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November 16, 2011

Pancakes are no longer just breakfast food.  For my husband and I, I’m not even sure if we’ve ever made pancakes for breakfast together before (we usually do Fruity French Toast!).  Then again, with our crazy lives, we hardly ever make breakfast.

Anyhow, pancakes have become one of our go-to breakfast-at-dinner meals when we’re lazy, don’t know what to make for dinner, and want something different.  Pancakes are filling, sweet, delicious, and hearty.  Ok, so they may not be the healthiest things in the world to eat, especially for dinner, but hey, it’s not like we have pancakes for dinner every night!

Variations on the traditional pancake, as we know it, exist throughout the world.  In fact, archaeological evidence suggests that pancakes were made in prehistoric societies where people would use the abundance of seed flours and mix them with protein-rich liquids such as eggs and milk.  A pancake is generally considered to be a thin, flat cake made from a batter that is cooked on a hot griddle or a frying pan.  In Northern Europe, France and the Cape Breton region of Canada, crepes, which are a form of pancakes are popular.  In Germany, they make pancakes with potatoes.  Depending on where in the world you’re located, pancakes can be filled with sweet cream, fresh fruit, jams, syrups and can be made to be either sweet or savory, served as either a breakfast item or dinner item, or even be served as a side to soup, or as an appetizer.  Pancakes may be one of the world’s most versatile foods, and something that is recognized all over the world and made every where in one form or another.

I will admit that my husband and I cheat a bit with our pancakes, we use a batter made with Bisquick mix.  Hey, we can’t all be gourmet all the time, right?  Here are the key players in our pancakes: Bisquick mix, milk, chocolate chips (for me), fresh blueberries if available (for my husband), fresh strawberries if available (for both of us), butter and maple syrup.  Of course, you can add any sort of dried, or fresh fruit or jam that you desire.  And these fruits or other additives can be mixed in with your batter, piled on top of the finished pancakes, or any combination thereof.  Also, you can dust your finished pancakes with powdered sugar, if you wish.  And if you want to be really sinful, top your pancakes with whipped cream!

We start by putting enough Bisquick mix in the bowl to make batter for both my chocolate chip pancakes and my husband’s blueberry pancakes.  To the mix, we add milk.  We like to use whole milk to our pancake batters because it has full, rich flavor.  I’ve seen recipes that call for the addition of eggs to the batter, but we’re not trying to make our pancakes cakey, we want hearty-style pancakes.

Take a wire whisk, or a fork, and mix the milk into the batter creating a batter that resembles cake batter.  You don’t want the batter too runny, or else the pancake is going to resemble more of a flat crepe with no body running all over your griddle.  Too thick and it’ll be too difficult to cook all the way through without burning the outside.

At this point, since I don’t like blueberries, and my husband doesn’t want chocolate chips in his pancakes, we split our batter into 2 different bowls.  Into his bowl, my husband will add fresh blueberries whole and mix them into the batter.

In my bowl, I will add semi-sweet chocolate chips or morsels and mix them into my batter.

We have, in our kitchen, a reversible grill that fits over 2 of our gas burners on the stove.  One side is a grill, the other side is a flat griddle.  It was one of our best kitchen gadget purchases ever!  Heat up your flat griddle (or frying pan) and make sure it’s well greased so the pancakes don’t stick to them.  Once the griddle is ready, start ladling your pancakes onto the griddle.  Again, don’t ladle too much batter or else your pancake will be thick and won’t fully cook.  Don’t ladle too little that your pancake has no depth to it.

Allow the pancakes to cook on one side, untouched, for a few minutes.  when small bubbles start forming on the top, and the sides of the pancake look dry and cooked, it’s time to flip the pancakes over.  But try not to flip until they are ready.  Refrain from constantly lifting up the edges to peek at the underside.  Leaving the pancakes on the grill without touching them allows the heat to be evenly distributed so your pancakes cook evenly throughout.  Also, whatever you may have added to your batter (chocolate chips, fruit, or something else) will also cook.  It’s ok if the fruit or chocolate settles and makes contact with the grill.  It won’t burn, and it won’t overcook.  Besides, is there something wrong with a little bit of melty chocolate?

When the pancakes have fully cooked on both sides, transfer them to a plate.  My husband and I both like to spread a thin layer of butter onto one side of the pancake.  It adds flavor and moisture.  But you can certainly refrain from that if you don’t want the extra calories.  When we’re done, we’ll have one plate of chocolate chip pancakes.

And a plate of blueberry pancakes.  I know, it’s extra work to have to create two plates of food, but this way, my husband and I are both happy with our pancakes and aren’t forced to eat something we don’t want to eat.

The only thing left to add to the pancakes now is rich maple syrup.  Now, how can that be bad?  Everyone’s happy.  I’m happy with my chocolate chip pancakes.  My husband is happy with his blueberry pancakes.  Win-win situation.  Pancakes for dinner is always a good thing.

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