Like many of you with young children and/or caring responsibilities, I’m finding myself becoming more of a professional juggler than ever before. I’m working yet home-schooling three young children – whilst managing my rehab and physio following my syndesmosis (ankle) reconstruction surgery in late February.
But in other ways, life is much quieter than it once was. I’m no longer commuting from North West to East London, or racing two children to their school and the other one to her nursery. I’ve stopped being chief chauffeur, no longer ferrying our fabulous three respective playdates, swimming lessons, football, after school clubs, ballet lesson, etc. There are no theatre trips, dinners or socials with friends and family. Other than a daily bike ride or walk I’m not going anywhere – and neither is anyone else. This is of course immensely sad but gives the amazing Mr R and I an incredible opportunity to have a lot of amazing and meaningful family time, playing and making things together each day in ways we otherwise would not have had the time for.
Then there’s of course the cooking and baking. We’re eating pretty healthily each week. I’m enjoying finding ways of using up leftovers, and having the time at weekends to try new dishes and the odd treat. I have some rye flakes coming in my online shop in a couple of weeks, which I’m going to attempt to grind into flour so I can make a sourdough starter (I’ve heard it works much better with rye flour so am holding out then before making it – watch this space!).
Juggling cooking and baking with everything else can be hard sometimes. On a bad day there’s very little cooking and a “picnic” of finger sandwiches and raw veg in the garden. This works well when we have glorious weather, but the fabulous three become less fabulous and rather unimpressed when it’s freezing cold outside – my attempts to keep the food mess outside for a few extra minutes don’t always work!
But on a good day my fabulous three love “home economics” with Mummy and we make something in the afternoon together as one of their school “lessons”. I like to think it combines their and my favourite core subjects – maths (weighing), science (mixing different substances, heating etc), English (reading and following a recipe), art (our creations often look pretty!), law (we have to follow the recipe’s “rules”!) and socialising (it’s great fun!).
As you might have seen from my Instagram posts some family favourites we have made include:
- 1. lemon curd (a huge success gastronomically speaking, but no one liked it as much as I’d hoped. I need to convert our huge quantity of lemon curd into iced lemon biscuits etc at some point!);
- 2. lemonade (yes, I over-stocked on lemons one week!);
- 3. banana cake (a regular addition, whenever I have overstocked on bananas and have many over-ripe and otherwise inedible bananas to use up)
- 4. fish curry;
- 5. tuna patties;
- 6. homemade pizza (we make the dough together and once risen the children like to each decorate their own pizza);
- 7. strawberry milkshakes;
- 8. Yorkshire puddings;
- 9. Challah (we try and make this delicious bread every week when we can);
- 0. Crepes; and
- 1. American-style pancakes.
As a treat, my children love American-style pancakes at the weekend. I use a Nigella Lawson recipe which makes up a dry pancake mix, that way we always have plenty in the cupboard to whizz up for another day:
For the pancake mix
- 600g flour
- 3 x15ml tbsp baking powder
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 40g vanilla or caster sugar (I make my own vanilla sugar – just leave a vanilla pod in a sealed jar or Tupperware with sugar. You can make cinnamon sugar by doing similar with a cinnamon stick and sugar. The result is delicious!). Mix the ingredients together and store in a jar.
When you’re in the mood for pancakes, you then just measure out 150g of the above pancake mix (shake it first), adding and whisking together 1 egg, 250ml semi-skimmed or full-fat milk and 1 x 15ml tbsp of melted butter.
I use a crepe pan to cook the pancakes, but a griddle or frying pan would also work well. I rub the pan with some butter or oil first, but you don’t have to. You then drop small circles (1.5-2 tbsp)of the batter into the pan. I can manage 4-5 at once in my pan, but doing 2-3 at a time is also fine. When bubbles start appearing on the surface you simply flip the pancakes over so that they’re golden brown on both sides. The trick is to have the pan on a medium heat – if it’s too hot then the pancakes will burn a bit and dry up. I keep the made ones on a plate under a tea towel until the whole batch is ready: that way they stay the right temperature!
The children eat the pancakes with vast quantities of fresh fruit and some maple syrup or honey. I like to convince myself that the fruit makes up for the unhealthier side of having pancakes for breakfast! Plus, our 6 year old will “only” (really!) eat eggs when they’re within crepes, American pancakes, cakes and biscuits, so what else am I to do?!
So there you have it. Delectable, American-style pancakes. Super quick and easy to make yet they are exciting, impressive and taste utterly delicious. It’s a wonderful start to a lazy Sunday morning in lockdown. Plus they look so good you can “pretend” you’re having brunch at a fabulous café somewhere – Café Hannahcity in our case!