The Weston A. Price Way

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sail-Away Monday: "Pan of ONES Pancake"

As explained Saturday, 'Sail-Away Monday' is named so because it's the day I get to write about whatever 'floats my boat'. This is one of my longer posts, so if you're here just for the recipe, scroll down. If you want a reminder of why we soak grains, start just below. ;)

Last Monday, we talked about getting your sourdough starter ready. It is well-known among traditional cooking 'foodies' that grains need to be soaked, sprouted or fermented in order to release phytase, the enzyme that neutralizes phytic acid. Phytic acid serves the purpose of protecting grains until germination, when phytase takes over, neutralizing phytic acid, thus allowing the good nutrients to be absorbed by the body. Without this event, phytic acid remains intact and blocks absorption....voiding out our purpose of grain consumption.

Every grain, every legume and nut...every food has within it, it's own specific enzyme that helps our bodies to digest that particular food. (If you've been with me a while, you've heard this before, but it is such an amazing morsel of truth that I will most likely repeat it often.) In grains, nuts and legumes, it takes germination, or it's imitation, to kick that phytase into action. And so, to get the most bang for our good food consumption, we soak (think hot cereals), sprout (think 'Ezekiel Bread'), or ferment (think sourdough).

Although 'whole-grain goodness' truly is good, a diet high in unprepared whole grains can lead to both mineral deficiencies and bone loss. So, the grain pushers are doing us a favor by telling us whole grains are good for us. But they aren't telling the whole story. They are good for us in all the areas they say they are good for us only if they are properly prepared. (And of course, those of you battling Leaky Gut Syndrome or celiac's disease know I'm not promoting grains in any form to you. But when you do get the place of healing, it would be wise to follow this course.)

Will unprepared grains kill you? Probably not...I'm still alive, and I'm, well...I'm still alive. But they can, over time, create some serious healthy problems, some already mentioned. Others?...Okay, if you insist:
Allergies, celiac disease, mental illness, chronic indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, candida albicans overgrowth, MS, and gluten intolerance.

Yeah, I know. Crazy truth. I myself, have gone from daily bouts with IBS to after-restaurants IBS, to nearly-never-have-it IBS since changing over to traditional methods of cooking. For us, the greatest changes have been in our bread preparations, type of meats/proteins/broths (organic & pasture-grazed), and probiotics (raw milk and raw milk products, kombucha, beet kvass, water kefir, dairy kefir.) This is not a comprehensive list, but covers most of the basics.

It's additionally wonderful to know that the process of releasing enzymes not only cuts back on phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors, but the actual action of the released enzymes increases the amounts of vitamins in the grain...especially B vitamins!

Sourdough starter is, of course, already soaked. But many recipes require additional flour to be added. Just because flour is a broken-down form of the grain, doesn't mean it's in its best form for consumption. Traditional cooking requires a minimum of 7-8 hours soaking time to unprepared flours/grains. This is where I lose some some of you, I bet...It's the time factor thing and believe me, I DO understand. But if you can train yourself to think ahead, and it takes training because with fast foods and microwaves, slow cooking is definitely not something we are familiar with, you will be amazed at how it will start to flow...

"Oh, I want to make pancakes tomorrow morning for all the grandkids when they visit...I better get that flour soaking"...That's sort of how you will begin to think, only in your case, it may be your children or maybe just your husband, yourself, or a group of friends coming for breakfast...But you do get what I'm talking about, right?

But even when you get used to it, there are times when that just doesn't work out. That's when you wish you hadn't thrown away all those boxes of processed cereal in the pantry. (Ah-hem...Yes, even T.J's, because the PROCESS of processing grains into shapes and flakes is a huge part of the problem, to be explored more deeply at a later date.)...Or you're tempted to pull out the Bisquick you've been keeping on a back shelf, 'just in case'.

Confession: I've had many such mornings.

So, I studied more and found out that if I can make foods from my sourdough or other already soaked products, I don't have to do all the waiting. (I know I just heard a 'hallelujah!')

I usually spread my recipe of muesli onto a rimmed cookie sheet and bake it until it's dry enough to break apart and store in a Mason jar. For today's recipe, I ended up using this muesli, but in its as yet, unbaked state. Meusli is great because it's so easy to conform to you and your family's personal preferences. What some may not understand, however, is that many eat soaked meusli without baking it. Basically, the ingredients are thrown together before bed, soaked all night and the next morning, milk or yogurt is added, along with any additions...dried or fresh fruits, chopped nuts (also soaked and then dehydrated), sweeteners such as raw honey or real maple syrup.
Here is the recipe for muesli as given by Wardeh Harmon on her blog. (She won't tell you about baking it, that's just something I like to do.)
So on a recent Saturday, I wanted something fast. We are not fans of the unbaked meusli, but since I hadn't yet baked my soaked batch, that and sourdough starter were what I had available. I wanted something substantial but digestible that my hubby would like because usually, we do the smoothie thing in the mornings before he has to rush to work. Both the sourdough and the uncooked muesli fit that requirement.

I had recently learned about making what I call 'pan pancakes' at GNOWFGLINS, but I wasn't wanting to put even that much effort into it...So I developed my own very easy recipe using the ingredients I already had handy. The final result was scrumptious and we both ate every bite on our plate. And of course, I'm going to share it with you.

****"Pan of ONES Pancake"****

You must have the following available: sourdough starter (better if has been feed in last 12 hours, but not mandatory) and unbaked muesli. If you don't have these, don't plan to make this TODAY, but instead, plan ahead for next week, go to the "Last Monday" link at the top to learn how to start your starter and the other link to learn how to make your own muesli. For other ingredients, read the recipe first and gather what you need.

HEAT on "3" or a max of "4": I use a 10" inch cast iron skillet...well-seasoned. You may use a larger one if you like. If you are serving a large family, you may want to get two skillets going.

GREASE Bottom and sides well. Please don't use 'man-made/manipulated' oils, margarines, parkays, etc. (That subject will soon be covered on "Eye-Opener Thursday".) Opt instead for a good quality EVOO, real butter, or unrefined coconut oil. If the skillet starts to smoke, turn it down a notch.

Mix 1 Cup Sourdough Starter, with 1 Cup uncooked, soaked muesli. Add 1 Egg (preferably pasture-grazed), 1Tbs. (or more to taste) real maple syrup, honey or other unrefined, non-artificial sweetener, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. baking soda. (See? It's all ONE's.)

NOW, turn on your oven broiler to get it started. The oven rack should be in the second or third slot from the top. The top slot is TOO CLOSE. We'll get to what to do with the broiler in a minute...

Pour the batter into the skillet, using about 3/4 of the batter for a 10" pan, or all of it for a 12" pan. The batter will be around 3/4 inch high. Set the timer for 4 mins. DON'T leave. Watch the top of the pancake for 2 things: bubbles, (you'll see these first), and a difference in color. The batter will first get bubbly, then as it cooks, it will start to become darker, (you'll also notice it's becoming drier). If one side of the batter starts darkening before the other, your skillet may not be level on the bottom...compensate for this uneven cooking by moving the darker portion a bit off the burner while keeping the other part over the burner. Use your sense of smell, too. A burning smell?...Get it off the burner immediately, turn the heat down a notch, and then put it back on the burner. You can use your spatula to take a peek to see if the bottom is fairing well. This entire part takes only 4-6 minutes on my stove, but everyone's stove is different, so get a feeling for how yours works by keeping a constant eye, especially this first time.

*It's very important not to try to rush this by turning the heat up higher...This could cause the bottom to burn.*

When the top is full of bubbles and nearly completely 'color-changed', move the entire skillet into the preheated oven, beneath the broiler, on the rack that's in the 2nd or 3rd slot from the top. Watch it. When it begins to become golden, take it out...less than 5, closer to 3, minutes.

Flip out onto cooling rack...(Depending on how well seasoned/greased the pan was, you may have to help yourself in the 'flip' using a spatula.) Allow to cool a minute. Invert large dinner plate over the pancake, and holding well to both plate and rack, flip entire cooling rack upside-down, allowing cake to rest nicely on the plate. (You may want to put a pat of butter on the top now.) Cut as you would a pie. Use spatula or pie server to serve. 'Dress' with butter, real maple syrup, thick yogurt, fresh fruit...any combination or all together! We really enjoyed the crispy outsides and fluffy interior.

Leftovers, anyone?
Final notes:
Because our meusli was made with oats, cream of wheat (it was a little thin, so I added this to thicken), coconut, chopped almonds and dates, those flavors lent themselves to the final product. If you make your meusli with other additions or spices, their flavors will lend themselves to your 'pan pancake' as well.

You can also use this to make regular pancakes, but be advised, the end result will be about half as high, and they won't have the same delightfully crisp exterior.

I am considering ways to use this to make a dinner pan-pancake...Perhaps using savory flavorings, cheese, veggies...Let me know if you beat me to it! :)

  Until then,
~Happy Breakfasting!

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