Strawberry Lemon Pancakes

I started working when I was 12 or 13 years old. I remember rolling up newspapers for my paper route, rubber banding them and riding my pink, banana seat bike all around the neighborhood, tossing newspapers at each front porch.

At 15, I started working at a  pizza place and I worked there all through high school. I worked every summer. I worked and worked and worked some more.

After having both children, I worked full time without a second thought. I was used to working and juggling life around it. Then six years ago, we decided to move cities and knew it would be the perfect time to take a step back and be home with the children. These years are short (or so I hear) and we both wanted a simpler life for ourselves and our children.

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Now, fast forward six years and the kids are older and are both in school. Whew – free and clear! I was offered a part-time job as a baker and snatched it up. I couldn’t wait to get back into the working world. Co-workers! Paychecks! I was also looking forward to the ability to easily answer the question “so what do you do?” Stay-at-home mom always seemed to fall so flat. It sounds boring. It sounds like under-achieving. It sounds so privileged.

But then we were back to the daily juggling. Our simpler life went out the window. After working for a year, my body was telling me no, it was time to say good-bye to the baker position and return to the stay-at-home mom one.

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That brings me back to here.

Raising humans is a monumental task, yet it is made up of a million smaller ones. Packing lunches, laundry, homework, bedtime stories and play dates – all add up to what we hope are responsible adults who are ready to take on the challenges of this world. Yet, sometimes its hard to see the forest for the trees. The mundane tasks seems so – mundane.

I hadn’t realized how much my self worth was attached to my employment until I stopped working. It is hard for me to remember that in fact, self worth comes from me just being me.

In light of this, I’m trying to remember that me just being me is enough. I don’t have to earn my keep, so to speak. I do plenty. I can plan coffee dates with friends and indulge in hobbies. I can spend part of my child free time on things that enrich my life as an individual. Volunteer, read, and of course, bake.

 

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Now, with this extra lease on life, I decided it was time to work on some tasty new pancakes. Blueberry pancakes have never really been a family favorite. A couple years ago, our youngest was watching Daniel Tiger on PBS and they made strawberry pancakes on the episode. He immediately asked to make them and so we did. This time around, I embellished them with a zing of lemon and a powdered sugar for the topping.

Strawberry Lemon Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (half of a large lemon)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup diced strawberries, about 4 large fresh or frozen that have been thawed and drained

Instructions:

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a medium bowl. In another bowl (I use a large measuring cup) combine the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and combine with a spatula until just combined. Gently mix in strawberries. Pre-heat a griddle to 350 degrees. Spray griddle with cooking spray and ladle 1/4 cup mixture unto griddle. Cook until lightly golden on the bottom (1-2 minutes) and then flip. Press the pancake down gently. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until both sides are golden brown and the middle is cooked through.

I test the middle of the pancake by gently pressing the side of the spatula into the pancake and if it comes out clean, then I know the middle is cooked. Serve with a bit of butter and powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

 

Buttery Waffles

Grandma’s house in summertime was my favorite place to be as a child. The house is big two story farmhouse built by my great grandparents and set in the middle of the family farm. When not sleeping over at my cousins’ house, my sister and I would sleep upstairs in the room my mom grew up in.  We would fall fast asleep covered in cozy quilts and wake up to the sounds of laughter from the kitchen. I would bound down the stairs and there would be my mom and aunt happily laughing in the eat-in kitchen. My grandma would be standing at the counter with the waffle maker working over time to keep up with all the hungry mouths to feed. Warm waffles smothered in butter and served with your choice of maple or corn syrup. I always picked corn syrup since it was different than what we would eat at home. Waffles were a weekly event at our house but grandma’s always seemed extra special.

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For our wedding, my husband and I received three different waffle makers as gifts. Waffles are serious business in my family. My favorite way to eat waffles is the classic butter and maple syrup but peanut butter and bananas are a close second. My kids sometimes like to eat them cut into sticks and dipped in syrup but most of the time they eat waffles with butter on top or plain. I love this recipe for its simplicity and light wheat taste. The waffles stay crisp even when cooled. Golden brown and buttery, this waffle barely needs a topping.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Rachel

Buttery Whole Wheat Waffles

This recipe is barely adapted from King Arthur Flour. You are welcome to half this recipe but since they freeze so beautifully, I recommend just making the whole thing. My waffle maker is from Williams Sonoma and uses about 1/2 cup batter.

Makes 4 cups of batter (8 waffles for my waffle maker)

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups lukewarm milk (I use skim)
  • 10 2/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Melt butter in a microwave safe dish and set aside. Warm milk to lukewarm in a microwave safe dish (around 2 minutes), set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pour melted butter into warmed milk and whisk in eggs. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and combine using a whisk or spatula. Small lumps are ok, don’t over mix. Cook waffles according to your waffle maker’s instructions. Top with butter and maple syrup. To freeze leftovers: place waffles on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze. Transfer to freezer bags to store.

Whole Wheat Pitas and Easing into Summer

The lazy days of summer are almost here and I’ve made myself a promise. This year will be different. I will not put myself into a frenzy trying to schedule every minute and then feel frustrated that I’m the only one that wants to do these things that I’ve planned. Summer is to be enjoyed and not just by the children. I want to embrace the slowness.

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Relish in the sunshine and enjoy the adventures planned on the fly. As a child, I spent the majority of my time swimming at the local pool, reading at the library, and baking. And honestly? That’s pretty much what I want to do this summer (though I’ll take the beach over the pool).

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I want ice cream and fireworks and hikes through the woods. But even with all those adventures, the days can feel very looonnnggg. I know I’m not alone here feeling some pre-summer anxiety. So here is the summary of my list from last summer, my notes to myself for this year. (Are you really that surprised??)

  • Have a daily schedule written on the white board (great for negotiation purposes!)
  • The kids aren’t bored, I am.  Have a variety of home based projects to do
  • Grocery shop on the weekend (sanity!!)

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My favorite projects in the summer, require lots of time. Yeast bubbling, double rises, and the end result being something we can all devour and appreciate. Bread is spectacular. Practical (less trips to the grocery store!) and though it takes some time to let the yeast do its thing, it isn’t fussy. You can let it sit extra long or even pop it in the fridge over night like I did with these pitas.

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I’ve made pitas a couple times but these by far are my favorite. The bread flour adds a nice chewiness and the white whole wheat has an added bonus of whole grains. I found this recipe intriguing because of the extra step of a quick sponge. The end result is a chewy, soft, pocket pita with a complex wheat and yeast flavor.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

xoxo,

Rachel

Whole Wheat Pitas

This recipe is adapted from a recipe from epicurious.com. I used white whole wheat flour and added an extra rise so that I made them over 2 days. I found this easier, but you are welcome to skip the overnight rise and roll the pitas out after shaping them. Just let the pitas rest for a good 30 minutes before popping them into the oven. These made 10 pitas that were around 2 ounces each. I topped mine with hummus, roasted zucchini and red pepper, lettuce, and goat cheese.  You could also cut them in half to stuff the pocket.

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115°F), divided
  • 1  1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1  1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour, plus more for rolling out pitas
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cornmeal for dusting baking sheets (optional)

Directions:

In the warmed bowl of the mixer, combine the yeast,  1/2 cup warm water and honey and let sit for 5 minutes until smooth and frothy. In the meantime, combine the flours in a medium bowl. Once the yeast mixture is smooth, mix in 1/2 cup of the flour mixture and combine until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 45 minutes until doubled and bubbly.

Once mixture is has risen, add the oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and the rest of the flour. Stir together. Using the hook attachment to your stand mixture, knead for 5 minutes. You will need to add additional bread flour during the kneading time. Add more once the dough starts to work its way up the hook, adding 2-3 tablespoons every couple of minutes as needed. The dough will be soft but not sticky. Shape into a ball and place in a large bowl that has been slightly oiled. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Scrape dough onto slightly floured surface and cut into 10 equal parts, about 2 ounces each (I like to use a scale for this part). Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place dough balls into a tupperware container and let sit overnight.

The next day, preheat over to 500 degrees F. Let dough warm to room temperature for 20 minutes or so and then roll out into 5 inch circles. Don’t be shy with the white whole wheat flour for dusting. If the dough is still sticky, add some cornmeal to the baking sheets to prevent sticking. Roll 3 pitas per sheet. Place baking sheet on bottom rack and bake for 2-3 minutes on the first side (watch them puff!) Then flip and cook for another minute or 2.Place finished pitas wrapped in a kitchen towel and let them cool. Once cool, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Enjoy!