Wintry waffles and perfect pancakes

After a glorious spate of sunshine in Sydney, we’re back to the last of the winter days  for 2011. As I look out the window and see slanted rain, cool wind and grey skies I can only think about warming my hands around a hot cup of tea and scoffing down a stack of buttermilk pancakes with crispy bacon on the side.

Mr ELG, baby ELG and I recently traveled down to the snow with my sister and her family. On any road trip that includes children, it’s hard not to bring all but the kitchen sink with you and to an observer witnessing us try to load on bag after bag onto the ski tube up to Perisher, I’m sure they would have been having the last laugh! Included in the loaded luggage was the only appliance (apart from the hairdryer) to make the trip – my brother-in-laws trusty waffle machine! As soon as I saw the Sunbeam invention, I started salivating over the thought of golden hot waffles drizzled with maple syrup, homemade hot chocolate sauce and scoops of vanilla ice-cream. As it was unpacked, he explained that he had had to resort to bringing a pancake bottle shake mix instead of carrying eggs up to make his usual creamy concoction.

We raised eyebrows together and this kick-started a conversation over the huge pros always outweighing the cons of the Betty Crocker/White Wings-style powder mixes. At the end of the conversation we both agreed that making your own waffle/pancake mixture from eggs, flour, milk and any other additions was the the #1 preference 100% of the time despite the convenience and ease of the so-called bottle mix on holidays and we were both eager to see how the waffle machine married up to this second-rate powder mix.

In answer to that, it didn’t. The waffles were a shadow of their usual self and the shake ‘n’ bake resulted in soggy smatterings of waffle slivers. And so once we were back in Sydney, my cravings were subsided by whipping up a batch of fluffy blueberry buttermilk pancakes doused with icing sugar and lashings of syrup. Meanwhile I heard that the waffle machine also made a welcome back appearance somewhere in an upper north shore home and we both vowed never again would we succumb to Betty Crocker. Now, where did I put that maple syrup…..?


Move over Betty Crocker. Barefoot Contessa has arrived in pink lady style!

I admit I am a bit of a snob when it comes to packet mix cakes, pancake shakes or any sauces for that matter that come in a jar. Hmmm…sure, they market themselves as easy, two minute, no-fuss jobs but I have always been a fan of making things from scratch. Back in high school I remember I cooked a Betty Crocker chocolate fudge brownie in the microwave and was underwhelmed by the cardboard taste and far too sweet taste.

But it was in Alfresco a couple of months ago when the tide turned and I picked up a blue striped box entitled Barefoot Contessa Coconut Cupcakes. Turning the box over I was confronted with foreign measurements of ingredients like ounces and sticks but nonetheless threw my hat in the ring again to try to make something else again from a box.

So it was last night, after having purchased my extra ingredients of cream cheese, eggs and butter that I set myself to the task. Spurred on by Go Pink for a Day (an initiative at work to raise money for a colleague who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year), the only ingredient I added to the mix not prescribed by Barefoot Contessa was some pink food colouring as my end product needed to get into the spirit of things! The whole process was extremely easy so the packet mix certainly lived up to initial expectations. The mixture came together extremely well with three steps in total and tastes along the way made not only my nose twitch with glee but also my man’s.

As I took my end product into work today; decorated with hot pink icing, shredded coconut flakes and a raspberry jube, my colleagues were amazed and oohed and aahed at all the right moments and my little “pink ladies” raised over $50. The next time I go to Alfresco, I am going to stock up on more striped boxes – it’s the outrageous brownie which is calling me next. And despite this new change in me I am afraid I will continue to be a snob, but only to the likes of Betty Crocker.