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Omnomicon

say it with me now, “om nom nom”

Jan-2-2011

greetings from 2011!

Posted by aleta under an aside, pure photography

Team Omnomicon wishes you a subdued but dignified new year from our respective armchairs.

dano's formal armchair portrait aleta's formal armchair portrait

Also, happy new year from this chair.

Posture.

Cheers!
Aleta & Dano
(obo that chair)

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I present to you: that eleventh hour, absolutely perfect finishing touch to your Halloween spread.

Once you’ve gone through caramel apples & popcorn balls, pumpkin bread/cookies/cupcakes/whoopie pies and cider donuts, it’s hard to be all that original without making something that looks like something else. Alas, the very concept of making a dessert that is appealing only insofar as its resemblance to a mummy’s finger or a cat’s litterbox is kind of like saying you would feed those things to your guests if only they were edible just because it’s Halloween. On the other hand is the risk of creating something that just doesn’t quite hit the mark. It’s bad enough that I have to explain my costume (look, I didn’t think Anne Boleyn was all that arcane a reference), to have to explain “See? They’re little ghosts” adds some serious insult to injury. And from a culinary perspective, it’s a little gimmicky and a little lazy and definitely trashy.

Despite the general tackiness of food-that-looks-like-something-else, when done well I can admire such a masterpiece for its cleverness. A couple years ago I came upon this idea somewhere (and if it was yours, please do tell).

The charismatic one.

Recognizable, right? It’s like a trick AND a treat all wrapped up in one adorable little package.

The last time I made these little guys I was sorely disappointed by a mushy final consistency to the dipping chocolate, so I took the time this year to learn how to properly temper chocolate at Cooking for Engineers (dot com). Theirs is a great article to consult for a broad discussion of methods and the science involved, and entire books are no doubt available on the subject. I will be detailing only as much as applies to this effort.

But first! Preparations are at hand. Ever shucked corn? Oh good, today you’ll be shucking Hershey Kisses.

Soon to be heads and ears.

You DO want to do this in advance of getting going with the chocolate, because it is way more of a pain in the ass to unwrap these as you go. You also want to sift through your giant pile of almond slices to pull out the pieces that are complete and have a nice look/size/shape to them. It seems obvious in retrospect, but at the time it didn’t seem as though so many of these slices would be so . . . unsuitable. Also, once the chocolate is on, it’s go time, and it’s not going to stop until you’re done.

Now drain the cherries,

cherries.

then pat them dry in a towel. I made a little hobo bindle with my kitchen towel and rolled them around in there to dab ‘em dry.

cherries.

Previously I was under the impression that tempering one’s chocolate was too difficult to attempt unless you were a chocolatier, figuring that even a chocolate that has seized still tastes pretty good, and as such never bothered. Turns out it’s not actually all that hard, though maybe I just had good luck today.

You will need a thermometer, but no super high heat candy thermometer necessary–a meat thermometer will do nicely. The easiest way to mess up your chocolate is to get water in it, which is why I’d avoid a rainy or otherwise humid day to take this on. So if you’re good on timing and equipment, let’s goOOOo!

Step 1: Make a double boiler.
Take a metal bowl with a lip and place it on top of a pot with 1″ water, like so.

For double the boil.

Step 2: Chop your chocolate.
I did not do this, but it would have helped melt everything more easily. One third is going in the pot and the rest is staying behind for later.

Step 3: Melt.
Put chocolate in bowl, set burner to medium high. Once the chocolate begins to melt, reduce heat to medium. Stir the whole time with a rubber spatula until the chocolate’s temperature is near 115 oF (46 oC) (for semisweet chocolate chips, if using milk chocolate or white chocolate 110 oF (43 oC))

Melt.

Step 4: Remove from heat
But leave the bowl in the pot for the next part.

Step 5: Seed.
Take the remaining ounce of chocolate and stir into the molten stuff. Stir continuously until temperature is between 88 oF and 90 oF (for semisweet chocolate chips, if using milk chocolate or white chocolate 86oF and 88 oF).

Seed.

And that’s tempering chocolate, ta da! Here’s how beautifully smooooove it looks.

Perfectly shiny brunette.

Keeping the bowl at an angle helps with the dipping process (i.e. there’s more to dip into and it holds its heat better).

Step 1
Step 2Step 3!

Lay out on parchment paper or wax paper.

Nothing special just yet...

Nothing special just yet...

Dab on a Kiss.

(he can't hear you)

And ears.

Well-tempered mice.

See how well-tempered my mice are? My, Aleta, you are positively . . . punning tonight, bahuffhuffhuff.

Well-tempered mice.

These little guys don’t look like much all stacked together on a plate, but I felt pretty clever sticking them on a cheese plate. Get it? Cuz they’re mice? Oh Martha Stewart, you have some counterculture competition coming your way.

Well-tempered mice.

Cute enough to make up for illustrating what in true practice would actually be quite disgusting. I’m calling it a win. When made lovingly, personalities will emerge. There’s the ambitious one.

The curious one.

The so-frugal-it’s-downright-stingy one.

The stingy one.

And the one with a really undeniably cute butt.

The one with a cute butt.

Chocolate Cherry Mice

Small batch (makes 25)

1 small jar Stem-On Maraschino Cherries (10oz; ~25 count)
1/3 bag Hershey Kisses (4oz; 25 total)
4oz chocolate (avoid chips if possible; semisweet, dark, or milk as desired)
50 almond slivers (you’ll need to pick through a lot to get this many, so I recommend starting with a large bag, at least a cup)

Large batch (makes 75, safer in terms of chocolate temper)

1 LARGE (10 oz, ~50 count) jar Stem-On Maraschino Cherries
1 small (16 oz, ~25 count) jar Stem-On Maraschino Cherries
1 bag Hershey Kisses (4oz; 75 total)
12oz chocolate (avoid chips if possible; semisweet, dark, or milk as desired)
150 almond slivers (start with at least 3 cups)

Equipment:
Metal or heatproof bowl with lip
Meat thermometer
Rubber spatula. Word on the internet is no metal, no wood.
A sunny, low-humidity day best tempers chocolate, but rainy day mice will be just as yummy if not as shiny.
Drain cherries, do not rinse. Place a handful at a time in a kitchen towel, craft into a bindle and shake around to absorb as much moisture as possible. Leave in towel for now.

Unwrap all Hershey kisses and set on a platter for easy access.

Sort through almond slices until you have two nicely shaped slices for each mouse’s pair of ears.

Line 1 – 3 cookie sheets or cutting boards with parchment paper or wax paper. They need to be able to fit in your fridge!

Chop chocolate, reserving about a third chopped pieces (1.25oz for batch of 25; 4oz for batch of 75). If using chocolate chips, no need to chop.

Make a double boiler by placing a bowl with a lip over a medium pot/saucepan with about a half inch of water. Set burner to medium high, and once the chocolate begins to melt, reduce to medium. Stir continuously with rubber spatula. As soon as you can see no more individual pieces, check the temperature, and continue to cook until it just enters the appropriate target. Err on the side of removing too soon if the temperature is still rising rapidly as it nears your target.

Dark/Semisweet: 115 oF (46 oC)
Milk Chocolate: 110 oF (43 oC)
White Chocolate: 110 oF (43 oC)

Turn off stove, remove bowl from pot and place on a towel to absorb extra moisture. Add in remaining chocolate and stir constantly until temperature is at tempering range:

Dark/Semisweet: 88 oF – 90 oF (31 oC – 32 oC)
Milk Chocolate: 86 oF – 88 oF (30 oC – 31 oC)
White Chocolate: 80 oF – 82 oF (27 oC – 28 oC)

Holding stem, dip each cherry in the liquid chocolate, then set on parchment/wax paper. Set your mice about two inches apart to allow space for the Hershey Kiss and a little fiddling, and so no tails are caught in his neighbor’s warm chocolate.

Once all cherries are dipped, and starting at the beginning again, set a Hershey Kiss in front of each cherry to make a head. It helps to rest it on the cherry at an angle, as though the mouse is looking up. Aesthetically, an upturned nose is cuter.

Once all cherries are headed, and starting at the beginning again, stick one almond slice on either side of the head to make ears. Try not to touch the wet chocolate, but you can use the Hershey Kiss and the tail to help position these just so. If the chocolate is not tacky enough, wait a couple minutes and try again, but be careful not let it get too cool.

And finally, once your mice can hear you, set platters in fridge for 1-4 hours to firm up. To remove, seize the mouse by its tail. Squeak!

Serve on a cheese platter for maximum effect. Really, it’s so adorably cute.

Chocolate Cherry Mice

So about a lifetime ago (and to be fair, a hamster lifetime) I posted about how to buy herbs and spices in bulk because it’s way the hell more affordable. If you’ve ever bought your spices this way, you may have encountered the situation where you just don’t know how much to buy. It’s hard to eyeball about how much basil would fill a jar, and then you introduce things like whole cloves into the equation and my eyes glaze over outright. What can I say, I’m not a geometry girl.

That in mind, I sat down last week and weighed out a reference for next time, lest my poor eyes once again endure the aforementioned abuse. The weights indicated pertain to the larger containers like these, except where indicated by (sm).

Spices!

Spice and Herb Weights
(serviceable quantities, approximately 1 average grocery store jar)

Spice/Herb Grams Ounces
Allspice (sm) 25 g 0.88 oz
Alum (sm) 53 g 1.87 oz
Basil 10 g 0.35 oz
Bay Leaves g 0 oz
Caraway Seed (sm) 49 g 1.73 oz
Cayenne Powder 51 g 1.8 oz
Chili Powder (Chipotle) 56 g 1.98 oz
Cinnamon (ground) 42 g 1.48 oz
Cinnamon Stick 8 sticks g - oz
Cloves (ground, sm) 25 g 0.88 oz
Cloves (whole, sm) 30 g 1.06 oz
Coriander Seed 26 g 0.92 oz
Cream of Tartar 74 g 2.61 oz
Crushed Red Pepper 37 g 1.31 oz
Cumin Powder 48 g 1.69 oz
Dill Seed (sm) 24 g 0.85 oz
Fennel Seed 44 g 1.55 oz
Garlic Powder 62 g 2.19 oz
Marjoram Leaves (sm) 5 g 0.18 oz
Mustard Powder 48 g 1.69 oz
Mustard Seed (sm) 39 g 1.38 oz
Nutmeg (ground) 51 g 1.8 oz
Oregano 14 g 0.49 oz
Paprika 44 g 1.55 oz
Peppercorn, Black 60 g 2.12 oz
Poppy Seed 60 g 2.12 oz
Poultry Seasoning 40 g 1.41 oz
Sage (ground, sm) 17 g 0.6 oz
Sesame Seed 51 g 1.8 oz
Star Anise 19 g 0.67 oz
Thyme (sm) 10 g 0.35 oz

Happy weighing!

Keep your receipts!

Welcome, October! People are already handing out free candy, and won’t stop until next year. And hey, why not? Bikinis are at least nine months away (assuming it stops snowing before May gets here), nothing’s in season except squash, and it’s cold—if we can get the kitchen toasty, hopefully some of the heat will drift into the living room and combat the chill emanating from the ill-conceived window door.

What I’m saying is, “It’s time to start baking again.”

I think the Worcester County Homemakers would agree, so I consulted their 1961 tome.

homemakers do it...at home

As per usual, I have an opinion.

I heart Worcester

It’s true: I do so heart Worcester. I’m just so-so on Abraham Lincoln, whose upper torso I found a bit out of place, but a mere moment of googling uncovered a visit to Worcester on September 12, 1848, earning him permanent fixture in the minds of Worcester housewives, even a hundred years later.

Amid such white trash classics as “Clamburgers” and “Baked Stuffed [with onions, carrots, shortening, day old bread, and evaporated milk] Hot Dogs” I came upon a most enchanting proposal.

butterscotch-pecan biscuits

Butterscotch! Pecans!! Biscuits!!! Awww, and I bet they’re gonna be so goddamn cute too! Let’s do it. I drag out this clumsy atrocity for its sole function.

butterscotch-pecan biscuits

I love biscuits, but usually have to resign myself to drop biscuits because I hate kneading, likely because I suck at it. These, however, were extremely manageable, and are my new favorite thing to whip up for no reason.

circle circle

The biscuits are going just inside muffin pan cups, so scrounge about for whatever cylinder you have about that’s closest to the right size. In this case, I used this promotional wine glass that came free with the only wine tasting I’ve ever attended.

Inelegant uses for elegant items.

Get a little mis en place going strong…

polka dot dot dot

Now I did follow the recipe for this part. This time. Next time I will not be mixing the butter with the brown sugar because as I quickly discovered it doesn’t exactly make a suspension, and the levels in each cup were . . . variable. But then Math told me the good news: it works out to 2 tsp of melted butter and 2 tsp brown sugar in each cup, making the next part easy.

Just before starting on the dough, set the oven to 425o, cut 2 tsp (2/3 tbsp) into each cup and put it in the oven for a little bit. Keep an eye on that, you want the butter just melted and not sizzling. Once your biscuits are cut and ready, measure a solid 2 tsp of brown sugar into each cup and stir. I like using chopsticks for these kinds of things, and they’re also easy to clean/store.

I also discovered only 38 solid pecan halves after dropping $5, so instead of 5 in each cup, I settled for 3, which arrange much more nicely than I imagine 5 might.

almost like little abstract plants

Set biscuits atop each cup and bake for fit-teen minutes.

putting the bisc in biscuit

Now because I stopped to snap that, I really missed out on some delicious butterscotch that cooled onto the pan [that I later scraped out for a midnight snack], so unless you’re f’blogging, pop them out toute de suite. I promise they will not be as syrupy as you expect, but a little bit of parchment will go a long way just in case.

Such brass!

And then eat them. Eat them as soon as they will let you.

and now they're arrows.

Butterscotch-Pecan Biscuits
adapted from Worcester County Homemakers Cook Book (1961, Home Department Advisory Council, Worcester County Extension Service, Worcester, Mass.)

1 stick butter, sliced into 2 tsp (2/3 tbsp) bits
2 cups flour (248g)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c cold chopped butter (5 1/3 tbsp)
3/4 c milk
1/2 c packed brown sugar (50g)
36 whole pecan halves (1 c)

Drop 2 tsp butter in each cup of a muffin pan and put into oven as it preheats to 425o. Keep checking as you work on the biscuits, and pull out as soon as it is *just* barely melted; do not let it bubble.

Squizzle flour, baking powder and salt in food processor real quick in lieu of the traditional sifting. If traditional, poor, cheap or have a tiny kitchen, sift into bowl. Cut/pulse in the 1/3 c butter, and once you have coarse pebbles, add milk, work into a ball, and turn onto a floured board. Knead 10-12 times, roll out and cut 12 circles-cum-biscuits (see wine glass notes above).

Your butter should be melted by now, so measure 2 tsp brown sugar into each cup and stir with a chopstick. Plop a biscuit atop each cup, bake 15 minutes.

Flip onto a cutting board covered with parchment immediately upon removal from the oven. Let cool and just try to resist.

cairn.

Jun-11-2010

coffee

Posted by aleta under bildungsroman, the comfort foodie

I started my first professional job three days after turning 22, a little naive, a little rough around the edges, not even technically having even graduated college, so the professional workplace was, well, like going to high school again: everyone else seemed to know exactly what to do except for me, and I always felt like I was missing something, but nobody could really explain it to me.

Every morning, coworkers arrived just before 8:30, all with that one accessory, the must-have, the cannot-get-to-work-without (kinda) . . . a cup of coffee. I didn’t get it, this was like, American Eagle cable sweaters all over again, except instead of every girl having “her color,” everybody had their order, to a tee, and always had a store or even specific location of preference.

Sarah had a medium Dunkies. Amanda had something that smelled froofy from one of those drive-through parking lot shacks. Inexplicably, someone would show up with Starbucks they picked up on their way to work in suburban, nearly rural New Hampshire. Michael and Ken hated the place downstairs and would actually walk across to the Cumbie’s for gas station coffee.

I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand the orders, why the gal I was carpooling with would stop on our way to work, even though it would be cutting it close, what the physical size difference was between a 20oz and a 32oz. I could never estimate a price on an order, and I had to read a menu for like 20 minutes to figure out what I wanted, had no idea why everybody loved Starbucks. All in all it was embarrassing. “Eh, I just don’t like coffee, I guess,” I would tell people. Shrug. Maybe order an iced chai. Save myself the anxiety and weird brand of social awkwardness that belongs to smokers and people who don’t drink alcohol.

So I’m really only four years past that now, but at some point along the way . . . it changed. And I only recently realized that there is this world I’ve created for myself. A routine, ritual, comfort, almost a vice, but kinda not really, a way to remind myself it’s a new day.

In this new world, I have to work a visit to Dunkin’s into the first half hour of driving ANYWHERE. And I know the closest in all four directions, including contingency Dunkin’ Donutses if the first had a burnt batch. I know the difference in price from store to store ($2.61 here, $2.72 there…). I have a favorite Dunkies, but at my second choice, the guy at the drive through window calls me “sweetie” and always says “see you tomorow!”

I can tell when the drive-through line will be faster than walking in, and with a glance tell you if my coffee needs more milk or they errantly put in skim. I’m an expert, but it’s so narrow a science that nobody could possibly care. The whole rigamarole is completely rote, and yet so little effort just makes my day before it’s even really taken off.

“Can I get a large iced hazelnut, extra milk, 5 splenda? That’ll be all!”

I’ve said that easily 360 times over the last year, if not more. I think I’m close to the perfect ordering process: size; iced/hot; flavor; milk content; sugar content. That particular order seems to meet the most success.

So if I’m ever late to meet up with you and arrive, iced coffee in hand, please don’t think I was dallying; that’s like showing up with a coat on, you wouldn’t fault me for being late because I stopped to put on a coat, now would you?

Besides, you understand.

I’m a coffee person now.

 


Since it’s that season, Dano, Patrick & I all moseyed on down to the ice cream stand one recent Friday evening. We arrived and there were families, a demographic with whom I have little interaction, so it’s always a little weird as I have not been routinely around children since, say, I was a child.

As we waited in line, a toddler was playing with a toy ambulance that zipped along and made this awful tinny shrieky ambulance noise. And his parents, god bless them, were so patient, letting him make his way from the window to the picnic tables, one foot at a time, one shrieky noise at a time. And I laughed at each irritating step of the way, not because it was endearing, but rather, if I failed to put the situation in the space of bemused tachment, I might have slapped that goddamn thing out of his fucking hand.

After procuring a sundae and a bench upon which to enjoy it, I continued judging local families like the asshole I truly am. Some kids showed up and began jumping off of this rough 4′ cement wall, which is no skin off my back, except these terribly negative Mom Ideas kept popping into my head. Like “that kid is totally going to slam the front of his teeth into that wall,” “that girl is going to jump on top of that other girl’s ice cream cup, breaking her hand in the process, and there will be a *Scene*,” and “we should probably get the hell out of here before the traffic picks up, i.e. an ambulance is blocking the exit.” These appraisals were hardly from a caring place, oh no, to the contrary, they had more to do with the annoyance that any one of these tragedies might cause for myself and my party, which makes me a bad person, but whatever, I never claimed to be otherwise. Meanwhile, Shrieky Ambulance Kid is about 20 yards away ignoring his ice cream and inducing awkwardly manic giggling through clenched teeth on my part.

I would have been concerned about parents noticing my obviously shitty attitude toward these kids, except that some hipster rolled in wearing a shirt that said something with the word FUCK in it, so they were all busy gasping and pointing it out to their significant others rather than watching their own kids.

wwwWWWWWAAAAAAaaaaahhhhh*Shrieky Ambulance*wwwWWWWWAAAAAAaaaaahhhhh
heheheomfgI’mgonnakillthatfuckinkidahahhahahahaha

Just keeping you in the moment, there.

Upon the visit’s conclusion, I pulled out of the parking lot and noticed a guy sitting in a gold Corvette who I can only assume is a pedo because a) he drives a gold Corvette, b) he was eating his ice cream cone alone in his car, but most importantly c) he craned his neck to watch a van full of children being trucked off to the next amusement, licking his ice cream (presumably) longingly as they departed. Alternately, I suppose he could really be regretting how his mullet has held him back from having someone to make children with all these years, or stalking his ex and the son he has no legal rights to see, but the gold Corvette makes a strong statement in favor of my original evaluation.

And that, right there, was the icing on the cake, that cake being “If, for whatever reason, we are unable to have children, I’m pretty sure I can live with that with minimal irritation.” At least that way I won’t be tempted to actively destroy the psyche of some progeny who just wants to play while waiting for his ice cream. And as a bonus, I will never have to worry about pedophiles fucking with my chi.

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I sent this list to the grocery store with a really helpful dude and this is how he wrote it down.

berries
1 per milk gallon
frosted mini wheat big bite
ham slices not from deli organic
cinnamon rolls tube low fat nonnegotiable
whole bean whatever-creme 1/2 lbs
fat free 1/2 & 1/2 pint
bananas green tips (4)
danish brie or lowfat
munster cheese
pretty pears (2)
pretzel crisps not ritz brand
cheese for omelet from next to deli

Okay, no cues from me, but what would you be making with this list for brunch, late night or dinner party? Remember all the stuff you already have at home like flour, sugar, cottage cheese (or any dairy for that matter), tortilla chips, salsa, oatmeal, freezer-burned bacon (like really unsalvageable, really), and never forget to have a midnight snack like a cheese and grape platter, or if you’re earlier eaters, about 4 hours past dinner, provided guests are still present.

My cooking as of late has been largely experimental and I follow more traditional patterns of entertaining, like always having half of a bottle of wine in the fridge for when guests first arrive, or after grating the cheese, serving the remainder with crackers about halfway through preparation of the main course. Making a non-meat dish as an alternative to any meats served on Fridays during Lent (cream of tomato soup saved me that first night!). Not everything has to be from scratch, and it’s been a priority to serve more than a casserole.

Share your menu. Bonus points if you take this list to the store and include photos of the results.

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Q: What happens when you instruct your dental hygienist little sister and an Army trained cook to figure out how to make a ravioli casserole?

A:

Nothing like a ravioli casserole on a saturday night.

Magic.

Nothing like a ravioli casserole on a saturday night.

Happens.

Nothing like a ravioli casserole on a saturday night.

Feb-17-2010

whoops

Was totally going to post all the pictures I got of the Recipe Round-Robin tastetests, and then I published before I remembered that I was going to do that. So uh, whoops.

In order to save myself some work, though, I made an Omnomicon Flickr pool for RRR pictures and also if you happen to maybe try one of my recipes . . . I’d love to see how they come out for you! Will also help me diagnose problems if you’re not sure why it didn’t come out (it comes up not infrequently).

Here are some of the wicked sweet photos fellow Omnometrists had to share. I’m seriously impressed! Click to see bigger photos, and feel free to add your Omnomicon-related photos to the pool!

carey - pink.pcakes.2miriam - pink pancakes3tyler - Harvest Wheat Pancakeskelsey - PinkPancakes-Pancakekelsey - MrsNelsons-Pancaketyler - Dad's Buttermilk Wheat Pancakeshailey - harvest pancakeskeri - griddle pancakes 1
janice - pouring harvest pancakes

Let’s talk pancakes. Finally. It’s been a spectacularly shitty couple weeks and I’d like nothing more than to discuss this little contest thing we got going on…

Your typical high-bokeh pancake stack.

I was impressed with the variety of pancake secrets revealed by the recipes submitted. One called for specifically, a griddle. Another sweetly suggested a few drops of red food colouring to charm your favourite little girl with pink pancakes. Yet another with the admonition that “this isn’t rocket science, people” and that you can add milk or yogurt until, y’know, the batter looks right. On a side note, I’d like to confirm with a rocket scientist that this ISN’T rocket science because I really wouldn’t know, I’m just a data analyst.

And then there was the winner: Blender Pancakes. Not only did this recipe call for a blender, but also cottage cheese, specifically, creamy small curd cottage cheese, which I’ve never had occasion to search for but AM IMMEASURABLY INGRATIATED TO DANIEL because hola crap, is this stuff good! I didn’t find anything specifically labeled creamy, but I did find some Vermont Style, which fits the description and makes me want to eat buckets of cottage cheese every night for dinner. And I’ll be making some kind of dip too. Ooo, ooo, and putting grapes in it. And so on in that fashion, at least until the cost of greek yogurt comes down.

Buy this. And eat it by the bucket.

Also, Cabot Creamery is relatively local, in that it would be easily within-state distance if I lived in the midwest which, thankfully, I do not. Our states are small up here, but scrappy, and Vermont proudly produces cheeses of all varieties that make us proud to be New Englanders, because most of us would be considerably less proud to be Wisconsiners.

Daniel would have been the proud new owner of one snazzy-looking and totally kitsch Automatic Pancake Maker, which hails from the era of scripty diner-writing, if it hadn’t turned out to be um, nonfunctional actually. Not completely nonfunctional, but it did leak batter all about and made a terrific mess. Thankfully, I had a backup Automatic Pancake Maker that is better designed, so I used that instead. I would argue that “pancake dispenser” would be a better term as this thing is neither automatic nor self-sufficient in making pancakes, but the marketing department never consulted me.

More free advice: don't bother. All looks. Pretty useless.

Even the better dispenser is not really meant for such a thin batter. I cite as evidence what happens with a thin batter in an automatic pancake maker when the user is attempting to photograph it as well. That thing practically barfed up the hugest pancake I’ve ever unintentionally made.

Ever seen a pancake barfed out? Here you go.

In trying to avoid this from happening again, I ended up with some interesting modern art kidney-shaped pancakes with holes in them, in addition to a stack of pancakes where not a single one is the same size as any other. Despite their size variance, they did remain more-or-less round, and certainly more than when I try to use other pancake dispensing techniques, so I’ll chalk this gadget up as a moderate success.

Warhol's pancake delight.

I’m kinda happy that the process is so simple, thus letting me ramble on and on about rocket scientists, cottage cheese varieties and products that failed to catch the public’s imagination for obvious reasons. The process is basically “blend all this stuff and then make yourself some pancakes out of it.” That’s it. I like that these are skinny, high-protein little treats that are almost a pancake-crepe hybrid. No leavening, but still a lighter-than-rubbery texture given how thin they are, which can be attributed to the whippiness of egg whites in a blender. I like a good skinny pancake m’self, though they do not accommodate blueberries very well . . . but no reason you can’t throw a handful in the blender.

For real, best cottage cheese ever.

The glow of yolks.

Another nice thing about these is how quick it is to accumulate a stack. About a minute a side and tada! Pancake. I used my electric griddle because um, it’s awesome, and even though it isn’t the best-ever griddle, it’s well worth the $20. This will not be the last you see of this thing.

Pollock pancake.

Even though I’m a syrup dipper, it’s not as pretty as catching a little drop of syrup glistening from a stack of pancakes, so I did that. For my art. I suffer for it, you see.

The classic syrup drip. Beautiful every time.

And I call this one “Pancake Sunrise,” despite the fact that it was photographed around 2am and would have been inedible by sunrise.

Pancake sunrise, 2am wednesday morning.

The crepey texture aids this little photographic feat, bee-tee-dubs. See?

Cut right through.

Way to go, Daniel. You win.

Blender Pancakes
courtesy of Daniel and 50 tastebuds’ taste test efforts

Combine in a blender:
1 c small curd cream-style cottage cheese
4 medium or large eggs
1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/4 t salt
1/8 c melted butter
1/8 c canola oil
1/2 c skim or 2% milk
1/2 t vanilla
Whirl at high speed 1 minute. Grease griddle thoroughly before cooking.

Serves 3 as main dish.

Always make the first pancake right in the middle of the griddle at the hottest part. It will get bubbles as any good pancake should but don’t let that be your only guide — you have to keep trying to turn it up at the edge to make sure its cooking right. The key is to flip it as soon as you can. Hopefully this occurs at the point that its golden brown. If it takes more than a minute or so to cook, turn up the heat! If it is too dark when it sets up enough to flip, then turn it down. Temperature variations on the griddle are not your friend.

Welcome to the pancake party.

Don’t you want nothing more than pancakes now?? If so, I’ve done my job.

nutrition summary (1/3rd batch): 390 calories, 26g fat (yikes!), .6g fiber, but 20g protein; ~ 10 weight watchers points

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