Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crowded Kitchen: Gingerbread Pancakes from Omlettery West

I was thinking a lot about my mom today. Partly because of wedding stuff she's totally being awesome about...but mostly because I was being a chicken about calling in on the status of my manuscript and TOTALLY asked her to pretend to be me and bug the editorial assistant for me. She was so game for it, too...

My mom was in the food section of the newspaper once. It was the Austin American Statesman (God Bless America, that is a GREAT newspaper), and she wrote in to the food writer requesting a top secret recipe from our favorite breakfast joint.

If there was ever a poll on which city has the best food, Austin would win my vote hands down, and I didn't even live in that city very long. I actually get homesick for Texas when I think of Austin food, and I grew up (for the most part) in El Paso.


The woman responded to my mother in the Sunday edition (it was sometime in the 80s...back when newsrooms were staffed with real people who wrote real columns and loved their jobs) and gave her the coveted Gingerbread Pancake recipe. As recent as a few years back, I remember seeing that yellowed old clipping in the midst of my mom's recipe collection (no, she's not the most organized about that stuff...ahem...Mom...)

(That photo to the left is said Burnett Road Omlettery.)
In my pumpkin pancake post a couple weeks ago, she chimed in about those gingerbread pancakes and how she missed that recipe. But you know what? Google is rad. Way rad. And I found the version of the recipe from Omlettery West (which claims to be different from the one on Burnett Road, where we ate, but big deal. Someday we'll know the difference and we probably won't even care!)

So in honor of her, here is:

Debra's Gingerbread Pancakes (Totally from the Omlettery, though, ok?)

Gingerbread Pancakes
3 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brewed coffee
21/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Cream eggs and sugar together. Stir in buttermilk, water, and coffee and set aside. In a separate bowl sift together remaining dry ingredients.
Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients, then mix in melted butter.
Add more water or buttermilk if necessary, but batter should be thick.
Cook until done on a lightly greased hot griddle or in a heavy skillet (turn once when bubbles appear on upper side and start to break).
Pancakes will be thick and cake-like in texture.

Makes 8 to 10 five-inch pancakes.

Oh, and here's a picture of my mom. She's cute. The handsome chap with her is Boy Wonder. He's rad, too. They're a lot alike.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A story in itself...

We had to go to the Muni cemetery yesterday to help P out with an anthropology project. It was a bright, sunny day and it was warm and not too I didn't see the harm in taking the boys. Boo is too young anyway, and with the stuff his dad tells him about wars and death, I figured the cemetery wouldn't be too bad for Boy Wonder. And if it was, we could go shopping to kill time while P finished.

It wasn't a big deal to Boy Wonder, and he was interested especially in the military graves. He wanted to know which service each person buried in the VFW plot had been in...and what war he might have served in.

When we got to the public section, we saw a headstone with a picture of Jesus on it. He thought Jesus was buried there, and I had to explain that it was a picture somebody put on their grave. That Jesus "watched" over the grave. I turned back around and started walking a few steps, not knowing Boy Wonder wasn't behind. When I turned back, this is what I saw...him praying for whoever's gravestone that was. He told me he asked Jesus to keep watching over the lady and to not forget her.

It struck me because we hadn't talked about praying or anything like that, and he didn't know I had a camera with me (to take picture of cultural differences, etc.). P and I always joke that Boy Wonder is going to be in the clergy somehow. He says grace each night without fail, he has to be at church every Sunday...we even call him "The Rev" sometimes.

Can't explain what it feels like when you realize your child is capable of incredible empathy, all on their own and without prompting from you.

Love that kid...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sundays are Fundays with Pumpkins

In our house, we only have one morning each week where we all can wake up at the same time and have nowhere to be. I know that doesn't sound bad, but in reality, it stinks. Saturdays are a blur between P getting to school and me getting the babysitter and Boy Wonder and I hustling off to basketball. It's a blur.

Most Sunday mornings I'm a grumpy mess because for some reason, Boo parties like a rockstar on Saturday nights and thinks 3 a.m. is dandy waking hour. He's standing now and will pull/pinch/punch whoever is sleeping nearest his crib to have a playmate. (An unhappy one.)

Anyway, we made the decision to make Sunday breakfasts special and more than the usual fill a bowl of cereal, pour some juice and Bob's-your-uncle. (In my case, Bob really is my uncle, but you get what I'm saying.)

I breezed through a recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes a couple weeks about but didn't write it down. That's ok, because it was from scratch and complicated and messy. I tinkered around in the kitch this morning and came up with these fine flapjacks instead. And they were a hit. Even though it took four hours, Boy Wonder ate all of his and even complimented me. Hooray!

Pumpkin Pancakes (Megan's cheating version)
1 and 1/4 cup pancake mix (I used Krusteaz)
1 cup water (more or less depending on consistency of batter)
(Mix together)
1/2 cup Pureed Pumpkin
1/4 water (or more, depending on consistency of batter)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon sugar

Voila. These took a little longer to cook through, I learned. But they were delicious and i think they'd be FANTASTIC with real maple syrup, some chopped bananas, and some walnuts. Just sayin'. (We had syrup and powdered sugar and it was equally blissful.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The great pumpkin, some hocus, some pocus, and Little Jack Jenkins...

Part I
(In which the author updates her friends on Week 2 and 3 of the new Halloween/October movie tradition).

So week 2 of our Friday night Halloween Movie gig went smoothly...mostly because I SNAFUed Netflix and didn't get a scary movie delivered for P and I. I accidentally had "Sex and the City The Movie" delivered, and well, other than the premise of basing your whole existence on whether or not you marry Mr. Big (I'm still 100% Team Aiden), it's not very scary.

Boy Wonder, on the other hand, got a copy of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" We watched it while P cooked Dinner last week and the kid loved it. Loved loved loved it! Thank you Charles Schulze, you saved my fledgling tradition.

This week (the movies are already waiting for tomorrow night!) we have "Hocus Pocus" for Boy Wonder. Probably my favorite Halloween Movie ever, mostly because I have a lifelong fascination/strange love of all things Bette Midler (especially when she had buck teeth!). Even though it's not animated, I think he'll love it.

For us, I remembered seeing the 70s version of "The Omen" and it scaring the wee out of me. Since P likes the religion good v. evil stuff a lot more than some random schiz hacking his family apart...I'm hoping for a mark in the W category. Wish me luck...

Part II
(In which the author talks about the new thingy she's doing with Boy Wonder)

We've signed three reading contracts with Boy Wonder's kindergarten teacher so far this year. I'm not sure if she's losing them or if I'm just signing on the wrong line or in the wrong color pen...but they keep coming home and I keep signing them and sending them back.

The gist is that we're supposed to read to Boy Wonder every single day. Every single day. It sounds so great in theory, doesn't it? But in practice, it's pretty hard. And the books he brings home are those really short, few words a page alliteration books that are supposed to help kids memorize the words so they can start recognizing them by sight...

Anyway, after the third night of the dish, the chair and the spoon running away to New York only to have the fork, the knife, and the dog meet them there (seriously...that's the story in four pages), Boy Wonder and I needed something more.

And there was born "Little Jack Jenkins."

I spend countless hours each week typing away at whatever work in progress I've convinced myself will lift me out of the M-F work week mundane life I lead, and I never really thought of writing for my son. Until he asked me to.

So when I have time, I take a couple sheets of notebook paper, and I write about Little Jack Jenkins, a flashlight named "Blaze," and a stuffed dog named "Marvelous Marvin." And I read them to Boy Wonder at night. And he recognizes himself in these stories. And his stuffed dog. And hopefully, if it all goes well, he'll learn (like Little Jack Jenkins does) that anything can be an adventure in life.

So far, Little Jack Jenkins has met the hobbity gobbity when he wouldn't go to sleep like his mother told him ("Little Jack Jenkins Meets the Hobbity Gobbity"), he's flown to outer space to return an alien boy's toy ("Little Jack Jenkins Plays Outerspace Baseball") and he's even crossed swords with his own dinner ("Little Jack Jenkins and the Spaghetti and Meatball Monster").

When I have time, I've been hand copying the stories in to an extra journal I had lying around.
I know in a few years, Little Jack Jenkins will be lame and embarrassing, but my hope is that when it comes time for Boy Wonder to have his own baby wonder, maybe "Little Jack Jenkins" will help him out and he'll have something to remember our times together.

That's the hope anyway. That, and it's way more fun making up your own bedtime stories once in a while. True story.

I'm currently working on Little Jack Jenkins and the Sleep Pirates... What are sleep pirates, anyway?? Yaaar!

Life is good, life is good...

Monday, October 5, 2009

..."here comes the happy ending" update...t-minus six weeks and counting

Yes, we are less than six weeks from the big day. I can hardly believe it sometimes. We should be panicked, shouldn't we? We should. I know we should.

But we're not.

So far, I have bought snazzy invitations (no, those to the left are not my invitations, so you'll totally be surprised when they show up in your mailbox. Don't try to read the photo for pertinent info...that's not our wedding. Be there Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., ok?) to send to our family and friends, but the printer folks seemed to assume that I'm using carrier pigeons and not envelopes to deliver them. Yes, they sent me invites with no envelopes. Thanks, guys.

But hey, I promise they're totally cute and brown and swirly and Autumn-y and you'll totally get yours as soon as those crazy printer people send envelopes and one of us makes it to the post office to buy stamps. I hate buying stamps. Seriously.

Along with the "hey you should show up" notices, I got my dress. Well, that's the rumor anyway. Supposedly it showed up at the house today, but since P's not the excitable, call you with all the gossipy details and gush over the phone how AWESOME the dress is, I figured I'd just open it when I get home.

I'm so excited about the dress. SO. Excited. About every little thread, button, and detail...everything EXCEPT that ever-lovin' size tag. What is with bridal gowns?

Is it some sick joke to make these over-priced, fouffy pieces of nonesense two sizes smaller than the actual tag, so crazy-bride-lady has to swallow any semblance of dignity and pride and order a few sizes up? What the hell?

Since when was a size 8 dress equivalent to a size 00 jeans? Just curious...

I hate you, bridal gown manufacturers. I hate you for making tulle so abundant and I hate you for feeding the body-hate machine in the mirror. No wonder that blood-thirsty, ass-kickin' maniac in "Kill Bill" was aptly named "The Bride." I get it now.

And no, that dress to the right isn't mine. Mine is made with thread and chiffon, not pencil lead. I hope, anyway. I'll let you know tonight if I go home and find a different story.

Still to go: flowers, cake, desserts, rings, marriage license, fashion for the gentlemen, fashion for the ladies, reception logistics, rehearsal dinner logistics, ceremony music logistics, money, centerpieces, hotel room, money, money, and oh... money.

Hehe...I so funny somtimes...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

In search of a new October tradition


I tried. I really did. I was looking for some way to usher in the month of October because I really, really love the month of October. Like really, really. Can't explain it, other than maybe I had a mom who went all out with costumes and trick or treating and the whole she-bang. (Boy George one year, I kid you NOT!).

So instead of waiting another three weeks to get into the October spirit, I announced to the family last week that each Friday night in the month of October shall be known as "Halloween Movie Night." (Royal Proclamation, even...)

The plan was/is to have one kid-friendly movie...put kid to bed. The second of the double feature would definitely be kid un-friendly and would showcase the gore, the screams, the scares. The AWESOMENESS. Yeah!

For week one, I scanned through Netflix and found "The Nightmare Before Christmas." I haven't watched it in a grip, but I remember being somewhat fond of it...I think. We had dinner. We popped the corn. We started the movie. And then...and then...

Twenty minutes into it, P comes up with an errand he has to run after making a comment about the disproportionate amount of songs in the movie (Oh god, it was so true, as much as I hated to admit it...way too much singing. About walking, about thinking, about thinking about walking...GET ON WITH IT, Tim Burton!). Boy Wonder is watching the movie upside down, hanging off the couch. (Never a good sign.) He hangs on and sticks it out until the end, but by then, even I was getting bored and scratching my eyes out whenever Jack the Pumpkin King sang. Something about that voice...

I remember it being WAY cooler in 1997 and we must be spoiled in 2009, because there were moments when I considered jumping on Facebook and abandoning ship altogether.


We put Boy Wonder to bed, told him to stay put because a "scary movie" was coming on and started movie # 2. Rob Zombie's version of "Halloween." I never saw the version with Jamie Lee Curtis in the 70s (80s?). I think I saw this one a few years ago, but the memory is foggy. So we fire it up. And it's disturbing.

Not really in the "wow! a halloween movie!" kind of way. More like the "I really could have gone my whole life without seeing that nasty crap" sort of way. I've now seen both movies R.Z. has directed and I gotta say I'm kinda disgusted with his obsession/need to include a violent rape scene(s) in his movies. To be honest, it pisses me off. There, I said it. Makes me want to stab him in the eye with a pencil.

So yeah. The movie was violent and disturbing in ALL THE WRONG WAYS. I hated it. Hated hated hated it. I had trouble sleeping that night with the random, disturbing vibes I was feeling. Not cool. As we were heading to bed, P made a casual comment somewhere in the vein of "You know, I really like comedies..." I get it, I get it...

Total first week failure.

But all was not lost...

We redeemed the weekend by getting a babysitter and seeing "Zombieland" last night. AWESOME movie. I like where this Horror/Comedy genre is going. It felt like an American take on the "Shaun of the Dead" vibe, and I dug it. P laughed, too, so that's a complete success in my book.

Haven't figured out what movies are on the schedule for week 2. Totally open for suggestions...