Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dad Can Cook - You can really taste the scratch

Being a dad of young kids is a pretty sweet gig.  They are almost always delighted to see me when I get home, and all I have to do to be a hero is make pancakes.

I grew up in a home with eight kids.  Mom did most of the cooking, which couldn't have been easy with that many mouths, many of which belonged to boys who were always hungry.  She also worked full-time as a teacher starting when I was five and the oldest was seventeen.

Mom made the very best comfort foods, the most notable being fried chicken almost every Sunday.  Occasionally she would experiment with new things, like the time she made cow tongue.  We were all weirded out by it, but we knew better than to say anything other than "thank you" and "please pass the tongue."  The oldest sibling, Biff (names have been changed), missed dinner because he was at work, or had some school thing.  When he got home, a few of us watched to see what he would do about the tongue.  He started right away on making a sandwich, sliced a few generous pieces of tongue and fell to eating his tongue sandwich.  After a few bites Fritz said, "You know that's cow tongue, right?"  Biff said, "Huh, I thought it was ham." And then he just kept right on eating.

Dad would occasionally make breakfast where we could choose 1, 2, or 3 strips of bacon, a "Daddy's Best Egg" which was fried with either a "runny" or "broken" yolk, and toast or sometimes pancakes.  Dad was also always in charge of making breakfast on Mother's Day.  We kids were always in awe because this was the only time during the year that we could have his delicious apple pancakes.  Thinking back, I wonder if Mom ever felt slighted how we would rave about these pancakes, but rarely acknowledged her efforts every other day.  Sorry, Mom.

My kids love oatmeal, which is what they have for breakfast most mornings.  I like oatmeal as much as the next guy, but it's not particularly exciting.  So one Saturday morning about 4 or 5 years ago I made pancakes, sausage, and "Daddy's Best Eggs" for breakfast.  My kids thought I was the coolest dad ever.  The following Saturday they asked if I was going to make a "Big Daddy Breakfast" again.  I said, "No, if I make it every week then it won't be special." So we all had oatmeal, and I felt a little bit sad that I had disappointed them.  Soon it did become a weekly thing, and I'm okay with being in charge of breakfast on Saturdays.  Now that the boys are vegetarians I no longer make sausage for them, but sometimes I'll fry some up for myself and try to tempt them with it.  It never works.

I used to make pancakes with Krusteaz mix, which for a pancake mix is probably the best one.  But when I discovered how ridiculously easy it is to make pancakes from scratch with ingredients that are always in the house, I never bought a mix again.  And, I'm going to share with you the best recipe right here.

Daddy's Best Classic Fluffy Pancakes

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/8 cup powdered milk*
*If you don't have powdered milk, you can use milk instead of water in the wet ingredients. Almond or soy milk also works well.

Wet Ingredients:
2 cups water (use milk if you didn't add powdered milk to the dry ingredients)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil*
*I haven't tested this with waffles, but I'd probably use 4 tablespoons oil if you do use it for waffles.

Heat a griddle or skillet to about 325 degrees.  Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, whisking the eggs to combine thoroughly.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing thoroughly, but don't overmix.  Pour the batter in 4-5 inch rounds (or funny shapes, or whatever size you want).  Flip the pancakes when bubbles start to form holes.  Let's face it, if you don't know when to flip your pancakes, there's little I can do to help you there.  Makes around 20-24 four-five inch pancakes.

The powdered milk is really the secret to this whole thing.  Sometimes I'll pre-make several bags of the dry ingredients to save time when I want to make pancakes.  I have also used powdered eggs, and it worked pretty well, but I don't like the flavor as much.  The kids didn't seem to notice, though.

Occasionally I'll make a "Big Daddy Omelette" or "Big Daddy Hash" which are always big hits too.  The secret is cheese.  Lots and lots of cheese.