For the love of pancakes

February 11, 2012

Valentine’s Day ‘86 was a special one for me. It opened the door for the first meaningful conversation I had with the young man who would become my husband. I was a junior at the University of Cincinnati and had pledged Delta Sigma Theta, a Black Greek Letter Organization, my sophomore year. On a whim, I politely asked, okay – big-sister demanded, the young women who were pledging that year, to get me a Valentine’s card from three different guys. I gave them the names of three eligible young men and several days after the 14th they came back with one… super… ridicules… card.

The cover had a cartoon drawing of a laboratory beaker and read “Lick This.” On the inside were the words “Love Potion.” Hmmm. On top of that interesting message, the card was signed “Ken E. Luv.” Of course, he had gotten my attention.

Kenny Wilson – and I – have a lack of agreement as to what happened next. He says he came to my job one evening at the UC main campus library bearing a box of chocolates. I agree that he did visit my desk at the Periodicals Department. He was charming, full of one-liners, dapperly dressed and bought me a bag of M&Ms from the vending machine. Either way, we had a great conversation that led to a first date at the local Red Lobster. I was impressed by his financial sacrifice, two dinners at RL was a lot of money for a college student. He was pleased that I was a light eater, which is a topic for future blog. God-willing we will celebrate 22 years of marriage on 2/24/12. (We chose the 24th because it was the Saturday nearest to the day of that first date.)

Kelly & Kenny circa 1986

Now that we have a quiver of children, Valentine’s Day might be commemorated with chocolates and a card or we might have a romantic lunch while the kids are at school. One way to include them in the festivities is to share the story of the person called Saint Valentine. History.com tells it this way. “One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.”

In addition to a discussion on the merits of marriage, you can also make a kid-pleasing meal of pancakes from scratch. Prepare them for dinner or breakfast if you have time. They can be healthier if you include whole wheat or oat flour. Make them heart-shaped or use blueberries to make a heart on top of a round pancake. Don’t forget the maple syrup and ice-cold milk. Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup of Flour

(Use all-purpose flour or ¾ all-purpose and ¼ cup whole wheat or oat flour.)

1 Tablespoon Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Power

½ Teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ Teaspoon Salt

1 cup Sour Milk

(I don’t usually have sour milk on hand. So make it by putting a tablespoon of vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Fill the cup with regular milk to the one-cup line. Let it sit for five minutes or until the milk looks curdled.)

1 Egg

1 Tablespoon melted butter (or use vegetable oil if you prefer.)

Oil for cooking

This recipe is very easy, but the taste is exceptional. Mix the dry ingredients together. Then add the milk and egg and stir until the mixture is just combined. As you mix in the butter, stir the big lumps out, but small lumps are okay. Over mixing the batter creates tougher cakes.

I typically place a large pan on the stove top to get it nice and hot after I stir the dry ingredients together. By the time I get the batter completed, the pan is ready for the oil. I pour in enough to cover the bottom of the pan. A tablespoon is a good starting point. Pancakes will stick when the pan is not hot enough. (If the oil starts to smoke, the pan is too hot, remove it from the heat and let it cool down a bit.) Of course, if you have a griddle, use that.

To make pancakes that are the same size, I use a metal ¼ cup dry measure. They often have a little spout to make the pouring easier. I can typically put three cakes in a large pan at one time. Ideally the edges shouldn’t be touching one another. Let each pancake cook until little bubbles form all over the top surface. When you see this, they are ready to flip. Use a thin spatula and get it all the way under the cake. This technique will help keep the pancake from folding back on itself. Cook the second side until it is brown on the bottom and serve warm with your favorite syrup or enjoy the way my mom likes her pancakes with jelly.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours,

Home-ista Kelly