During the day I work with bright line rules and statutory standards. It’s often a world of black and white that takes into account some nuances. As a writer, cook, artist, I live in the grey areas. I turn to creativity to explain or distract myself from the goings-on of every day. Even when I’m afraid to look behind the curtain, I look behind the curtain, gingerly using the lessons I’ve learned along the way as guidelines for how to proceed and for how to embrace an inner life that seems so much more complicated than the outer one. It’s part of the beauty of living.
As a student, I lived in a world of restraint. In a way I still do, but restraint of a different kind. Scouring the aisles of the grocery store, buying anything that’s cheap is not a life I want to return to. However, having the world at your fingertips gives you so much freedom and choice that saying no to anything at all feels like restraint, not that I’m completely in that boat either. Restraint in diet, restraint in pleasure-seeking that will end in pain, restraint in conversation, restraint with the bottle, restraint from always seeking out bigger and better and more or different. Restraint and discipline. These are the parameters by which we must measure our days. There’s a well known passage in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar where she’s sitting under a fig tree weighing all of her options and future: career, marriage, lovers, children, etc.
“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
Although I just posted a pancake recipe, I knew that this was an area where the word restraint has no place and discipline appears only in the effort to get out of bed. Don’t starve at the crotch of a fruit bearing tree. Make these! These pancakes are hearty and heavy and have only respect for the infinite. There is no poverty of choice here and no need to commit. You like flax seeds and not chia seeds? Go for it. Are you vegan? Skip the egg and add the chia to bind it. Substitute almond milk. Hate white all-purpose flour? Use whole wheat or almond flour. Hate bananas? Use strawberries, hell, use both! And granola. Which kind you ask? That’s a whole ‘nother post. This is where creativity is good for you. Plus, you’re spreading the love. Who doesn’t want to wake up to pancakes? To sit at a table and connect or reconnect?
Learn your lessons from your mistakes, recognize an unacceptable offer when one is placed before you by reading literature and taking notes. Tame your passions, gluttony, fervor and destructive behavior if you must in real life, but there are no rules in pancake making. Act on a whim. Indulge the devil. You’ve got guidelines, but go ahead and jump. Here you won’t hurt your future, your prospects or anyone else, not even yourself.
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2 bananas, sliced or whatever fruit
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seeds
- 1/3 cup granola of any kind, nuts fruits whatever
- butter for the pan
Melt the butter and beat the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the butter, egg, and milk and chia seeds.
Mix gently with a spoon. The finished batter should be mostly smooth with no loose flour, but some lumps are fine and will cook out. Do not over-mix or the pancakes will become rubbery. Heat a large nonstick frying pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Add a very thin layer of butter so the batter doesn’t stick to the pan.
Spoon the batter onto the pan, using about two heaping tablespoons per pancake. Add 3 or 4 banana slices or fruit and granola to the top of each pancake. When the surface of the pancake bubbles, peek underneath with a spatula and, if it is nicely golden-brown, flip the pancake over. When the other side is golden, remove it to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding a little more oil to the pan in between each batch if needed. Serve immediately with real maple syrup or confectioner’s sugar. Top with more fruit and granola.