On the Subject of Pancakes

I hit one of those “I’m a Grownup” goal posts this week that I didn’t know existed and thus took me completely by surprise: my pancakes taste better than restaurant pancakes.

A little back story: last Saturday night, I had a craving for buttery syrup covered pancakes, crispy break like glass in your mouth American style bacon, and extra crispy outside soft on the inside salty hash brown patties. It was one of those “wow if I don’t get this exact meal right now I am going to burn this place to the ground” cravings. However, being that it was 8:30 PM and I had just eaten dinner, 3 cookies, a bowl of cereal, and was working my way through a chai tea made entirely with hot milk, I wasn’t about to walk out to the store to gather ingredients. And by that I mean I couldn’t convince Joel that this was an emergency and he needed to go out and get bacon and hash browns for me. Butthole. So I vowed to wake up on Sunday morning and have my pancake brunch.

I woke up with determination, even though it was raining. I knew where I wanted to go, and I had cash burning in my pocket, and it wasn’t until I was half way out the door that I realised the place I wanted to go to was closed on Sundays. On Sundays! The high holy day of Brunch. The brunchiest of Brunch days. No big loss, I thought, since we live in a super hip gentrified neighbourhood and you basically can’t spit without passing hitting a cafe.

But, spit all I want (which I don’t, that’s gross), I walked around for half an hour and couldn’t find a single place that sold pancakes. Womp womp. So I cut my loss and headed back to the grocery store to buy bacon* and frozen hash browns, and just make the pancakes myself from scratch. I also passed a stand selling brownie-cookie sandwiches and I bought three for Joel and I to sample. Whoooops. I was too stuffed on cookies to make the pancakes that day, but Monday was a pancake dream come true. And with crispy American style bacon and the dream hash browns. It was worth the sodium/diabetic coma I fell into and couldn’t pull myself out of.


A few days later, Joel and I met a couple of friends for breakfast, at the afore mentioned inexplicably closed on Sundays cafe. I ordered the pancakes, which came with a side of home made mascarpone. I was really excited to get the professional pancakes, after eating my home made ones for most of the week (it’s been a fat week). And as the plate was put in front of me, they couldn’t have looked more beautiful: perfectly round, golden, full and even, lightly dusted with powered sugar… delish.

Hello beautiful.

But as I dove in, something just wasn’t right. They were a bit dry. And the edges weren’t crispy. And I made it 2/3 of the way through the stack and still wasn’t feeling that pancake joy. And it hit me: my pancakes are better. 

I patted myself on the back, because this is honestly the first time I’ve ever felt something I made at home was better than something I ordered in a restaurant. And the next morning, I made pancakes again. They’re rarely perfect circles, or even, but they’re amazing. They’re soft and rich on the inside, crispy on the outside. They’re rich enough to make you feel sick if you eat a giant plate of them, but tantalizing enough to make you never stop eating. And I sat there eating with a smug smile of satisfaction on my face, feeling like I achieved something in this world.


Don’t fuck with my pancakes, guys – they’re awesome.

Audrey’s “Better Than Restaurant Pancakes” Pancakes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp white sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter milk (look, you can use 1 1/4 cup of any milk you want, but this combo is perf)
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)

In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.

Make a well in the center of the bowl, and add wet ingredients

Whisk together until the batter is smooth

In a skillet on medium high heat, melt a bit of butter to coat the pan

Once the skillet is hot, scoop the batter out into the pan using a 1/4 cup as a scoop. I like to make small pancakes – tiny pancakes make me feel better about eating 6 at a time. But you can easily make giant ones using a 1 cup scoop.

Fry the pancake until you start to see slight bubbling around the edges or on top of the pancake, taking care not to burn. With small pancakes, this typically takes around 3-4 minutes. Flip to the other side and fry until cooked.

Serve with butter and syrup. Or whatever your heart desires – I’m not here to judge, only to guide.

Excess batter can be stored in an air tight container for like, a week probably. Not that it ever lasts that long.

I want to chop up strawberries into the batter to make strawberry vanilla pancakes and serve it with whipped cream. Or experiment with using cake flour instead of All Purpose. What do you think? Share any pancake thoughts that make you feel smug. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS YOU GUYS.



*I all but stopped craving bacon here because it’s just not the same. But, I found out that if I fry Australian bacon in olive oil, it gets super crispy. It takes me back home in a weird, wonderful, beautifully American way.



Living on the Edge: Oatmeal

Or, as they call it here, porridge. But, being an American and not an orphan, I call it oatmeal.

I’m a big fan of instant oatmeal for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. It’s filling and delicious. When I was a kid, I would only eat either the Quaker Maple Brown Sugar flavor, or my mom’s stove top oats with added brown sugar, real sugar, and milk. I was picky eater. And I had the metabolism of a hummingbird, apparently.

Because I was super picky, I have – and still have – a huge issue with textures. For example, I loved oatmeal because I could add enough oats until it became a solid mass, whereas Cream of Wheat cereals were always too watery and gritty. And I had the unfortunate experience of eating a bowl of Cream of Wheat while watching Alien 3 at the part where the alien explodes out of the dog’a stomach and the entrails bore a striking resemblance to the cream of wheat and there are some things you just don’t forget.

[This would have been where I put the screen shot of the dog’s stomach exploding, to give you a visual reference, but I decided to be nice and forego it. This time.]

This texture obsession thing has always dictated how I eat my oatmeal. While I’ve branched out to different flavours (vanilla or strawberries n cream are delightful), the way I eat it remains the same.

  1. Rip open oatmeal pack, pour into mug (always a mug)
  2. Put the recommended amount of water
  3. Microwave for 90 secs
  4. Mix in second pack of oatmeal and stir until a solid mass
  5. Cut into slices and eat

Just kidding with that last step — but two packs oatmeal to one pack water makes it gummy and solid, and I love it right down to the bottom of my weird little soul. I’ve tried using one pack and adding less water, and it works in a pinch for when I only have one pack, but it leaves me hungry. And eating two packs means I’m full until late afternoon, so that’s also awesome. Also while the second pack combines with the first pack, I like to say things like “emulsify” and pretend I’m a scientist, even though I know that it’s not really emulsifying. I don’t know what the term is for oatmeal expanding with water – probably expanding – but I like the word emulsify and I don’t get to use it often enough. I’m really cool.

So I look forward to my oatmeal ritual. And I look forward to oatmeal. Yes, the older I get, the more I know that feel, Calvin’s dad.

maybe I’ll build some character, too.

All this to say, the other day I forgot my lunch at home. Or we didn’t make lunches. One or the other. But I was short on cash and short on the will to go outside, so I decided to eat some oatmeal, since I skipped breakfast in lieu of second coffee. Solid fiscal decision! But something went horribly wrong with my water measuring, and it was still too soupy after two packs. So I thought, “why not add a third pack? I like oatmeal. Sure!”

What I ended up with was like 16 oz of oatmeal. And I are all of it. Halfway through I thought “fuck, this is too much oatmeal.” But I grew up in the Great Depression and I hate to see food go to waste, so I was determined to eat it all. My hands were shaking with the last spoonful, as the 16 oz of oatmeal seemingly expanded to 36 oz of deathmeal.

They say oatmeal makes a good breakfast because it “sticks to your ribs.” More like, it stuck to every blood cell I had. All afternoon, I felt like I was going to throw up. And drinking water to help push it all through only made me feel more like spewing.

After all the oat fueled trauma, I survived. It was about 7:30 that night before I was hungry again, but my stomach didn’t explode with an oatmeal alien like that dog’s stomach in Alien 3.  And uh, yeah, let’s not talk about all that fiber.

This morning, 3 days later, I made one packet of oatmeal. I used less water. It came out perfect. I nearly puked with flashbacks of oat-stomach, but I finished the serving. Take that, breakfast food.

So, Audrey: 1, Oatmeal: 0