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Butter Together: Will you be my Valentine? Check yes or no.

 

Amelia Plair

Amelia Plair

 

 

Amelia Plair

 

 

I love Valentine's Day. 

 

Not the adult one, the one that promotes giant teddy bears and terrifying negligees and overpriced candies. I like the kid version, the one that relies on decorated shoe boxes and red construction paper and dollar-store doilies.  

 

Inexpensive chocolate and a celebration of friendship and the nearly lost art of written communication? Now that's a holiday I can love. 

 

When I was a single mom and Julia was young, I sometimes decorated the whole house with paper hearts made of scrapbooking paper after she went to bed Feb. 13. One year I made a trail of heart-shaped chocolates from her bedroom door to the dining room table, where her Valentine awaited her. Another, I made a Valentine's Day banner out of the pages of an old book and some colored paper. 

 

As life has sped up -- and the house we live in got bigger -- I haven't done those things in a while. But one tradition that I will always try to carry on is serving heart-shaped pancakes. 

 

You can easily use a mix to create these pancakes, but I prefer this homemade recipe and think it is well worth every single extra second of measuring and mixing that it requires. In fact, I like it so much that I began using it exclusively long before Julia developed an allergy to soy, which now makes finding safe prepackaged pancake mixes difficult. 

 

I have tried this recipe with many substitutions. It always comes out delicious, but my favorite version is the one I am giving here. You can increase the protein content a bit by substituting plain kefir for milk; the finished product is also a bit moister, but the batter will be thick and difficult to form into heart shapes. I've substituted buttermilk as well, but I found (much to my surprise) that I prefer the soured milk version. 

 

This recipe is doubled from the version I found on allrecipes.com so many years ago and can easily be halved or doubled itself. Do not adjust the amount of vinegar if you half or double, though. I doubled the vinegar the first time I doubled the recipe, and the pancakes turned out flat and white with an odd taste. 

 

To turn these into Valentine's Day pancakes, simply add a bit of red food coloring to the batter in the final step before cooking. Make a heart shape by making a "V" motion as you pour the batter. The pancake hearts won't be perfect. Then again, neither are any of our hearts, but we get along just fine.  

 

Happy heart day! 

 

Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches her at [email protected] 

 

 

 

HOMEMADE PANCAKES 

 

Serves 5-6 

 

 

 

1 1/2 cups milk 

 

2 tablespoons white vinegar 

 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

 

1/4 cup white sugar 

 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

 

1 teaspoon baking soda 

 

1 teaspoon salt 

 

2 eggs 

 

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick) 

 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

 

 

 

  • Heat griddle or frying pan to 350 F. While the griddle heats, melt butter; I do this in the microwave. If the butter is cut into chunks, it takes about 30 seconds.  

     

  • In a separate measuring cup or small mixing bowl, add vinegar to milk and set aside for a few minutes to sour.  

     

  • In a mixing bowl (preferably one with a spout and handle), combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk dry ingredients together.  

     

  • Crack eggs into the soured milk, add vanilla to the milk, and stir. Add melted butter to the egg/milk mixture and whisk. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix until no streaks of flour remain, but do not overmix. The soured milk and leavening combine to create air bubbles, which look like lumps. They make the finished product light and tender, so don't stir them all out. If you want heart-shaped pancakes, mix in a bit of red food coloring and pour the batter onto the griddle in a "V" pattern. Flip when bubbles cover the top of the pancake and the edges begin to look dry. For best results, serve with bacon and hot coffee or cold orange juice.

     

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