Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pancake Possibilities!

I have ALWAYS loved pancakes (my mother can vouch for this). One of my earlier memories of my childhood was an instance when we had breakfast for dinner. My mom told my sister, Grace, that if she finished the pancake she had, she could have the last one on the plate. I, being the chubmeister that I was, had probably already eaten 5...or 12...but I crammed the remaining pancake on my plate into my mouth and held out my plate for the last pancake. Imagine my surprise when my mother said, "No, this one is for Gracie. You've had enough." She was right, of course, but the fact that I remember this mundane event so clearly illustrates how deep my love for the pancake goes.

Fast forward to the present day. When I found out that my son had allergies to dairy and wheat, one of my first thoughts after, "No more cheese?????" was, "No more pancakes?" followed quickly by, "Oh no, will Rylan ever be able to eat pancakes?" Over the next few months, I began to experiment with dairy and wheat free baking and cooking, and I was SO excited to find a wheat-free, dairy-free pancake mix at the Co-op. I saved it for our "Christmas" morning celebration. They looked so pretty browning up on the griddle. I was so excited to take that first sweet bite, drenched in Mrs. Butterworth's. They tasted like gritty paste. Ick.

Then began my quest to create the perfect vegan, wheat-free pancake. I began with the pancake recipe from my Christina Pirello cookbook and since then have ventured far afield. I discovered that a mixture of half oat flour and half rice flour turns out pancakes that are so crumbly you can barely flip them, but a mixture of only oat flour creates gummy, sticky pancakes. I eventually settled on a ratio of roughly 3/4 oat to 1/4 rice. I also discovered that you have to decrease the amount of liquid if you're modifying a wheat pancake recipe because oat and rice flours don't absorb as much liquid, so you end up with one runny pancake overflowing the griddle and spilling onto the floor (much to the dog's delight). Once I perfected the basic vegan, wheat-free pancake, I began experimenting and a tradition began.

Now, every Saturday or Sunday morning, I try to come up with a new pancake. I've done apple cinnamon, cornmeal/molasses, sweet potato ginger, pumpkin pie, several variations on blueberry, oat and honey, and this week it was sweet potato coconut with a touch of molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. In my humble opinion, they were the best yet!

The best part about pancakes, other than their quick prep and cook time, is that Rylan loves them! Ry isn't a picky eater, but he doesn't get excited about very many foods. He generally approaches eating like a chore he knows he has to do. He eats methodically and rarely "asks" (read: yells impatiently) for more. Therefore, I know a pancake recipe is successful if it gets the RyRy yell of approval, and that's what drives my creativity. Every weekend, I just hope to create a new pancake that will make my child throw a temper tantrum and that will be my gauge of pancake greatness - at least until he has a sibling he can try to cheat out of the last pancake.