Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dad: Here's how to be a breakfast hero

There it was on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News: there was an Eggo deficit, which threatens to put breakfast in the deep freeze. Huh? The inventor would have been dumbfounded.

But this gives you, Dad, a chance to be a breakfast hero: "No, kids, no Eggos were found in the store, but I, your father, a heretofore unsung maitre de cuisine (pardon my French; that's master of [the] kitchen), will save the day!" Here's how.

First, ascertain whether you have a working waffle iron. If yes, you're all set. Start the waffle iron preheating and spray it with "Pam" or similar. To mix the batter, follow the instructions either

  • here (but no butter; use 1/4-1/3 cup of vegetable oil instead) or
  • on the Bisquick box (if you have the latter in the kitchen)
and you'll be a hero. Allow yourself 45-60 minutes the first time you do this, even after ensuring you have all the ingredients on hand. The good news is, with practice you can have this down to less than 20 minutes from "Let's have waffles!" to the first plateful -- even without a baking mix.

If you don't have a working waffle iron on hand, then it's pancakes. Make sure your griddle is in good shape: the manly task of surface prep may have just fallen to you. Use either my recipe (to make from scratch) or the one on the Bisquick box, if you've got some. Dealing with a griddle takes considerably more practice than an automatic electric waffle iron, but you'll get used to it. The main thing is to have the right amount of heat (my recipe above gives some hints, but a more professional set is here -- oooh, but you might want to turn the heat down once you get the griddle to the right temperature -- and also to PAY ATTENTION while doing the pancakes.

When your first plateful turns out perfect, don't get cocky and think you can fire up the coffeepot between pouring the batter and flipping the 'cakes! Well, you CAN fill the kettle (and remember the 'cakes), and you can put it on another burner (fire up the correct burner, and check the 'cakes). And maybe you can even find the coffee (check the 'cakes) and then find a paper filter (and check the cakes), then measure the coffee grounds (check....)

You get the idea. You probably don't want to do this every day, but you can do it once a week. There is NO SHAME in using a mix like Bisquick or Jiffy -- or better, Krusteaz, which requires only water instead of eggs+milk! In fact, I think I'll tell you here that if you're going to do this, go out and get yourself a box. That way you have just one bowl and one "real" ingredient. Whoever has to do the dishes (maybe you) will be happy about that. It's also better not to have to fish eggshell fragments out of the batter, or out of your pancakes.

You can do this once a week and you'll get proficient pretty quickly. If there are some blueberries or strawberries in the 'fridge, they can be added -- probably on top (you don't have to plan in advance; you can just open the fridge to look for butter, and -- hey, strawberries! -- slice a few up and it's a gourmet breakfast). My younger daughter liked to add chocolate chips to the batter when I was about half-way through (some of us don't like chocolate-chip pancakes). There's all kinds of fun stuff you can do. Your wife will think you're a genius, too.

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