One thing I’ve never understood is pancake mix.
Even if you’re not a creative cook, even if you’re a lazy cook, I’ve never understood the value proposition of pancake mix. It’s not any easier than making pancakes from scratch. Pancakes are one of the simplest foods you can make, and all a mix does for you is pre-blend a handful of dry ingredients. You still have to add the messy, and relatively more expensive ingredients to the mix: eggs, fats, etc.
I love pancakes. They’re easy, inexpensive, and most people like them. They are also really forgiving, so once you have the basics locked into your memory, you can make them without any recipes, and modify them on the fly to suit ingredients on hand.
So on this beautiful fall morning, I figured I’d make a post on pancakes. And since my favorite veggie is pumpkin, and we have pumpkins in abundance right now, I figured I’d make pumpkin pancakes. Even if you have no pumpkin, or prefer not to use pumpkin, the basic procedure works for plain pancakes.
Let’s break the task into two parts: dry ingredients, and wet ingredients. The core dry ingredients are flour (about 1.5 cups), sugar (optional, I use 1/4 cup), sea or kosher salt (generous pinch) and baking powder (couple teaspoons). Mix well.
Basic wet ingredients are eggs (two), oil (1/4 to 1/2 cup, more oil = softer crumb), milk (start with 1/2 cup and add more if resulting batter is too thick). Mix well.
For basic, plain pancakes, that’s it. Let’s talk about how to make pumpkin pancakes.
Some people use pumpkin from a can. While there’s no shame in that, this time of year it’s so easy to just go from scratch. When it comes to cooking pumpkins, there is so much noise out there about which kind of pumpkin is best. About the only consistency in all that noise is the notion that somehow the garden variety jack-o-lantern pumpkin is no good for eating.
Phooey on that.
My considerable experience is that ALL pumpkins are good for eating. Some are better than others, it’s true. But I say that the best pumpkin for eating is the one that you have on your counter.
With that in mind, go ahead and hack up some member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Remove the seeds, and whack it down into pieces that will fit into your steaming vessel. (What’s that, you say you have no steaming vessel? Do you have a pot? Than you have a steaming vessel. Just add a little water and put the gourd in skin side down, then close it tightly with a lid.) Steam enough pumpkin to yield about 2 cups of flesh. When in doubt, just steam extra, it’s great mixed into mashed potatoes, or eaten straight. Steam till flesh is soft and can be spooned from the skin easily, maybe 20-30 minutes. Let it cool, or run under cold water so as not to burn yourself while processing.
I put the pumpkin flesh into a food processor, but a hand masher, immersion blender, or blender works fine, too. A big fork will do the job, as well. No excuses, just mash it as best you can. Chunky texture is just as nice in some ways as smooth.
Add the mashed pumpkin to your pancake batter. I like to add a little pumpkin spice seasoning, too (maybe a couple teaspoons).
Then cook your pancakes.
That’s all there is to it!
I had a Muddy Dog customer stun me recently by saying “I can’t afford to eat like you” (meaning whole, fresh seasonal, local foods). Another reader of this blog suggested that I provide some costing estimates for the meals I propose. To dispel the myth that eating well is expensive, I’ll start giving estimating a try here:
dry ingredients (guesstimate) $1
eggs (@$4 per dozen) $0.67
cannola oil (guesstimate) $0.25
milk (guesstimate) $0.40
pumpkin – mine was free from our garden, but figure $1 worth of a farmer’s market gourd
Marco Polo ingredients, e.g., spices (guesstimate) $0.25
Grand total $3.57. The batch I made this morning served eight. That’s about $0.45 per serving. Add a couple more 33-cent eggs, some butter and syrup, and suddenly you’re at about a whopping $1.40 per serving. Add a cup of Muddy Dog Roasting Company Pumpkin Spice coffee, and that adds $0.45, so you eat a great breakfast for under $2. Is that too expensive?
Want to try some great coffee?