"There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food." ~ Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
Breakfast is a great time to read. Well, at least that’s what I thought as a child. Even during the "most important meal of the day," I was reading. I loved to read, an attribute I inherited from both my parents, who raised my sister and me with trips to the St. Joe library and used book stores, as well as a perpetual subscription to Southern Living magazine. Believe it or not, I often chose the cereal mom bought for the week based upon what was on the box to read as I ate; sometimes it was Life, sometimes Raisin Bran, sometimes Golden Grahams. As I enjoyed my bowl of breakfast each school morning, I would read the riddles, jokes and even nutrition facts on the boxes of cereal.
Even now, I find breakfast a gentle way to start the day. I still enjoy the occasional bowl of cereal, but I prefer to cook something warm when time allows. Breakfast can be a time for slowing down to create something for the family, and then sitting down to quietly enjoy the meal together. At least on the weekend, that is. Weekdays lend themselves to those quick bowls of grits, oatmeal, or cereal, as in my house growing up. Weekdays are more often rushed, as household members tend to eat absent-mindedly, already thinking about work or school plans for the day. I guess that's why they keep the number of words on the cereal boxes at a minimum; no time for lengthy reading material when Mrs. Brownell's bus is expected at the corner at 7:15 a.m.
Weekend breakfasts are better. In my house, when my three sons were young and I had to keep those perpetually empty stomachs filled, pancakes were a great way to do that, and they requested them often. I have numerous recipes for great pancakes as a result. I’ve made pumpkin pie pancakes, apple pie pancakes, banana pancakes, and of course, the classic blueberry pancakes. Sometimes if I had no fruit on hand, I’d simply make a batch of plain, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, and the boys would dive in just as happily, as long as there was butter and warm syrup.
I loved those mornings when my three little boys would wake up, pad barefoot into the living room, grab an afghan and curl up on the couch to watch cartoons. When I heard them stirring, i’d pull out the skillets and in one, begin frying some bacon, and in the second, I’d begin melting butter in preparation for cooking the pancakes. It only took a whiff of the aroma of bacon and the scent of blueberry syrup simmering on the stove to entice them off the couch and into the kitchen. They would begin cutting into their stacks of pancakes, and I’d continue pouring them on the pan and then putting them onto a warm platter, because as soon as their plates were empty, they’d come back for more!
I miss those mornings; my boys are nearly grown, and on weekends now, it's usually just my husband and myself, with the occasional son popping in when we're extra-blessed. Whether you have a houseful of folks or a nearly-empty nest, like me, hold on to these pancake recipes for a nice, quiet weekend morning. And if you make a batch, keep in mind that you can freeze them, once cooled, between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a freezer bag for easy separating and reheating. That’ll make an easy breakfast for some future morning!
If you’re looking for a good basic recipe, here’s one I really have enjoyed:
Steph’s Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Place the eggs in a mixing bowl and beat them with a whisk.. Add to them the buttermilk and baking soda. Mix well.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and oil. Mix to blend ingredients, but don’t overblend, or pancakes will be less tender.
Use a ladle or handled measuring cup to pour pancake batter into your medium-hot oiled skillet. You can do “silver dollar-” sized pancakes, or large ones, whatever you prefer. Flip to the opposite side when batter begins to bubble on top and cook for another minute or so., until golden brown.Serve with your favorite syrup.
My pumpkin pie pancakes feature the flavors of autumn: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and pumpkin. Not only will you have a delicious breakfast after making these luscious, soft pancakes, but your kitchen will smell like fall!
Steph’s Pumpkin Pie Pancakes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup milk (for thinner pancakes, use 1 1/4 cups milk)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons melted butter
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium mixing bowl.
In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg into the cup of milk, then gradually mix in the melted butter. Whisk in the pureed pumpkin.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir only until no lumps of flour are present. Don’t overblend.
Place some oil or melted butter in skillet (just enough to cover the bottom). Heat over medium heat. When oil or butter sizzles when a drop of water is dropped into the skillet, it’s ready!
Pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake.
Cook about 2 minutes per side; serve with butter and syrup. (At my grandfather’s house this would have been pure maple syrup. At my house, mom used Log Cabin syrup. The taste of it still takes me back to those days in her kitchen!)
Makes 8 to 12 pancakes.
A side of bacon…maple bacon, perhaps….would be the perfect complement to these tender, fall-inspired pancakes!
Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is "Mama Steph." She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.
She is married and has three young adult sons who are considerably taller than she is. You can find more of her recipes at whatsouthernfolkseat.comand at Facebook.com/whatsouthernfolkseat.