Separate two eggs very carefully. I use the shells, breaking the eggs in half with a single smack against a glass bowl, you really want to use glass for this, plastic or aluminum just won't work. Hold each side of the egg shell and pour the egg back and forth until the white is in the bowl. Be sure not to drop any yolk in with the whites.
This is a recipe I learned in school when I was ten years old. We had to take home economics and one of the assignments was cooking, and we learned this pancake recipe. Before taking this class, I didn't know that I liked cooking because there wasn't much cooking that went on my house and certainly none that I was involved in. My mother rarely cooked anything that didn't come in a box and most other attempts were nearly inedible. My father was a military man, used to eating the inedible so he took his frustrations out on me by forcing me to choke down the worst of my mother's kitchen attempts.
The yolks you'll drop into two cups of cold, whole milk. They'll plop nicely and sink right to the bottom. Cover the container and put it in the fridge. You're making these steps the night before, breakfast is the next morning. Put two or three drops of lemon juice and a pinch of salt into the glass bowl with the egg whites and then start whisking. (an amateur uses a mixer) whisk until the eggs start forming into a smooth fluff, then add a tablespoon of sugar. If you really want to do this recipe right, you'll take a mortar and pestle to the sugar before you start. You want granulated sugar to turn into superfine powder, near dust, that's when it works best. This is my addition to the recipe, not what I learned in elementary school. Keep beating and adding sugar a tablespoon at a time until you have a good meringue. Cover the glass bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
When I came home from school and tried this recipe, my father went nuts over it. I mean, this wasn't bisquick or a box mix, and it tasted as good as truck-stop pancakes. Truck stops were the only restaurants we ever went to, and only when visiting family for vacations. We never had any vacations except to visit family. My parents couldn't afford resorts or plane trips or hotels, so our vacations were cross-country drives to go stay with a variety of relatives, and only when were actually in the U.S.
The next morning mix the dry ingredients together in a large container with a pour spout. I use a four-cup measured glass bowl. Two cups flour, one tablespoon baking powder, half a teaspoon salt, and a tablespoon sugar. Get out the milk and yokes and add to that a teaspoon of vanilla. This is my favorite step. I watch the vanilla swirl and react with the milk making fractals of golden brown in white.
I said my dad went nuts. He figured that if his kid could make pancakes, then he could do it also. Not only that, but it would give him a chance to cycle his food storage and play with the grinder that had been foisted upon him. We were Mormon and by commandment we had to have food storage. He bought cases of canned goods – vegetables, soups, meats, etc. - and large garbage pails of bulks – sugar, rice, and wheat. Since my mother never made anything that didn't come in a box and my father couldn't prepare food that he hadn't caught on a lure. But even fish were a failure in our home, because my mother couldn't stand the smell of fish and wouldn't eat them.
So right away, instead of making the pancakes the way I showed him, he pulled out the overpriced grinder he bought and 'cracked some wheat.' Then he used this cracked wheat flour as a direct substitute in the recipe. He reasoned that we'd eat a lot of pancakes and be able to cycle through our food storage before any of it went bad. The commandment was to keep a year's worth of food on hand, but what I never understood is what's the point in keeping any food on hand if it's nothing you normally eat. A room full of Hamburger Helper and Mac & Cheese boxes I can understand, but some list of basics written down by a guy in Utah I didn't get at all. Especially perplexing was the fact that we were in the military and moved every year, and the Department of Defense had weight limits for moving household goods that was dependent on rank. We never got to have anything nice and every move was a big exercise in what we sold at the garage sale, just so we'd be able to box up all that fucking food, and unpack it at the next place.
Mix the dry ingredients with a fork, then thoroughly mix the milk-yoke-vanilla liquid until it's a nice smooth color. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry until the batter is mixed well but still a bit lumpy. Then remove the meringue from the fridge and fold it into the batter – it'll only take a couple folds to get the meringue mixed in.
My dad was a procrastinator. Making any part of the pancake recipe ahead of time, like the night before, was out of the question. Most often he'd decide to make pancakes on Sundays after Church. Mormons fast at least once a month. That means no food or drink from Saturday afternoon to Sunday after church. Mormons spend a lot of time in church and since I was forced to fast with the adults, that meant four hours in meetings with my stomach growling, then another hour or two socializing after meetings and wishing I could have a glass of water or a cracker. We'd get home, decide to make pancakes and then get the grinder out, make a mess and start yelling at me to help him. Several more hours later we'd be eating and everyone would be angry as hell and I'd have been smacked at least twice. The pancakes would be edible, not great, but at that point I'd eat a soggy pile of mash.
You pour the batter into small circles and make a lot of little pancakes on the griddle. This batter is perfect for small thin pancakes because the batter is very liquid. Wait for the bubbles to form and pop on the top before flipping.
My dad would pour big pancakes, but that didn't work with the thin batter, so he'd add more cracked-wheat flour until big fluffy pancakes the size of a plate were possible. Then he'd flip them after the bubbles popped, but with big pancakes that's not really enough time to cook them through.
I like my pancakes with some peanut butter and syrup. Don't make fun of me, I love peanut butter. That's one thing I got from my dad – the peanut butter on pancakes thing. Of course he'd heap those thick monstrosities with peanut butter, honey and syrup so much that he couldn't taste the uncooked batter pockets. Personally it was the crunchy partially ground wheat texture that made me gag.
I now get to cook pancakes my way, and even though I've modified that elementary school Home-Ec recipe a couple of times, it's still a good recipe and I've never had complaints.
- rick, having pancakes for dinner.
SuccessWarrior has put up his own family food story to match this one. His is far funnier . . . go read it.