Meet the Carroll/Mehra family Saturday morning pancakes.
Since this recipe was published in Bon Appetit last May, these babies have become such a solid part of our rotation that I can make them without consulting the recipe. Shiv “helps” me mix the batter and spread and flip the first few pancakes; once they’re cool enough to eat, he leaves the fry cook duties to me & tucks into a plateful. Even Jill, who is usually not interested in sweet things at breakfast (she’s an alien, I know) will grab a few to go alongside her scrambled eggs. The recipe makes a bunch—I’d say about 20-25 small-to-medium pancakes—so the ones we don’t eat I let cool and then pack them up, two at a time, for the freezer: foil first, then a Ziploc. On weekdays, it’s super easy to grab and reheat a pair of pancakes for breakfast.
This recipe isn’t a showstopper. There’s nothing glamorous or fancy about these griddle cakes, which is maybe why I haven’t blogged about them before? I think sometimes I fall into the trap of wanting to dazzle (not just on this blog but in life in general), when often what ends up being the most satisfying are the simple, sustainable rituals and pleasures: how my mom makes a cup of tea better than anyone I know, sitting out by the lake after dinner with our neighbor Mike and his big, sweet Doberman, snuggling with Shiv in the dusk time after we’re done reading books but before I put him in his crib, these pancakes that we don’t seem to get sick of.
BLACKBERRY FARM GRIDDLE CAKES
The cakes are barely, barely sweet (which you can, of course, offset based on how much syrup you choose to pour on top of them) but the combination of flours yields a really lovely, distinctive texture and taste. They eat like a treat, but not like a decadent one.
Since we make these so often, I use this tip provided when the recipe was originally published—make your own pancake mix by tripling the dry ingredients, whisking them together well, & storing them in a jar. Then, when you’re ready to make pancakes, simply measure out 2 ¼ cups of the dry mixture and proceed with the recipe as listed; the amounts for the wet ingredients stay the same.
A few notes: the recipe doesn’t call for vanilla, but I like to add 1 tsp. to the batter, as it really seems to amplify the flavor of the maple syrup. Also, as you can see from the pictures, we added fresh blueberries to our most recent batch of pancakes, and we highly recommend you do the same; simply drop a few berries onto each pancake before you flip it over!
1 cup oat flour (make your own in 2 minutes by blitzing some rolled oats in your food processor)
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup brown rice flour
¼ cup buckwheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
¼ cup maple syrup (use the good stuff!)
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (I usually add a tablespoon or two more for the skillet, but you could also use coconut oil, vegetable oil, etc. for cooking the griddle cakes)
Get your pan ready–heat a large nonstick griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller, separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg, & maple syrup together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Finally, whisk in the butter until you’ve worked through all of the lumps in the batter.
Brush your hot skillet with butter or oil. Pour the batter out in small amounts—about a quarter to a third cup for each pancake, spreading the batter a little with the side of the measuring cup as you go. Cook until the bottoms are browned and you see bubbles on top, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for an additional 1-2 minutes. Serve hot, with butter & syrup!
*If you are cooking for someone with gluten intolerance, be certain to buy certified gluten-free oats & flours.
Let’s talk about how it never gets any clearer, the question of how to manage someone else’s pain. Let’s talk about how even when you’ve spent your fair share of time in a hospital waiting room, you still hardly know what to do when your friends are in a similar spot. Or how you can walk right next to your spouse through uncharted territory, but you can’t walk it for her.
Let’s talk about how “wanting to help” can so easily bleed over into “wanting to feel important,” how our vanity is almost always part of the equation, and how much work it can be to turn it off. Let’s talk about our inclination—we hate to admit it—to make everything about us, all of the time.
Let’s talk about those little screens that we carry around with us everywhere, miraculous, funny things that can reach across time and space and help us be present—in that hospital waiting room, in the cab of a pick-up truck, at the desk of someone we’d like to get to know—the same screens that frustrate and tangle and make us crazy with their awkward call-and-response.
Let’s talk about what it’s like to be a writer who knows that words are, in the necessary moments, almost always inadequate, but how you can’t keep yourself from saying them anyway.
Let’s talk about love, how it’s totally irrational, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to make sense of it. How we worry about silly things. How we want so much. How hope has weight, and gravity, and mass.
Let’s talk about how we believe it is possible to move outside ourselves, to step away from our own egos for one second, just long enough to feel inside another human being’s space: what Updike calls the “breathtaking attempt” to imagine what someone else is feeling.
I love cooking for my son.
As is the case with everyone in my life, I derive great joy from making things I think Shiv will like and from seeing his responses when he tries them; lately, he’s been doing this pretty cute extended “Mmmm!” thing with a corresponding raised-shoulder gesture. I gotta say, it’s rather gratifying.
Popsicles are what often induce the above-mentioned response these days ; I’ve been making a steady stream of homemade fruit pops (Shiv calls them “hops” & they are pictured in last week’s post) since I bought this mold at Whole Foods a few weeks ago. It’s by far the best one I’ve encountered; you can remove just one popsicle at a time, and the molds clean up super-easily. What goes in them? Whatever glorious summer fruit we happen to have around; I toss ~2 cups of fruit in the blender, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, maybe a hit of honey or agave nectar (though right now everything is so sweet on its own, this isn’t needed), and blend, adding a little water if necessary to get thin the mixture out. Pour in the molds, freeze for a few hours, & your backyard dessert awaits.
Cooking for Shiv I’ve been doing for a while; cooking with Shiv is relatively new. This kid wants to participate in e-v-er-y-thing. Why would I use the little watering can you got for me when I can use the BIG GREEN watering can that Gigi uses? Why would I use a plastic fork when I can use the same kind of fork as y’all? Why would I cook in my play kitchen when I can cook in an actual kitchen?
Jill & I love this, this determination to be a part of things, to learn how to do real stuff. Competence is one of the values that we selected to help guide our choices as we raise him, and neither of us see any reason why he can’t start building that competence now. When he makes a mess, he helps clean it up—he helps spray the Mrs. Meyer’s, he wipes up with a paper towel, he throws the paper towel in the trash. He knows how to strike a match and light a candle, with help from an adult. He helps Jill with cleaning out the litter box, taking out the trash, refilling the bird feeder, & vacuuming/sweeping the kitchen.
Completing tasks with Shiv’s “assistance” is more time-consuming than simply doing them ourselves, at least for now. But to simply do them ourselves not only leaves him out but also robs him of the opportunity to learn, to be empowered, to contribute—as is the case when he helps cook the family meal.
The sight of a not-quite-two-year-old perched atop a step-ladder in front of a stove draws cheers from some folks but alarm from many others. Then again, a lot of things about how we parent alarm people…we own no Purell, our son goes barefoot in the backyard, etc.
For us, the choices are simple, and made on principle. Jill & I feel that our safety-obsessed culture has lost perspective on what kids—even the littlest ones—are capable of. We’re so busy trying to make everything safe that we’ve forgotten that danger is an important part of a natural life. Do I want Shiv to get hurt? Of course not. But I think the best way to protect him is to teach him.
That’s why we’ll be working on knife skills next!
inspired by this recipe from 101 Cookbooks
What we have here is basically a hybrid of Indian-style rice pudding, known as kheer, and Thai coconut sticky rice, which is one of the best things on the planet. Shiv is really into rice AND mango AND all forms of coconut, so I wanted to bring them all together for him using what I happened to have at home. It was all improvisation, so feel free to do the same when you make this! If you don’t have coconut cream but you have (full-fat) coconut milk, you could omit the cream and substitute the coconut milk for the water. It won’t be quite as rich, but it will still taste good. If you prefer a looser, more-pudding-like version, add more liquid at the start or finish with a splash of coconut milk.
You could also go a more savory route when serving & grate some fresh lime zest on top of everything before serving. I also think that a sprinkling of black sesame seeds would be nice, should you happen to have some on hand.
1 cup white jasmine rice, rinsed
2 cups water
½- ¾ cup coconut cream
¼ cup sugar
to serve: 1 ripe mango, diced
optional: shredded, unsweetened coconut & ground cardamom
Place the rice in a heavy-bottomed pot (make sure it’s one with a lid!). Rinse the rice 2-3 times using cold water and swishing it around with your hand. Once you’ve drained the rinsing water, add 2 cups of fresh water, a pinch of salt, and whisk in the coconut cream—you can heat up the cream first, which will make things easier. Cover the pot with the lid and turn the heat to medium-low.
The goal here is to bring the rice to a simmer, not to a boil. Once you’ve reached a simmer, give the rice a good stir, scraping up the bottom to make sure it’s not sticking. Stir in the sugar & salt and cover, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a very gentle simmer.
Check the rice occasionally, stirring gently, until it’s fully cooked and nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the rice cool slightly before serving.
Summer’s here, in all its glory.
Not many words for today’s post, just these images of my kid (& the dog) enjoying the heck out of a homemade strawberry-yogurt popsicle, plus a list of some recipes you might consider trying—or returning to—this month.
I love every recipe I post, but sometimes I just plain forget about them once they’ve appeared on the blog. (The frequency with which I search my own blog for ideas of what to make is kinda goofy.) So, I figured, if I’ve managed to forget about some of these, then there are bound to be ones you may have missed as well.
Will be posting new recipes this month, too! Just flipped through the June issue of Bon Appetit and felt like the whole thing was stuffed with recipes I want to try. Plus, the latest Saveur features this incredibly gorgeous feature about Midsummer’s Day in Sweden and now I find myself oddly compelled to make my own Aquavit…if I give into that impulse, I promise to share the results.
Happy summering, my friends!
This one is incredibly simple & so satisfying—I served it a few weeks ago alongside Homesick Texan’s lemon bread, and the combination was fantastic.
Perfect for using up an abundance of Farmers Market or backyard garden veggies!
Another great way to load up on summer produce, and a great dish to make ahead. serve alongside the protein of your choice, on top of toasted bread, or use to fill vegetarian tacos or enchiladas
This dough comes together in the food processor & the recipe calls for cold butter, which means you can pull these cookies together super-fast! even better—make a double batch of the dough, roll one half into a log & keep in the freezer all summer for easy slice-and-bake cookies.
Cocktails made with jalapeno, tequila, guava, & ginger beer, for all your happiest hours.
Sometimes you get burnt out on hummus, you know? this is a great, healthy dip alternative that doubles as an excellent sandwich spread. I’ve also tried roasting the red peppers before making the dip (as suggested by a reader), and enjoy that variation quite a bit.
A satisfying one pot meal. for a variation on the theme, try this fried rice method; I used it just yesterday as a way to repurpose a bit of leftover grilled meat, some coconut rice that had been hanging out in the fridge for a few days, and fresh veggies into a complete meal.
A house favorite; we’ve made this 3-4 times already this summer!
Because you knew there had to be something fried on this list! these are light, and the green goddess dip that goes alongside them is incredibly flavorful.