Monday, September 16, 2013

Whole Grain Nectarine Pancakes

whole wheat nectarine pancakes

This post is long overdue, considering these pancakes were made in July. (I could have sworn that was just yesterday, but my calendar informs me otherwise.) The last month has felt like a whirl of work, driving, and summer shenanigans, and I seem to have lost myself somewhere in the middle of it all. When I try to sort out the events of the season - work, travel, vacation - they all crowd together in such confusion that I'm left feeling dazed, wondering how the hell I could have let three months fly past me so quickly. It's as if I tripped and fell down a hill, right around May 30th, and tumbled all the way down to September 1st, and it's only now that I'm slowly staggering to my feet again.

So, with the dust of the summer finally settling, I've been thinking back to a quiet moment in July when I woke up at my grandpa's camp and cooked up a batch of pancakes.

there be Roses here the Roses' door knocker
dad let sleeping dogs lie Grandpa

It was perhaps odd that I decided to make pancakes that day, my last morning in Thunder Bay. I haven't had the most pancake-positive experiences in life. They were not, in fact, much of a staple of my childhood breakfasts. At least, the pancakes that did feature in my breakfast were not the kinds of pancakes anyone else anywhere in the world was eating.

See, my dad did actually make pancakes with relative frequency, but his recipe was a mystery to all of us (including himself) that usually involved leftover mashed potatoes. They were...odd. To say that they were unpleasant would be false, but they did nothing to endear me to pancakes or to the idea of my father making pancakes for breakfast on a regular basis. For a man who is usually extremely capable in the kitchen, my dad sometimes lets his culinary creations take him in a direction that no one else but he would follow. (I have a name for this direction, and that name is Leftover Crazy Town.) Much like the time he made an amazing shepherd's pie, but then proceeded to create variation after variation of the dish using any and all leftovers lurking in the fridge. He fed us mystery shepherd's pies for months. I don't know if I will ever trust anything buried under mashed potatoes in a casserole dish ever again. (Not to say my own culinary visions are always a success. I did go through an odd period during which I was convinced I could make delicious energy bars out of lentils. I did not succeed.)

a grey sky in the long grasses

It wasn't really until I began living with other people that I began cooking pancakes. They're the kind of thing that aren't much fun to make unless there's a hoard of sleepy people in your house who will happily but groggily wander into the kitchen to keep you company and devour stacks of pancakes. They're the kind of breakfast saved especially for weekends and family get-togethers, or those mornings when you just happen to have the time and you feel like being nice. It wasn't until I came across this recipe, about a year ago, that I gained a true appreciation for pancakes and the making of them. All it took was a lack of leftover mashed potatoes and a fancy griddle.

These particular pancakes were made to say goodbye, the last sweet thing I could offer before stepping back on a plane. I left behind plates smeared with syrup and pancake crumbs and carried home with me the smell of woodsmoke and fresher air, the scent of the place lingering about me like the fading impression of a tight embrace. Hopefully these pancakes left behind as fond an impression as the one I carried back with me.

the view from camp

Whole Grain Nectarine Pancakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
These pancakes are exactly what I want out of pancakes. They're not too sweet, are full of good things (so go on and ladle on the syrup, you know you want to), and they infinitely adaptable. You can easily switch up the fruit to suit the season too - blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, you name it! It's a breakfast win-win either way.

2 large eggs
1 cup plain yogurt (any fat content is fine, but if using Greek yogurt, you'll want to add a few tablespoons of milk)
2 tbsp sugar
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
1 1/4 cup spelt or whole wheat flour
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nectarines or peaches (1 large or 2 small nectarines)

following the recipe peach pancake batter
cookin' up some pancakes pancakes, half done

1. Whisk the eggs and yogurt together. Stir in the sugar and lemon zest.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (if using).

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined. Stir in the chopped nectarines or peaches.

4. Heat oven to 200°F and set aside a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (to keep the pancakes warm). Heat a non-stick frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Melt a bit of butter in the pan, then spoon a few dollops of the pancake batter into the hot pan, depending on how small or large your want your pancakes (usually about 3 tablespoons per pancake). Make sure to leave room between each pancake. Cook pancakes on one side until they're dry around the edges and you can see bubbles forming on the top, about 3 - 4 minutes, then flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes, or until golden.

5. Transfer cooked pancakes as you make them to the aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and place in the oven and cover them with an extra layer of tinfoil to keep them from drying out. When you're ready to serve, provide plenty of maple syrup and butter.

goodbye pancakes sunset at Oliver Lake

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