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The Great Pancake Race

“The time it takes to make a baby, is the time it takes to make a cup of tea,” Billy Bragg once sang, and I thought of that lyric last Thursday morning. The kids were out of school because of Rosh Hashanah. That holiday had caused me trouble earlier in the week, but on this day it was a blessing. With, no lunches to pack, we were having a slightly more relaxed start to the day than usual.

I was in the kitchen, making breakfast. The flame of the front burner was licking at the sides of the kettle, and I could hear the water inside starting to come to a boil. As it rumbled beside me, I was mixing up pancake batter from scratch.  I wondered, could I get it done before the water boiled?

Last week, Mark Bittman, wrote an excellent article about the cost of home-cooked food versus fast or junk food. I was thinking of that, too (if you haven’t seen it, it is here).  One of the arguments against home cooking is that it takes too much time. If I could get my pancake batter done before the water boiled, then that would be evidence that the working parent could make a good home-cooked breakfast on a weekday.

They say that the families that eat together do better in life. The kids don’t do drugs, they do better in school, etc. etc. The great photo essay in yesterday’s New York Times magazine shows a wide range of families eating together, and Sam Sifton in his intro to it talks about the difficulty working parents face getting everone to the table. Breakfast, in my house, is the one meal we almost always eat together. My girls are so young, that this is the only way we can do it. They are often in bed by the time I get home to cook dinner.

So, a lot was riding on those pancakes. The kettle boiled before I could get the wet ingredients mixed with the dry, but I figured if one was to mix up the dry ingredients the night before, one could win the race. My pancake recipe is here. Billy Bragg singing “This Guitar Says Sorry,” the song with the tea-and-baby line, is here.



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