Flip For It

The happiest day in Mylee’s short life thus far, according to her parents, is the day that McDonalds announced they would serve breakfast all day. What does that mean for Mylee?


mylee snow cone

Snowcones are better than pancakes on a hot summer day, even for Mylee.

Miss Mylee loves her some pancakes. (As a secret aside, McDonalds’ announcement made her grandfather pretty happy as well. Bill can pass on the pancakes, but he loves their Sausage McMuffins with Egg. Unlike Mylee, who cheerfully eats pancakes at any hour of the day, I think Bill considers the Sausage McMuffins to be primarily breakfast food; however, for him, the breakfast period lasts past 10:30, the time when McDonalds used to stop serving breakfast. I have seen him look quite sad when he tried to order the Number 2 Breakfast Combo at 10:32, only to be told it’s time for two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun.)

I like pancakes too, though not as much as Mylee. I like my pancakes in the morning. I’ve never been a huge fan of the upside down dinner — you know, breakfast for dinner. And I’m a bit fussier than Mylee. I prefer my pancakes with real maple syrup. I think my daughter-in-law Lauren agrees with me, being a life-long Vermonter. Vermont is the only place I’ve ever visited where the breakfast restaurants only serve real maple syrup with pancakes. I venture to say they go even further and serve only maple syrup from Vermont. No Oh Canada for them.

I was recently babysitting Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole for a bit after school. Like most kids, Kaiya and Mylee come home from school hungry. Kaiya fended for herself, but I asked Mylee what she would like for after-school snack. Her immediate reply? “Pancakes.”

Now, that made me laugh because I’m quite certain her mommy doesn’t walk in the door after picking them up from school and start flipping pancakes. It reminded me of the time that I was babysitting The Cousins while Dave and Jll were away on a trip. Alastair was the first one up, as usual. I asked him what he wanted for breakfast. “Banana bread,” he said without hesitation. “Well, I don’t have any banana bread,” I told him. “Then, you could make some, Nana,” he replied, undoubtedly thinking, “well, duh!” Apparently my grandkids think that when it comes to cooking, I have superpowers. Ain’t so, I’m afraid.

I very often make pancakes for breakfast, and ALWAYS do when I have grandchildren sleepovers. Some like them with chocolate chips. Others prefer to have an M&M or 2 or 3 dropped into the batter. Kaiya is a purist and wants only a smear of Nutella on hers.

pancakesPancakes from scratch are the easiest thing in the world to make. No boxes necessary. I use the recipe out of my torn and food-stained Betty Crocker Cookbook that I’ve had for 45 years, and it never fails me. One requirement (at least for me)? A cast-iron griddle.


Pancakes, courtesy Betty Crocker Cookbook

1 egg
1 c. all-purpose flour
¾ c. milk
1 T. sugar
2 T. shortening, melted, or vegetable oil
3 t. baking powder
½ t. salt

Beat egg with hand beater until fluffy; beat in the remaining ingredients just until smooth. For thinner pancakes, stir in additional milk. Grease heated griddle if necessary.

For each pancake, pour about 3 T batter from tip of large spoon or from pitcher onto hot griddle. Cook pancakes until puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other side until golden brown.

If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt.

Nana’s Notes: I never use an electric mixer; I always use a whisk and mix by hand. For reasons I can’t explain, the first pancake never browns properly. It tastes fine, but is consistently less pretty than the rest. For that reason, I always start with just one pancake to get it out of its system. From then on, I cook two or three at a time. I ALWAYS use self-rising flour and therefore have no need for baking powder. That way, as long as I have self-rising flour on hand (which I always make sure I do), I can make pancakes on a whim because I almost always have the rest of the ingredients. Any leftover pancakes go into the freezer and can be heated up by putting the frozen pancakes into the microwave for one minute. Not quite as good as freshly made, but it will satisfy Mylee in a pinch.

The Best Part of Waking Up

2015-02-18 18.36.59I am almost always up before my husband. Frankly, I am up before most species of birds. I am, and always have been, an early riser. If I sleep past 6:15, someone should put a mirror under my nose.

By the way, being an early riser doesn’t mean I wake up whistling. Far from it. Bill, who nearly always sleeps longer than I, wakes up annoyingly jolly. He bounces out of bed and immediately begins talking and/or asking me questions.

How’d you sleep? What’s your blog about this morning? What are your plans for the day?

Fine. Read it for yourself. I’m retired so I have no plans. Please stop being so cheerful.

Because of this difference in our morning personalities, I love my little bit of quiet time in the morning before he gets up. My routine is always the same. (Now that’s redundant!) I turn on my computer, I walk around and open the blinds to let in morning light or at least watch the sun come up. I make the coffee. While it brews, I post my blog.

By time I’m finished posting my blog, the coffee is ready. I pour a cup, and put the rest in a thermos pot that I have heated up with hot water. Then I sit down with my book and take that first sip.

There is nothing better than that first sip of hot coffee in the morning. Nothing. Better. Period. Not the second cup. Not even the second sip. That first sip of coffee, so hot it can burn your tongue if you’re not careful, is divine.

If you looked up coffee connoisseur in the dictionary and then checked for its antonym, you would see my picture. I am simply not a coffee snob.

A few years ago when I started reading food magazines and watching Food Network, I began to focus on what needed to happen so that my coffee was extraordinary. Freshly roasted whole beans that you grind every morning. The beans must come from certain parts of the world. The water had to be a certain temperature when it brewed. The coffee had to be poured at a certain temperature. It had to have a chocolate taste followed by tobacco and saddle leather flavors at the back of your tongue.

One day it occurred to me that I was just as happy with a cup of coffee from Circle K as I was from beans grown by a lonely farmer at the foot of Mount Kenya.

Yes friends. I have no coffee palate.

By the way, right now both of my sisters are absolutely cringing and checking our family tree to make sure I am actually from the same bloodline. On the other hand, my brother is thinking, yeah, I’ll meet you at Circle K for a cup of joe. My sisters really are coffee connoisseurs. Unlike us, they don’t have holes in their stomachs from cup after cup of crappy coffee.

But even I draw a line.

A while ago, I decided that I was going to try to make homemade tortillas.  I read that you could use a big coffee can to flatten your tortillas.

So off I went to Walmart to find coffee in a big can. To my surprise, coffee is no longer sold in metal cans. They all come in bags or in plastic containers.

After looking and looking, I finally found one lone brand of coffee in a big 3-lb. can. Three pounds of coffee for something like $5.75. At that price, it must really be swill, I thought to myself. Still, I needed that can.

About that time, a woman somewhere around my age reached for that same coffee. “It’s my husband and my favorite,” she told me. “It isn’t too strong and we like the flavor.”

So I bought the coffee.

The next day I brewed up a pot of the coffee. I sat down with my cup and took that much-anticipated first sip.

It was, to put it bluntly, undrinkable. Simply awful. I did the unheard of thing and poured an entire pot of coffee down the drain and, what’s more, poured the remaining unused coffee grounds into the garbage can.

Even I have standards.

banana breadSince we’re talking about coffee, let me share with you my mother’s recipe for banana bread. It is simple and delicious with a hot cup of coffee. When I made it recently, we put the much-talked-about icing on the cake by smearing it with peanut butter frosting and squeezing chocolate sauce over. Delicious.

For what it’s worth, I never use nuts. Also, it never seems to take an hour to bake, so begin looking at it around 45 minutes.

Nanas Banana Bread