Sunday, 26 October 2014

Brunch for superstars

It's half term here in Yorkshire. The concept of half term confused me when I first moved here from Canada - only 6 weeks of school and already a holiday?  2 weeks as well at Christmas and Easter? Geez, those Brit kids are lucky slackers.  But then I realised to my horror that their summer break was only 6 weeks long. Shudder.  For someone used to 10 week summers entirely free from the drudgery of homework and classrooms it seemed cruel. How could you feel properly free with school looming over you.

Anyway, here the terms are about 12 weeks long, give or take. Six weeks then a week off in October, February and late May, then the rest of term until Christmas, Easter or late July sets them free again.  Once I got used to it I rather liked the rhythm of it. As a parent I love it - regular holiday time with the kids, able to relax and enjoy their company. I'd far rather have them here than in school.

One of the pleasures of the start of the holidays is feeling at leisure. We don't have to cram as much into a weekend, so we can have a lazy breakfast of French toast or eggs and sausages. I fancied making something new to start our languorous start of GMT - the best part of British Summer Time coming to an end. I'd seen a recipe on The Guardian's website called Breakfast of Champions: Rosa Parks' Peanut Butter Pancakes.

Discovered written on an envelope amongst the civil rights heroine's papers, it combined lots of things we love in our house. Pancakes! Easy recipes! Peanut butter!  What's not to totally love?

NB - peanut butter is wonderful stuff.  I don't mean the healthy, wholefood stuff; I want Skippy, the vastly processed peanut butter I'd had a kid. I never understand why so many people in the UK are resistant to it.  Or even worse  - spread butter on the bread before the peanut butter.  Seriously, that can happen.  My in-laws were awful for doing it and it took years for them to drop the habit.  It's like eating pizza with a knife and fork.

The recipe calls for 150g of plain flour, 2 tbs of baking powder, 2 tbs of sugar and a bit of salt to be sifted into a bowl.  In a jug, beat together 1 egg, 100g smooth peanut butter and 300ml of milk.  Because peanut butter is gloopy and milk isn't, I beat the PB and the egg together into a slack-ish liquid before stirring the milk in. They combined really well, and my concerns of blobs of PB floating in a jug of milk were unfounded.

Anyway, mix wet ingredients into dry and let sit on one side for 10 minutes.  Then fry blobs of batter in butter to make small American style pancakes.  I used a serving spoon as a measure and got nearly 20 pancakes.

They were LOVELY.  Miss B went for the traditional PB&J approach and spread them with raspberry jam.  Zach, Mark and I went for maple syrup.  I'd have sliced banana on them if we'd had any to hand.  I know from experience that peanut butter and sliced banana go beautifully on French toast, so I'm sure it would be ace.

Luke... well, Luke marches to the beat of his own drum. Lemon curd is his favourite spread by far.  Rather than branch out, he insisted his lemon curd/peanut butter pancake combination was delicious. However, he didn't join the others in mithering for extras. I think he'll opt for chocolate spread when I make them next time.

Once we'd finished all the pancakes we all headed outside to get the garden ready for winter.  The kids were absolute stars - helping with weeding, pruning, lawn mowing and clearing up. I cleared out and scrubbed down the polytunnel and did the winter sowing while Mark and the kids cleared the raised beds, top dressed the currant patch and netted off the veg beds from cats.  A lovely big empty raised bed looks suspiciously like a litter tray to the local mogs, so we need to keep them out.

Laundry done, shopping sorted, cakes in the oven and the early sunset definitely noticeable, we're feeling all tucked in and cosy.  It's a nice way to welcome Autumn in.

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