The brown armchair in my living room has become the scapegoat for everything that is wrong with my life. It’s not a bad-looking chair, really. It has a nice shape and swivels around in a circle. The nubby brown fabric, however, hangs onto dog hairs for dear life. It will soon be a sweater chair. The longer I sit on my couch and stare down the sweater chair, the more I despise it. It must go.
I’m going on about the chair because last week’s pantry makeover was followed by a borderline obsessive-compulsive fall cleaning spree. I’ve gone through every belonging I’ve stuffed in this place and filled my trunk with junk destined for goodwill. It had to be done.
The sheer volume of stuff that I own had been weighing on my psyche. The state of my living quarters is representative of my state of mind, so I’ve felt extra scatterbrained as all the visible projects have been calling for my attention. I’m finally feeling better now that I’ve cleared out some space.
As nice as it is to keep stuff around in case I need it someday, there’s also the burden of ownership, of upkeep. Do I really need a whole box full of mystery cords or a tin of my grandmother’s thimbles? No and yes. I’m also in the process of sprucing up my decor, which includes replacing the brown hand-me-down armchair. I wanna be a grown-up! With grown-up furniture! Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Sifting through all my things has made me nostalgic, too. The old newspaper wrapped around a vintage ceramic Santa Clause smelled like my grandmother Mimi’s house. One whiff transported me from my bedroom in Kansas City back in time to Mimi’s kitchen in small-town Oklahoma. Sleepy eyed, I pattered across the cool laminate flooring as the smell of bacon filled the air. Mimi smiled and poured Welch’s grape juice into a little glass cup with dinosaurs on it. My favorites.
Pancakes remind me of my dad. Every time my mom went out of town, my little brothers and I got to eat pancakes for dinner. He always turned it into a silly display of fatherly strength, whipping the Bisquick batter so fast we could hardly see the whisk. And over the past week, every time I check the news, I hear my dad’s exasperated voice at the dinner table. “Can’t we all just get along?”
These pumpkin pancakes have sentimental potential. They’re flavored with warming spices and made hearty with oat flour, which you can easily make out of old-fashioned oats (see notes). I often hear that the base recipe for these orange cakes, my gluten-free banana oat pancakes, yields your all-time favorite pancakes. That’s quite a compliment. Dare are I suggest that the pumpkin version is even better?
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup milk of choice
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter), melted
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1 small lemon, juiced)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup oat flour (see notes for how to make your own oat flour out of old-fashioned oats)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin puree, milk, coconut oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. (If your coconut oil goes back to its solid state like mine did at this point, just warm the mixture for short 20 second bursts in the microwave, stirring between each, until it is melted again.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
- Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. With a big spoon, stir just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Do not overmix! Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.
- Heat a heavy cast iron skillet/non-stick pan over medium-low heat, or heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil the surface of your pan with coconut oil, butter or cooking spray. If you're using a non-stick electric griddle like mine, you might not need any oil at all.
- Once the surface of the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on it, pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan. Let the pancake cook for about 3 minutes, until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cake.
- Once the underside is lightly golden, flip it with a spatula and cook for another 90 seconds or so, until golden brown on both sides. You may need to adjust the heat up or down at this point.
- Serve the pancakes immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven.
Gluten-free oats: Be sure to purchase certified gluten-free oat flour or certified gluten-free old-fashioned oats if you need these pancakes to be gluten free.
To make oat flour: Pour one cup of old-fashioned oats (do not use quick cooking oats!) into a food processor and process until it is ground well. One cup before and after grinding measures just about the same, believe it or not! That's a fun little tip I picked up from the King Arthur cookbook.
Preparation tips: This whole grain batter is thicker than most, so it's more difficult to gauge when the pancakes are ready to flip. I learned that it's easier to go by the timer: set it for for 3 minutes for the first side, then flip and wait another 90 seconds for the other side to finish. The time will vary depending on your temperature setting, but that's about the time it should take for pancakes that are fully cooked and golden on each side.
Freeze it: These pancakes freeze well. (I've never met a pancake that doesn't.)
Update 10/6/13: Thanks to your feedback, I have reduced the amount of pumpkin from 1 1/4 cups to 1 cup. My pancakes came out great with the initial amount, but I've tried it again with the reduced amount and believe that it will yield more consistent results.