Why do we love cookbooks?
Because the photographs make us dream. Cookbooks also give us hope that we can produce chef-quality dishes without being an expert. They give us confidence. They help us learn. They take us by the hand and show the way long enough so that we gain assurance and eventually walk our own path, perhaps like the child who learns the way home from school on her own until she no longer needs to hold a guiding hand.
Like this child, also, as we become familiar with the road to take, we also become curious about the many paths encountered along the way. The urge to explore further is irresistible. We want to discover new territory, new fragrances. We reach for a hand again. Time for new instructions; a new cookbook. We are more advanced explorers now, able to tackle increasingly challenging terrain.
Inevitably, like explorers, even as our forefathers came to this land, arriving first on its shores and pressing forward inland, curious to know what they might find, so can we not resist further exploration once we begin the expand the map of our culinary knowledge. This expansion begins the moment we lay eyes on the first page of the first recipe book we ever own. The imagination is swept away in that instant, and the senses awakened, every one of them: sight, touch, taste, smell, even hearing, for is not the sound of softly simmering stew exquisite?
Like hiking gear that is used year after year in all sorts of weather and terrain conditions, the cookbook shows the wear of time, but never fails to provide the comfort we seek. It is reliable, always, even with ravaged page corners and stains. The well-worn cookbook tells a story of exploration; even self-discovery.
The cookbook, then, is the ultimate guide. It teaches us how to turn edibles into sustenance that feeds body, soul and imagination. The cookbook is a road map and cooking is a journey on a path that never ceases to delight. Even once we know a recipe by heart, there is immense pleasure in repeating the process over and over. Opening the cookbook, is a sacred ritual.
Since today is National Pancake Day, it is only fitting to conclude with a batch of Pancakes.
Apple Pancakes with Cider Syrup
For this easy recipe, us any pancake mix of your choice. I like the Hodgson Mill Buckwheat Pancake mix.
Ingredients for 12 pancakes
2 cups pancake mix of your choice
1 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup grated apple
1 apple, thinly sliced
Ingredients for cider syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup cider
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine pancake ingredients (except the sliced apple) and pour 1/4 cup of combined ingredients onto griddle or in pan (depending on your preferred method). Begin making the pancakes as the syrup cooks, or make them after it is done.
For the cider syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir in cider until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring frequently (approx. 10 min). Reduce heat to low. Continue cooking 3 to 5 more minutes, stirring a couple of times. Stir in butter and lemon juice. Ready. Serve warm over pancakes. Garnish with sliced apple.