Baking for Bookworms: Coconut Pancakes from Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones

IMG_9892

This was actually one of the hardest books to choose a dish from. There were so many good options from nachos and guacamole to mu shu pork, to an apricot-plum smoothie with wildflower honey. But ultimately, it was the coconut pancakes that called to me because, I mean, how could they not? There is nothing better than a delicious pancake at any time of day.

The food in the book is used in an interesting way; it tends to be found in scenes of tension or potential tension and offers a way to diffuse difficult situations, much like the way food is used in real life. The coconut pancakes are served in a diner with fairly strange clientele and a fairly exotic menu. They all meet up to discuss new information and eat. Clary is advised, as a newcomer to the world of vampires and werewolves and shadow hunters, not to eat the faerie food, so she settles on something a little more mundane.

“At that moment the waitress arrived to take their order. Up close she was still a pretty blond girl, but her eyes were unnverving–entirely blue, with no white or pupil. She smiled with sharp little teeth. ‘Know what you’re having?’

Jace grinned. ‘The usual,’ he said, and got a smile from the waitress in return.

‘Me too,’ Alec chimed in, thought he didn’t get the smile. Isabelle fastidiously ordered a fruit smoothie, Simon asked for coffee, and Clary, after a moment’s hesitation, chose a large coffee and coconut pancakes. The waitress winked a blue eye at her and flounced off.”                                                                 194

IMG_9902

Coconut Pancakes–recipe slightly adapted from She Wears Many Hats

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut (if you wanted to use a less refined-sugar heavy sweetener, you could also use unsweetened coconut flakes)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or to make this recipe dairy-free, you could use coconut oil/butter or another dairy-free substitute like Earth Balance)
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut milk

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Using a wet measurement cup, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the egg and beat the two together before adding the coconut milk (I’m advising using just the wet measurement cup to do all of this in because less dishes=more fun cooking).

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine the two, but just combine them, don’t over beat the batter.

Make the pancakes, like you normally would, watching for the bubbles in the middle to pop before flipping.

Serve with syrup or anything that strikes your fancy! I tried to make a pineapple syrup (which you could definitely do, with pineapple juice and some chunks) but I didn’t give it enough time to reduce. However, I served the pancakes with the chunks of pineapple and used the juice diluted with some hot water to create pineapple “tea,” which was quite delicious.

Have you had a time where a kitchen “mistake” led to a new discovery?

Baking for Bookworms: Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes from Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

IMG_1962_2

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Today’s post makes a great breakfast (or dinner) for the one you love. There’s something about pancakes that speaks to home and care.

(You can scroll down for my earlier post about this book) There’s not a lot of food mentioned in the novel. Pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches are the most noteworthy food besides the food supplied by Costco, which is regularly mentioned. Food is most associated with the idea of caring for others. When A.J. is alone, he barely feeds himself, only occasionally eating frozen Indian dinners, but when he introduces new love and light into his life, the food becomes nourishing, though never fancy.

This particular dish is mentioned in a scene without the protagonist where the town’s cop has his first morning with A.J.’s sister-in-law:

“He can smell the pancakes from where he sits. He can imagine her downstairs making them. She is probably wearing a white apron and a silky nightgown. Or maybe she is wearing just the apron and nothing else. That would be exciting.” (210)

There’s also mention of fresh-squeezed orange juice, but I could just not summon up the energy to do that this morning. We bought orange juice instead. There’s not a lot of detail associated with these pancakes, so I took them to be “normal” and added my own twist.

This recipe is freely adapted from Mark Bittman’s. These pancakes are basically healthy because there’s fruit, whole wheat, eggs, and calcium! That’s what I try to convince myself anyway. Ours were super dense (we are not fluffy pancake people) but you can make yours lighter by using cake flour, actually using the two teaspoons of baking powder (I eyeballed mine and almost definitely only used one teaspoon), whisking the batter at the end, and thinning the batter out more (I ran out of milk). You can also feel free to use your favorite mix and just add banana and cinnamon and vanilla.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • up to 1 tbs sugar (optional)
  • 2 medium bananas, on the riper side (if you have giant bananas like I did, just use 1 1/2, and it’s okay if they’re not that ripe, they’re just harder to mash)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (or milk substitute)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

IMG_1958_2

Measure the flour and dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk with a fork. Mash the banana in a separate bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Beat in eggs and milk. Mix thoroughly and add more milk as needed. Add vanilla and cinnamon.

IMG_1960_2
As you can see, my pancakes are not what one would call “pretty,” but they get the job done.

You can butter, spray, put a little oil in the pan, or just cook them in the drippings from the bacon your boyfriend made, like I did, and turn to medium heat. You can come up with a more elegant method for dispensing batter, but I typically just tip the bowl over and let a pancake worth of batter out at a time. Then cook until the edges start to look cooked and the bubbles start to pop. Flip and cook until done (about 30 seconds).

Serve with desired accoutrements. Paul is partial to peanut butter and I’m a big fan of butter and real maple syrup.

IMG_1963

What food do you turn to in the morning for comfort? Banana pancakes always remind me of home.