Day 4…the basics
My mind is very rigid. It processes knowledge in a certain, linear way. It’s just who I am. In beginning my quest to become the world’s best self-taught cook, I decided that I needed to feed my neuroticism and start from the very basic beginning.
Flour, eggs, milk, sugar, salt, butter…
The staples that I am learning, quickly, are necessary for every kitchen. Here’s a quick tutorial:
Flour: Buy a 5lb bag, get a few matching Tupperware containers and store them. Doing that will not expose all the flour to the air all the time. Also, it’s an easy way to gage when you’re running out. If you only get one bag, then make it regular white flour. After that, it’s your choice.
Eggs: Keep a dozen of good, “no antibiotic” eggs (go cage free if you can swing it).
Milk: I always keep ½ & ½ , unsweetened soy milk and occasionally a small thing of whole milk.
Sugar: Granulated (organic, natural, raw) and powdered.
Salt: A good sea salt is a must. Iodized salt is good as well, cause you’ll use it for more than just cooking.
Butter: Make sure you keep both Salted and Unsalted kinds.
In trying to get this cooking and writing thing going, I am finding it to be a great challenge to go back to the basics in life. As I become older, I am much more aware of my life, my choices (and the power of them) and my habits. I have always been a very intuitive person and my endless fascination in the habits/behaviors of others has finally intrigued me enough to look within.
As I become older, I become more of a dichotomy than my thinking mind can understand, logically. The desire, equally, for order and chaos. To recklessly rebel with perfect peace. My mind has had more experience to understand what I am capable of than it did ten years ago. The older I get, the greater the spectrum of possibilities is that I believe I can accomplish and the more I become short breathed and afraid. But, I also become more fearless and confident as well.
My chaos wants to run through the forests and paint, write, dance, create with whatever truth is offered to me, and my order requires me to understand it so as to master whatever it is I become.
I understand, by going back to these simple basics, that there is a see-saw line of tolerance between these two massive forces. And, they are not working against each other. They need to come together to create unity within me. The basics allow me to release the reality of allowing chaos to be of benefit.
1½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
3½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp granulated sugar
1¼ cup milk (I use soy milk or half soy/half ½ & ½ )
3 tbls melted butter
1 packet hot chocolate mix (optional)
Peanut butter (optional)
Syrup & butter
Immediately take all the butter out of the fridge, cause you’ll want it soft for when the cakes are done.
Get a large skillet warming on low heat and throw a nob of butter in it.
Get a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients then add all the wet ones, whisking until you have an even batter. If you want, add the hot coco mix (start with a half packet and go from there).
(*note…This recipe calls for baking powder and, although it’s in most baking recipes, I had no idea what purpose it served. So, I googled it. Pretty much, it’s a leavening agent which, when mixed with certain ingredients, creates carbon dioxide and allows goods to rise. I thought this was a very clear cut explanation of baking powder and the difference between it and baking soda:
Once the batter is all mixed, raise the heat of the pan to medium-high heat. To test the heat, put a drop of batter in the pan. If it reacts slightly to the heat (a sizzle), then it’s good. No reaction means temp not there yet and big reaction means pan’s too hot. If pan is ready, drop your pancakes down however you’d like to shape them. Let them cook a couple of minutes on one side then flip. You’ll have to feel out the times depending on your pan but you could check the undersides. If they look golden brown, then flip.
While you’re making the pancakes, set the oven on warm. This will be storage for the pancakes while you’re cooking the rest of them. Then get a good amount of your peanut butter into a bowl and throw it in the microwave for 30 or so seconds to soften up. If the jar is new, then you’re all set.
You’re done. You can serve with butter and syrup or you could spread a thin layer of PB on top before you do either.