“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing” ~ Dr. Seuss
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Earlier this week, for my morning ritual of eating breakfast in bed, I decided on pancakes, instead of the customary eggs
I’m punchy with anticipation. But then, as I’m trying to settle in without disturbing anyone furry, the plate is hard to balance, keeps tipping askew, the knife in need of a stable surface for cutting. I clear space on the nightstand, douse the whole thing in syrup
Surprisingly, it tastes fine (better?) right there next to the phone charger and flyer I picked up (in a moment of optimism?) about the goings-on around town
I am asked, How are you holding up?
The first truth is that I am attempting to become a better human, a force that requires, for me, great focus. It has felt bravely ordinary.
The second truth is not much else.
Arguably, the best two bucks I’ve ever spent: Forest – Have you heard of it? An app that helps keep my wandering mind focused. You plant a tree, set a timer, and commit yourself to do nothing but the task at hand. If you succeed, the tree grows, and you get a few virtual coins. Once you earn 2500, you can donate them toward planting a real tree. I hope I get to pick; Weeping Willows are my favorite
Watching: The Romanoffs
Bookmarked for next year: Do You 10Q – A self-reflection question every day for the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Your answers are locked in a vault and emailed back to you the next year. No worries if you’re Jewish or not, all are welcome
Best cat name (maybe ever?): Félicette – She was French and the only kitty who’s traveled into space (and made it safely back to earth)
On good hair: Listen, friends, if you happen to move and are still within driving distance of your hairdresser, do not make attempts at change. You think it will be fine. It will not be fine.
This weekend’s Saturday matinee: Beautiful Boy – It feels like yesterday when I bought my copy of the book. During one of the darkest times of my life. The years when my son too, was an addict. The other day I found myself listening to Terry Gross’ interview with David Sheff, the father. After he talked about the worry, the not knowing where his son was, if he was alive or dead, I pulled over and had a good long cry
Because winter’s coming: The coziest throw for the cold nights ahead. By far, one of my favorite purchases of the year
Highly recommended: After working from home for twelve(!) years, I’m now going to an office. Surprisingly, this turn of events has been a huge boost to my mental health. Not surprisingly, I hadn’t bought any makeup for a long time and decided I was due for a refresh. So I went to Nordstrom’s website and scheduled an appointment. No pressure to buy and it was very, very fun!
On brightening someone’s mailbox: Nothing brightens a day more than something sweet in your mailbox and last week a friend sent me a refillable journal. It goes everywhere with me now, and I feel like I’m channeling my inner David Sedaris
Let’s talk pancakes. This one is excellent.
It’s from an old Gourmet cookbook, and everything I’ve tried has been added to the make-again-soon list. The only alterations I made to the recipe were the addition of spices and an adjustment to the baking time. The pear flavor here is pretty gentle, so make sure yours are ripe and fragrant. Using more than the recipe calls for is never wrong
Admittedly, this was a bit more work than a typical pancake, but very much worth it. At first, I was skeptical because Dutch style pancakes are often dense and even sometimes gummy. Not this one though. It’s light, fluffy and really pretty too. More of an “upside-down cake” than a pancake
As I mentioned earlier, I’m typically an eggs-for-breakfast girl, but when someone is kind enough to gift you pears, something special is in order. Plus, I’ve never been one to protest a good pancake
Breakfast in bed truly doesn’t get any better than this
A few notes about the recipe
When pouring your pancake batter into the skillet, go easy as the pears can/will move around (possibly wrecking your pretty design!)
I have a baking spice blend from AllSpice that has some anise in it, and I thought it was great here – you could use a bit of cardamom, nutmeg or cinnamon as an alternative. Gourmet doesn’t mention any spice at all – so up to you
The original recipe notes the pancake serves two, although I’ve found it’s more like 4-6 servings, especially if served with something else
I think it would make a lovely dessert as well
~ Adapted slightly from Gourmet’s Fresh: From the Farmers Market to Your Kitchen Cookbook | the Gourmet Magazine Editors
Upside-Down Pear Pancake
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- ¼ cup natural sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw or turbinado)
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour (I used oat flour instead of all-purpose to make it gluten-free and had great results)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking spice blend (see notes above)
- ¼ tsp fine-grain sea salt
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup buttermilk, well-shaken
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ firm-ripe Bosc or Barlett pears (about ¾ pound)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Vanilla Sugar
- In a small bowl, add the sugar and the vanilla seeds that have been scraped from the pod
- Rub the sugar and seeds together until the seeds are unclumped and mixed through
- Pancake Batter
- Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, baking spices (if using), and 1 Tbsp of the vanilla sugar.
- In a well-seasoned 10-inch oven-safe skillet, melt the butter over moderately low heat before removing from heat.
- In a bowl whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and 1 Tbsp melted butter, leaving the remaining butter in the skillet. Whisk into the flour mixture until just combined.
- Let batter stand 15 minutes
- Peel and core pears and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick wedges
- Add pears to remaining vanilla sugar with lemon juice, tossing to coat.
- Arrange pears decoratively in butter remaining in skillet.
- Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over pears and cook over moderate heat until barely tender and sugar begins to caramelize (~ 8 minutes)
- Pear Pancake
- Pour batter evenly over pears and bake for 7 minutes
- Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake 5-7 minutes more, or until the top is golden and center is firm to the touch
- Immediately run a thin knife around edge of skillet
- Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together)
- Carefully lift the skillet off of the cake and replace any fruit stuck to the bottom.
- Serve pancake with warm maple syrup