I turn 27 this week.
I recently watched the movie My Best Friends Wedding, with Julia Roberts in it. In the opening scene, we learn that she is a food critic and 27 years old. I first watched that movie over a decade ago. I remember thinking how put together she seemed, with her huge brick of a flip phone and unfortunate 90s suits and career that gave her travel and good food and the ability to write and get paid for it. For some reason, this woman that Julia Roberts was portraying exuded adulthood to me. I just knew I would have my career and life figured out by the time I turned 27. I predicted I would be married and well establishing in whatever I was doing, maybe even with a kid or two, because we all know the clairvoyant powers of 16 year olds. I knew that by the time I was 27, I would have my life together.
So here I am, almost 27. I finally figured out a good hair cut and how to properly apply eye liner. I can cook, do my own laundry, I have a mortgage, and I have successfully kept 2 cats alive for four years. I do not have my life together (surprise!) like 16 year old me thought I would. I’m not always sure what type of behaviors make you an adult, because for a long time I thought having a career and being married and/or having kids made you one. But now that I can look back on 27 years of life, I know plenty of people who have all three of those things who still act like children. But I do know this: life is constantly changing. Things usually don’t go the way you planned them. Sometimes they’re better! Or sometimes they are much, much worse. Your entire adult life isn’t decided when you turn 18, or when you pick a college major, or when you move out of your parents house.
Some people have a real hard time getting older, especially people of my generation who are rapidly approaching 30. There is a lot of propaganda about weight loss, exercise, food and cosmetics to make the aging process slow down or reverse itself. This is baloney. Time marches on. Your body changes, your metabolism slows down (whimper). But something that I have learned about food: you can eat it and stress about it and fuel your body with crazy, unhealthy things. This will not make you look or feel any younger. But you can fuel your body with healthy things that make you feel good that allow you to enjoy the life thats right in front of you, right now, so you don’t miss anything and you can actually live. That’s why it’s so important to put the right food into your body. Its also super important to enjoy and savor what you have, to slow down and enjoy the entire process of food: from the creating to the eating. For me, that means lazy mornings off of work, slowly savoring coffee and making pancakes.
This is my favorite pancake recipe. It’s easy, quick, and delicious. A lack of orange juice can be substituted with 1 full cup of buttermilk or plain milk. I’ve often used chocolate chips instead of blueberries, or both. Skip the zest if you don’t have any. Almond or vanilla extract work well here. For me, thats the mark of a good recipe: its flexible, no fuss, and uses whats on hand to still get something delicious.
One crucial tip: before you being cooking your pancakes, place a cookie sheet in the oven at 200 degrees F and place wire racks on the cookie sheet. After each pancake is done, slide it in the oven onto the rack. Do not stack them on top of one another. Stacking them creates condensation and results is moist, soggy cakes. You want warm cakes with crisp edges and tender centers. This is how you get there. This is especially important if you are making pancakes for a crowd and want to keep them warm.
Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
Makes 8-10 small to medium pancakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 orange juice, freshly squeezed, or store bought in a pinch
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, or frozen, thawed and drained.
3-4 tablespoons of butter, for the griddle
maple syrup, powdered sugar, or if you’re feeling fancy, lemon curd for topping.
Preheat your oven as noted above.
In a medium bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients and set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, juice, zest and extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the blueberries. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes, while the griddle heats. Turn the griddle on medium heat, apply a small pat of butter, and cook your pancakes 1 to 2 pancakes at a time by spooning 3 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. Let each pancake cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. I find that when the edges are bubbling, it’s time for the first pancake flip. Place your cooked pancakes in the oven to stay warm and continue until all the batter is gone, using more butter as needed. Garnish with your favorite pancake topping and serve while warm with coffee and bacon. If your lucky enough to have leftovers, I store them after they have cooled completely in a plastic bag in the fridge and reheat in the toaster.