Some thoughts on pancakes...and breakfast in general

Olivia woke up hungry yesterday morning.  When I asked her what she wanted for breakfast, she exclaimed, "Pancakes!"  Now usually, pancakes are a part of our Sunday morning tradition, and making them on a Friday would mess up our schedule, but I decided to go ahead with it since she asked so nicely.  Ever since I have been a cooking woman, I have never made pancakes from a box.  No Aunt Jemima/Bisquick (sp?) heavy hockey pucks for me.  What is it about these pancakes from the box?  They never brown evenly, the taste is at best mediocre, and the consistency is . . . well . . . like a flimsy piece of rubber.  I have tried many recipes, but my favorite by far is Texas Pancakes (recipe to follow).  
I have always been a lover of large breakfasts.  In fact, I love breakfast so much, I was willing to get up extra early every Friday morning of my senior year to enjoy it with three of my closest friends: Liz, Wes, and Jenny.  I'm sure that part of the reason I have such fond memories of those mornings is the company, but the breakfasts at the Escalon Bakery were nothing short of divine.  Their pancakes were huge - probably 5" in diameter, branded with "Bakery" at the top, and the consistency was close to perfect.  They also had great southern hash browns, cinnamon rolls (with raisins!), and Irish oatmeal.  Sadly, it closed a long time ago.  Now it houses Arthur Sipma Insurance Agency.  I guess all the farmers were drinking too much coffee and not enough food.  I have yet to find a place for breakfast I enjoy as much - although Café Deva in downtown Modesto is a close second.  Café Deva has the northern California hippy staples: homemade nutty granola (just ask for soy milk with it), dense homemade bread with homemade preserves, omelets filled with fresh veggies, and my personal favorite for the name alone: British bangers (picture breakfast sausage with little more length and much more girth)and mash.
The other standby for that little something special on weekend mornings is Baked Oatmeal (recipe to follow).  Lindsay, my college roommate, opened my eyes to this variation of the basic mush, and I think I have finally perfected my own version of it.  For me, oatmeal is all about consistency.  If it's too thick, it tastes like cardboard, and if it is too thin, well . . . it's just too thin.  
I get pretty picky about my morning fare, because mornings are bad enough as it is.  No matter what, I need to have freshly brewed gourmet coffee, a glass of water (OJ just seems too harsh on the palate right after waking up), my breakfast of choice, and a long, hot shower.  On that note, here are the recipes, as promised.

Baked Oatmeal

2 C. Oatmeal
1/3 C. brown sugar (more or less, depending on your taste)
1/3 C. fresh or dried fruit - raisins, cranberries, chopped apples, blueberries, peaches, etc.(opt.)  1 tsp. baking powder
Some nuts, if you wish (pecans are my favorite)
some cinnamon, if you feel like it
Add some ground flax seed and/or wheat germ to add some extra good wholesomeness (I did just write that)
Mix these together, then, in a separate bowl, combine:
1 1/2 C. Milk
1/2 C. Applesauce or a container of flavored yogurt (I really like this option, because then I use very little sugar to sweeten the oatmeal, and it adds a lot of fruit flavor.  Just adjust your milk quantity so that together it totals 2 cups of liquid).
2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1 egg
Add to the dry ingredients, poor into a 1 1/2-2 quart oven safe dish, coated with cooking spray, and cook at 375° F for anywhere from 20-25 minutes, depending on your desired consistency.  I find it the perfect consistency after 23.

Texas Pancakes, or Texas Panakoeken, as Wes would say:

Combine with a whisk:
A couple of dribbles of canola oil - think somewhere around 2 Tbsp.
1 C. Milk
1 egg
Add and mix with a whisk until smooth:
1 C. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder (Trust me.)
1/4 tsp. salt

Before placing them on the griddle, stir the batter.  It bubbles up (a lot), and you don't want it to do that until its on the griddle.  Stir again in between batches.  Do 'em up on a griddle set to 350°, or over the stovetop at a little lower temp than you would normally cook pancakes.  These make extra fluffy, perfectly browned pancakes.  Don't even think of adulterating them with blueberries or chocolate chips!  ;)  

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