There’s no other breakfast food that is more nostalgic than pancakes for me. During my childhood, Aunt Jemima visited us on Sunday mornings when my father had the day off and Mom made us breakfast to celebrate a day of rest.

Throughout the years, I will admit to making pancakes from a box whether it was from Aunt Jemima’s pancake mixes – original or buttermilk or Bisquick or Krusteaz. I knew that in the box were basic ingredients, and all of them were in my pantry and refrigerator, except for the buttermilk usually, but nonetheless, I could have created the pancakes from scratch but nostalgia prevented me from doing so.

I could not resist Aunt Jemima’s warm look from the shelves at the grocery store beckoning me to buy the mix. For years as a child, the mix represented a victory of securing something I really wanted when we were shopping at the store. When Mom let us kids take a box home we were overjoyed.

Since my husband religiously eats his oatmeal I usually make a pancake for myself. I make the batter according to the manufacturer’s directions, and this morning I used Wheat Montana’s Whole Grain Pancake Mix. I mixed up just enough for one person, using an egg white instead of the whole egg and almond milk instead of regular milk. I always add just enough milk to get a batter that is not runny but has body and thickness. I know I have accomplished this when after spraying the pan with some oil and it preheats, the batter I pour onto the surface of the pan, oozes just a bit and then halts in its tracks. The batter cooks and sets with the outer edges forming a wall, stopping the rest of the mixture from spilling out.

These days, if the batter texture is right, it foretells a good day ahead as I realize I am awake and paying attention. If I err, it is usually on the side of having too runny of a batter as my focus is elsewhere or I am just not yet awake.

Basic Pancake Recipe

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Serves 4 or makes about 12 pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable or canola oil and extra for pan when cooking

1 large egg

For a healthier variation of the above recipe: Instead of 1 cup all purpose flour use: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons cup quick cooking oats, 1 tablespoon flax seeds or sesame seeds or chopped pecans. Substitute in brown sugar for the regular sugar. Increase cooking time by a minute or so.

Toppings for pancakes: Maple syrup, honey, Greek yogurt, fresh berries, applesauce or pear sauce, crème fraiche, fresh jam, peanut or almond butter, and of course, whipped cream.

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Keep a heatproof plate or baking sheet to keep the pancakes warm as you make them. In a medium bowl, with a fork or whisk, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In another medium bowl, whisk together milk, oil and egg. Add dry ingredients to the milk mixture; whisk until just moistened. Do not over mix.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add about one tablespoon oil and tip pan back and forth to spread oil evenly over the bottom of the pan or spray lightly with oil spray.

4. Spoon about 3 tablespoons batter into the pan.

5. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes with a few bursting, about 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter in the oven; cover loosely with aluminum foil. Continue with more oil and remaining batter. Serve warm.