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Thursday, August 27, 2009

cornmeal pancakes with blueberries


the biggest egg

This story begins almost four years ago, when Dan and I and Meredith were driving over to the Hillside trails one day. Two-year-old Meredith was bundled up in the back, in preparation for a ride in the ski pulk. Suddenly, we drove by a row of three large peacocks perched on the berm at the side of busy Birch Road!  What the….? Peacocks? In the wintertime in Anchorage? I pulled over to investigate. Obviously we should inform the owners that their peacocks were on the run. We backed up to the nearest driveway, and pulled partway in, where we came to a gate with a charming sign warning us that miniature horses were at large on the property. We weren’t sure what to do… open the gate and go in? Or just trust that someone with miniature horses at large were probably comfortable with their peacocks on the loose? We figured that the peacocks were probably fine, and drove off for our ski. Ever after that, whenever we drove by, we would look for the peacocks, but we never saw them again. We thought that when Meredith got a little older, maybe we could stop by and ask to see the flock.

The following summer, we were helping a friend publicize a big community park party. She asked me to hand out invitation flyers to houses in the neighborhood. I agreed, but requested the half-mile of road where we’d seen the peacocks. This was my chance! Meredith in the jogging stroller, we sped through our assignment, and finally reached the last house…  the peacock house! We let ourselves in through the gate, making sure not to let any miniature horses escape. Lucky for us, we got to meet wonderful, warm, friendly Mary Bolin! Not only did we get to see her peacocks, but the peahens, miniature horses, regular horses (with a brand-new foal!) and chickens, too.

Now that we know Mary, we run into her all the time. We see her at the farmers market, shopping for her week’s vegetables, and she is a huge supporter of our produce box CSA program (she even buys boxes for her friends at Christmastime). One Saturday, she gave Meredith a HUGE egg—a PEAFOWL egg!! We were so excited about this egg. For several days Meredith just wanted to save it and make nests for it. (Mostly it stayed in the ‘fridge, but it would come out for little adventures in various bowls lined with napkins and washcloths.) A week later when we saw Mary again, we confessed we were having trouble imagining actually cracking the egg to cook it.  She suggested that we blow the egg out of a hole so we could keep the shell! What a great idea! That made us all happy. Dan rummaged out this great German egg-blower that his mom had sent us at Easter a few years back, and we finally got to try it out! It worked like a charm!

We didn’t want to scramble just one egg, and fried or poached were definitely out, so we just ended up making delicious pancakes with it. Dan and Meredith will very often make pancakes together on Sunday morning, to relax after the busy bake and Saturday farmers market…  and the peafowl egg made it even more special!!

It’s been several weeks since the pancake-making episode, and to my astonishment, Meredith has not yet broken the egg shell! And to add to the excitement, Mary mentioned the other day that one of her peahens is broody and is sitting on a clutch of eggs! Wouldn’t it be amazing to get to see a tiny pea-chick in a few weeks? I hope they hatch!

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cornmeal pancakes with blueberries

This recipe is only slightly adapted from a great one in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book. Dan and Meredith make this recipe just about every weekend, so he has the recipe memorized. Usually.

½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup milk
1 egg
½ cup whole wheat flour (pastry flour, if you have it)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1. Place the cornmeal in a medium bowl. Pour the boiling water over it, stir the mixture thoroughly and let stand for 15 minutes. This step allows the cornmeal to absorb the water and it will be like polenta at the end of 15 minutes. Stir in the melted butter, then beat the egg into the milk and add to the cornmeal mixture.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the try ingredients to the cornmeal mixture and combine with a few swift strokes. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes.
3. Heat a nonstick griddle if you have one, or a heavy skillet. When the surface of the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across it, grease the surface lightly with vegetable oil on a paper towel, the spoon the batter onto the hot surface, ¼-cup at a time. Sprinkle blueberries over the surface of the pancake. Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges, about 3 minutes. These pancakes take a little longer to set than most. You may need to adjust your heat up or down to get the pancakes to cook through without scorching the surface or being too pale. When the cakes are set through the center, fluip them and let them finish cooking on the second side, until they’re golden brosn, 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve immediately with syrup and butter. (We love to use the Alaskan Birch Syrup from Kahiltna Birchworks.)

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