Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? When she was a puppy, I would have sworn that Elsie had no vocal chords. She never made a peep until she was about six months old. No barking, no whining, no howling, no growling–nothing. (In retrospect, I’m guessing that her inauspicious beginnings, raised as a stray in a shelter cage with at least 20 other bigger and more aggressive pups, taught her to be quiet in the same way that babies become silent if they’re never picked up or soothed when they cry. I know: heartbreaking. Excuse me for a sec, I just need to grab this tissue. . . .).
Even once she learned to bark, Elsie remained an exceptionally quiet dog–that is, until Chaser entered the picture. The complete antithesis of Elsie in every way, Chaser came into the world wailing, and pretty much hasn’t stopped since.
Chaser barks at car headlights as they flit by on the street outside our house; she bays at other dogs being walked by their owners, even if we happen to be driving in the car when she spies them; she howls when she wants me to throw her ball; she yaps when she’s hungry; she growls at the fly that’s buzzing in the windowpane. Whining comes in a close second: she whines when she needs to go “do her business” outside; she whimpers when I don’t respond to the request to throw her ball; she shrieks when she sees a squirrel at the end of the street. And in recent months, Elsie has begun to imitate her vociferous sister.
These days, it’s a fairly noisy trek to the local trail where The Girls enjoy their best romps. I’m treated to Canine Cacophony–in stereo–as we make our way to the parking lot just beside the field. And while I’m glad to see my Girls so excited, I think I’d rather preserve my hearing into old age, thank you very much. So here’s what I do: just as my friends are wont to do with their young children, I distract the Girls into silence with a question. As soon as Chaser launches into her trademark keening, I glance to my left and remark, “Oh, Chaser, is that a bird I see over there?” [silence.]. Then I just keep talking, pointing out various landmarks, until we arrive at our destination. Works every time!
This little sleight-of-focus came in quite handy last weekend with the HH (because, let’s face it, underneath it all, he’s really just a big kid). I was jonesing for pancakes, but didn’t want to repeat any of the recipes I’d already made before (I’m a food blogger, after all). In recent weeks, I’ve also decided to reduce the amount of grains I eat in a day in an attempt to stave off even more unwanted poundage that seems to be mysteriously accumulating on my belly and hips. (Please note: I am not among the crowd who believes that white potatoes are the edible spawn of Satan, even though I do eat grain-free a good deal of the time. Potatoes don’t seem to elicit the same frenetic, “gotta-have-it-now” reaction from me that other white stuff does–to wit, white flour, white sugar, white rice, white wedding dresses during my twenties. . . so glad I’ve put all of those behind me now).
After being so enamored of Ashley’s Carob and Buckwheat Breakfast Bake recently, I decided to combine those two flavors once more, this time in a pancake recipe of my own. Once the cakes were ready, I noticed the HH eyeing the platter with some suspicion.
“So, what are those made of?” he asked.
Should I tell him, and have him refuse to even try them? Should I lie? Ultimately, I decided to go for the same “redirection-of-attention” technique that worked so well with the dogs:
Ricki: Um, they’ve got carob. And almonds. Oh, and carob chips.
HH: That’s it? But what kind of flour do they have?
Ricki [stalling]: Um. . . . I’d rather not tell you.
The HH grimaces, staring wryly with eyebrows raised.
Ricki: I told you, I’m not happy with my weight these days. So I have to eat grain-free.
HH: Which part is grain-free?
Ricki: [almost inaudible] Buckwheat. . .
HH:But I hate buckwheat!!! [pause]. You mean buckwheat’s not a grain?
Ricki [seizing the opportunity]: No, it’s a seed. [Glancing toward the stovetop]: Oh, sweetheart, are those potatoes getting too browned? Would would you mind giving them a stir?
HH[stirring]: No, they seem fine. They look good. Mmmmm, I love homefries. . .
See how easy?
These pancakes combine the beauty of buckwheat flour (ie, technically not a grain) with unsweetened carob chips and optional chopped almonds for textural interest. They offer up a light, moist (but not wet) and subtly flavored result with an alluring, yet somehow mysterious, blend of buckwheat and carob, the latter neutralizing the brashness of the former. I loved these with some of my recent plumberry jam dolloped on top. For those of you who can tolerate it, maple syrup would produce a spectacular flavor combination here, and I can attest (having watched the HH wolf down 3 of these ‘cakes), they won’t become saturated and then disintegrate the way many gluten free baked goods do when moistened. And no xanthan!
In the end, the HH loved these. At first, he guessed that they contained chocolate, then decided they didn’t. At the end of our brunch, he pronounced this recipe ”at the top of the list” and remarked, “It’s not often that you find a new flavor that works this well.” Just exactly what “that flavor” was, however, he’d forgotten by the time we sat down to eat our meal. And that, my friends, is the beauty of distraction.
Although the ingredient list appears long, these pancakes actually come together very quickly. The only real “work” aside from measuring is to chop up the almonds if you toast them yourself (and slivered would work well, too). If the batter seems too thin at first, don’t worry; just cook the cakes thoroughly and they’ll rise high and won’t remain wet in the middle.
enough unsweetened plain or vanilla almond, soy, hemp or coconut milk (the kind in a carton) to equal 1-2/3 cups (400 ml) with the vinegar (see directions)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other mildly-flavored oil, preferably organic (I used macadamia)
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
10-20 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
In a medium bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, carob powder, baking powder, soda and salt. Add the ground flax, ground chia, almonds and carob chips and whisk to combine.
Place the apple cider vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add milk to reach 1-2/3 cups (400 ml). Add the oil, vanilla and stevia to the cup and whisk briefly to combine. Begin to heat a nonstick frypan over medium heat.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just to blend; do not overmix.
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop batter and pour it in the pan; spread out slightly if necessary to create a circle shape. Allow to cook until the pancakes are totally dry on the edges and begin to puff in the middle, 4-6 minutes. Flip and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes, until light golden. Keep pancakes warm as you continue to use all the batter in this manner. Makes 9-10 medium pancakes. May be frozen.
*Note: I also tried these with light buckwheat flour for a milder flavor, but I know that it can be difficult to find light buckwheat in some areas. They’re still great with regular buckwheat as well, though the buckwheat flavor is a bit more prominent. If you use light buckwheat, reduce the flour to just one cup (150 g).
“Hey, Elsie, is that a bird I see over there? Better drop that ball. . . “
“Good try, kid. Unless you can get me one of those pancakes Mum made, this ball is mine.”
The other evening, my friend Eternal Optimist and I went to see a movie (Friends with Benefits–surprisingly enjoyable, and I even liked Justin Timberlake in it!). We both love watching the trailers before the film, but what struck us this time was how many of them were actually promoting remakes of old movies. First was Planet of the Apes(okay, technically a prequel), followed by Straw Dogs. Even the main attraction itself was sort of a remake (of When Harry Met Sally–oh, and pretty much every rom-com ever written). It got me thinking about the concept of remakes in general: you know, those revised, updated versions of established classics.
For instance, did you know that the movie King Kong has been made at least three times (seven if you count all the sequels and “Sons of–”)? Dracula: seven times (not to mention and entire page on Wikipedia devoted to spinoffs and related films). Invasion of the Body Snatchers: five times. Heck, even Freaky Friday has had two remakes! And (in my humble opinion), each remake is just slightly less effective, less interesting, less engaging than the previous version.
I feel the same way about books made into movies, for the most part. How many times have you read a book, then seen the movie, only to be bitterly disappointed? (Though I must admit I’m really looking forward to The Helpon the big screen; and most people would agree that The Godfather was a better film than novel). With novels, imagination allows for any manner of individual, idiosyncratic characters, appearances, voices, and so on. When you see a movie, it’s all distilled into one face, one voice, one set of mannerisms–there’s no way you can envision anything that isn’t already right in front of you.
I have noticed that certain things, however, do improve with a little revision. In the past, when I lectured at the college where I teach, I’d sometimes have to present the same course to three different groups of students. Each time I delivered the material, I’d think of a new detail to add, or an additional example to illustrate a point. By the third class, I was really rocking, and those students always received the most detailed, most engaging lecture of the three. Similarly, working on refining a recipe usually leads to improvements each time you “remake” it.
My sweet successes led me to experiment with other flour-heavy recipes as well, just to see what I could make of them. Last week, I remembered these Chinese Scallion Pancakes, one of the most popular recipes on the blog (and one that the HH and I absolutely adored back in the days when we would meet for lunch during the workweek). What if I could re-create those pancakes to taste just as appetizing as the original? What if we didn’t need to frequent a restaurant to enjoy some chewy, salty, green onion-y flatbreads with our lunch? What if I suddenly lost 15 pounds and had perfectly toned triceps (oops, sorry; wrong fantasy there). What if–??
And so, I give you gluten free Chinese Scallion Pancakes. I have to admit that the process was much easier than even I anticipated; I simply subbed a mix of all purpose flour and sweet rice flour (also called glutenous rice flour) for the spelt, and–presto–the recipe worked perfectly the very first time! I’ve since made these two more times (just to be sure the recipe works, you understand) and they’ve come out beautifully both times. The exterior is browned and crisp; the interior is moist, delightfully chewy, with the murmur of caramelized green onion strewn here and there. Great on their own, or with a spread or dip of your choice.
Now, if only I can figure out how to remake my triceps . . .
Gluten Free Chinese Scallion Pancakes
suitable for ACD Stage 3 and beyond
These pancakes are a perfect accompaniment for Sunday brunch, to sop up some rich Onion Gravy with your next nut roast or veggie burger, or all on their own as a snack. The combination of chewy, salty and bready will have you hooked in no time!
2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil, preferably organic
1/2 tsp fine or coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper, optional
6 green onions, white and light green parts
Sift the flour and xanthan gum into a bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the water slowly, mixing as you go, until you have a very soft dough (use a touch more or less water, as necessary). Form the dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth; let rest for 15-20 minutes.
Flour a large work surface thoroughly with more all-purpose flour, and place the ball in the center of it; dust the top with more flour. Roll out to a disk of around 12-14 inches (30-35.5 cm), dusting with more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Brush lightly with about 1-1/2 Tbsp (22.5 ml) of the oil, then sprinkle with salt (and pepper, if using). Scatter the green onions evenly over top.
Roll up the dough tightly to form a long roll. Cut the roll in half and pinch the ends closed as best you can. Stand each roll on its cut end and push down to create two patties (or disks).
Working with one disk at a time, roll it out the floured surface (use more flour as needed), moving outward from the center. Make a round about 7 inches (18 cm) wide.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and brush lightly with the oil. Gently transfer the disk to the pan, and then brush the top of the dough with more oil. Cook 4-5 minutes, until the bottom is browned in spots. Gently flip the pancake and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a plate (cover with a clean cloth, if desired, to keep it warm while you cook the second pancake). Repeat the procedure with the second dough patty, rolling it, brushing with oil, and cooking in the same way.
Cut each pancake into 4 pieces and serve immediately. Makes 2 large cakes, or 4 servings. Best eaten fresh, but if you have leftovers, wrap tightly in plastic and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in a 350F (180C) oven for about 10 minutes to serve.
The recipes are all great for anyone following an anti-candida diet (ACD); for vegans ; those on a gluten free, refined sugar free, egg free or kosher diet; or Type II diabetics.
Available for just $12.95 (US), the book offers
57 pages of information and recipes
Over 20 healthy, delicious breakfast recipes, with beautiful full-color photographs
14 newly created, original recipes, developed just for this ebook
An introduction outlining the basics of the anti-candida (low glycemic) diet and the version I follow
a section outlining key ingredients used in these anti-candida desserts
tips on how to prepare healthy breakfasts that are anti-candida friendly
For a full Table of Contents and photos of many of the recipes, see this post.
Buy more than one and save : Buy a package of two or all three ebooks and save! Buy Good Morning! with the previously published Anti-Candida Feast for just 18.25 (20% off), pair it with Desserts without Compromise for just $18.95 (20% off), or buy all three for $24.95 (25% off the regular price!).
To purchase one or all ACD-friendly ebooks, click the button below:
*no relation to that unctuous, ochre tinted, replete-with-chemical-ingredients-and-refined-sugar gel you get in little packets next to your egg rolls.
[Sometimes, you just want to eat something now. I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
[Seen here spooned over a breakfast of cooked millet and brown rice with walnuts. Just look at that brilliant magenta!]
Now that it appears I’m basically on the ACD for life, I’ve had to let certain habits fall by the wayside (and no, I’m not talking about “keeping my desk organized”; “working out regularly”; “clearing my email box daily” or even “cooking dinner every night”–though I’ve pretty much abandoned most of those, too).
No, I’m talking about fruit negligence.
You see, I am a fruit lover. And what’s not to love? Most fruits are sweet, juicy, packed with nutritional benefits, and even contain a goodly amount of fiber so that you don’t experience untoward spikes in blood sugar. In fact, I was accustomed to eating two or three fruits per day, back before I was diagnosed with candida.
Now, the gravy train (or would that be “guava train”?) has pulled out of the station–gone. The ACD permits no fruit for the first while, then relents and doles out only one per day for the next long while. In addition, that singular daily fix must be “non-sweet”; that is, apples, pears, most stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums) or berries. And while all of those are delicious in their own right, some of the best and most flavorful fruits are excluded. No beloved bananas. No marvelous mangoes. No perfect persimmons.
I tell you, I am bereft.
Ah, okay, I’m over it. After all, I can eat fruit again! What the heck am I whingeing about? It’s fruit! Sweet, juicy, packed with nutritional benefits. . . you get the idea. And precisely because I eat only one fruit a day, I have come to cherish that one, to savor it, to relish every dripping, sugary, fiber-packed mouthful.
Which brings me back to my negligent ways. For some reason, I still find myself overlooking plums. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating a good plum. . . but when they first arrive in their plain brown bags (in our organic produce box), they don’t hum to me. They huddle together in the dark at the bottom of the bag and refuse to let their charms be known. And far too often, I simply close that bag and set it on the counter–and then forget it.
The other evening, I noticed an untouched brown bag on the counter and knew immediately that it was our plums. Inside, one of them had already gone to the big compost bin in the sky–far too ripe, mushy, and completely unsalvageable. I was determined to save the remainder of the lot.
But what to make? I could re-create my recent pear and cranberry cake using plums, for a gluten free version of this one. Or, I could come up with something entirely new, to showcase plums’ unique charisma.
As it turns out, I’ve been craving something to pour over pancakes on Sunday mornings (since I’m not allowed maple syrup, évidement). So I decided to create a lovely fresh plum sauce!
The texture of this sauce is midway between plum butter and coulis. It has enough body to spoon over puddings or layer in parfaits, yet is light enough to use as a slow, gliding syrup over pancakes or waffles. The flavor is crisp and fresh and bursting with crimson brightness from the plum skins. I thoroughly enjoyed it several times over the past week.
Plums, I hope you can forgive me. You are every bit as juicy as your peachy cousins, every bit as sweet as your blackberry cohorts, every bit as enticing as your Granny Smith ancestors. And now that I know the depth of your potential, I promise I’ll never abandon you on that counter again.
Stay tuned for the third of four ”Back-to-School-Swag” giveaways next time. . . you won’t want to miss these last two!
[Total pancake satisfaction!]
Quick, Fresh Plum Sauce or Topping
This is almost too easy for a recipe. But since it does require a bit of cooking, here’s how I made it.
4-6 large plums, washed and pitted (don’t peel)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to taste (I used 15-20 drops)
Cut the plums into chunks and process in a food processor with the lemon juice until as smooth as possible (you may still see tiny flecks of skin; this is fine).
Pour the mixture into a small pot and heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture deepens in color and thickens somewhat. Remove from heat, add stevia to taste, and pour into a clean, dry glass jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Makes 4 servings.
While the HH likes to spend his weekends in the same fashion each week (sleep in; brunch at our favorite place; toodle around a bookstore; come home and listen to classical music on his beyond-our-means stereo system), I’d rather do something entirely different each Saturday and Sunday–go to the museum, say, or the farmers market, or read my latest book of choice, or cook up something new in the DDD kitchen, or launch a campaign to get on The Ellen Show.
Similarly, on his watch, the HH takes The Girls along the exact same route each time they go for a walk. I, on the other hand, can’t help but mix it up a bit: one day to the baseball field, the next to the park, the third to the pond, and so on.
I can’t imagine how people consume the exact same meal every day, or wear the same uniform to school, or choose the same car every time they purchase, or set up a room and never rearrange the furniture. I mean, don’t they get bored of those foods/ vehicles/ outfits/ spouses (sorry, must have been the influence of the recent Tiger Woods/Jesse James scandals–meant to say, “houses”)?
As you may recall, I am a lover of pancakes. My favorite breakfast back in the day (that would be the “pre-ACD, looked-okay-on-the-outside-but-was-actually-deteriorating-on-the-inside” day) was pancakes, sausages, scrambled eggs, and home fries. Never mind that those calories alone could power the entire Gulf Coast cleanup mission; the quality of what I ate was none too great, either.
One aspect of my standard “big breakfast” at restaurants that I didn’t enjoy, however, was the sameness of it. Wherever we went, it was invariably the same pancake mix each place used, resulting in identical puffy, seemingly inflated, fried-in-hydrogenated-grease cakes that resemble those colored kitchen sponges a little too much for my comfort. (I think they just all used Bisquick as their base, now that I look back on it). Even in my own kitchen, I’ve had to attempt various types and flavors of pancake to keep my flapjack love alive.
[Millet, rice, tapioca, chickpea flours with blueberries and cashew custard sauce]
Well, the more I’ve experimented with GF baking, the more I’ve come to love the fact that most recipes require a long ingredient list with at least two or three types of flour. At first, like everyone else, I found this necessity a real drag; I mean, who has all these items in the pantry? (Of course, there’s always all-purpose GF flour, but to me that sort of defeats the purpose.). Unlike baking with wheat, I realized, gluten free baking affords the opportunity to alter the recipe to your mood, to a particular meal, to a personal taste. Feel like something rustic and hearty? Try amaranth, or quinoa as the main flour. Something light and delicate? Your choice is millet or sorghum. A hint of chocolate? Teff adds depth and color. And so on. Baked goods made with gluten free flours are unique and distinctive; like snowflakes, no two are alike. And this is a good thing.
Still, there are ways to streamline the process. Something I noticed when baking from an established GF recipe was that most GF mixes include a grain, a starch, and a bean or legume flour. In a pinch, they even replaced the beany flour with another grain. If I didn’t particularly like the flavor of the specific grain or bean that was chosen, or if I was missing an ingredient, I decided to experiment, swapping out one for the other. And guess what? It almost always worked! Better yet, sometimes my result was even more flavorful or texturally appealing than the original.
You know how slot machines (those “one-armed bandits”) always display a new combination of pictures (cherries, oranges, and lemons, say) each time you pull the lever? That’s how I think of this recipe. Like Michael Ruhlman’s concept in Ratio, this basic recipe provides the proportions, and you can change up the contents any way you wish.
There are four main categories–grain, starch, legume and fruit or nut–and you can exchange any item from one category for another from the same category. So each time you make these pancakes, they’ll turn up a little differently, yet still delicious.
If you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and experiment, too. Luckily, this pancake recipe was created for substitutions, so any combination should come out palatable, at the least (and once in a while, you get that “coins pouring out the slot in waves” lucky combination that you write down and keep forever.).
There are four flour ingredients in these pancakes, in varied amounts: either 1/2 cup (120 ml) or 1/4 cup (60 ml)***. Feel free to replace the grains with any other grains from the same category and your pancakes should still be light and fluffy (see exception, below). Replace the starch with any other starch (see exception) and your pancakes will still be light and fluffy. And pull out that bean and replace it with another bean or legume and yes, Virginia, your pancakes will still be light and fluffly.
[Amaranth, teff, oat and sorghum with blueberries and warm almond sauce]
So far, I’ve made these with the following combinations: amaranth, teff, oat (a grain exception that functions as a starch in these recipes) and sorghum; millet, buckwheat, oat and whole bean; rice, arrowroot and carob; and rice, millet, arrowroot and garfava–and they’ve all come out great.
This is the perfect pancake recipe for me: I can switch it up every time I have pancakes for breakfast, yet know that whatever I’ve got, I’ll enjoy the results. No more breakfast boredom! The spice of life never tasted so good.
I’d love for you to try out your own unique combination of pancake ingredients and share them here! Feel free to play with the recipe and replace the flours with others from the same category, the tahini with nut butter or other seed butter, the fruits with one(s) of your choice or nuts/seeds, the flax with chia (just remember that you’ll need much less chia–about 1 tsp/5 ml finely ground–instead of each Tbsp/15 ml flax), or the soy milk with almond, hemp or rice milk. Instead of vanilla, how about almond extract, or lemon? Instead of cinnamon, how about ginger, cardamom, or another spice? It’s all good!
[Rice, millet, arrowroot and garfava flours with walnut-cacao nut butter]
With all the possibilities out there, I can’t wait to hear about what you create! Let me know if you try out your own combination, and I’ll add a link to your post.
Have fun with it, and enjoy your varied pancake breakfasts! And with Mother’s Day tomorrow, pancakes might just offer a perfect brunch for you and Mom.
“Mum, we’re not that great at cooking pancakes–lack of opposable thumbs, and all that–but we would be happy to share them with you tomorrow.”
** Corn flakes with 1/2 banana, 6 prunes, and a cup of tea, in case you were wondering.
Pick-Your-Own GF Pancakes
This recipe is a serendipitous invention that came about because I was out of brown rice flour for another pancake I wished to make. By the time I was done, I’d altered almost every ingredient on the list and had discovered a fabulous, all-purpose generic pancake recipe. This is the last pancake recipe you’ll ever need!
1/2 cup (120 ml)*** millet or other grain flour, or use 1/4 cup (60 ml) each of two different grain flours (see List A, below)
1/4 cup (60 ml) sorghum, oat, or other starchy flour (see List B, below)
1/4 cup (60 ml) chickpea or other bean-based flour (see List C, below)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) xanthan gum (optional, but pancakes will be less cohesive without it)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon, ginger, or other spice of choice (you may need to reduce the amount to 1/4 tsp/1 ml for other spices)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) GF baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice PLUS
plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk to equal 1-1/4 cups (300 ml)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2. 5 ml) additional flavoring, such as almond, lemon, or coconut (optional)
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh or frozen berries or chopped fruit (such as apples, bananas or pears–do not thaw first if frozen), or nut pieces
In a large bowl, sift together the grain flour, starchy flour, beany flour, xanthan gum, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Pour the 1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice into a glass measuring cup and add milk of choice until liquid measures 1-1/4 cups (300 ml). To the cup, add the agave or stevia, oil, flax seeds, vanilla and other flavoring, if using.
Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir just to blend. Gently fold in the fruit or nuts.
Heat a nonstick frypan over medium heat. Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, place scoops of batter in the preheated pan and spread out a bit so that pancake isn’t so thick. Cook 4-5 minutes, until the tops are dry on top (they will lose their shine) and begin to brown on the edges (this may take time–be patient!). Flip pancakes and cook another 3-4 minutes, until both sides are deep golden brown (they need to be well done or the insides will remain too moist). As you finish the batter, keep pancakes warm in a low (300F/150C) oven. Makes 7-9 pancakes. May be frozen.
These are great when fresh; if you wish to store them a day or two, wrapped in plastic in the fridge, they may dry out a bit and become a bit more crumbly next time round. To avoid this outcome, you can always add 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) xanthan gum to the dry ingredients when you first prepare the pancakes.
***Note to Metric Cooks: I’ve used volume measurements even for the flours here, as weights will vary depending on which grains, beans, etc. you choose. I’ve found that scooping and leveling with a dry measuring cup (the graduated metal ones) works well.
Here’s a basic list of gluten-free flours and beans/legumes (notice that oats are now on the list!) to help you along. Easy!
And here are the lists of various flours I’ve found that work well (sorry, I haven’t mastered how to insert a chart yet!). The various combinations I’ve tried so far are listed at the bottom of the post.
Do you know of any others? Let me know! And have fun!
List A: Grains
brown rice flour
buckwheat flour (technically a seed, but functions as a grain)
List B: Starchy Flours
sorghum flour (technically a grain, but functions as a starch)
oat flour (technically a grain, but functions as a starch)
List C: Beany Flours
chickpea (besan) flour
whole bean flour (possibly only available in Canada, at Bulk Barn)
[Changes are afoot: I'll be revamping the blogroll (actually, the entire site!) in a few weeks and want to be sure I don't miss any of the blogs I regularly enjoy reading. If you'd like to be included--and especially if I've ever commented on your site--please let me know if you're not already on the list! I'll do my best to include everyone.]
You see, I’ve had a fairly rocky history with nuts–and I blame it all on my Uncle S.
One of my favorite relatives, Uncle S (along with Aunty M) lived upstairs in our family’s duplex during my childhood. We kids would scoot out the door, up the stairs and into their home without a thought or an invitation, assuming it was simply the top floor of our own place. Aunty M would greet us, hand over some homemade cookies, and then we’d go seek out our uncle.
I have to admit, I didn’t fully appreciate Uncle S’s unique charms until I was an adult. An unrivalled prankster, Uncle S was a puckish, Punk’d prototype whose myriad tricks were relentless. Case in point: every Sunday, our family would pile into Uncle S’s taxi (this was before my dad acquired a car) for an outing in the countryside. We’d drive for a while, after which, like clockwork, Uncle S would begin to hem and haw: “Gee, I don’t remember passing that tree over there. Maybe I took a wrong turn. You know, I’m not exactly sure where we are–maybe we’re lost. Ricki, which way should I go?” Given that I was only four or five at the time, I had no idea; but, also like clockwork, Uncle S’s musings sent me into paroxysms of anxiety, certain I’d be wandering forever in the woods, never to see my own home, bed or Barbie dolls again.
Once I grew older, I could appreciate Uncle S’s humor, his always jovial and somewhat michievious expression, reminiscent of the Pillsbury Dough Boy (although not in any way chubby). In fact, I’d say Uncle S resembled a cartoon character more than anything else: having lost his hair as a young man, his shiny dome was encircled with a fluffy white fringe that snaked round the back of his neck and behind his ears. His nose, slightly bulbous at the tip, was, like his cheeks, often flushed pink, and he wore a perpetual half-smile on his face.
Uncle S had a favorite expression, “No Fun!” which he used the way one would utter, “No Way!” or “You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me!”. The CFO and I found this endlessly amusing. To wit:
Ricki: Uncle S, my goldfish had babies and now we have four fishies.
Uncle S: No Fun!
[Ricki and The CFO erupt in peals of uncontrollable giggles, hands clamped over their mouths].
The summer my mother died, it seemed only Uncle S could lighten the moribund shroud of silence in the hospital waiting room where our family sat in stunned silence. Uncle S would ramble on, his words always infused with optimism and hope. One evening, as we all sat lost in resigned torpor, Uncle S was positioned across from me and the CFO, an absent, bemused expression on his face. The CFO leaned over to me and whispered, “Hey, doesn’t Uncle S sort of look like Bozo the Clown?” That smile! That fringe! That nose! Why yes, yes he did–and with that, Uncle S unwittingly bestowed on us a truly priceless gift: the only moment of unrestrained hilarity in an otherwise unbearable summer.
Ah, yes, you’re wondering about the nuts.
Uncle S loved to eat nuts. In particular, he was never without his glass jar of Planter’s Dry Roasted peanuts, which he carried with him wherever he went. Another open jar was stationed on a TV tray beside his armchair so he could munch as he enjoyed the Ed Sullivan Show. He’d pour a small mound into his open palm, then tip it into his mouth with a quick flick of the wrist as if tossing a ball for a prize at the midway. Then he’d plow ahead with whatever it was he’d been saying, mouth open and chewing, oblivious as the ground up bits of nut began to escape his mouth in little bursts of beige spray as he spoke. (In fact, those Planter’s nuts and an opened can of peas and carrots–spooned straight from the can, cold–are pretty much all I ever remember him eating).
For some inexplicable reason, I decided nuts were not my thing back then.
I’m happy to report that my nut aversion was finally overcome when I came across Elaine Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet (geared toward people with Crohn’s, Colitis, or other bowel diseases) while studying nutrition. Her recipes employ nut flours (basically just ground nuts), and I began to experiment with them back then. Almonds tend to be the most versatile (and mildest in flavor), but almost any nut will do–pop it in a food processor and blend to a mealy consistency.
To some extent, I’m following the ACD for the next month or so to heal my gut and encourage a little digestive rejuvenation. This means eating less gluten, fewer grains, and more fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These pancakes were an auspicious first attempt.
Made mostly with almond meal and a smidge of chickpea (besan) flour, they nevertheless retain a light, airy texture and a refreshing lemon tang. Neither the almond nor the chickpea asserts itself too prominently, so the flavor remains mild. I served these last week (before eschewing all sweeteners) with a splash of organic maple syrup from Coombs Family Farms that I received as sample (more on that in an upcoming post) and they were, quite simply, delicious.
I may not be nutty enough to consume a jar of Planter’s peanuts just yet. Still, these little treats are a healthy step in the right direction.
Light and moist, these pancakes offer both high protein content and a good source of calcium. Made without the lemon zest, they’d work as a servicable sandwich bread as well. You could probably use prepared almond meal instead of the whole almonds for a quicker preparation.
1/2 cup (85 g) natural almonds, with skin (raw or lightly toasted)
1/4 cup (25 g) finely ground flax meal
2/3 cup (160 ml) plain or vanilla soymilk
1 Tbsp (30 ml) agave nectar, light or dark
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup (80 ml) chickpea (besan) or whole bean flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) fine sea salt
In the bowl of a food processor, whir the almonds and flax until you have a very fine meal the texture of coarse cornmeal. There should be no large pieces of almond visible.
Add the milk, agave, oil, lemon zest and lemon juice and whir again. Allow to sit while you prepare the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
Heat a nonstick frypan over medium heat (I use cast iron). Add the remaining ingredients to the processor and whir just until blended.
Using a small ice cream scoop or 2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml), pour batter onto hot pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until bubbles appear and then pop on the surface of the pancakes and the edges look dry. Gently flip and then cook another 2-3 minutes on other side. Keep cooked pancakes warm while you continue with the rest of the batter. Makes 8-10 small pancakes (if you prefer regular-sized pancakes, you’ll get 4-5). May be frozen.
Candida-friendly variation: use unsweetened milk and substitute about 6 drops of stevia liquid or equivalent powder for the agave nectar. For more ACD-friendly breakfast ideas, see this post.
First, and most importantly: Happy 2009, everyone! Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and good wishes for the new year. I can’t even begin to express how much I appreciate them all and how much blogging has brought into my life. But by far, the best part is you–readers and other bloggers. Thank you for sharing 2008 with me, and I look forward to 2009!
The HH and I (sans The Girls, unfortunately, as our Elsie Girl refuses to play nice with the other five dogs who live there) spent another lovely, bucolic New Year’s Eve with my friends Gemini I and II and their broods up at Gemini I’s palatial country “cottage.” We ate, we drank, and Gemini II’s hubby lit fireworks just before midnight, when we toasted in 2009. The rest of the time, we chillaxed to the max, reading in front of the fireplace, watching ice fishers huddled by their hut atop the lake, taking photos of indigenous birds perched at the feeder outside the window, or working as a group on the massive, 2-page annual crossword puzzle that’s printed in The Globe and Mail. I didn’t even mind the snow and ice (a New Year’s Eve miracle!).
And now, back to reality. . . and back to business.
Although I more or less threw resolutions out the window many years ago (really, don’t I already know I’ll want to lose weight after the holidays?), I do update a list I call my “Five Year Plan.” In it, I write down goals for the following six months, the following year, two years, and five years. I try to arrange them so that the earlier goals might naturally precede the later goals (eg., six months: take a course in html; one year: design own web page).
Okay, so maybe it’s just another version of resolutions after all. . .but this long-term view has worked well for me in the past: one of the most unusual “goals” that came to fruition was “work with a business coach–for free”; and so far, the best one (way back before I met the HH) was “own my own home,” something I’m adding back to the list this year, now that we’ve been renting for. . . well, far too long.
I’ve decided that this list works best when it’s kept private, as last year’s list, while not that different from the ones I wrote before it, was a total bust. Instead of losing 50 pounds over the past 50 weeks or so, I’ve gained about four (definitely more than the “1.5 pound” holiday average. My parents always encouraged me to try to be above average, so I guess I can say I’ve accomplished that now).
Still, I believe the concept is a great one and one that most people should try at least once. As the famous Harvard study demonstrated, those who write down their goals (as opposed to simply thinking of them) tend to concretize them, and the goals are more apt to come true. For whatever reason, putting something down on paper triggers a mechanism in the brain that impels you to action. I will share the easiest goal on my list, though: remain part of the blogging world, and keep blogging regularly. That one, at least, I know will be pure pleasure to enact!
Before I bid 2008 adieu permanently, however, I wanted to share the amazing Indian feast we had when the CFO visited at Christmas time. Although our meal on December 25th was relatively traditional, it was this one (the following night) that became the high point of holiday meals for us.
[Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce]
I first discovered Indian cuisine about 10 years ago, after having to change my diet dramatically and seek out foods that met my dietary challenges. At the time, being both a meat eater and a wheat eater, those challenges were plentiful.
Then I began to frequent Indian restaurants. Most dishes were not only wheat-free, but gluten-free as well! And the vegetarian/vegan options seemed endless. Here in Toronto, many Indian restaurants operate as all-you-can-eat buffets. These ostensibly boundless displays of vegetable- and legume-based dishes were dazzling and even a bit overwhelming at first, as I was determined to try every dish in my new culinary repertoire. (Eventually, I realized, many of those dishes had been sitting out under warming lights for hours, or were thrown together from leftovers of two or more of the previous day’s dishes; I began to opt for sit-down restaurants instead).
It seemed natural to attempt to re-create those spicy, saucy, succulent meals at home. I bought a couple of Indian cookbooks and went to work. In those days, I cooked a lot of chicken and meat dishes, some of which I’ve converted over the years. Perhaps it was curry overload; perhaps I assumed I’d never achieve a comparable result without the meat. For whatever reason, I hadn’t cooked a full Indian meal in some time.
Then I remembered that the CFO was also a fan of the cuisine and had an idea to whip up our own little Indian buffet as a post-Christmas dinner. The results were stellar, and made me wonder why I’ve neglected those recipes for so long.
Our meal included a fabulous multi-lentil dal based on Lisa’s recipe (my only change to the original recipe was using three types of lentil instead of lentils and moong beans); peas in a creamy sauce; curried potatoes and kale; and cheela (chickpea pancakes) along with basmati rice. While the potato dish was pretty much a haphazard combination of leftover tomato sauce, chopped kale, and chunks of spud, I did take note of the other recipes and can share them here.
Each of these dishes on its own would make a warming, satisfying light meal; put them together, and you’ve got a memorable finale to an eventful year.
One definite item in my next 5-Year Plan: Cook Indian more often.
Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce
Super quick and easy, this side dish provides a lovely visual contrast to the mostly dull colors of long-simmered curries. The vibrant green and sweet flavor of the peas is perfect as an accompaniment to the intense spice of the other dishes. From an unidentified cookbook–sorry!
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) Sucanat or other unrefined evaporated cane juice
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) ground cumin
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) garam masala
3/4 tsp. (7.5 ml.) fine sea salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. (1-2.5 ml.) chili powder, to your taste
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) tomato purée (I used organic ketchup and omitted the Sucanat, above)
3/4 cup (180 ml.) unsweetened almond or soymilk
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. (10 ml.) chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 fresh green chili, chopped (optional–I omitted it as all the other dishes were very spicy)
3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. (2. 5 ml.) black or yellow mustard seeds (I used black)
2-10 ounce (285 g.) bags frozen peas, defrosted under lukewarm water and drained
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) organic cornstarch or arrowroot powder, if needed
Combine the Sucanat, ground cumin, garam masala, salt, chili powder and tomato purée in the bottom of a medium-sized bowl. Slowly stir in 2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) water and mix well. Add the soymilk gradually and mix; then add the lemon juice, cilantro and optional green chili. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry until the seeds begin to pop (about 20-30 seconds). Add the peas and fry for 30 more seconds before adding the sauce to the pan. Cook on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. For a thicker sauce, ladle out about 1/2 cup of the sauce into a small bowl and blend with the 1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) cornstarch. Add this mixture back to the frypan and stir until thickened.
Serve over rice or with cheela. Makes about 6 servings.
*From what I can tell, these are also sometimes called pudla. Whatever you call them, they were so remarkably good that we consumed them all before I realized I’d not taken a photo. But other versions abound on the net; for photos, check out the blog posts by Johanna, Lisa, Pikelet and Pie (with zucchini) or (for an Italian twist) Kalyn.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, turmeric, baking soda, cumin, soymilk, and enough water to make a slightly thick, yet still flowing, batter. Stir in the chopped onion, green chili, tomato and cilantro.
Heat a nonstick (5 inch or 12 cm.) pancake pan [I just used a regular frypan] and spray with olive oil spray. Pour in about 1/3 cup batter, spreading it around to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin pancake. Spray the top of the pancake with oil as well.
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook the pancake for about 2-3 minutes, until the top begins to dry and the bottom of browned in spots. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until the other side is browned as well. Remove and keep warm while you make another 7 or so pancakes. Serve hot. Makes about 8 pancakes. Best eaten immediately (they do dry out if kept till the next day).
(Quick–try saying that title out loud ten times!).
After staying up too late watching Tina Fey’s masterwork on Saturday evening, the HH and I woke up late Sunday–perfect excuse for brunch! As I rooted through the refrigerator for inspiration, I came across a half-full container of soy yogurt. Now, you may recall that I was all high and mighty (though not as high and mighty as Tina Fey) last week, feeling pretty darned smug about how I cook everything from scratch, would never buy anything processed, yadda yadda yadda. Well, isn’t it ironic, then, that I happened to have this soy yogurt glaring at me from the top shelf of my fridge? True, I bought it originally at the behest of my friend PR Queen, who’d been extolling the virtues of this particular brand to me (and it did come in very handy for my mock tuna). In this case, I promised to try out the strawberry flavor, and while it was. . . .okay. . . . I wasn’t crazy about it. I knew I’d never consume it “straight” the way I would dairy yogurt. So I began to wonder what else I could conjure with it.
The first item I baked was a brownie–and not just any brownie–this one was superlative, and I’ll post about it anon (Oh, vague recollection of ACD! Wherefore art thou, ACD, and why hast thou forsaken me, and I forsaken thee?) Anyway, I thought I might combine the strawberry yogurt with sliced bananas for an ultra airy, fluffy pancake. I imagined the yogurt would react much like buttermilk in the recipe, creating a feather-light texture and fine crumb. I was salivating at the very thought. (“Mum, we could salivate at the thought, too, you know–we sort of can’t help it. Just ask Pavlov.“)
In the home of my childhood, pancakes were a big deal. In fact, brunch on Sundays were basically sacrosanct in our house; it was the only meal of the week we could all share together as a family (my dad worked 6 days a week in his butcher shop–yep, that’s right, he was a butcher!–and generally left in the morning before we kids were awake, then didn’t return home until well beyond 7:00 or 8:00 PM, after completing deliveries. But he didn’t work on Sundays, so that day was reserved for our family meal).
No matter what my sisters or I had planned for the rest of the day, no matter how much we’d sobbed the night before watching Susan Hayward in I Want To Liveon the Late Show, no matter how much we’d shrieked and bopped and hurled pieces of toast at the screen during The Rocky Horror Picture Show, no matter how many Pina Coladas we’d downed while dancing with our buddies at the local disco, we were still expected to be on time at the brunch table on Sunday. And since Dad was an early riser, “brunch” might begin anywhere from 8:30 to 10:00AM. To their credit, my parents never said a word when we stumbled to the table looking less than perky.
Occasionally, my mother would whip up a “treat,” what she called Cottage Cheese Pancakes (no points for creativity there–they were pancakes that contained cottage cheese). Compared to our regular brunch pancakes, which were thick, fluffy, and mile-high, the cottage cheese variety were more like a yawn than a sigh: heavier, moister, and, to my mind, far less refined. The first time you tried them, you might even wonder whether they were entirely cooked, as the outsides appeared bronzed and dry, yet the innards never quite lost their cheesy, gooey moistness.
When I cooked up my own cakes this past Sunday and dug into the first bite, I was taken aback by the memory of those cottage cheese pancakes. To begin with, they weren’t quite as high and fluffy as I’d expected, more like a cross between a pancake and a crêpe (a pancrêpe?). Not entirely flat, yet with a slightly moist interior (courtesy of the yogurt), creamy and sweet where dotted with nearly-caramelized banana, these rounds were appealing enough to munch on their own, yet not so sweet to be cloying when served with syrup or jam (such as the all-fruit strawberry preserves with which I topped them). They were also, coincidentally, most astonishingly good, and the HH and I enjoyed a couple of them each alongside our weekend tofu scramble.
In the end, I wasn’t sure what to call these cakes. I decided to go simply with “cakes,” which reflects their connection to both pancakes and griddle cakes from my childhood. A delicious combination of fruit and cake; seemed like the perfect breakfast to me.
[Quick Cookbook Note: THANKS SO MUCH, everyone, for your wonderful comments and support regarding the cookbook! And thanks to all the volunteers who asked to be testers. I'm wrapping up the paperwork and will contact the testers this week! I really appreciate everyone's input and feedback, testers or not--so keep those commentscoming!]
Banana Berry Breakfast Cakes
A cross between a classic pancake and a crepe, these are the vegan incarnation of cottage cheese pancakes, with the added bonus of two types of fruit. The strawberry may be my feeble attempt to hold onto the last vestiges of summer, but luckily, yogurt is in season all year round.
1 cup (240 ml.) strawberry soy yogurt (I used this brand)
1/2 cup (120 ml.) plain soymilk or almond milk
1 Tbsp. (30 ml.) finely ground flax meal
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) light agave nectar
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
1 tsp. (5 ml.) pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. (2. 5 ml.) apple cider vinegar
1 banana, thinly sliced
3/4 cup (110 g.) light spelt flour
1/2 cup ( g.) whole oat flour (or grind oats in a coffee grinder to a fine powder)
2 tsp. (10 ml.) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) baking soda
pinch sea salt
In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, soymilk, flax, agave nectar, oil, vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Gently stir in the bananas; set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir briefly to combine. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir just to mix (it’s okay if a few small lumps remain here or there).
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml.) measuring cup, pour the batter onto a warmed nonstick frypan (try to include at least a couple of slices of banana in each pancake). Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until the bubbles on the surface of the pancakes begin to pop and the edges of the cakes appear dry. Flip the cakes and cook another 3-4 minutes on the other side, until golden. Serve immediately. Makes 8-10 pancakes. May be frozen.
* [or Concasse, if you prefer the more conventional term. . . but I just loved the word "tracklement" ever since I read it on Lucy's blog, and besides, "Tomato Tracklement" is just so much more alliterative.]
Last weekend was our Canada Day holiday, and this year I learned an important lesson. No, it wasn’t “Canada is 141 years old” (even though it was). Uh-uh, it wasn’t “Canada is a vast and picturesque, multicultural and welcoming country in which to live” (I already knew that one). Nope, not even ”Although Canada is a vast and picturesque, multicultural and welcoming country in which to live, a summer full of rain really sucks–almost as much as a typical Canadian winter.” And finally, nay, it also wasn’t “The Girls are still scared of fireworks” (really, talk about stating the obvious).
No, dear readers, the all-important lesson I learned this past weekend was simply this:
Never (and I mean never) attempt to drive across the province at the beginning of a long July 1st weekend.
Elementary, you say? Well, for some reason, the HH and I, despite 10 years of trekking from Toronto to Montreal and back on a regular basis, have never traveled that particular stretch of the 401 on the long Canada Day weekend. This year, with my dad turning 87, we decided it was a necessity.
The 500-kilometre (about 315 mile) drive usually takes us between 4.5 and 6 hours, depending on (A) time of departure; (B) weather conditions; (C) who’s driving; (D) number of rest stops; and (E) traffic. This past weekend, our multiple-choice answer was overwhelmingly, “E,” or really, more like, “EEEEEeeeeee!!!” To be precise, eight hours’ worth of “E.”
As we slid out of the city and onto the highway, I sensed a barely perceptible increase in the volume of vehicles on the road. Then, within about five minutes, it became painfully clear: everyone and their canines were heading off to the cottage for the long weekend. And us? No cottage; no canines (The Girls were happily ensconced at the doggie daycare for the weekend); and no discernible movement on the roads. I’d completely forgotten our route included a short span of terrain known as ”cottage country” (also known, as the Barenaked Ladies recently reminded us in song, as “Peterborough and the Kawarthas“). And there we were, the HH and I, motionless amid all the eager, impatient, fidgety and perspiring boaters, gardeners, waterskiers and Barbeque-ers, our wheels moving barely a quarter turn every 10 minutes or so.
Even if we could afford one, I doubt we would actually buy a cottage (and this has nothing to do with the fact that the HH is a role model for ”don’t do it yourself-ers”). Still, I do treasure memories of spending summers at various country houses when I was a kid. My parents couldn’t afford a cottage, either, but in those days, rentals were abundant and reasonably priced, and didn’t require reservations a year in advance (one summer, in fact, I clearly remember my parents discussing the possibility of escaping the city on the very evening school let out; by the following afternoon, I’d tossed my report card in the closet, pulled my collection of comic books out instead, and we were on the road toward our temporary summer home).
In those days, my parents rented a house through July and August. They’d pack up the family (my two sisters, our cocker spaniel, Sweeney, and I) in the back of my dad’s station wagon-cum-butcher shop delivery van, and off we went to our rudimenatry cabin in the woods, sans modern amenities or TV. Along with the other husbands, my father helped us settle in the first weekend, then headed back to the city (and his store) during the week, while the rest of us hung around with the moms and kids until the men returned each Friday evening. For five days a week, the wives managed to keep things running smoothly, demonstrating both independence and resourcefulness; yet every Friday, they mysteriously reverted to squeaky voices, soft entreaties and deference, much as early feminists must have done when their soldier-husbands returned from the front.
In the intervals free from paternal presence, we children would run barefoot along the roadside, plucking thick, flat blades of crabgrass to grip securely between tightly pressed thumbs, then huffing and blowing our makeshift whistles, our postures in supplication to nature. We’d seek out the other kids whose parents rented homes around the same lake, for day-long games of hide-and-seek, for building sand forts at the lakeside, or for throwing sticks to Sweeney and the other dogs (who, bored with our weak attempts at “fetch,” would lope off and sleep under porches, squirrel-hunt in the woods, or, toward evening, launch a stealth attack on the hotdogs piled on plates beside the Bar-B-Q’s).
By the end of the season, we’d worn ourselves out with outdoor games, our limbs buff and bronzed in variegated strips of earthtone after two months of shifting sleeve lengths. All the books I’d brought were read and forgotten; I’d colored and drawn and written in my journal about my adventures; my younger sister and I had picked countless plastic sandbuckets full of wild blueberries from the hill at the end of town; and we were, finally, ready to go home.
One of my fondest memories is the drive back south, passing field after field of farmers’ corn as it just approached ripeness. The long, elegant leaves swished and swayed in the breeze like our own welcoming committee, a troupe of Hawaiian dancers greeting tourists as they disembark from the plane. By the time school resumed, we were eating fresh cobs of corn with our dinners, juice trailing down our chins and our cheeks flecked with wayward bits of yellow like reverse freckles on our tanned faces.
I reminisced about that incomparable corn as I contemplated Pancakes on Parade, the event hosted by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. I had already decided (though I love sweet pancakes and make them whenever there’s an excuse) that I wanted to do something savory for this event. Corn cakes are a long-time favorite, and they seemed the perfect choice. And while there’s nothing quite like a plump, fresh cob of grilled or steamed corn, juicy and sweet and eaten with the same enthusiasm usually reserved for long-absent lovers, sometimes it’s just impossible to acquire the fresh kind. That’s when frozen, or even canned (heresy!) come in handy.
The crêpes are based on a recipe I created a few years ago for a brunch event. This time, however, I decided to pair them with a sweet and tart tomato concasse, and the combination improved the overall effect considerably. The tracklement cooks up really quickly, in just the right amount of time to serve alongside the crêpes. Savor these right away, or wrap up for later consumption–they’d make a great snack if you ever find yourself stuck on the highway for eight hours or so.
Corn Crêpes with Quick Tomato Tracklement
A savory pancake with occasional bursts of sweetness in juicy corn kernels, these are great with the accompanying tomato concasse for brunch or light dinner. Or use with other savory spreads such as hummus or avocado mayonnaise.
3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) sunflower or other light-tasting oil
1 c. (240 ml.) unsweetened soy milk or almond milk
1 tsp. (10 ml.) apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml.) corn kernels, freshly cooked, frozen or canned (drained)
1/2 cup (120 ml.) water, vegetable broth or liquid from canned corn
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, soymilk, vinegar, corn kernels, water, flax seeds, and agave nectar. Mix well and set aside while you prepare the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add the dill and paprika and mix well.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir just to blend (a few small lumps may remain here and there; this is as it should be. The batter will be thin).
Heat a small nonstick or cast iron frypan over medium heat. Using about 1/2 cup (120 ml.) batter per crepe, fill the pan and tilt if necessary to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Allow 4-5 minutes before flipping the crepe (it is ready to turn when bubbles appear and pop on the top surface, creating little “craters,” and the edge of the crepe looks dry). Cook briefly on the second side, only enough to dry the surface, about one minute.
Keep cooked crepes warm while you continue with the rest of the batter. Serve immediately. Makes about 6 large or 20 small crepes.
In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the basil and cook for one more minute. Add remaining ingredients and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the condiment is thick and almost smooth, 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature over corn crepes, bread or crackers. Makes about 3/4 cup.
Thanks, everyone, for all your wonderfully supportive and encouraging comments about the osteopenia diagnosis. I’ve been boning up on the topic (sorry-ouch) and have some great recipe ideas to share in the next while (and even one today). I’ll also get to my responses asap. . . sorry I’ve fallen behind a bit!
Last week, out of nowhere, I made a monumental resolution. Flushed with excitement, I rushed home from work and announced to the HH, ”I have a great idea. I think we should be more spontaneous from now on.”
He appeared flummoxed (this happens all too often when I make my pronouncements, it seems). ”Okay, so now we’re making plans to be spontaneous?”
Hmmn. I SO hate it when he’s right.
“Well, how about this, smarty pants?” I countered. ”I went grocery shopping today and I spontaneously bought these overripe tomatoes on sale, even though I had no specific plans to cook anything with them.” Touché!
“Oh, well, then, that settles it,” he capitulated. “You’ve convinced me. Okay, let’s go to Paris for dinner!’
Foiled again. But did he have to look so darned smug about it?
Well, this past weekend, I am proud to say, I did manage some spontaneous fun. My friend Eternal Optimist rang me late Friday afternoon with an invitation for the HH and me to attend a show at the local Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club–to which she just happened to have free passes!
Well, without a second’s hesitation, I told her, ”Um, I’ll just have to call and check with the HH to be sure he hasn’t booked anything else. Oh, and then I’ll have to walk The Girls. Oh, and feed them. Oh, yeah, and after that, I’ll just finish cooking tonight’s dinner before I wrap up a few things for work–but hey, if I can manage to get all that done before the show tonight, then heck, YEAH! I’M THERE!” Whoo-hoo! I love this unfussy, impromptu, last-minute socializing!
Okay, I’ll concede that I may not be the most spontaneous person in the world–but with good reason. In the faraway days of (non-alcoholic) wine and roses–in other words, high school–my best friend Sterlin was sleeping over at my house one late-October weekend when my parents were out of town. As we sat, eyes transfixed on the TV (I think Dallaswas on), our friends Gary and Jackie dropped in unexpectedly (how spontaneous of them!). They invited us out to the local Dunkin Donuts. It was late; we were tired; but then, they made us an offer we absolutely could not refuse:
“Okay,” Jackie challenged, “If you two come out right now as you are, the donuts and coffee are our treat. “ Had we heard correctly? TREAT? No matter that our garb at the moment was our flannel nighties; no matter that it was 11:15 PM; FREE donuts? FREE coffee? We flung a blanket round our shoulders and hopped in the car!
Once there, of course, the rules changed (these were, after all, seventeen year-old boys.) “Okay, we’ll still treat you,” Gary announced, “but you have to go in there without us and buy the donuts.” In our nighties. With a blanket wrapped around us. Would we possibly be that gullible? Well, we were, after all, seventeen year-old girls.
I’m sure you’ve guessed the end of the story. The second we exited the car–scree-eech!–they were off like–well, like two seventeen year-old boys in their father’s car. And we were left abandoned, streetlights trained on us like the spotlight at a prison lineup, at 11:30 at night, in the middle of Dunkin Donuts’ parking lot, wearing flannel nighties and a blankie.
So you see why I’m perhaps a bit spontaneity-shy these days.
Despite my adolescent trauma, I did end up joining the EO on Friday–solo, as it turned out, since the HH was felled by a major cold and didn’t feel up to it. It was actually a most enjoyable evening: the show was hilarious and I really appreciated being able to share some long overdue “Gal Time” with my buddy.
This morning, browsing through my Google Reader subscriptions, I came across this mention of Dreena Burton’s Carob Pancakes on Trust My Intuition’s blog. The description of these was so enticing that I decided–entirely extemporaneously!–to whip up a batch of my own devising. I vaguely remembered learning in nutrition school that carob is (surprisingly) high in calcium; so, with my newfound attraction to all things spine-supporting, I threw together a combination that was both appealing and brimming with bone building nutrients.
The resulting pancakes were extraordinarily light and fluffy, with a cakelike texture (versus the sometimes damp, heavy griddle cakes you’re served in restaurants). Carob on its own is slightly sweet, so you may not feel the need for maple syrup on these; in fact, we had ours with syrup, and I could easily have omitted it (if you spread with almond butter instead, you’d be adding even MORE calcium!). The carob flavor is subtle and melds beautifully with the soft pockets of sticky, luscious date. (and don’t worry–even if your dates are stiff to begin with, the cooking process will soften them). For nutritional info, see my calculations after the recipe instructions.
I adored these pancakes. Made with carob, they were even safe for The Girls to taste a bite or two. (“We loved those pancakes, Mum! Let’s have pancakes every day!”) Unfortunately, the poor HH couldn’t really taste these at all, since his congested sinuses have dampened his sense of smell. (“Sorry Dad’s sick–but since he didn’t like them, can we eat his, then?”)
I may not be having dinner in Paris any time soon, but here in Toronto, these made one very delicious–and spontaneous–breakfast. One that would beat Dunkin Donuts, any day.
Carob and Date Pancakes
Feel free to change the fruits in these cakes if you prefer something else. Next time, I’ll likely make these with chopped prunes, as I’ve been told they’re also good for improving bone health (thanks, Andrea!) P.S. When I said these are light and fluffy, I meant it–that’s only 3 pancakes in the photo, above!
1-3/4 cups plain or vanilla soy milk
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) ground flax seeds
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. (60 ml.) sunflower oil or other light-tasting oil
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) pure maple syrup
2/3 cup (165 ml.) chopped dates
2 cups (280 g.) whole spelt flour
3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) carob flour or powder
1 Tbsp. (30 ml.) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) baking soda
1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.) sea salt
1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.) ground cardamon, optional
chopped pecans, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine the soymilk, flax seeds, vinegar, oil, maple syrup and chopped dates. Set aside while you measue the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, carob powder, baking powder, soda, salt, and cardamon, if using. (Note: even if you don’t normally sift your flour, you should sift the carob powder, as it tends to clump up in the batter otherwise, leaving little lumps of carob).
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix well. It may seem a bit thin; this is as it should be.
Heat a frypan over medium heat; spray with olive oil or nonstick spray. Using a 1/4 cup (60 ml.) measuring cup or an ice-cream scoop, scopp the batter (taking care to include a few bits of date in each cupful) and pour onto hot pan. Spread a little with the back of the scoop to create an even thickness.
Cook the pancakes until bubble break on the surface and the outside edge is dry and just beginning to brown (3-4 minutes). Flip and cook the other side 2-3 more minutes. Repeat until all the batter is used. Makes about 12 pancakes. Garnish with chopped pecans just before serving, if desired. These may be frozen.
NUTRIENT ANALYSIS: [Note: I used this program to determine the nutrient content (does anyone know of a better one?). Since it doesn't have spelt flour OR enriched soymilk as options, these numbers used whole wheat flour and plain soymilk; the calcium--and most other nutrients--will increase if you calculate with spelt and enriched milk.]
Per serving of 2 pancakes: Calories: 330; Protein: 8 grams; Fiber: 9 grams; Calcium: 215 mg.
[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog. For more information, check the "Cookbook" button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]