Hi. Happy New Year.
It’s been a nice couple of weeks. A lot has happened – it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Life has been puttering along at is usual peppy pace, and after a year of telling you what feels like everything, every day, I feel like so much has been left out since January 1st.
There are stories. There’s still New Years’ Eve to share (we added a new question, there around the circle), and I’ll eventually have to get to the one about the six-year-old putting her hands through the glass panes of our front door (miraculously, no blood involved), explain the snow-induced fender-bender involving a certain member of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, ponder the fact that I gave my grandmother (who rarely cooks) my favorite favorite knife . . .and oh, that breakfast salad. (Imagine your favorite Caesar salad, its dressing spiked with Meyer lemon. Then top it with hot, crumbled bacon and a perfectly poached egg. Then multiply that by ten, because if you’re like I was, a Caesar-with-bacon-and-eggs-in-the-morning virgin, there’s no way you could understand the gastronomical pleasure involved. Don’t mean to be condescending, but really. You couldn’t.)
It will all come out eventually, I’m sure.
I do remember you, by the way. Every one of these days, these past few weeks, I’ve thought of you. You’ve sent such kind words. I wish I could send you two weeks’ worth of thank yous.
I’ve been starting to remember me, too. The pre-project me. Not surprisingly, my life’s pace has changed. I’m remembering how to laugh and linger at the end of a meeting or conversation, untethered by the pull of a self-imposed duty. I’m remembering how to fall asleep on the couch after dinner, tangled up with my husband, because dinner has come to mean the end of the day again. I’m remembering how to pick up a book. Not to finish it, just to browse.
I’ve had more energy to notice some of the smaller things I used to glide past: My cat is missing a hunk of whiskers on one side. The leaves have fallen off the trees in the neighbor’s yard, and we can see the tippity tops of the Olympic mountains. The zippery whisper of my new corduroy pants is louder when I step with my right foot than it is when the left leads.
These aren’t the most important things, but I missed them just the same. I’m glad to have them back.
I haven’t been cooking much, but I’ve been eating plenty. (Thank goodness my resolution had nothing to do with food this year.)
And the dog, for one, is loving it. See, she’d never met a delivery person before now. We first got her in a rural area where delivery wasn’t practical, and since we moved to Seattle, we haven’t had a delivery of anything but a couch. When the pizza guy came to the door, she started in on her typical warning alarm, a big WOOF WOOF. When we opened the door, she stopped short on the third bark, just shut her mouth mid-woof and tilted her head to the side. You brought food? she seemed to ask. She was suddenly quite friendly.
We’ve slurped hot and sour soup, and topped frozen Trader Joe’s burritos with salsa and cheese before baking them to bubbly, effortless perfection. Friends made us pasta, topped it with a stunning sausage-studded sauce, and sent us home before we could touch the dishes. (Truthfully, I was tempted to write that one down. I’m sure I’ll come back to it again.)
We’ve been out, too, for tender gnocchi at Crave, and good, cheap Mexican food. At Boom Noodle, my server accidentally dropped my chopsticks when he was clearing our table. I was leaning forward, on the edge of my chair, elbows on the table, chin in my hands, and one errant chopstick landed – I kid you not – just inside the waistband of my jeans. (Well, if you want the truth, it was really tucked into my underwear. Probably only one centimeter in, but really, it was in there.) I’ll need another meal at Boom before I’m ready to talk about the food, but the waiter snatched the chopsticks up, one off the seat of my chair and one out of its unfortunate home, before either of us could be embarrassed. And for that alone, Boom gets big points.
But not so much cooking on the homefront. And it’s been good for me. As much as food knits us together, I think we, the food-obsessed, tend to forget that when food doesn’t glue memories into our minds, there are other things that can get the job done. My New Years’ Day 2008 won’t glow with the warm remembrance of lentil soup or hoppin’ john, but I’ll certainly never forget how the ten of us got four small rear-wheel drive vehicles up a steep, windy, unplowed road in the middle of a New Hampshire snowstorm. (Sand can actually get quite expensive, if you buy enough of it.)
My love is still there, though. At least, I know I’ll find it again.
A few nights ago, I picked up the February issue of Bon Appetit (the one with Molly’s new column), and drooled over the photo of the whole grain pancakes on the cover. Yum, I thought, pancakes with a purpose. I tizzied with excitement at the idea of using someone else’s recipe.
But when I turned to the appointed page, I slumped back into the couch with disappointment. The recipe called for whole grain pancake mix.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I actually own such a mix (have for almost 2 years, I bet), and believe it has its place. But when I saw the detail on the flapjacks splashed across the magazine cover, cornmeal speckles and signs of good-for-you something, I’d imagined quite something else. I didn’t want pancakes with whole grains whirled and blended to resemble regular flour. I wanted a pancake with chutzpah and derring-do, one that crunched and snapped in the mouth, a real kick in the teeth to Bisquick bland. And I wanted pancakes with . . . well, more protein.
I tried to find something better. The Gourmet Cookbook had a recipe for whole grain pancakes, as well, but their idea of “whole grain” was a mixture of whole wheat flour and cornmeal – technically whole grain, but not technically what I wanted for breakfast. I wanted hippie-dippie pancakes, made with butter and something that crunched between my teeth.
So on Saturday, I went back into the kitchen, and turned out a drop-dead delicious, hearty, healthy (if you ask me) flapjack recipe that just might cure me of my slight aversion to pancakes. (I know, it’s horrible. But it’s true. But what’s the use on gorging myself on the vacant, pillowy kind if I’m just going to be hungry again in two hours?)
I might just have to make them again next weekend.
Whole-Grain Flapjacks (PDF)
Here’s a flapjack’s real foray into the multi-grain world. You can treat yours the same way you would a normal pancake – butter and maple syrup for me, please – but rest assured that with whole protein-packed quinoa and millet, plus Omega-rich flaxseed meal, they’ll treat you better, longer.
TIME: 40 minutes active time
MAKES: 4 servings
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons quinoa
2 tablespoons millet
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, whisked to blend
1 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
Mix the first eight ingredients (all the dry) in a large bowl to blend. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, yogurt, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined, then whisk in the melted butter.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, butter the pan lightly (or spray with vegetable oil spray), then drop the batter by scant 1/4 cupfuls, 3 to 4 at a time, depending on the size of your skillet. Cook flapjacks for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Serve hot, and repeat with remaining batter, buttering pan as needed.
Note: Leftover batter can be stored in an airtight container for use in the next day or two.