Monday, March 26, 2007

Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes

I love a big Sunday morning breakfast. But if I sleep in, I need to eat fast before hunger induced crankiness descends - no time for fussing around. I decided I'd make waffles for Sunday breakfast, I'd inherited my Nana's waffle iron, it was time to finally give it a go. I found an egg-free recipe from the wonderful Vegan with a Vengeance book, and made sure the night before that I had all of the ingredients.

However it is a bit rough cooking something new with fewer than half the brain cells functioning. I'd decided to go dairy rather than soy; cow milk and yogurt substitute well enough for soy milk and yogurt. But then I decided instead of oil to use up some of the butter that melted on Friday 'cause we forgot to put it in the fridge and was almost a puddle when I got home from work. I remelted the butter and st ired it in; sadly it set in lots of little lumps as it came in contact with the icy cold milk and yogurt. This necessitated a bit of careful heating of the milk in order that the butter remelt.

I haven't used a waffle iron since I was a kid, but I seem to recall heating it for a while, pouring some mix in, and in a moment, waffle magic. Well sadly that didn't happen. I think the non-stick surface was no-longer non-stick. Cooked, the waffles would split in half as I opened the waffle iron to remove them. After messing up three, things were getting bad; I'd burnt myself, I was insanely hungry, the small one was under my feet, hungry and very keen t0 see what mum was doing and have a go. So I heated up the fry pan, diluted the waffle mix with a bit more milk and made pancakes and they were fantastic. Two things to remember next time: the pancakes need to sit for a minute; they magically change from being doughy and a bit yuk to crisp, and no need to keep tabs on the maple syrup bottle - the small girl doesn't like it

Dry ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cornmeal (I used yellow maize flour from the local organic wholefoods shop)

Wet ingredients
1/4 cup corn oil (veg or canola oil will do, don't use butter unless you warm the milk)
2 1/2 cups dairy or soy milk (may need to add a little more if this is still too thick)
1/4 cup dairy or soy yogurt
zest and juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup sugar

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients (including sugar and lemon juice/zest) until well combined. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and slowly blend in the wet ingredients until combined.

Heat a non-stick fry pan, and make pancakes as desired.

Serve with blueberry sauce or pure maple syrup.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Eating out...

... can be a fraught activity. Planning is often essential, I usually carry food with me if I'm not sure what will be available. Calling ahead is not a bad idea.

If a quick cheap calorie hit is necessary there are few reliable options. The ham, cheese and tomato sandwich (or variations of the same) is a beauty, fresh or toasted. Hot potato chips are great, and fortunately for us they now get the thumbs up - could you believe there could exist a toddler that didn't like chips - yes I had one. Pies are to be avoided - I've yet to find one without an egg glaze. Be careful with to check that sandwiches don't contain mayonnaise (which might be egg-free - but must be checked) and that darn pesto stuff is still ubiquitous on salads, in sandwiches and the like. Battered fish can be OK, but always ask, we recently bought some (really nice) fish and chips on the beach at Mornington, and for the first time in my experience discovered that there was egg in the batter.

Pizza is usually safe too, but again always ask. Recently we were at a friend's wedding. By the time we got to the food at the reception Hannah was ready to pounce on everything. I'd had a glass of lovely wine, was relaxed and full of good will with the world and seeing the mini pizzas thought yay, perfect food for Hannah. Thankfully a waiter passed in front of me at that moment, I figured I should check whether there was anything else that might be suitable. The waiter got the chef, the chef went through everything with me, and believe it or not, the pizzas had egg in them. Scones are another food that sometimes unexpectedly have egg in them.

The really awkward moments come when you are in the sort of place that doesn't make it's own food. This seems to be becoming more common, it has happened to us a few times at lunch bars in the city. There is usually only one member of staff who knows were the ingredient information is kept, and by the time you have a clear idea what is and isn't safe you feel you've inconvenienced a bunch of other customers.

Our favourite fast food is the Lebanese spinach and cheese triangle. Sadly I've only encountered them on Sydney Road, it is a form of fast food that I'd love to see more freely available. Cheap (we usually pay around $2.60), very yummy, nutritious, and totally egg and nut free. How can you beat that. Fine dining, well at the moment with Hannah we don't. Top pick for a good meal is going out to I Carusi for some really fine pizza, (which has the advantage that the pizza making is on display and fun to watch which helps the young girl to pass that agonising time between ordering and receiving the goods).

I keep hoping this part of our lives will become easier, and in a way it is, as Hannah is prepared to eat a wider range of food. But as a parent, one can never become complacent and never assume a food prepared by somebody else is egg or nut free, just because it usually is.