I’ve been thinking about fables lately—those short, sweet stories with a moral tacked onto the end? One of Aesop’s tells about a boy who, reaching into a tall jar with a wide base of hazelnuts, grabs a large handful, greedy to bring the lot to his mouth. But, when his tightened fist won’t fit back up through the container’s slender neck, he bursts into tears and panic, having imprisoned his clenched fingers inside a jar full of hazelnuts, where the solution is as simple as releasing his grip.
I’ve heard that monkeys do this in real life. In tests, they supposedly leave their fists inside the jars, indefinitely, unwilling to release the nuts but also anxious about being caught in the jar. And I am fascinated. If I’m honest, it’s because I think they sound like me. Aesop’s intended moral was simple: Do not attempt too much at once; but mine would be more complex: You have got to let go and trust That Which Is Greater—because that is faith, and, because gripping things tightly doesn’t really make them yours anyway.
I hinted before at some upcoming big decisions/changes in the works around here, and, while I have nothing substantial or concrete to report, there have, slowly, been movements towards change—the loosening of my grip, as it were—and that is something. I almost rented a new apartment I loved; I’ve been pursuing some new writing opportunities; and I’ve been daydreaming a lot about what, in all of this, will matter 50 years from now.
Of course there has been food, too. That goes without saying. But what with all the change-seeking also taking my attention, I am very behind on telling you about it.
For one thing, there were these pancakes. I made them for a late breakfast on Memorial Day, when my brother was visiting and before we had a late lunch of fried chicken at a fast-food restaurant because neither of us owns or operates a grill. I’d seen them on Eat Make Read as a stack of small, silver-dollar-sized circles, topped with jam and butter, filled with coconut and citrus, and when I woke up late Monday morning, after a previous night by a bonfire in the woods, they sounded perfect.
This is what I’ve decided about pancakes: I love them. They are as dear to me as the parts of my life I try so hard to hold onto (though, happily, with pancakes, there’s no letting go required).
And these pancakes are really lovely, sweetened with the tart acidity of orange zest and juice, filled with a more sophisticated texture that highlights bits of shredded coconut. I tried them three ways—with jam, with syrup, with butter on its own—and I liked them best with butter, smoothed on while they are still hot, melted into the cake. But tell me if you find your own wonderful way to enjoy them. While I’m learning to let go of things, I may as well start with how I like my pancakes, right? One step at a time.
Orange Coconut Silver Dollar Pancakes
Adapted from Eat Make Read
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, plus more for the skillet
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and coconut. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the milk, egg, butter, vanilla and orange juice. Add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Fold in the orange zest.
Heat a little butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once it’s melted, add a little bit of batter to the pan to test. Then, when the pan’s ready, put as many small, one-Tablespoon-sized dollops onto the skillet as will fit.
Let cook for about two minutes or until golden, then flip and let cook for another two. Top with jam or syrup or butter, or, you know, whatever you’d like, and enjoy!
Makes about 24 pancakes.