I admit, it isn't the most innovative title for my first blog entry in over months and months but there you have it.
Several years ago, at a wedding, the mother of a dear friend of mine once told me that when she was growing up, her mother didn't teach her how to cook. She was the youngest of three sisters. The older two had learned how to make entrees and supporting dishes, so when it came down to her, all that was left was the baking. So she learned how to bake.
I love baking. Especially the desserts. Because, by and large, baking seems to come easily to me and the results are always so darned tasty. I spent a lot of time not understanding how people could have problems with it. And one day, like as not, the truth came from the loml, who pointed out that the reason I liked baking was because i was super anal about measuring out ingredients (his big example being that i would use a measuring cup to make oatmeal. Seriously?? How can you ensure the consistency of your oatmeal if you don't measure?? but whatever). He was was correct. I like measuring things, which is actually one of the big keys to baking: Baking is chemistry, and if you aren't going to be exact then you'll get what you deserve.
Harsh, i know. But this exact same attitude is also the reason that my pancakes are not great. It took me a while to figure it out, mainly because I don't make pancakes that often and when i do, the mini-loml doesn't have any feedback besides "moar syrup plz!".
note* mini-loml does sound like that. I had no idea people could talk in lolcat but they do.
So, while on a recent carrot pancake cook-stravaganza (which is another story altogether), the loml commented "the pancakes are tough; I can't cut through them with my fork". And at first, I responded "that's because they are full of carrot". But the comment lingered on my back-burners. He'd said it before, and he was right. And I know, I know, you aren't supposed to over-mix your pancake mix because this is exactly what will happen. You'll mess with the gluten too much and the whole thing gets tough. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LUMPS! All pancake recipes say something to this effect, when you mix the wet ingredients (egg, milk, etc) with the dry (flour, etc) you only stir enough to moisten; mixture will be lumpy.
This has to be the one cooking instruction in the history of my life that I can't obey. I see those lumps. They see me. I think "how is cooking, going to make a lump of flour magically blend into a pancake? What's going to happen when I serve that pancake? THAT FLOUR LUMP WILL STILL BE THERE". And propelled by the insanity, i just keep stirring, poking, flattening, and mixing the batter until Voila - tough pancakes!
I don't know what changed today. I am a person composed of neuroses, but today i just looked at my carrot pancake recipe and thought, "I am going to do this. I am only going to stir 'til moistened. I will pour those pancakes even if they have lumps. And even if they wind up on a plate, with lumps, I'll bet they are going to be light and fluffy. And even if they aren't, I will try again tomorrow."
I wish I knew. If I knew what caused this event of sanity and clarity to occur, I'd finish my self-help book and be pushing an online sales business that would be tomorrow's highly profitable flavor-of-the-month in that market. Then maybe I'd retire on my money and become some kind of guru. You think I'm joking. I'm not.
My pancakes were good. I don't know if they were great, but I could cut them with a fork and they were damn tasty. Here's to tasty pancakes.