My daughter groaned a long, still-doped-to-the-gills groan. "Ohhhhh," she slurred, "I lovvvvve pancakes. My mom makes me pancakes."
My younger daughter is well past the age of tea parties and tutus. She turned 18 this past winter and heads off to college in the fall. Nevertheless, she remains an enthusiast of all things fluffy and pink. So, when she had her wisdom teeth removed, I wanted to treat her to a little something special for her recovery.
Author and illustrator Erin Gleeson's beautiful new book "The Forest Feast Road Trip" is full of heady inspiration for cooking — and dining — well even when you're far from your home. The simple vegetarian recipes inspired by her travels through California include spaghetti squash taquitos and sticky date-almond sundaes.
The book offers a fresh perspective on eating like a local, wherever you may plant yourself as we collectively make our way back toward wandering. But don't let the premise discourage you from making vibrant meals like Gleeson's curry cauliflower salad in the comfort of your own kitchen.
As an avid fan of off-label uses of pancake mix, I was especially delighted by her easy, rose-tinted upgrade of a beloved breakfast classic.
"Pancake mix was one of the things we traveled with a lot on the road trips," Gleeson told me during a recent Zoom conversation. "When you're traveling, you want a substantial breakfast, and pancakes feel kind of special. I love using beets because I'm always trying to get as much color as possible on the table and get in as many vegetables as possible. It's just a fun way to introduce some color and nutrition."
You don't have to love pink, or frankly even beets, to be a fan of these beauties. (That being said, I will never understand anti-beet sentiment.) Pancakes sometimes tend to veer saccharin, but the natural, vegetal sugars in beets add some balance to that sweetness. Because I like to go all-in on delicate things, I've made mine silver dollar-sized, but you do you here. They're gorgeous — and exactly as delicious as they are pretty.
Recipe: Pretty in Pink Pancakes
Inspired by Erin Gleeson's "The Forest Feast Road Trip"
- 1 serving all-in-one pancake mix, prepared to directions
- 1 small beet, cut into chunks, or small can of cooked beets
- Pour the beet and pancake batter into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat and lightly oil it.
- Spoon the batter into the pan a few tablespoons at a time. After a minute or so, when bubbles start to form and break on the surface, flip the pancakes over and cook them for another minute or so.
- Serve immediately with butter and syrup, plus lots of bacon, if you're feeling it.
When it comes to pancake mix, I'm a fool for Bisquick's Shake 'n Pour.
Ina Garten's method for roasting bacon in the oven on a sheet pan will change your life.
You can swap out the beets for plenty of other vegetables, including shredded carrots or zucchini. They would be equally delicious, if less eye-catching.
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More clever uses for pancake mix:
- It's almost too easy to make hot, fresh, fried onion rings
- This hearty cinnamon apple skillet pancake is a breeze if you use box mix
- These three-ingredient strawberry funnel cakes bring the state fair into the comfort of your home
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