A huge part of being a mom is taking the long view. This might mean ignoring short-term annoyances like the crumpled socks that regularly appear at the top of the stairs despite the presence of a hamper three feet away. Or maybe it entails planning ahead, an activity that can bleed dangerously into obsessive worry about a child’s future: will her thumb-sucking result in expensive orthodontia? Will his shyness drive him to a life of isolation, with only stacks of old newspapers and dozens of cats for company?
Fortunately, I’ve discovered another kind of planning. Though it requires work, I choose to see it as a form of self-care intended to head off disappointment on Mother’s Day. It’s teaching my kids to make pancakes.
I make them almost every Sunday. In fact, I’m afraid my kids are pancake-dependent. On a recent morning, though, I informed my 11-year-old son Gus that he was in charge. His panic confirmed my suspicion that he was long past due to acquire this skill. Though I teach other people’s kids to cook all the time, I neglect my own. (They say the cobbler’s kids go shoeless; my kids get shooed out of the kitchen.) So I gave him a lesson and permission to practice, because I want him to bring me pancakes in bed on May 10th.
Gus has seen me make them from scratch for years, and used the simple recipe that’s etched in my memory. It’s incredibly flexible. I usually substitute some whole-grain flour for about half of the all-purpose, and sometimes mix leftover oatmeal or pureed bananas into the liquid ingredients. Adding an extra egg and some milk makes them thinner and richer-tasting.
Try making these with your kids a couple of times this month. (They make a lovely and festive supper, too, in a pinch.) Then, if your kids decide to make these for Mother’s Day, ask them to spring for some berries and real maple syrup. It makes all the difference. Or try butter and honey or jam, or lemon juice and powdered sugar, or butter and brown sugar. These babies, like you and your babies, deserve the best, now and forever.
Liberally adapted from Gourmet Today
Serves 4 people with smallish appetites; we usually double and freeze leftovers
- 1 cup/125 grams all-purpose flour (replace with up to half whole wheat, cornmeal, or oat flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar, optional
- 1 cup buttermilk (or use ¾ cup plain yogurt thinned with ¼ cup milk, or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and left to sit for 5 minutes), plus additional regular milk if desired
- 1 or 2 eggs
- Up to 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, sliced or cubed bananas, sliced or cubed strawberries, or chopped pecans or walnuts
- Butter, oil, or other fat for cooking
- Butter and maple syrup, jam, honey, or whatever else you like for serving
If you want to serve pancakes all at once, turn on the oven to 200 or warm and place a platter inside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Pour buttermilk into a large liquid measuring cup (or just measure into another bowl), add the eggs, whisk together, then add to dry ingredients. Stir wet and dry ingredients till almost combined, adding berries last. Don’t overmix; a few lumps are fine.
Heat a roomy pan over medium heat, or preheat an electric griddle (I set it to 350-375, cooler if I’m using frozen berries). Brush the pan or griddle with oil, or spread butter around with a spatula. Using a 1/4- or 1/3-cup dry measure, scoop batter and pour onto pan/griddle, leaving space between pancakes for spreading. Allow pancakes to cook undisturbed till bubbles appear on their surface and the edge appears dull and slightly set. Flip the pancakes gently and cook another minute or two, till bottoms are golden-brown. Keep warm in the oven or serve immediately.