I am currently reading The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert. You know, the same Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, which then turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts. I was not a fan of Eat, Pray, Love. Especially when she went to India to “pray,” it was a bore; it took me months to get through India. I haven’t watched the movie out of fear that I will again be moved to extreme boredom. Nevertheless, Jon recommended reading this previous novel of hers about the mountain man Eustace Conway, “The Last American Man.” Thus far, the novel is a great read.
Eustace is a burly, muscular, mountain man who lives on Turtle Island in South Carolina in a teepee. He lives in tune with nature, builds his own tools, and hunts all of his own food. His goal in life is to convince others to give up their current, modern day lives and join him out in the wilderness. I especially love this quote when he spoke to a group of summer campers about the circle of life, which to him is eternal life:
“Do people live in circles today? No. They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in the box of their bedroom because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where the live and get into a box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken up into lots of little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes homes to their house boxes and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box! Does that sound like anybody you know?” He continues to state “Break out of the box!”
I loved everything about this quote, including the potential it suggests we have to reexamine how we live our day-to-day lives. From a food standpoint, everyday us, Americans, are eating more and more out of boxes. It’s easy to do, it’s tasty. And amazingly enough, sometimes we don’t even realize that things can be made not out of a box. Like pancakes. One of Jon’s absolute favorite stories is the fact that I didn’t know that you could make pancakes from scratch. Growing up, on Saturday mornings, my dad would wake up and take out his box of pancake mix and make perfectly circular pancakes for each of us. How was I to know that there was another way? Especially since everything else that was cooked in our home was never from a box. So, clearly, there wasn’t any other way of making pancakes, because my dad would have done it otherwise. Ah well, I have learned lots since then. And can now make a delicious batch of pancakes, from scratch.
My dad was recently visiting in Seattle and I made him these pancakes. He loved them. I converted him. A couple of days after he had his first ones I asked what he wanted for breakfast and he asked for these pancakes, again.
I love that they use whole wheat pastry flour, making them somewhat nutritious. But if you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, you can use regular all-purpose flour. To celebrate fall and the abundance of apples I thinly sliced an apple and placed it in the batter, along with some cinnamon. The apples gave the pancake a nice light crunch to contrast the lightness of the batter, and was something different from the conventional banana pancakes. Jon also caramelized an apple to make a delicious topping. Of course, don’t forget to drizzle some maple syrup on top and break out of that box.
Look at those apple slices tucked in that batter.
1.5 cups whole-wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 to 3 tablespoons of sugar (depends on how sweet you like them)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, melted or oil
1 ½ cups buttermilk*
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 medium apple cored and sliced
Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Then stir in the sliced apple.
For each pancake drop ¼ cup batter onto a nonstick griddle or skillet set over medium-high heat. Note: if the pancakes are cooking too quickly, turn the heat down to medium. Cook, without touching, until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip it and cook until browned for a couple more minutes. Move to plate and start eating.
Makes fourteen 4-inch pancakes
*If you don’t have buttermilk, just make your own: 10 minutes before preparing the pancakes add a tablespoon and a half of vinegar to a cup and a half of milk.