Posts tagged ‘raspberries’

Good Morning

In the same way that I follow a recipe, I follow a certain schedule in the morning. I don’t watch the clock and record how long I take to brush my teeth, but I have a couple things that I always do in the same order. Unfortunately, I usually spend too long doing some things. The very last thing I do before I run out the door is eat breakfast, but it often gets compromised for the sake of time. I brush my hair, pack my backpack, and suddenly my ride is at the door.

Some days I throw a handful of dry cereal into a Ziploc bag and hurriedly pour some soymilk into a travel cup, and then I eat the cereal on the go. Other days I’ll swipe an apple from the counter and eat it during first period. And some days – this is worst of all – I simply go without breakfast. Besides dessert, breakfast is my favorite meal, so those are the days to watch out for my grouchiness.

On the weekends, though, I like to savor breakfast. I love to wake up to the comforting weight of a dog at the foot of my bed, and the sound of the heater gently creaking. I walk down the hallway in my still-warm cotton pajamas and fluffy pink socks to find the kitchen bathed in petal-soft light, and I appreciate how still and how refreshing the winter mornings can be.

My parents wait for me to wake up on my own before starting to cook. Mom starts the coffee and I begin slicing oranges for fresh juice. We plan our breakfast. Our favorites are bagels with cream cheese and lox, pork chops, or eggs (sunny-side up and just a little bit runny, please.) But somehow, inevitably, we frequently end up at pancakes. Pancakes used to always fall to me the way that scones and muffins are considered my territory. But nobody is foolish enough to let me make the pancakes anymore.

There is a special place in my heart for pancakes, but they seem to hate me the most. In fact, my ineptitude at pancake-making is famous in my house. Some recipes are more forgiving than others, but pancakes have no sympathy for me. I’ve made whole-wheat pancakes that ended up a soggy clump on what I thought was a nonstick pan. I’ve burned and undercooked pancakes of all flavors and sizes.

Hands down the worst pancakes I’ve ever made were these blueberry-corn pancakes, and I don’t really have the heart to relive that particular story. I even felt sorry for our trash can as I scraped the curiously gritty and soggy pancakes into the garbage.

Like the determined teenage baker I am, I’ve never stopped trying. I always offer to make the batter and cook the pancakes. But my parents steer me to the table, ask me to set out the plates, or try to distract me with gems like “Why don’t you just relax?” and “Wouldn’t you rather have some bacon?”

You know they’re just trying to keep me from destroying breakfast for everyone. I guess you can’t blame them.

Now my mother is the one who makes the pancakes in my house, and they are far superior to mine. Whatever I am doing wrong, she avoids those pitfalls, and her pancakes end up light and fluffy.

With several overly ripe bananas browning on the counter, we decided to have banana pancakes for breakfast one Sunday. I was allowed to pick out a banana pancake recipe, but after that my mother took over. I juiced tangerines and then, unable to help myself, made a Triple Berry Maple Syrup with some frozen berries still in our freezer from summer.

I sneaked surreptitious glances at my mother as we worked, trying to uncover her pancake secret. At one point she commented, “The batter is a little thick,” but before I could stick in my nose she had fixed the problem, and I went back to simmering the maple syrup.

Ten minutes later I set the table and arranged the plates of food. The orange juice was tart and satisfying, the bacon still sizzling, and the maple syrup a deep, rich purple. We stacked our plates three pancakes tall, poured the maple syrup, and took the first triple-layered bite.

With a thick drizzle of Triple Berry Maple Syrup and small, sweet bits of banana, there was no denying that the pancakes were delicious. They weren’t dense – they were fluffy – but they were deceptively filling. I was halfway through my pancakes and was surprised by how full I was feeling. The banana flavor was also much more pronounced than I’d expected, though not in a bad way. They were just intensely banana-y, in a way that I couldn’t imagine a recipe intending.

I glanced over at Dad, who seemed to be having the same thoughts. We looked at Mom at the same time.

“How many bananas did this recipe call for?” He asked.

She took a moment to remember, then furrowed her forehead. “We didn’t have enough bananas, so I had to halve the amount it called for.”

“…Halve the amount?” I couldn’t even fathom what pancakes with double the banana would be like.

“Yeah. The recipe called for 3-4 cups of banana, and we only had 3 large bananas, which was 1 1/2 cups.”

What?

I picked up the recipe still on the counter, scanned the ingredients, and then began to giggle. “Mom,” I managed. “Not 3-4 cups. Just 3/4 cup of banana – you doubled the amount!”

We had a good laugh, but since the pancakes were delicious anyway, we didn’t dwell on the mishap. I only have two thoughts on the whole thing – first, it’s a good thing that this family loves bananas. Second, how unfair is it that I somehow manage to ruin any pancake I touch simply by following the recipe, but my mom can double an ingredient and end up with delicious pancakes? The mysteries of life.

And in all honesty, when we make these pancakes again, we will probably double the banana to 1 1/2 cups. They were just so good.

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December 16, 2009 at 9:16 pm 28 comments

Under the Wing of Erin Cooks – plus Triple Berry Frozen Yogurt


Do you know Erin, the beautiful blogger behind Erin Cooks? Yeah, silly question.

It seems as if April is my luckiest month ever. There was my 17th birthday, and my first Daring Bakers challenge. And, most unexpectedly, a slew of kind comments that leave me smiling the whole day. Only last month I blogged about how I knew no one would read 17 and Baking, and that was fine with me. What a birthday gift!

I was matched with Erin for the Adopt-a-Blogger #3 event hosted by Kristen of Dine & Dish, where new bloggers get an experienced blogger as a mentor. “Experienced” is quite the understatement… Erin’s been blogging for 10 years. Her beautiful photography and pleasant, accessible writing style have won her quite a large following.

Erin’s Heart Shaped Peppermint Patties

Her recipes, too, look amazing… Raised doughnuts, Peanut Butter Ice Cream with homemade white chocolate peanut butter cups, and her favorite Thick, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. But it’s not all sweet. Erin also cooks dinner, breakfast, and appetizers; she cooks healthy, she travels, she reviews.

Despite all this, though, she’s down to earth. She emailed me right away, full of helpful tips and kind encouragement without a trace of superiority. (She even blogs about her disasters, a fact that I love!) I strongly encourage you to check her out. She is a fabulous mentor and an excellent cook. Erin, thanks for all your help!

Now… what do you do with a giant bag of frozen berries?

Triple Berry Frozen Yogurt!

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May 2, 2009 at 12:09 am 35 comments

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake – 17 and Baking turns 17


When I was little, I used to remember birthdays by party themes and presents.

There was my fabulous pink themed party, with hot magenta and bubble gum pink stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling. The birthday where all the kids swung eagerly at a pinata, unable to crack it, forcing Dad to come to the rescue. And who could forget the birthday I was presented with my own Barbie bicycle, complete with sparkles on the handlebars?

But these days, I remember birthdays by the people and the food we celebrated with. The year my Pubah carried out a hamburger cake to my utter delight. Or the birthday cake decorated with plastic dancing princesses, which I still have in a box under my bed. Even the famous family mashed potatoes I’ve requested for every single birthday dinner of my life, since I can remember.

Last year, I invited two of my closest friends over and we made dinner: 3 different kinds of pasta from scratch, mixing and rolling out the dough right on the table. It was the perfect low-key sweet 16, memorable and intimate and tasty.

Turning 17 was a little different. It seemed less important, less of a “big deal,” and there were no balloons or real parties. The only celebratory thing I did was eat at Salty’s, a pricey and stunning restaurant (more on that later.) In fact, it felt like an average April day. But little things made it special… from my friends singing happy birthday at lunch to my beautiful birthday dinner, it was made even sweeter.

Click to read about dinner at Salty’s and how I assembled this showstopper chocolate cake of my dreams.

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April 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm 195 comments

Lime Tea Cakes with Raspberries

There’s a Goodwill by my school that we used to visit all the time. I never knew what to do once we got there, because I was never interested in any of the clothes. I’d look at the old VHS movies, the funny 90’s jewelry, and the once-worn spring dresses before I got bored. I’d sit in the comfiest looking sofa and wait until we could leave.

That was before I discovered the cooking aspect of Goodwill. Now I take longer than my mom to finish up because I have to check out every single cookbook on the shelf – they’re only a dollar each, it’s such a bargain! Some of them have been total disasters (like the Sweet and Sugarfree cookbook I thought sounded interesting) but others have been really excellent, like the Martha Stewart Healthy Quick Cook cookbook I found. Then I have to inspect all of the cooking supplies. I’ve bought a couple really great finds from Goodwill, including a new set of three nonstick springpans that I use all the time. I’ve bought interesting bundt pans, cute holiday shaped cake pans, and even some mini muffin tins.

The mini muffin tins kind of confused my mom, since they were so small. “Why would you make muffins that small? Those would be barely even a bite.” She kind of had a point, but I wanted them anyway. We both finally saw the greatness of mini muffins when I decided to try Deb’s raspberry-topped lemon muffins. Like most of my sweets I was planning to bring them to school for my friends to eat at lunch. The recipe only made 14 standard size muffins, which I suspected would not be enough. But Deb made 56 mini muffins out of the same amount of batter. The great thing about the mini muffins is that even if each person ends up eating less than a full muffin, they feel like they’ve had a lot, so everyone is satisfied. Plus, if someone doesn’t like it they don’t have to waste a whole muffin. Although that was definitely not a problem with these…

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April 4, 2009 at 4:19 pm 10 comments

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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