Monday, February 15, 2010

Putting words in your mouth

Now that I've confessed I can't cook, I have to go on to say I really can't cook pancakes.

When in the mood, I've used a recipe handed down from my Polish grandmother -- who possibly couldn't cook pancakes either -- that calls for 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, and 1 egg. It's a heavy-duty pancake that tastes great hot or cold, and you can't go wrong making it.

But fluffy, restaurant-style pancakes? My attempts have been disastrous. Last time I tried, I ended up crying.

But try again . . .

I was thumbing through the Eat Our Words cookbook, a compilation of recipes submitted by Montana writers, and I saw "hotcakes." I also saw a possible blog entry no matter how they turned out, so I gathered the ingredients together.

All of my baking begins with Wheat Montana flour.

The recipe says to mix 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar together, then add enough sour milk (I used regular) to make a "smooth and rather stiff" batter. Put 1 teaspoon baking soda in a cup and then add about 1/4 cup hot water (I measured by guessing) and stir this into the batter. Then add more milk "until it will pour from spoon or pitcher or whatever you mix it in."

This is such a forgiving recipe that I'm not surprised these were the first fluffy pancakes that made me smile while I was cooking them. Here I go . . .

pour batter onto hot pan

look for bubbles to form, then turn over to cook other side

top with butter and local honey


. . . perfect!

I got so excited that I even poured batter to shape alphabet letters -- and it worked!

This recipe -- using the 1 cup of flour -- makes about 6 5-inch pancakes plus a handful of letters.

I highly recommend this cookbook not only for the pancake recipe but also for simply reading. There are excerpts from books written by the Montana authors, and even the recipes themselves are charming. The pancake recipe was recorded word-for-word from what the grandfather of the author (Maile Meloy) received from his mother after he had settled in Missoula and needed easy-to-cook meals.

The recipe for Montana Winter Casserole (submitted by Lauri Olsen) includes a description of a typical trip to town for supplies during the cold season here. You're likely to spend quite a while in each grocery store aisle chatting with folks you know. This happens to me in any season.

Then the instructions say: "Bake for 2 hours in a 350-degree oven while you're playing gin rummy at the kitchen table with Uncle Ned, Aunt Hazel, and Carl, your neighbor who stopped in to borrow jumper cables." I think I'll make this casserole next, while it's still snowing out.


  1. I remember you making some fine stained glass cookies!

  2. Cookies tend to be pretty easy to make. Those stained glass ones were a bit of a challenge, but so worth it. I'm glad you remember them.