So my first blog post is going to be about pancakes. When I was a kid, my Dad would occasionally make pancakes from scratch, but more often than not, we would make them from a store-bought mix. Well when we moved to Indiana, my Mom would bring us some of that mix from time to time, and we tried a few different mixes that we would find at Kroger, but none of them were quite up to snuff.
I suppose that I should point out here, that there is a huge long list of food that I am kind of a snob about (someday I will post about Vodka). Pancakes are one of them. There is no good-enough pancake. Either they are awesome or inedible.
I was about to give up on pancakes. We had found an awesome recipe for waffles, but waffles are a bit of a pain to make; and as Alton Brown would say, waffles are a different article. But then it was Alton Brown to the rescue.
Again, I think a little bit of back-story may be necessary. I watch the food network. A lot. There are a lot of personalities on that network that I like, and even more that I don’t like (Tyler Florence). But Alton Brown has never let me down — I have never tried one of his recipes and been disappointed. Never. Ever.
So one night when I saw that Good Eats was about pancakes, I could barely contain my excitement. The best part of all of this was that he didn’t just make pancakes. He made pancake mix — a dry mix that I could keep on the shelf ready to make pancakes whenever the mood hit. Now for the right time to try them out.
Enter Anthony. When he turned 6, we asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday. In typical Anthony style, he says “I want pancakes.” Well, it was his birthday, so I decided the best way to try out this new pancake recipe was on a bunch of 6 year old kids. In the end, I think it was a stroke of genius because Jen ended up spending the entire 2 hours with all of the kids at the party, while I stayed in the kitchen and made pancake after pancake after pancake.
Turns out, they were the best pancakes I had ever had. As I recall everyone at the party agreed. We made them again a few months later while we were camping. Amazingly, they taste even better when cooked over an open fire.
I hope by now you are wondering where the recipe is. Well it is here.
But before you click there … in my opinion, that recipe is a little thick. I end up adding about 1/2 cup of 2% milk to thin them out just a little.
Now, I am not just some nut job that decides to write a blog post about pancakes just because I really like pancakes (I do). I recently spent the afternoon at the kid's school, and I have been paying attention to my kids and their friend’s attitudes about food. What I am seeing is disturbing, and it is making me rethink some of my attitudes about food. Now I know that I have some unhealthy habits when it comes to eating (to which my spare tire will gladly attest). But that isn’t what is really bugging me. I think the best way to explain it is with an anecdote.
I remember being excited when I left for college, and a little intimidated (to be honest). I also remember that after a couple of weeks, I wanted to get home. The main reason was to see Jen, who was still finishing up her last year of high school. But there was also the food. I remember not realizing it until I sat down to eat on Sunday afternoon. I can’t remember what we had, but I remember thinking that it was the best thing I had eaten in a while.
Now I see my kids, and even more so with their friends, who think that the pancakes at Denny’s are good (FYI, they are not), or that hamburger helper is a decent meal (again, it is not). This trend makes me sad. What is there to look forward to when you leave home if the cookies you are used to are from Subway, or the freezer section of the grocery store? Sure there is lots of new stuff to experience when you leave home, but that is what makes the food of home all that more important. After all, who wants to be nostalgic for Spaghetti-Os the way Mom used to make them? I don’t know about you, but I want something better for my kids.
I will admit that I have been accused of being an elitist in the past, so I need to be clear here: sometimes we have to settle when it comes to our food. Nothing else could explain the existence of Taco Bell. We just have to. But it should be the exception to the rule. Are our kids really benefiting from a hurried fast food meal so that they can get to <insert your sport of choice here> practice?
This weekend, Anthony & I made peanut butter cookies. From scratch. Only 3 ingredients (thanks Paula Dean!), since chocolate is always optional. They were awesome. Last weekend Sydney & I made pancakes (yep the ones that started this whole thing), and they were great. Ross & I have a special meatloaf that we make from time to time.
So, for me, I think the moral of the story is that we should all take some time and cook with our kids — it’s good for us, it’s good for them — and we should try to teach our kids that we should never, ever settle for mediocrity. If we settle for mediocre food, what else are we settling for?