My good friend, Christy, can bake anything, and, in the midst of the baking, she makes everything look easy. Christy is the type of girl who scoffs at boxed-up Betty Crocker cake mixes, because she insists that homemade cakes are nothing but a snap to create, and why, when something is just! that! simple! would you waste a few odd dollars buying a box of pre-sifted dry ingredients?
Christy is also the type of girl who will stop by my front door and say, “Hey there. I was a little bored last night while the boys were watching some funky cartoon on TV, so I whipped up this nine-layer chocolate cake with double-fudge frosting from scratch, and, honestly, it was soooo simple, I just made two of them, so do you want one?”
Whenever I call Christy, I’m always informed that she’s “just puttering around in the kitchen,” and that she’s got a caramel cheesecake in the oven and no-bake cookies cooling on the counter.
Clearly, having coffee at Christy’s house is nothing short of a treat, because she refuses to serve ONLY coffee. In addition to piping-hot, caffeinated beverages, she’ll whip a blueberry coffee cake out of the oven, that she just threw together, because honestly! It’s so simple, her five-year-old son could have assembled it in his sleep, so she just threw it together and popped it in at 350 while she was waiting for me to drive over to her house.
Which gave her plenty of time, you know, because our houses are four miles apart.
In contrast, when Christy has coffee at my house, I like to pull out all the stops and tell her, “Oh, and on your way over? Why don’t you grab yourself a latte at Starbucks. And, if you’re hungry, go ahead and get the cranberry-orange scone there, too, and bring it on over to my house.” Our friendship extends beyond the simple fact that the poor darling knows that my oven will be cold when she arrives.
I had enough problems dealing with the boy and his friend, G, when she brought her Easy Bake Oven over one afternoon this last summer. The list of baking instructions was nearly overwhelming, and I had to make sure that my bottle of smelling salts was handy, as I felt a dead-faint coming on, just reading the directions.
“Add 3 tablespoons water to cake mix. Stir. Pour into Easy Bake pan. Insert into Easy Bake Oven. The blazing light bulb will take over from there.”
On the flip side of Christy is my friend, Cody. Cody’s daddy is a chef, and the poor little girl grew up in a restaurant kitchen. As a result, her idea and my idea of dinner is entirely different.
She’ll ask me, “What are you making for dinner?” And I’ll reply, “Oh, something easy; I was thinking either Cap’N Crunch or Cheerios. What about you?”
Cody will respond by saying, “Oh, I’m going the easy route, too. I think I’ll just do a quick peppercorn roasted pork loin with vermouth pan sauce, some roasted carrots with raisins and rum sauce, some scalloped potatoes wrapped in cucumber slices and served with minted yogurt, and a nice loaf of homemade Greek bread served with some dipping oils. We’ve got some errands and all to run tonight, so, like I said, it’s just going to be a quick and easy dinner that I can throw together.”
As for me, I like my recipes to be very, very simple. In fact, dialing the phone and asking for a hand-tossed pepperoni pizza is sometimes as daring as I like to get with dinner. I can’t cook anything without a recipe, right there in front of me, and I prefer cooking meals that require less than five ingredients, including the pan and the spatula.
Imagine the boy’s surprise this morning when he told me that he was hungry for breakfast, so he thought he’d make himself a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, and I countered by saying, “Or, maybe I could make scrambled pancakes.”
He looked at me with the odd look that is reserved for times when you discover that your real mama was abducted by aliens long ago, and you’ve been inhabiting the house with a Stepford Mama all this time, and you had no idea, until now.
Scrambled pancakes are a delicacy. They’re a concoction of the usual lineup of pancake ingredients, but the batter is mixed in an entirely different format, so that when you pour it all into the frying pan, it cooks up like scrambled eggs. Only they’re, you know, pancakes. Hence, their name.
Scrambled pancakes are not MY original recipe. Clearly! This recipe is one from Christy, which some grandmother or other migrated with across the expanse of our continent on the Oregon Trail, carrying it tucked into the bosom of her dress, just in case her covered wagon was set upon by raiders and stolen. With the recipe traveling across the country close to her heart, it was destined to be secure.
And maybe that’s not the real tale of how Christy’s family came to be the owners of the Scrambled Pancake recipe, but the little recipe card has been in her family for years, and I have always loved popping over to her house in the mornings, after the kids have headed off to school for a higher education, and having her proclaim, “I made some scrambled pancakes.”
Sweet goodness, that’s what it is.
A few years ago, Christy wrote the recipe down on a scrap of paper for me, which I immediately took home and added to my recipe box, after I blew all the dust off of it. Then, two nights ago, I was digging for a waffle recipe, because I had decided that we’d eat the breakfast food for dinner that evening, when I came across the slip of paper bearing the scrambled pancake recipe. I looked at it. I studied it. The recipe was divided into three sections, which meant that there were THREE different acts of cooking that I had to perform. Sift the dry ingredients. Whisk the wet ingredients. Melt some butter and separate some eggs.
People, separating the egg yolks from the whites was nearly the kicker that made me toss the recipe card back into the box and call it quits, before I had even begun, but for some reason, I decided to see it through. I called Christy and said, “Yeah. So I think I might make the scrambled pancakes, for the first time ever. How do I do this again?” And, right there, Janie-on-the-Spot recited the recipe from memory and broke it down into very simple parts for me.
I was still reeling from the fact that she had the recipe memorized.
The only recipe that I have committed to memory over the years is the one for boiled eggs.
Just as I was getting started with dinner, my parents dropped by and invited the boy to pack a bag and spend the night with them, and, naturally, he hopped up and down with excitement, threw a T-shirt and a toothbrush into his backpack, and was out the door, leaving Hubs and I alone for dinner.
And that, after the whole egg-white and egg-yolk debate, was almost my second undoing. The boy, you see, is crazy about pancakes. Smokin‘ crazy about them. He’ll eat them for every meal, if he’s allowed. Hubs is not overly crazy about pancakes, because they lack one key ingredient: MEAT.
But, like I said, I stuck with it, and I made the scrambled pancakes, and my stove top looked like a pancake factory had exploded upon it. Hubs commented, “Are you supposed to sling that much batter all over the stove when you cook this stuff?”
Hubs, though, was impressed with the meal, and even though he had to go vegetarian for dinner with the scrambled pancakes (which is not one of his favorite things to do, as Hubs considers things like vegetables to be something that his FOOD eats, before it’s slaughtered and roasted), he proclaimed them to be “pretty good.”
And “pretty good,” when no meat is involved, is the equivalent of a five-star rating at our house.
So the scrambled pancakes were a hit, and the stove top never got cleaned off, because it was smoking hot, and I was waiting to scrape all the dried-up pancake batter off of it after it cooled, but then I never got around to it.
So this morning (which was where we were starting this long-winded post, I think, before I gave you all the back history), when I asked the boy if he wanted scrambled pancakes, he was stunned.
Yes, he said. He’d have the scrambled pancakes.
So I whipped out the flour and the sugar, and the boy melted the butter, and I SUCCESSFULLY SEPARATED THE YOLKS AND THE WHITES, and the boy was mesmerized by my culinary talent there, let me tell you. And, when the scrambled pancakes were finished, the boy said, “Mom, this is my new favorite food! This is the best food in the entire universe!”
So clearly, scrambled pancakes are an amazing hit, as Hubs will eat them, meat-free, and the boy thinks that they trump cheese pizza.
My cooking abilities clearly know no boundaries. I’ve become a mad woman in the kitchen.
And I totally would have taken a picture of the scrambled pancakes this morning, just to show you that I could indeed create a culinary masterpiece, but the pictures would have included my obnoxiously dirty stove top, which was still covered in pancake batter from two nights ago, and we couldn’t have that.
You’ll just have to envision it all in your minds.
And, rest assured, I spent the next 30 minutes scrubbing the stove top up. And that, my friends, could be why I don’t cook exotic dishes. It’s because cleaning up is always such a chore, when I’ve tossed everything all over the kitchen counters.