Saturday, June 23, 2007

Perfect Pancakes

... near perfect pancakes actually. It's 10:30pm, and I haven't eaten dinner, and I don't feel like making the few options I have from my pantry stocks. So I decide to make pancakes instead, only at first, I forget the recipe. The recipe I've been making for the past three or four years suddenly eludes my mind. Well, I remember all of it, except how much butter to use. Was it two tablespoons or four? How much is two table spoons out of this block of Plugra I have in front of me? My continues to draw a blank, and I google "buttermilk pancakes," and then it hits me. At one point in time I used one stick of the four sticks that normally come out of the butter box which weighs in at one pound. Then I switched over to the unmarked, Plugra blocks a few years ago because the European butter has more butterfat and is therefore fatter and tastier. That was it, I use one fourth of the block because that's how much of the one pound I used from the butter box.

After solving this dilemma, things start to go much smoother. I mix the wet into the dry ingredients, and let it sit and rise while I wash the dishes I used to mix everything up. I turn on the stove to preheat the Cast Iron skillet, and throw in some butter to grease up the pan. Finally, I lay down my first three ice-cream scoops (I've been using an ice-cream scoop because I still have yet to buy a ladle, and may not because the scoop has been working so well) of the batter onto the pan. After a while I realize that it may not be cooking as fast as I want it to, so I turn up the heat a little. I flip the pancake, only a small corner of the batter splatters out to one side, not far enough to detach from the pancake or over the skillets side walls though. And the top of the pancake is so perfectly golden brown. It slowly rises in the pan as the side walls of the pancake expand, forcing the golden brown roof to rise in dome shape as the ingredients react to the heat forming the light airy caverns inside the pancake. The sides remain white as the original batter because they don't color from direct contact with heat, and gently puff out. I pull the pancake off the skillet and examine the bottom to make sure its a good color. Beautiful. I place it on the plate, and lather it up with some butter and pour some grade A dark amber over the center, watching it slowly spread over the pancake. I then proceed back to the skillet and put down three more scoops of batter for the next pancake.

Meanwhile I take my time eating the first pancake, its tastes as beautiful as it looks. The outer texture slightly crispy as it hits my mouth, only to be complimented by the fluffy interior. Even with all its weight, the pancake almost melts in my mouth as if it were cotton candy, without the graininess. I watch the second pancake as I did the first, and it turns out equally as well. Instead of eating this one, I place it in the tupperware for tomorrow or the following day's breakfast, it fits perfectly into the tupperware. Each successive pancake turns out just as wonderful as the first. Wonderful brown exterior, puffy cloud-like sides, with one small area of crispiness from the flip. They all fit snuggly in the tupperware containers. The air starts to fill with a sweet butter flavor, and I can taste the pancakes in my mouth without having actually putting a fork to it now.

By the end of it, I had two tupperware containers each with three golden brown light and airy pancakes that fit perfectly in them. Every drop of batter had gone into the pancakes themselves, and there was no extra drip before they reached the center of the skillet. Overall, this late night pancake session turned out to be the best series of pancakes I've ever made. What a night. And now I can't wait to get up and have three for breakfast.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Volunteer Work

Today (yesterday by the time I actually post this), I volunteered for The Nature Conservancy (or TNC as they like to say). It started off with me biking down to TNC on 14th between Belmont and Morrison, getting up much earlier than I would have on this particular Saturday. Met up with the group, then we carpooled out to the Diack Preserve. There we hiked around for a bit, before we got to the part of the trail that we were to clear the paths of overgrowth. It felt a odd at first, I wanted to be planting trees, not uprooting them.

After redefining the trail, we headed further down the trail to the Sandy River and pulled out some Scott's Brush. Scott's Brush is an invasive species from Scotland that spews out hundreds of seeds if allowed to mature, and it would soon overtake the riverbank. All we had to do was pull it out by the roots, then leave it out to dry and die out. I stacked some orange cream marbled rocks while on the riverbank. None of the fellow hikers saw me do it, and when they came upon them one them thought they were mushrooms at first.

After that, we bushwacked back through the forest and a deer trail. We actually came across some deer bones, skull, vertebrae and some ribs. It was the first time I'd ever seen anything like it in the wild. They were pearly white too, nature was doing a good job of returning that deer to the earth.

Finally we had some lunch, and then removed some blackberry and thistle bushes from a field. Did I mention it was raining the entire time, because it was. Wasn't too bad though. Especially walking through the Oregon forests, the while under the trees we were able to keep pretty dry. It was a good experience overall, and I'd do it again. And now I know some people outside of work, a real estate agent, a conservationist, a Guatamalen and a roller durby competitor to name a few.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Cast Iron German Apple Pancake

Today began with work right away. I woke up at about 7am and started right away by turning off the alarm and opening up a web browser to start doing research. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say what though. It was great though, working at home, in a warm bed at that. Sadly, I was out of oatmeal, and I was out of milk. So I had limited options for breakfast. And ended up having some eggs, rice, lentils and cheese in a bowl, so that close enough to cereal as I could get given my resources.

When work slowed down, I just saved up all my info, got dressed, got on my bike, and headed over to the studio to continue working after the break from the change of scenery. Don, was at the studio when I got there, and after conversing for a while I got back to research, staring to make notes on ideas that were coming to my mind. By about two or three o'clock I was slowing down again, so I opened up Unreal Tournament to take a break. Don joined in for two rounds before he headed off. I stayed around for a while doing some more research, then headed off to the grocery store, bank and library.

When I got home, I read for a while and then accidently took a nap. Got up, did some more research. When I got hungry, I figured I'd continue with the bizarro day, and had some cereal, yogurt with blueberries. Took a shower, and when I got out made myself a German Apple Pancake. Since I didn't have my usual cookware, I decided to use my Cast Iron Skillet as the baking dish. And now its almost ten o'clock and I'm eating a monster sized Apple Pancake.

It has been a great day.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


I'm in Portland for the summer. I've been here for a almost a month now, and fell in love with the place the first day I was here. Beautiful weather, wonderful atmosphere, bike friendly streets (with the exception of one cellphone distracted mini-van driver) and fantastic architecture.

I'm working at ID Workshop, and since day one its been a fantastic. I have been known to say the following things since work started: "Why do I want to go back to school?", "I can't believe they're paying me for this", and "Yes, I'm having fun." Of course, I will go back to school, I'm so close, I should finish up and get the degree.

Work aside, its wonderful being here. I bike to work and everywhere else, only using a car when someone else drives. I'm running and cooking everyday. I've started reading books and newspapers. And I have a list of things to do and places to explore while here in Portland.