before my husband was born, his parents and older sister were living in rural Canada, in a log cabin built by my mother- and father-in-law’s own hands. they raised some livestock and gardened for fresh vegetables. is that even for real? i can hardly imagine what that life would have been like. with no roads leading to the nearest town, they had to get creative in the kitchen between grocery-shopping trips. chores such as milling their own wheat or cornmeal with a hand-cranked mill for baking were common. so much like Little House on the Prairie! this has to be part of why my in-laws are such amazing, hearty people, with their endless energy and smiles for every situation. (my mother-in-law figures they expended more calories milling wheat for bread than were in a few slices. pretty sure that’s called Character Building.)
i recently spied a recipe for cornmeal pancakes and had to make a batch for breakfast-for-dinner. i have vague memories of cornmeal pancakes on the table from my childhood… but my husband reminded me that the cornmeal pancakes his dad made were a specialty. so i made these with coarsely-ground cornmeal in honor of Bob.
best part? my husband saying that these flapjacks tasted most like his dad’s than any others he’s eaten.
these are heartier and have more of a toothsome bite than regular flapjacks, and i love how they get a slightly crisp crust where they touch the skillet, while remaining fluffy in the center — perfect for soaking up syrup, and perfect alongside a breakfast sausage link or two.
our family of six ate a lot of pancakes growing up — and waffles, and french toast — and my mom always made her own “maple syrup” from imitation maple flavoring. it’s simple, amazingly delicious hot off the stove, and a lot less expensive than real maple syrup (probably why we always had it). honestly, most times i prefer it to the pure stuff. it tastes so homey and comforting. (plus, a teaspoon or two of this syrup is amazing in a Bourbon with ice. just saying.)
i also liked these pancakes with blueberry syrup. which is also kind of expensive to buy, and really simple to make in a hurry. so make your own! and then eat a stack of pancakes.
cornmeal buttermilk pancakesrecipe from Bon Appetit serves 2 hungry people, but maybe as many as 4
- generous 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup coarse cornmeal (sometimes labeled “stone-ground” or “polenta”)
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 3 TBSP butter, melted and cooled
- vegetable oil
whisk the dry ingredients together. whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, and combine until smooth.note: beating pancake batter is normally not cool, because it produces pancakes more tough than tender. however, these made from cornmeal are a whole ‘nother beast; cornmeal does not contain the gluten that develops when worked. so mix away in this case.
heat a little oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat — just enough to coat the skillet. when a droplet of water tossed into the skillet dances and sizzles, it’s ready. pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. they are ready to flip when the tops have bubbles appear. serve immediately; two super-easy syrup options below!
fresh “maple” syrupmakes about 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 TBSP imitation maple flavoring
bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. reduce heat and let simmer until crystal-clear, stirring occasionally. remove from heat and add maple flavoring. serve piping hot.
blueberry pancake syrupmakes about 1 1/2 cups
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar, depending on your preferences and ripeness of berries
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in a little water
cook berries and sugar on medium-low heat until some berries begin to burst, stirring occasionally. add the cornstarch slurry and stir well. syrup will thicken as it cools; serve warm.