Sunday, November 11, 2012
My brother's pancakes
There's a lot that I don't know about my brother Joe.
How he came to take up the game of golf has always mystified me. Where he learned to handicap thoroughbred racing so expertly I have never entirely understood either. What allowed him to believe, albeit briefly and very early this past spring, that the Mets might have a respectable 2012 season? That I shall never know.
Until a few days ago I also had no idea what an astoundingly good pancake maker my brother is. It has been more than a week since I cleaned my last plate of Joe's crisp and fluffy breakfast treats and still I am thinking about them. A lot.
Of the five days that I stayed with my brother in Queens recently he cooked me his "famous pancakes" twice.
Hell, I didn't even know that he had a famous pancake.
Naturally I had to find out the secret to my new favorite breakfast entree and so in between stacks I asked Joe to explain, slowly, so that I could commit the recipe to paper.
"Easy," my brother said, dropping a fresh slab of butter onto a red-hot pan. "One cup Aunt Jemima pancake mix, three-quarters of a cup of milk, an egg, and about two tablespoons of olive oil."
"That's it," Joe said pouring another three pancakes' worth of his mix into the sizzling-hot butter. "Oh, and be sure to use an electric mixer. Makes a big difference."
I wondered whether my brother was holding out on me, keeping his famous pancake recipe to himself. The olive oil wasn't exactly what you'd expect to find listed on the recipe panel of a mass-market dry mix box. But could it really propel Jemima to such greatness? After all, these pancakes were dissolve-in-your-mouth extraordinary.
After a few days of pondering, and an unsuccessful attempt to recreate Joe's perfect pancakes in my own kitchen, I had my answer.
And it wasn't the oil.
My brother is just the type of guy who does things really well or not at all. It's probably the reason why so many people depend on him. He is smart and strong and very, very able. His heart is good.
When disaster struck our family recently Cousin Susie, who was forced from her home after Hurricane Sandy, told me that the one guy at the very top of everybody's wish list for aid and comfort was Joe.
Which was no surprise to me. Like his pancakes (or his clam sauce, come to think of it) my brother is the best that there is.
Just so we're clear.