My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Brian’s Perfect Pancakes

1½ cups of a good, unbleached AP four (like King Authors)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of sugar
1¾ teaspoons of double-acting baking powder
1 large egg, room temperature
3 tablespoons of melted butter, cooled
¼ cup of buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup 2% milk, room temperature

Sift flour into a large glass bowl. Add salt, sugar and double-acting baking powder, whisk to combine and resift.

In a second bowl combine egg, butter, buttermilk and milk.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Quickly and gently combine using the largest spatula that you have. Smell your new mixture. Leave it uncovered at room temperature until the doughy pancake smell has doubled from its original smell, usually about five minutes.

Bring a skillet or large heavy pan, I prefer cast-iron, to a medium-high heat and melt enough butter for a generous coating. Turn oven to lowest temperature and place a cookie sheet with rack on the middle rack of the oven. Using a 1/3 measuring cup, scoop and pour the batter onto the hot pan. Flip, rotate and shuffle until the first batch has developed a light, even crust on all sides and then transfer to the rack in the oven. Because your pan is hot, the insides may not be fully cooked, this is okay as they will be finished in the oven for an evenly cooked pancake.

After finishing cooking each round of pancakes, add more butter and let it come to temperature before adding more batter. Spread the pancakes out evenly on the rack, making sure not to stack them if possible. Once you have cooked all of your pancakes, remove rack from the oven and leave let the pancakes rest for two minutes before transferring to plates. Add your favorite toppings, syrups or sugars and eat immediately.

• The sifting is important. Do not skip this step.
• Make sure that all liquid ingredients are at room temperature. This will make sure that are properly combined and the end mixture will develop evenly.
• If possible, slightly warm your plates in the oven. This will stop them from cooling the pancakes off the second that they are plated.
• Pour your syrup into a vessel with a large open top and heat in the microwave, occasionally stirring to make sure that it is evenly warmed.
• I prefer Grade B Maple Syrup. Grade B is a late season, medium amber syrup that has not been refined as much as the common Grade A syrup. It has a mapleier flavor without being as overwhelming as the dark amber varieties.
• For whole grain pancakes, substitute 1 cup of finely milled whole wheat flour and still use ½ cup of AP white. Increase to 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 cup of milk. Let sit for at least 7 minutes before cooking.
• Recipe can safely be doubled

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What’s the Matter with Arizona?

On Tuesday the Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill that directly targets minority studies meant to show the ethnic differences in history. This is on the coattails of the new Arizona immigration law in that encourages the police to target people on the basis of ethnic origin. The TV heads immediately sprang into action by either asking why Arizona has become so insatiably jingoistic or wholeheartedly supporting any and all measures – but that is what they do on every topic.

The real story is that we never learn from history. Every time that a minority immigrates to the country en masse during a time of economic hardship, the native population sees them as the reason for their difficulty. In reality, the new group is the solution to the problem. The massive Irish immigration to New England resulted in Hibernophobia, or hatred of the Irish. They were labeled as lawless addicts who took all of the low paying jobs away from good Christians. They were demonized to the point where businesses openly displayed signs that said “No Irish Need Apply.” But in the end, the Irish workforce created more jobs and a higher quality of life by added a fresh jolt a working class of people into a much needed economically stagnant society. Our open system is built on a constant influx of foreign laborers to bolster the previous proletariat.

What we are now seeing in Arizona is the same unfounded fear of a new group. The Arizonian people incorrectly assume that if they were to rid the Latinos from their area, they would somehow rebound economically; but this thought process is not complete. There is no reason for an economy to rebound by simply throwing out the cheapest workers because there is no great supply of jobs that the native population could then take. The jobs that the Latinos are doing will never pay enough for the home-grown population to continue their current quality of life. Moreover, the resources being taken by that new group are barely more than an offset of any poor population. Ridding Arizona of “illegals,” a very thinly veiled code word for Latinos, would only move out one poor minority for another.

The reason for this ethnic blame game is nothing more than laziness. The majority does not wish to be forced to work as hard as someone with everything to gain. They believe that their lineage paid for their position within our class system and they are happy to spend just as much energy fighting against proving their place in society as they would if they had to directly compete for the jobs in question. But this is how our system works – think of it as an initiation. Put up with our xenophobic nationalism masquerading and poorly placed patriotism and we’ll let you stay. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and we’ll beat them up for about a decade and let them fin. So next time you see a talking head, say Irish descendant Bill O'Reilly, ranting about the scourge of the newest immigrants to land on our shores, try to remember that in 40 years it could just as easily be a Bill Ortega ranting about the invading immigrants from South Africa. The story is always the same, only the last names change.