I really should have lived in the Little House on the Prairie (or even the Big Woods would do). I could have gotten up early to help Ma light a fire in the stove while Pa was out feeding the stock. With the wheat Pa ground last fall and the eggs from the hens, I would have mixed up the batter for Sunday flapjacks and used Ma’s tin ladle to pour it into the hot, cast iron pan resting on the woodstove. (I’m guessing they didn’t have AllClad Stainless steel pans in the 1850s Dakotas). After breakfast, Almanzo might have stopped by to take me sleigh riding behind those horses of his. I’d bundle up in wraps and furs over my calico dress that I stitched from the fabric bought down at the mercantile. We’d laugh and enjoy the crisp, cool air. Nellie Oleson would be jealous.
(Can you tell what I’ve been rereading at night before going to sleep…)
But alas, I missed it. I had the benefit of being born into a century that had already seen running water and women’s suffrage, civil rights and automobiles, and the great (mis?)fortune of coming of age in a century of smart phones, fast food, internet connections, instant emails, and endless opportunities. I’m not so sure my smartphone is making me any smarter or that the extra time I gain not having to haul water in from the well on the back 40 really adds that much value to my day. Sometimes I wish we could undo it all, go back to the prairie of long, endless vistas where anything really was possible.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and don’t think you’re the first. I am accused (fairly often) of romanticizing the past, of being a good editor of memories and history, and even of taking for granted the many fortunes with which I’ve been blessed. I know the long winter of twisting hay to burn just to stay warm and being stuck inside with no connection to the outside world for months on end are perhaps not everything they’re cracked up to be in my mind. But I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with remembering the good and forgetting the bad, of letting go of the challenges and seeing only the benefits.
In the meantime, I think I’ll just make some Sunday flapjacks, pop open some homemade jam and jarred peaches, and read my book at the breakfast table while somewhere in the distance, an imaginary voice calls me ‘half-pint’.
I make pancakes a lot like I make muffins. My childhood pancakes were of the Krusteaz variety - white fluffy stacks to be doused in maple syrup and cinnamon sugar. In an attempt to reclaim breakfast food from the dessert lobby that has attempted to co-op it, I make thick, dense pancakes with grains, fruit, protein and flavor. Start with a few basic ingredients and add in any thing else you like.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 T baking powder
2 T sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1.5 cups milk
2 T coconut oil
1/2 t vanilla
1 grated apple
As with most baking projects, combine all the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Then mix together. Ladle into a generously oiled, medium-high heat skillet and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Then flip. A note on pancakes: don’t flip them more than once - so make sure the underside is cooked before you turn them over - otherwise they will get tough.
Fresh ground nutmeg
Small grated coconut