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6.28.2012

Gimme Texture Lemon Thins


Last weekend my mother was having lunch guests, and when I asked her what she was serving them for dessert she rolled her eyes and huffed, “I don’t know.  Why do people have to have dessert at every meal?” Before I could begin ranting she remembered, “Oh wait, I think we have some sorbet!”

How is this woman my mother?  I can’t blame genetics for my sweet tooth.  It’s a trait I developed all on my own.  You see, it wasn’t just that dessert was an afterthought for Mom that caused me to practically gasp; it was that she thought sorbet was an acceptable way to end her otherwise well thought out meal.  Her menu was gazpacho, zucchini ribbons with herbs, parmesan and pine nuts, and cold roasted shrimp with orzo and feta.  You’re probably thinking what she was thinking: “Yum.”  And it was “yum.”  But after all that fabulousness who wants a dish of sorbet?

I have nothing against a smooth frozen scoop of deliciousness.  I just can’t eat it plain.  In a bowl.  With a spoon.  One creamy mouthful after another.  I have to have contrast, a little crunch, something that bites back and challenges me a bit.

Okay, we’ve entered into metaphor territory.  But it’s true.  I think texture is one of the most important things in food and frankly, life.  Think about it.  The people you connect with, love, take into your confidence, trust and laugh with have more to offer than just one thing.  They’re not like a bowl of ice cream or yogurt or even bananas.  They have opinions and ideas, maybe sometimes different from yours.  They don’t nod in agreement all the time with a placid smile.  They call you on your stuff, tell you when you’re being annoying or simply difficult.  Maybe they’re annoying and difficult at times too.  But they always engage.

I can’t tell you how many times in my dating past I was set up with guys who were advertised as “nice.”  And if I ever expressed reluctance to the matchmakers I got a lecture from well-meaning, married, yentas (all of whom had great husbands who were a lot more than “nice”) about the merits of being with a “nice” guy.  But I think there is a really big difference between being “nice” and being “kind.”  Of course anyone you care about should be a kind person, as should you.  But someone who is described first, foremost and, usually, only as “nice” is really a boring person wearing a smile.

I’m going to get a lot of flak for this but come back to me when you can disprove my theory officially.  Anyway, I think sometimes people mistake the desire to be challenged as the inability to accept peace and contentment.  That isn’t it at all.  Life, if you’re lucky, is long and wouldn’t it be more interesting to spend your time with people who don’t “yes” you to death?  That’s a lot of “yes.”  Actually, there are probably pathologically controlling types who prefer a tail-wagging lap dog so they can just do what they want to do without worrying about having to satisfy another.   But I’m not here to discuss pathology.

I’m here to talk about a dish of sorbet.  You know how they always ask, “cup or cone?”   I’ve never said cup in my life.  I like the crunch of the cone (and the amount delivered by a lick of ice cream rather than a spoonful).   But I knew my mother wasn’t about to buy a box of Comet sugar cones, so I suggested I make some sort of crispy cookie, something to give her mango scoops a little bite.
These crispy, lemon thins come from the Gourmet cookie book which is a great addition to your baking library.  It’s arranged chronologically and winds up providing a peek into the history of the sweet American palate.  It also illustrates the evolution of recipe writing styles.  As you can see below, burying ingredients and instructions together in a paragraph is a lot less user friendly.  I also didn’t like the omission of certain details that seemed to presume a level of skill or comfort in the baker.  Why aren’t you telling me the speed at which I am supposed to beat something?  Or if my eggs need to be at room temperature?  When it comes to cookbooks, I don't mind being patronized.
The cookies turned out exactly as I had hoped--buttery wafers with a puckery snap.  They would have been just right served with the sorbet. 

"No one really wants dessert," Mom reported, when she carried the lunch dishes into the kitchen (without a trace of I-told-you-so). "Just coffee and a few of your cookies." 

Aha!  Now, knowing my mother, she probably said, “We have sorbet and cookies,” making it sound like it was one or the other and not remembering that my intention was for her to serve both.  The operative word being “my” and since this was her lunch party, not mine, I should have stayed out of it to begin with.  But at least her friends made the right choice—going for a bit of sour crunch to accompany their raucous and hilarious conversation.  In fact I heard them say a few things that weren’t so “nice.”  Thank the lord.  As for me, I blew off the sorbet too and went with a bowl of juicy strawberries to contrast with my lemony cookies.  And an hour later I bought a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream and ate it down to the last crumb of cone.  Sure was “nice.”  Oops.

Gimme Texture Lemon Thins
from The Gourmet Cookie Book, Conde Nast Publications, 2010
Printer friendly version

Ingredients
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (one lemon should be enough)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup flour

Directions
Preheat oven to 400F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease sheets with butter.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla on high speed for 3-4 minutes until beater forms ribbons when lifted.  (Could take longer depending on your mixer).  Add lemon rind and mix till incorporated.

In another bowl,  beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. If you don't have 2 mixers, vigoursly beat butter with a whisk instead.  Could take about 5 minutes.
Add butter to egg mixture alternately with flour in four additions--a dollop of butter, 1/2 of the flour, a dollop of butter and the rest of the flour.  Mix until completely incorporated.  It will be loose.
Using a teaspoon, drop batter by teaspoons 2 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets, flattening the mounds with a spoon dipped in water until they are 2 inches in diameter.
Bake cookies for 5 minutes or until the edges are browned.
 

Let the cookies cool on the sheets for just 1 minutes, then transfer them with a spatula to a rack and cool completely.
Yield: 4 dozen cookies

6.21.2012

Taking a Shortcut Strawberry-Rhubarb Microwave Jam

I’ve been thinking about the difference between cheating and taking a short cut ever since I started working and found myself shorter on time than I’d like.  I’m sorry, I know I keep talking about my reaction to the Not Enough Hours in the Day syndrome commonly experienced by so many who must think I’ve landed here from another planet.  And I guess in some ways I have—emerging from working on your thing at your own pace, and finding yourself in an office with expectations of arrival time and output is a bit of a shock to my system.   Anyway, after I made my pie with Trader Joe’s pie crusts last week, I started wondering why I’ve always been so judgmental of those I think have tried to get away with something or haven’t made a complete effort.
I’ve mentioned my mastery of the Art of the Lie, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I have some cheating incidents in my past.  I can remember my first time.  When I was seven the school I attended went bankrupt.  The headmistress fled town and the whole place closed for good at the end of my second grade.  If you haven’t experienced the world of private schools in New York first hand, you’ve probably read about the cut-throat competition to get into these schools, even the ones considered “meh.”  So imagine the parents of an entire elementary school confronting the reality that their little Lisa or Michael needed to get accepted somewhere ASAP or else.  Oh, and it was way past the deadline for applications.  So amidst all this panic I toured various schools and took various admission tests. 

Sitting at a table with other second grade test-takers at the Ethical Culture School, I was presented with a page of math problems and confronted something with a + sign I didn’t understand.  Let me refresh your memory and tell you that the school that was going bankrupt should have been shuttered for taking parents’ tuition money and teaching their children nothing but flower-child anthems and occasionally taking them to the movies (remember my Sounder trauma?), none of which prepared me for an entrance exam of any kind much less one with…double digits!  So the problem involved adding a double digit figure to a single digit one.  The only problem was I had no idea how to “carry the” whatever number and just stared at the page while the curly headed girl next to me was busy scribbling.  There was only one thing to do.  I slyly glanced at her page and copied exactly what she had written.  I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I thought the humiliation of displaying my ignorance with a big blank spot in the middle of the mimeographed piece of paper was worse.

Despite my efforts, my cheating did not pay off and I was not accepted to the school.  Maybe the girl next to me was dumber than I was?  But the guilt was really too much and I never copied a classmate’s answers again.  So we’ve established that cheating is always wrong.

Meanwhile, my parents always disapproved of short-cuts or perceived laziness.  There wasn’t a single mix used in my mother’s kitchen (except for the Kraft Mac & Cheese we begged for as tweens) and I don’t know what would have happened to the vein in my father’s forehead if he’d ever spotted the yellow cover of a Cliffs Note.  But the ethos went deeper than that.  Taxis were for special occasions because taking one meant you were too disorganized to get yourself out the door and on the bus on time.  (Not to mention they were expensive and it was important to understand the meaning of the dollar).  If you wanted something you saved your allowance which you earned by doing chores or you babysat on a Saturday night instead of going out.  Now none of what I’m describing is unusual, except the part when you’d report knowing families who lived a different, easier life filled with Duncan Hines and yellow cabs and receive a wholly derisive response from Mom and Dad.

In many ways I wish those lessons hadn’t stuck because they made me even more judgmental than I am naturally.  So years later when I was at a dinner party and could tell the host (who had a demanding career and new baby) had smushed Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough into a frozen pie crust in a tin foil pan, baked it and passed it off as  a “homemade” Toll House pie, I felt superior and disdainful.  Until now.

I’m pretty sure if you polled the eaters of last week’s strawberry-rhubarb pie they all would report, “yum,” and not, “the filling was great but what was up with that crust?”  Okay, the survey might be affected by the fact that some members of my family chose to have their slices a la mode and how bad is anything with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting into it?  But still, I think the votes would be unanimously favorable.  And really, isn’t the point that I made the effort with what little free time I have to turn out something tasty?  So I bought a crust, big deal.  It’s not like I dug out my opener and attacked a can of Comstock pie filling.  I’m sorry, but short-cuts are one thing, canned anything is another.  And what we’re talking about is whether reducing your time commitment will result in a loss of quality.
In the meantime, I was looking for a way to use up my left over strawberries and rhubarb and continuing on my quest to determine the pros and cons of the short-cut, I seized on a recipe for a small batch of jam you make in the microwave.  I couldn’t believe it—I had all the ingredients in my apartment, including the same box of pectin I used to make grape jelly several years ago (does that stuff go bad?  If the jam kills me, it was because of rotten pectin).  The instructions seemed easy enough, lots of quick zaps in the machine after which you should have two jars of jam in less than 30 minutes.  Okay, not really.  It took me closer to an hour but that might have been because I couldn’t figure out the wattage of my microwave, which I inherited from the past owner of my apartment.  I can tell you that it was manufactured in 1991 but I have no idea how powerful it is, or isn’t.  But regardless, after zapping and stirring and testing the hot liquid on a cold plate to see if it firmed up, I had two jars of gorgeous red jam!  It felt like a successful science experiment and definitely took less time than my experience with the grape jelly or blood orange Meyer lemon marmalade I made last year. 
So I’ve answered my question—you can reduce time and not reduce pleasure.  And most importantly, I will not judge other hard workers who take the short-cuts they need to take in order to stay sane.  This sweet-tart jam was delish spread on my favorite toasted health bread.  The only problem is it needs to be consumed within three weeks and I’ll never finish both jars by then.  Maybe I’ll leave one for my Pillsbury Toll House Cookie “homemade” pie making friend and let her know how delicious her dessert was, even though she cheated.  And lied. 
Taking a Shortcut Strawberry Rhubarb Microwave Jam
from Simple Bites
1-1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (½-inch pieces)
2 Tbsp water
1 cup crushed strawberries (about 2 cups sliced)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp powdered pectin
2 cups granulated sugar

In a 12-16-cup microwave-safe bowl, combine rhubarb and water. Partially cover bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a gap for some of the steam to escape. Microwave on High for 2 minutes or until hot.  Remove and discard plastic.  Drain off any liquid or blot with a paper towel.

Stir in strawberries and lemon juice. Stir in pectin until dissolved. Stir in sugar until dissolved.
Microwave, uncovered, on High for 2 minutes; stir and scrape down sides of bowl.  Microwave on High again for 2 minutes; stir and scrape down sides of bowl.  Repeat in 1-minute intervals for another 2 to 4 minutes, or until jam froths up and thickens; stir and scrape down sides each time.


Test for setting point (see details below).  Microwave in additional 1-minute intervals as needed.
Remove from microwave.  Stir slowly for 2 to 3 minutes to prevent floating fruit.
 

Ladle into clean jars; wipe rims.  Apply metal lids and rings, or use plastic lids; tighten until snug.  
Transfer to a towel-lined surface and let rest at room temperature until set.  Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Testing for setting point

Place about 2 tsp of jam on a chilled small plate and place it in the freezer for a minute or two, until cooled to room temperature.  A skin will form on top.  If you gently push it with your finger or a fork, it will wrinkle if the mixture is done.

Tips from Simple Bites
Use a 1200-watt microwave with a turntable.
If wattage is higher, cook on 70% power, or if wattage is lower, cook for longer.
Do not double the batch.
Use caution when moving the bowl for stirring as the steam will be very hot.
Since they are heat-resistant, use a silicone spatula for scraping down the sides of the bowl.
There is no need to leave headspace at the top of the jar, as jam will be neither precessed or frozen.

6.14.2012

New Perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

How many magazine covers scream “Six Weeks to a Perfect You,”  “How to Plan the Perfect Vacation,“ “10 Perfect Solutions to the 10 Biggest Business Mistakes?” Okay, maybe not that last one but “Perfect” seems to have become the standard for everything.   It’s no wonder so many people feel like they’re failing at life on a daily basis.  Just now, while I was procrastinating over what I am currently writing, I switched over to Facebook (I know, I know.  I’m too old and it’s too over) and read this status update from Food & Wine:

“These mini strawberry-ricotta tartlets are perfect for summertime entertaining.”
 

See?   Think of the message.  Not only do I now feel the pressure to make the tartlets perfectly but I feel like a loser because I have no plans to entertain the 15 people required to eat the 16 perfect tartlets (one for me).
And here’s a challenge for you.  Turn on the Food Network and count how many minutes it takes for Giada or Ina to pull a pan out of the oven and pronounce it, “Perfect!”  Perfect is everywhere and has been so watered down through over-use that if anything is less than perfect, it’s seen as a failure.  I worry when I watch Niece One draw a beautiful picture only to have her reject it because it isn’t “Perfect.”  Where did she learn that?  From any one of us. 
I say “Perfect” all the time without thinking and I’m not psychologically unaware.  I know what striving for perfection can do to a kid.  Wait, I should make something clear.  I think a lot of people assume that a person who bakes and is therefore someone who appreciates rules, guidelines, a script so to speak, is more likely to be a perfectionist than a person who cooks and whose savory culinary focus allows, no, encourages, improvisation.  That is not the case with me.  As much as I’m a rule follower, my thick streak of impatience trumps any potential perfectionistic tendencies.  Hence why my cake decorating, pastry rolling, and plating skills are so lacking.  I just want to get it done.  Now.
 

However, I do have the habit of striving for perfect circumstances.  Allow me to explain.  After my sister and I went to Paris together I vowed the next time I visited the City of Lights I would be with a man.  Not my brother or a friend, but rather, a “luvvah.” I mean, as much as I adore my sister, brother and friends, it would be nice to feel romantic in the most romantic city in the world.  Cut to 17 years later and I haven’t been back to Paris.  Not that I haven’t had any romances in the intervening years but circumstances never materialized (nothing like looking at your choices from the passenger seat) to take me back when I was an “us.”  Because I didn’t feel the scenario was perfect, I’ve held myself back from an experience.  Actually, many experiences.
It’s like that image we all have (or at least I have) of the ideal summer day.  The humidity is low, (always about the hair), the sun is bright, the temperature is moderate, let’s say 76, I’m at the beach and here’s where I hit a snag.  To go to the beach I have to take a little ferry which isn’t bad in and of itself.  The problem is coordinating the time I feel like being on the beach with the schedule of the boat.  Then I have to figure out if I’m packing lunch or going after lunch.  And if I’m going after, will I exercise first thing in the morning?  That means my breakfast will be a little later, which should work if I eat on the beach because I won’t be hungry till I get there anyway and the appropriate ferry will deposit me around 1:30.  Are you still with me?  I barely am and I’m not even at the beach yet.  Then I want to get enough color to show I spent the day outside but not too much so that my dermatologist yells at my rapidly multiplying freckles.  Then I need new music on my iPod so I don’t get bored.  Oh, I wonder if Pandora works on the beach?  But it might be nice to talk to someone too.  Maybe I wrangle some people to join me.  And then I hit my second snag.   Because of the conflicting schedules of the various people with whom I spend summer weekends, my trip practically requires an alignment of the stars to be successful. 
So I stay home.

And this is what I’ve been thinking about as I approach my birthday.  It’s this weekend and again I have a hankering for strawberry-rhubarb pie.  You may remember (read this if you feel like having a frame of reference) that last year my desire for a lobster roll/pie dinner was amended because of the Nieces’ bedtime and the length of the trip to the lobster/pie restaurant.  We still had a nice celebration but my need for the pie did not relent over the next three months.  So first I baked a strawberry rhubarb crostata, which while being good, was not the same feel as a double crust pie.  Then we went to Briermere Farms and bought several pies, one of them the beloved strawberry-rhubarb.  But I didn’t want to waste it on just any meal, I had to save it for the, you guessed it, perfect moment.  Guess what?  By the time I deemed my dinner perfect enough to pair with the pie, tiny fluffy white pillows of mold were blanketing the top of the fruit.  The only thing to do was laugh, before I almost cried when I threw it into the disposal.  I accepted my strawberry-rhubarb pie-less summer and moved on.  Until now.

Now two factors conspired against this year’s desire for pie making.  First, the store where I used to buy local strawberries/rhubarb in the town where I spend summer weekends has closed.  (That’s a whole other story.)  Second, with my new schedule I no longer arrive at the weekend house at my leisure.  I won’t get there till dinner time on Friday and with only Saturday and Sunday to relax, play with the nieces, run and be feted on my big day, I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen making a pie that needs to bake for two hours and cool for much longer.  So, rather than having a country-time pie bake, I bought the produce at the greenmarket near my apartment and made the pie in my tiny red kitchen. 
Oh, there was one more thing chipping away at perfection.  I just couldn’t bear the idea of making my own crust.  I know it’s terrible but I cheated.  Thank you, Trader Joe’s frozen crusts, for making last Sunday a little easier.
Anyway, I baked my favorite pie in less than ideal circumstances and the world didn’t fall apart.  And I started thinking about the meaning of perfection.  It can’t be so rigid that it doesn’t allow for reinterpretation or adapting to new circumstances.  Sure, in what might be considered a perfect world I’d be cutting into a freshly baked pie surrounded by my loved ones this weekend in the country.  Well, life isn’t perfect and now I’ll be schlepping the pie I made on Sunday on Friday when I head out to the house on the train.  But I’m not going to take any moldy or schedule conflicting chances. I’m cutting a slice and eating it right now in my apartment. 

And you know what?  It’s perfect, enough—flaky crust, tart, sweet, fruity filling bursting with locally grown goodness.  I think I’ll call my flexible perfection, the New Perfect.   

But I’m still holding out on Paris. 

New Perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Adapted from Bon App├ętit, April 1997
Printer friendly version
Ingredients
1 ready-made, refrigerated double pie crust, thawed as per package's instructions. 

For filling
3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

water for brushing crust and sugar for sprinkling
 

DirectionsPreheat oven to 400°F, line rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside. In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, cornstarch and salt. Toss gently to combine.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. 
My TJ's crusts were a little crumbly so I smushed them and rolled them out again
Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. 
Spoon filling into crust lined pie plate.  
Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round and lay it over the filling, press top and bottom crusts together and trim excess dough leaving 3/4-inch overhang, 
 
fold crust under itself and crimp decoratively.
Lightly brush crust with water and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of sugar, transfer pie to baking sheet. 
 
Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes.

Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Yield: 6-8 servings

6.07.2012

Flip Flopping Flapjacks

Last weekend I opted not to go to my 25th college reunion and spent all-day Saturday questioning my decision.  In so many ways I think of myself as a decisive person: when I go shopping I am in and out of any store having chosen and purchased a new shirt, pair of shoes, carton of milk, or whatever in a snap.  But I think I’ve been misleading myself.  For every dress bought in five minutes there is the torture I inflict on an innocent waiter over which is better, the salmon or the lasagna?  And then I still need to be the last to order while my palate and I continue our not-so-internal debate and my dining partners tap their feet and roll their eyes.

But even a protracted ordering of a meal is over in minutes, whereas my reunion dilemma involved weeks of pros and cons made more complicated when I started working full-time.  There were the considerations of transportation and accommodations.  Meaning, were Daisy and Joe (with whom I traveled the last time my classmates gathered) going and could I get another lift?  If so, would we stay the night?  Would it be a room at the Clarion or could we deal with the accommodations in the dorm?  When they decided not to go another set of friends piped up with the idea of Amtraking it up and back in one day.  I could have been swayed, despite the hideousness of being at Penn Station at the crack of dawn, but then parental obligations forced them to excuse themselves from any potential celebrating.  In the meantime, I started my new job and was shocked at how few hours I now have left in the day to do all the things I used to be able to do at a more leisurely pace.  For instance, I am writing this at the same hideous hour at which I avoided Penn Station. 
Chez Clarion?
The point is, for the last month I have been feeling completely out of control when it comes to certain aspects of my personal life.  I can no longer talk on the phone during the day which means my multiple quick chats with every member of my family need to be squeezed in before 9am or after 7pm.  But that’s also when I need to find time to exercise, do my laundry, write my blogs, bake, clean my house, pay my bills, go to the market, and maybe see a friend or two.  So, when I realized I might lose my mind if I didn’t take the weekend as an opportunity to feel less like a chicken with her head cut off, I took it.  I officially decided not to go to Connecticut on Saturday on Thursday.

Friday night I did three loads of wash, made a pasta sauce whose ingredients were on the verge of rotting in the fridge, ordered a replacement for my tattered bathrobe online, read the newspaper and collapsed on the couch for one hour of catch-up with Giuliana and Bill.  In the meantime I noticed I had a voice mail on my cell phone left from an old boyfriend (stop, he’s married and we’re friends) while he was driving to the reunion seemingly under the assumption he’d see me there.  Oh no.  I’d forgotten to make it clear that I wasn’t going.  I also hadn’t heard back from another classmate (with the absolution I was hoping for) whom I had emailed Thursday evening alerting her as to why I’d be a no-show.  I was a little haunted by feeling I was letting people down when I fell asleep at 11pm.


This new work thing has me waking up early whether I want to or not, so I had to force myself to stay in bed until 8:00 on Saturday morning, all the while thinking about what might be going on in Connecticut.  Had most people arrived Friday night?  Had my tireless friend Priscilla received her Alumni Tribute Award for sustained and extraordinary service to the college yet?  And most importantly, was it raining?  You see I was secretly hoping that it was in order to erase the images of shiny, happy people reconnecting on the verdant quad from my brain.  I made myself go running, sure that the huffing and puffing would clear my head, but I spent most of my time on the reservoir track squinting in the emerging sun light while dodging and hurdling the lagoon-like puddles left behind by the overnight downpour.   I was so preoccupied that even the incredibly charming sight of two gorgeous mallards waddling across my path didn’t release me from the “did I do the right thing?” refrain my psyche had on auto-play.
Alma Mater
The flipping and flopping was exhausting.  What was my problem?  Why did I have such a hard time first making the decision and then living with it?  These were the questions I was confronting as I first cleaned out my closet (six bags to Housing Works!) and then swapped winter clothes for summer, went to the supermarket, got a pedicure, did some clothes shopping and had lunch with the above mentioned Daisy.  Always the straight shooter, Dais was conflict-free about staying put and could not understand my waffling.  Then again, she also couldn’t understand why I spent the night before we left for our freshman year (we went to middle and upper school together too) throwing up and shaking when she was calmly looking forward to starting a new life chapter.  Ah, what would it be like to live a life free from the shackles of anxiety?
Closet Cleaning
But all my churning finally led me to an insight.  Too often I fall prey to the siren song of nostalgia, casting my memories in a golden glow of good-old-days.   That is really not productive when you are in the process of moving your life forward.  I’ve really been working on being braver, taking more chances and putting myself in new situations—like starting a fresh career in mid-age.  I think I was concerned that spending a weekend toasting yesterday might somehow hinder my focus on embracing tomorrow.  My new mindset is too tenuous to risk derailment. 


When I woke up Sunday I ran around a dry and sunny track, this time pausing to appreciate the ducks floating in the reservoir, and came home to make a breakfast befitting the emotional flip flopping of the prior weeks—pancakes!  I showed nostalgia who’s boss by putting a modern twist on the recipe my father used to whip up on weekends when I was a kid. (See our recipes below).  Both are delicious and you certainly won’t risk romanticizing my childhood if you make Dad’s.  The sweetness of the strawberries and drizzle of syrup pairs nicely with the tang delivered by the yogurt (or sour cream) and as I dug into my stack, happily ensconced in my apartment, I knew I’d made the right choice.  Let’s hope it won’t take me five years to decide if I’m going to my 30th.  Gulp.

That brown splotch is a duck!
Flip Flopping Flapjacks (mine)
Printer friendly version
Ingredients
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt (I used nonfat Greek)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 cup chopped strawberries
Real maple syrup for serving

Directions
In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, flax seeds, baking soda and salt.

 
In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg and butter.
Pour the dry into the wet and stir just until completely combined.





Heat your pan or griddle, swirl a little butter in the pan so pancakes don't stick and spoon batter onto hot pan/griddle--I made silver dollars which were a big, heaping tablespoon each. Sprinkle pancakes with chopped berries and cook until little bubbles form on the surface of the batter.
Flip pancakes over once (!) and cook until the bottoms are dark golden brown.  


Yield: 20 silver dollar pancakes

Dad's Pancakes
Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Directions
Same as above.  Dad never used berries.  Do as you please.