Monthly Archives: March 2012

Celebrate a Wedding with some Pancakes

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“‘Oh, my! I wisht – I wisht we had a cake.  I wisht we had – a cake or somepin.’ ‘I’ll set some coffee on an’ make up some pancakes,'” Ma said.  ‘We got sirup’ ‘Oh, my!’ Mrs. Wainright said.  ‘ Why – well.  Look, I’ll bring some sugar.  We’ll put sugar in them pancakes.'” From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The family has gotten a little flush from a few weeks’ worth of good cotton picking, they are living in an old boxcar which they share with another family and they are about to celebrate a wedding – with pancakes because that’s the best they can pull together.  It’s incredible how ready they are to celebrate just anything and share what little they have in order to make the occasion as special as they can.

Pancakes (A Half Recipe)

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

1 cup milk

2 tbsp melted butter

1 egg

Mix everything together in a bowl and if you forgot the egg the first time, as I did, you can mix it in after.  You don’t want to overmix your batter though, there should be small lumps, they’re delicious.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and spread some cooking oil around it (or butter, as you choose, or lard, if you think you can stand it).  When the pan is evenly heated, start pouring out your pancake batter.  I sometimes tend toward the whimsical myself and so I made my pancakes look like a bear and a dinosaur (I don’t know why the dinosaur head looks like the head of the Alien in the Ridley Scott movies – it was a fluke).  The trick to making good pancakes is not to let them burn but also not to try and flip them too soon.  You want to wait until a good number of bubbles have started to appear on the top, and then you want to test your pancake’s flippability by checking whether you can get the spatula under it easily, if it sticks at all, it’s not ready to be flipped. Serve hot with “sirop” and butter, if you’re feeling decadent, and enjoy!

I prefer real maple syrup.  As I’ve said before, there are certain things that you just can’t skimp on and we grew up with real maple syrup as a staple in our home.  Real maple syrup aside, this was a super cheap meal, since everything was in my kitchen already.  I had two critter shaped cakes for dinner and have enough batter leftover to make some for breakfast tomorrow.

There are an infinite number of ways you could jazz this up, and that’s not including pancake shape competitions, so let your imagination run wild.  I thought of adding crumbled bacon (or candied and crumbled bacon?) right to my batter, but the bacon was going to take too long to defrost and I was hungry.

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Filed under Books, Cheaper Cooking, Cooking and Reading, Food, Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, Literature, Recipes, The Great Depression

Cup a Java and a Slice of Pie Before You Head Back Out on the Road

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“Well, what’s it gonna be? Oh, cup a Java. Kinda pie ya got? Banana cream, pineapple cream, chocolate cream—an’ apple. Make it apple. Wait—Kind is that big thick one? Mae lifts it out and sniffs it. Banana cream. Cut off a hunk; make it a big hunk”  From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

This is an exchange between a truck driver and a diner waitress.  She is always complaining about how she hates the “Oakies” because they never buy anything and she likes the truck drivers because they have money to tip well.  But she also sells 5 cent candy at 2 for a penny to a traveling family because she wants the little boys to smile.  The truck drivers leave her a 50 cent tip each.  It’s nice to think that people can find kindness and pass it on.

This weekend my friends Julie and Richard made me an apple pie.  Richard brought his own food scale to weight his ingredients instead of using measuring cups, and he deciphered some kind of code on a recipe card I couldn’t read.  He claims he will send the recipe to me in an email, but he might also keep his secret close.  Anyway, since I barely lifted a finger, I shouldn’t be the one blogging about it.  (We picked apple since we were celebrating the Middle Earth New Year’s Eve – March 25th is day the men of the West defeat Sauron in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so we thought we’d screen a film and drink some ales.  Apple pie seemed to fit the bill. Yes, we are delightfully geeky.)

Richard’s Secret Crust Apple Pie 

Pie crust made with a touch of salt and actual lard (I was surprised I could find any, but it was Goya brand, so maybe not that surprised) 

3 lbs granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

Cinnamon and Nutmeg to taste

1 cup sugar

1 stick of butter

2 tbsp lemon juice

Richard said that he likes his apples to be very soft, but he usually uses yellow delicious and more lemon juice.  We baked the pie at 55o degrees for about 40 minutes and then lowered the temperature to 350 for an hour.  After that we just turned the oven off and let the pie sit in there while it cooled.  The crust was great but the apples had almost lost their entire shape, which was my fault for getting the granny smiths (they were on sale!  Depressioners know I wasn’t going to spend more for the yellow delicious!).  Still it was eaten to rave reviews.

This was a pretty cheap pie overall, since I had everything but the apples and the lard.  Incidentally, Crisco shortening sticks were $4 and the lard was $1.19.  I will be making biscuits with it in the near future.

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Filed under Books, Cheaper Cooking, Cooking and Reading, Food, Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, Literature, Recipes, The Great Depression