When you go visit places, are there ever things that just stick in your mind completely? I’m talking about one situation, one memory, one moment. You remember everything – the taste, the smell, what you were doing and how you felt – and just can’t forget it.
I definitely have many moments like that – one strangely revived this weekend. I had a friend over, and I was making pancakes for us in the morning. It was raining, and it suddenly hit me; the last time I had pancakes made at home was over 10 years ago, and it was raining too.
When I was in elementary school, my family and I visited “Auntie” (she’s really my dad’s cousin) in Seattle. We were terribly cold and tired upon arrival, and I remember her ushering us into beds immediately. My sister and I slept on the fold out couch, and I fell asleep almost immediately. I remember they had the softest quilt that smelt like flowers, detergent and sunshine – strange since it was raining lightly that day.
I also remember waking up to the window pane drizzled with rain, a sheet of quivering silver water. The smell of pancakes wafting throughout the house. The sound of butter sizzling and something boiling. When Auntie’s children and I sleepily gathered around the table, wiping at our eyes to swipe out the grogginess. We were served fresh plates of pancakes – tall, fluffy, piping hot pancakes with butter melted on top, with syrup to serve and fresh blueberry compote.
The pancakes were dyed a vibrant purple from the compote, and delightful curls of steam unfurled over top. It was a bit too hot to eat, but we still dug in. Strangely, it was so comforting I almost cried.
I think it was linked to what’s known in our family as “the Hotel Incident”. We had just went to the strangest hotel ever – there were literally stains on the ceiling (and all over the carpet), a medium-sized hole one corner of the ceiling and thin sheets as blankets. It was hilarious, but also pretty uncomfortable. I shivered throughout the night from the cold, and almost got sick. The memory of Auntie’s contrasting place with soft cocoon of colourful, handmade blankets and hearty food replacing that cold and dingy hotel is still as clear as day. It seemed like home. I close my eyes, and can still taste it.
Source: adapted from All Recipes
FOR THE PANCAKES
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
cooking spray or butter
FOR THE BLUEBERRY COMPOTE
I’ll provide ratios:
Blueberries: sugar: Juice from 1/8 Lemon = 1 cup: 1/8 cup: 2 tablespoons
FOR THE PANCAKES
1. Whisk together milk and vinegar. Leave aside for 5-10 minutes.
2. Whisk together all dry ingredients – the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Whisk the egg and vanilla in the milk and vinegar mixture.
4. Pour (3) in the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined. A few lumps and bubbles are good – that is what will make your pancakes fluffy.
4. Coat a pan (preferrably heavy bottomed) with non-stick cooking spray or butter (around 1 tablespoon to start with). Heat on medium heat. Swirl pan to evenly coat, and wipe away any excess oil.
5. Pour in the pancakes into the pan in 1/4 cups. Flip when there are bubbles showing up on the surface, around 5-6 minutes. Let cook on the other side for about 30 seconds, and serve.
FOR THE COMPOTE
Pour all ingredients into a saucepan and heat on stovetop on high, until the mixture is boiling. Turn down to medium heat for a (violent) simmer. Add water, if needed.
Cook until the blueberries have burst and the consistency is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Pour compote into pitcher and serve with your pancakes, maple syrup and butter.