–but rather because I knew I would be so jealous of her life.  I’m actually not jealous, but moreso in awe of her story.  If you are intregued, look into it later…right now, you have pancakes to make:

-2/3 cup all purpose flour, unbleached

-1/3 cup buckwheat flour

-2 tsp sugar

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/4 tsp baking soda

-3/4 c buttermilk

-1/4 c milk plus 2 tbsp

-1 large egg, separated

-2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

-frozen berries

-vegetable oil

-maple syrup or powdered sugar

NOTE: if you do not have buttermilk (as I almost never do!) then subsitute 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/4 cup milk but don’t forget you also need to add the extra 1/4 plus 2 tbsp as the recipe calls for.  Try to use real butter, not margarine and use something other than skim milk if you can.  I had 1% milk and 2% plain yogurt.

1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a  large bowl.

2. Whisk butter milk (or plain yogurt plus milk) with the regular milk in a small bowl or a 2 cup liquid measuring cup.

3. Beat the egg yolk into the cooled melted butter and then whisk this into the milk mixture.

4. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients until just combined, don’t overmix!  The batter is pretty thick.

5. Heat up a griddle and brush with oil.  When it is about hot (I set my to medium-high heat) ladle out the batter no more than 1/4 c at a time.  When the underside starts to set after about a minute, add some frozen berries–I added blueberries and raspberries.  After about 3 minuets total on the first side, flip and let sizzle for 1-2 minutes on the other side.

The recipe yields about 10-12 pancakes and I didn’t freeze any of the batter since I’m sure I’ll have no problem eating all these within the week.  I think these are my favorite because they are so moist and dense and full of flavor.  I actually ate them without any syrup or jam, just a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  I can’t vouch for how they taste without berries, but with them, each bite packs a sweet, tangy punch of yum.

Trust me, whether you are preparing for a half marathon or sitting lazily on a the couch on a snowy afternoon (or if you are doing both!), you are going to love these. Enjoy!

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I just got back from spending 5 days in San Fransisco with some lovely friends.  What a rejuvenating time but how difficult to come back to cold, snowy New York.  I’d love to share more about my trip but I’ll save that for later.

Right now, I’m making some roasted root vegetables but I’m so very hungry I just can’t wait for them to be done.  Luckily, a few weeks ago I made some nice soup that I froze and am presently enjoying to tide me over until my veggies are done!  This is not just any soup, this is the first recipe I’ve tried out of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I got the cookbook for Christmas.  Not this Christmas, but last Christmas!  I don’t know why I never got around to making any of the recipes I had dog-eared during my first read through of the book.  There are so many yummy recipes and despite what you might think after seeing Julie and Julia, several are simple and require few ingredients.

Perhaps I was inspired to finally make a recipe from the cookbook after my Mom and I watched Julie and Julia for the second time over the holidays.  It is a sweet movie but the books it is based upon are much much better (isn’t that how it always works though?).  What an incredible thing Julie Powell did, cooking her way through the whole book.  I’m not sure I would survive that task, given how much meat is in the book and how long the book is, so I truly admire her feat.

When I arrived back in the Bronx, I remembered we had some leeks from our CSA that were languishing away in the vegetable drawer.  All I had to do was pick up some potatoes since luckily the recipe only calls for a few ingredients and I had the others on hand.  This soup freezes pretty nicely although it does separate a little bit when it thaws–just add a little extra milk or butter and heat it up, it tastes great!

This is an easy recipe that really any cook of any skill level can complete.

-2 large russet potatoes

-3 cups chopped leeks (both white and green parts), about 2 medium leeks

-3 small shallots or onions, chopped

-4 carrots diced***

-2 quarts of water

-salt and pepper, to taste

-rosemary, to taste**

-3 TBSP butter or 1/3 c. heavy cream

***I added this to the recipe as per Julia’s suggestion.  She includes several variations on the basic recipe, this is something I just love about her cookbook.  Aren’t all of us cooks always adding our own twist and experimenting?   It is one of the joys of cooking!  Check out her book to see this and other variations on the potato leek soup.

1.     Chop all the veggies and put them in a big soup pot with the water and some salt and pepper and a few pinches of rosemary.

2.     Simmer partially covered for about 45 minutes or until they pass what I call “the fork test”—are they soft when you stick a fork in each type of veggie?  The carrots take the longest.

3.     Using a blender or food processor, blend everything until smooth and return back to the pot (this is where an immersion blender would come in handy!).

4.     Add in the butter or cream (or milk if you’d like) and adjust seasonings.  (I added butter.  You have to know that Julia LOVED real butter, remember when I posted about how much I love it to?  Mmm!)

What could be more simple than that?!  You don’t really need to stand over the pot watching it so you can set the veggies to boil while you do other things around the house.  I hope you can make this recipe or run out and buy Julia Child’s first cookbook.  It is worth the cost—the illustrations are gloriously detailed and the manner in which the recipe flows is helpful and clear.  The soup is a delight and even better when you have a cold.

Enjoy!

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What was 2010?

I know I’m not the only one out there who can’t believe that 2010 has passed and we are entering into a whole new year.  There is a sort of melancholy about the end of the year.  Of course December 31 and January 1 are just two more days on the calendar, however, they do provide time and space to reflect a little on life.  This time around, I just kept asking myself “what was 2010?”.  In recent years, I’ve graduated from college, finished a post-grad volunteer program, moved back to New York, finished a graduate program…in other words, I’ve hit some very clear cut milestones on this path of mine.  But 2010 was a little different, I’m settled in my same city, same apartment, same job.  So when I posed the question to myself, “what was 2010?”, I meant what have I accomplished, what have I done, how have I grown?  I decided to look through my calendar, my blog, my pictures and here is what I found (roughly in chronological order):

I went to Vermont with friends.  It was snowy and cold but starkly beautiful and a wonderful change from the city.

I traveled to visit my dear friend Carin who lives in Cincinnati.  She is a kindred spirit, one of those rare souls I am so fortunate to have in my life. We toured the city, played with her dogs and ate chili dogs!

I made a bag of plastic bags.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Alas, it is still not totally finished!

I went to Boston to visit friends and the after school program I worked for.  Lilacs (my favorite!) were in full bloom at the arboretum.

I made this beautiful soup, Springtime Minestrone, that I forgot to blog about!  Really it is lovely and I intend to make it this spring so hopefully I will share it then.

I took this beautiful picture of tulips somewhere but now I cannot remember where–maybe in Boston but maybe at the Botanical Garden here in New York.

I climbed Mount Washington with my Dad.  We had so much fun!  What an incredible challenge.

I grew an abundant garden with my garden partner Tiffany.  It was such a hot summer but we had success in a lot of our plants, especially the cucumbers!

Book club turned one year old!  We are still going strong despite the fact that I haven’t written much about our meetings.  What a great group of women.

Dublin the boxer puppy arrived in our lives!  My sister’s pup is a sweetheart who frequently gets into trouble but quickly gets out of punishment because of her spirit and good looks.

I went to Maine.

I went more than once.  I believe you can have many homes and this is one of mine.  Heaven.

I went to Chicago for work.  I toured the city and ate lots of nice dinners and enjoyed my own company.

We had roaches.  We took action.  We won!  (For now at least.)

I discovered that there are still wild, untouched places on the island of Manhattan.

I concocted an ambitious and crazy plan to travel around Europe.  I did it (with my travel buddy).  I went to Romania.  I got to know more types of trains and stations than I knew existed.  I went to Amsterdam and fell head over heels, I just plain cheated on my other love, New York.  I spent time in Germany with my best friend and coveted the pretzels, beer, and pace of life.

I said goodbye to Heather: roommate, travel buddy, confidant and true friend.

I ran a 10k race and signed up to run the 1/2 marathon in March.  Crazy but crazy for a good cause.

I spent countless wonderful days with my family.  Festive holidays, simple quiet days, always good days, always love.

I enjoyed Christmas in New York.  Sometimes it’s a stressful time to live here but if you play your cards right, it can be the most amazing.

2010 was many many more moments, meals, memories than this page can contain.  But these are the highlights.  Perhaps the end of the year is a time for melancholic nostalgia, however, it is also the perfect time to cultivate gratitude for all the was, all that is, and all that (with any luck) is to be.  Here is a nice reminder about gratitude:

Mindfulness of gratitude leads to a direct experience of being connected to life – to the realization that there is a larger context in which your personal story is unfolding.

Happy New Year!  Here’s to 2011.

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