(not the pancakes of the story)
Yesterday I made pancakes.
I know. For some people that’s like saying they put on their shoes or brushed their hair or woke up in the morning.
Simple. Easy. Even effortless.
I get it. I understand. It’s like that now for me, too. I love making pancakes and stacking them with strawberries and butter.
But not so long ago it was a completely different tale.
And so in honor of Valentine’s Day.
Here, once again, is the rest of my pancake story.
It started with an invitation.
I think that all really good stories do.
I asked my husband who was then my boyfriend over for lunch. We were both home from college for the summer and I wanted to impress him with my culinary skills. (Just between us I really didn’t have any culinary skills). But I had something so much more important.
Belief in myself.
And belief the fact that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Mind over matter and all that. Any stone not uncovered was one that just hadn’t been turned over yet.
I told him I would cook him anything he wanted for lunch and he told me that he wanted pancakes.
How about filet mignon and summer squash or braised pork chops with fresh garlic and onion or chicken stuffed with ricotta cheese? He shook his head and insisted.
He wanted pancakes.
So that day I searched my mom’s The Joy of Cooking until I found the best-looking pancake recipe I could. I didn’t know about Bisquick. Or generic pancake mixes. All I knew was The Joy of Cooking gave this pancake recipe the stamp of approval and that was good enough for me.
First I added the milk and sugar and eggs and baking powder and salt and butter….and oh wait….
Now you have to understand…..at this point….my only cooking reference was chocolate chip cookies.
That’s all I ever baked.
That’s what I was known for.
So when I added the ingredients together it just looked….well….truthfully it looked so….un-chocolate chip cookie like. As a matter of fact, it just looked runny. I panicked. How was I ever going to form this dough into balls to press into the pan to make pancakes (remember the chocolate chip cookie reference)? Frantically I read the recipe again.
I must have done something wrong, I thought.
So I added some flour.
And some more flour.
And just a little more for good measure.
Until all of the runiness was gone and my pancake mix was a big ball of dough. And staring at that big ball of dough all I felt was confidence. Hello cooking channel. Hello Food Network. I’m ready for my pancake show.
And in that overly-confident moment……inspiration really struck.
Why just have plain pancakes……
……when you could have blueberry ones?
Now The Joy of Cooking didn’t really mention blueberry pancakes. But remember all that confidence? It applied to the executive decision to go to the freezer and take out frozen blueberries (umm……yes……unfortunately I did say they were frozen) and add them to the dough.
And then a funny thing happened.
The frozen blueberries made the dough blue.
And now I was running out of time. I had spent so much of my lunch break setting a beautiful table with the most amazing fresh flower arrangement and silver and china and candles. And there was the whole adding extra flour and frozen blueberries thing.
That’s when brilliant idea number two struck.
“Why have a bunch of little pancakes when you could just have one really big pancake?”
I know….right? I know what you are thinking.
This idea was truly inspired.
So I took that big blue ball of pancake dough and I pressed it quickly into the frying pan.
And when I was waiting for the top to cook.
The bottom burned.
Well…actually…it burned on both sides.
So now my pancake was….big….and blue…..and….umm…..burned. And that’s when I got amazing idea number three.
Add powdered sugar to cover the burned part.
So I styled the pancake on the plate with powdered sugar and a few remaining blueberries that were now thawed and set it on that beautiful table.
Just in time. Just in time to see my future husband’s eyes light up as he walked through the door. Oh, if he only knew the feast that was waiting for him.
So there we sat.
Just the two of us.
I was the one having the cheese sandwich because (as I told him later) there wasn’t enough pancake for me. I watched as his fork hovered with delight over the powdered sugared blueberry delicacy. Then, with great anticipation and gusto he cut into it. His fork sliced the pancake and from the center…from the center of that very under-cooked…..yet oddly over-cooked blueberry pancake….
….rivers of blue goo that spilled onto his plate.
He looked at the goo. He looked at me and I looked at him about to burst into tears. And like a man inspired he took a deep breath, grabbed his fork, scooped up the blue goo with bits of blueberry and powdered sugar still attached…..
…..and took a big bite.
And chewed. He chewed that gooey pancake like a contestant on Survivor when they have to eat a local delicacy to win fresh towels and shampoo.
Slowly he finished his bite.
And he smiled.
And told me how delicious it was…..
…..and then asked me for the rest of my cheese sandwich.
And I gave it to him…along with my heart.
Happy Valentine’s Day.