Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The things I happen to be reading.

"When plain pancakes no longer thrill." was the headline for an article in today's New York Times, by Mark Bittman, The Minimalist. These words, of course, gave me pause. I am generally always thrilled with a pancake, plain or otherwise, although mainly when I am doing the cooking--other people's pancakes are dubious.

This inflammatory headline was in the print version. The online version was less provocative:

I have a well-documented swoony crush on pancakes. I remember back when I used to subscribe to Cuisine, the late, still-lamented Cuisine, there was a whole article about pancakes. Oh! the pancakes of my young wife- and motherhood! I still have the handwritten copies I made of those recipes for Johnnycake and Flannel Cakes, the latter of which required extensive and perhaps obsessive beating of eggs, leading to a velvety batter and lovely, light pancakes. Also, I am quite fond of a pancake made from cottage cheese and separated eggs, the whites of which are beaten until light and the whole affair scented with freshly grated nutmeg. If I could, I would eat pancakes every single day of my life for breakfast, and sometimes for dinner and occasionally for lunch. With jam, with syrup, even sometimes by their charming selves. Bittman's recipes, particularly for an oat pancake with cardamom, inspire optimism.

Coincidentally, tonight, while we were eating a sturdy and, it must be said, uninspiring dinner of a Boca burger and oven fries, I happened to glance at the mail, and there was the alumni magazine for my alma mater. Oh, all right, BYU. The first article, by the university president Cecil O. Samuelson, took me right back--it was the absolute quintessence of my BYU experience. At least some aspects of it.

I have tried to find an actual screen shot of the T of C, but alas, in vain, so it will have to suffice to give you the title--

"Appropriate Zeal"
--and the blurb:

"If we are not careful, our zeal for good things can exceed proper boundaries, and we may miss the mark."

Let me pause to add that among the other things BYU gave me are a working acquaintance with classical rhetorical devices and the OED, love of a university library, and an appreciation for basketball. And let us also pause to note that when BYU has a good basketball team, there is much rejoicing in the land. I cannot help myself in the rejoicing.

Also, I used to play the piano for four hours a day when I was at BYU, and that's no joke.

Anyway, back to the magazine: I am happy to report that on the very same Table of Contents page, the one with the cautionary message from my BYU past, there was also a picture of a waffle, with berries on it, with the promise of a recipe inside. Promised and delivered: and, the people, that waffle did comfort my very soul, and it did not miss the mark.


  1. Wow. Where to start? Pancakes, of course. Heavenly heaven-made goodness. Which of course, brings me to the BYU business. Four hours of piano playing a day sounds like just the right amount of zeal--an appropriate properly bounded amount very near but not missing the mark.

    Love your observations!

  2. So the good things are waffles? Should I make boundaries against the waffles or against those who persecute the waffle?
    I made waffles the other day. They were goodish but not great and I whipped the egg whites and everything.

  3. We had waffles for dinner last night. I made them FROM A MIX, because that's the kind of mom I am. But I also made a strawberry thing to put on top, which was delicious, if sog inducing.
    Also, I made a fritatta to go with. Also, son made scrambled eggs.
    MB prefers pancakes. I like both. Why be picky?

  4. I also liked the subtle (what, 7 pages?) requests for alumni money. Fortunately, my passion for BYU and/or Jimmer has never quite reached the mark of an actual contribution. I have to thank BYU for Steven Walker and Bruce Jorgensen and Sister JeanAnne Waterstradt. And skepticism, ironcially. And for chocolate stars and the Botanical Pond and my love of Victorian writers. Not a bad list, really. But the check is still not in the mail, Cecil.

    Your post reminded me of Sunday night dinners growing up, when the six of us birdlings swallowed up Oh Boy waffles and pancakes fast as Mama's iron or griddle could regurgitate them.

  5. I just want to add that the best thing about BYU is the bookstore candy counter, hands down.

    I also like pancakes.

  6. Oh, and Leslie Norris. OMG, Leslie Norris . . .

  7. Allergic to waffles now. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

  8. "I have a well-documented swoony crush on pancakes." That may be my favorite sentence of the new year. And I've already read a lot of memorable sentences.

  9. You sealed the deal. I'm making pancakes for dinner. MMMMMM. My mouth is watering right now.



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