Wednesday, June 4, 2008

the pancake affair

This weekend was Mother's Day. Finals separated me and my mother on actual Mother's Day and so I promised her an extra special, rescheduled day. Presents, flowers, homemade chocolate chip cookies (she insists that the varieties of cookies that I make are delicious-but wholly unnecessary), breakfast, the SATC movie, church and more were included in the equation. I really hope I don't have to spend Mother's Day away from my mother again in the future, but I do think Sunday was an adequate makeup.

My mother loves blueberries and she also loves a delicious pancake breakfast so I resolved to prepare blueberry vanilla pancakes for the special day. Working off of a simple JOC classic, and swiping a tip from a former pastry chef friend (thanks D, the clarified butter was an excellent suggestion), I prepped the dry and wet ingredients the night before with the hopes of whipping up a timely and perfect meal. For the woman who had sometimes made me breakfasts and other times dinged me in the forehead for my idiotic actions, I would become the perfect pancake making domestic goddess.

Not so. I don't know what it was. I've made pancakes many times. Fantastic pancakes. These however, I could not unstick. My mother mocked me from the living room while she munched on a pre-breakfast cookie appetizer. I turned off the eggs so they wouldn't be overdone by the time I managed to flip a single pancake. Sweat-and many of you know I simply don't sweat much, naturally-began to develop on my brow. "Do you want some help," she asked from the living room couch, where she practiced a lesson she would teach in a few short hours to a group of four preteens at her church. I refused her assistance and went on scraping my pancake-like messes off the bottom of the pan. Where were my pancake flipping chops?

After a few screwy cakes I submitted and let my mom watch. "You're being impatient," she told me, "you need to make sure they're actually brown before you flip them." Right In the moment I thought she was being impossibly annoying. I wasn't being impatient, I merely wanted the pancakes to be perfect. Then I realized those were exactly the same thing. I chilled out a bit and drank a big glass of water while I waited for the next few to brown. My mom applauded flips as though I'd performed the kind you do with your body. In the end we sat down to some yummy breakfast and delicious chatter.

The incident reminded me of something I read in a Nigella book very recently. In it, she points out that cooking has become a race from A to B to Plate, without a rest for enjoying the feel of flour in your fingertips or the ever-headier scent of basil as it's torn. It's not that I imagine I will suddenly stop doing last minute, super rushed, must be perfect cooking sometimes. I only hope that some of those times my mother, or NH, or somebody else who I love and who loves me will stop me, tell me I am being impatient, and ding me in the forehead for burning my hand with the pan.

1 comment:

Allie said...

What a great reminder! I tend to rush for the result and get frustrated when it takes too long.

My trick with pancakes is that when they are bubbling on top, it's time to turn them. If the heat is right, it's a no fail technique. If the pan is too hot, it's a problem.