Alone in the Kitchen with Quinoa Pancakes

Recently, I took a day of quiet.

Not particularly intentionally, it just turned out that way. I had already scheduled time away from work to hit the reset button after a consuming four-month project, but so far my first two days away were filled with errands. Some of them good (pedicure!), and some not as fantastic (dentist!), and I was craving a day at home with absolutely no obligations. None. I didn't even want to plan out what I was going to cook.

When I'm home alone, I usually like to have some music on in the background (or Downton Abbey reruns playing) to keep me company. Of course, there's also the dog who follows me from room to room, but as the morning unfolded and I sipped chamomile tea I found I quite enjoyed the silence. So this day turned into a day of utter quiet. 

Zoe Nathan's Quinoa Pancakes / Eat This Poem

Instead of writing, I filled my morning with other activities: yoga, checking Instagram, ironing, getting dressed, taking said dog outside to sit in the sun, blending smoothies, making tart crust, and finishing the chicken stock I started the night before. Also, pancakes. (We'll get to those in a minute.)

It was just me and my thoughts as I vacuumed, put magazines in their bin, and cookbooks back on the shelf. But there was always a gentle, persistent nagging that I should really be writing something I didn't want to write. Or that I did want to write, but didn't feel motivated to write because no one cared. Or I assumed no one would care. Either way, no one caring is not actually a good reason to not write, but alas.

In conclusion: Sometimes we simply need a day. 

On a productive note, though, I finished reading Laurie Colwin's book of essays about home cooking, and she said something I rather like.

"No one who cooks cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers." -Laurie Colwin

It's comforting that even in our most isolated moments, when we stand in front of the stove or the cutting board making something out of nothing, we are perhaps the least alone we could ever be.

Zoe Nathan's Quinoa Pancakes

Shopping at Costco in the great city of Los Angeles is not for the faint of heart. From our old neighborhood, it was a 2 hour roundtrip adventure that you needed to be mentally prepared for, and if you didn't arrive a few minutes before the store opened at 9 am on Sunday morning, the parking lot would be so full it would give you a headache trying to navigate. So our visits became less and less frequent, and eventually, we stopped going all together.

After we moved in May, we realized our neighborhood Costco was in closer proximity, and since we needed swiffers, decided to venture in once more. I came out with a giant bag of ancient grains (a mix of quinoa, millet, and amaranth) and have since been making a version of Zoe Nathan's quinoa pancakes almost every weekend since.

Zoe Nathan is the baker behind Huckleberry, one of the best bakeries in Los Angeles. Seriously. The long lines speak for themselves. And don't even start with the pastries. Thankfully, a Huckleberry cookbook just came out, and I can't wait to dig in. 

Recipe adapted from the version published on The Chalkboard.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon wheat germ
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk or buttermilk
2 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for cooking and serving
1 cup cooked quinoa (or a mix of quinoa, millet and amaranth)

Stir the whole wheat flour, oat flour, cornmeal, sugar, wheat germ, chia seeds, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Pour the buttermilk into a large glass measuring cup, then crack in the eggs and whisk; slowly add to the dry ingredients. Whisk in the melted butter and cooked quinoa. 

Melt a pat of butter or coconut oil on a skillet over medium heat. Drop 1/4 cup batter into the pan. Flip pancakes once bubbles appear on the surface and the bottom is golden; flip and cook for 1 minute more.

Serve immediately with additional butter and maple syrup.