Sometimes “busy” is just busy. And sometimes it is more than that.
I started my last post saying I was busy this week. Truth be told, it has taken my body a full seven-day cycle to fully recover from eating out last Saturday. I am finally starting to feel like myself again, more than 150 hours later. Busy recovering is a different kind of busy, but nonetheless….
This does not mean I have not also been busy in the vernacular sense of the word. I gave a webinar on job interviews to alumni from the University of Chicago that was well-received. I worked with clients, met “deliverables” and spent time with my family at home and events. But I also did a lot of recovering around the edges and corners of my day – sleeping and catching up. As anyone with a fast-growing business or career who also has a chronic illness or temporary setback knows, sometimes we push ourselves too hard and need to take a few steps back. In fact, we are just like everyone else, except that our bodies very acutely speak to us to let us know what we need.
Before the celiac disease diagnosis, I must admit that I ran myself into the ground all too often in my career as a lawyer at a top firm and later in-house role. Life could seem like a race, and I could never catch up.
It seemed like every quarter or so, I would just want to give up. In retrospect, it may be that the gluten was affecting my body without my knowing it. Yet I see the same in my clients and friends. Without preaching, I do my best when relevant to let them know that chasing the brass ring – or just pushing ourselves for some amorphous sense of achievement, which is the more common thread among overachievers, not even knowing why we do it – can have long-term consequences to our health. If we worked as hard to at wellness as we do to meet some internal or perceived expectation of success, we would actually start to make some progress.
I try to keep this perspective, as I move through my days. Gluten avoidance is not the only goal. The true goal is wellness.
On to Dutch Baby Pancakes!
So let’s be honest then, shall we? Dutch Baby pancakes are not really part of the “wellness” program in the sense of being healthy food, they are more of a weekend treat. Thankfully, it’s the weekend, and if you live in the U.S., hopefully you have two more weekend days ahead of you!
One of the most isolating parts of celiac disease is the very fact that eating out often puts us into a tailspin. So we need to recreate those same rituals – like Saturday or Sunday brunch – at home. My kids have come to love Dutch Baby pancakes on the weekend, made with gluten free flour. They taste amazing and are pretty easy to make, and best of all they do not require you to stand over a griddle like individual pancakes.
Here’s the final product. Sometimes it puffs more than other times. Sorry I couldn’t set up the shot with better lighting. My son was dying to eat it, since I haven’t made it for a few weeks!
The ingredients are pretty straightforward, all pictured below. As I was setting up this shot and saw how the flour spilled over the measuring cup, I was reminded of why so many kitchens are off-limits to me. In fact, on my recent trip to California, I brought my own food into an event, not trusting the kitchen due to the very fact that they boasted of “housemade bread” on the premises. To me, that’s a warning sign. Translation: “gluten present!”
Anyway, the recipe I use is from the Joy of Cooking, which is the source of many of my recipes. I have the 1997 version, which I received as a present for my wedding, and it honestly calls for WAY too much butter. I put in half of what the recipe says (so 1/4 stick of butter not 1/2 stick). The eggs should be room temperature, so take those out first as you are pre-heating the oven (which needs to be 425 degrees, so pretty darn hot!)
This pancake is one of the few gluten free equivalents of a traditionally gluten-filled item that really works, as long as you have the right flour. I am not an expert on gluten free flours, but I have learned that more sorghum (although containing more nutrients) leads to a more savory result, while the lighter flours give you that sweet baked goods taste. For this recipe and many others, I use Cup 4 Cup which allows you to simply substitute 1-to-1 for any recipe calling for all-purpose flour. I caution that it does contain milk powder, so vegans will need to find another alternative (and will also need to replace the milk and butter – I have not tried this so cannot attest to its taste). King Arthur’s Flour is a good choice for vegan baking flour, and it also does not have xantham gum (which some people also avoid for health or sensitivity reasons).
Here’s how the butter fits into the recipe. You coat the pan. As you can see here, even with half the butter, there is quite enough! I only eat a small portion of this pancake (if any), when I make it for the kids. If I were still a kid myself (or had the stomach of one), I would eat the whole panful! It is that good. In addition, you can add apples to the top, sliced thin (peeled or not), or complete it with powdered sugar (to me that seems too decadent) or fruit jam/preserves, to make a beautiful and tasty alternative.
Note: If you make this for a celiac friend, the pan needs to be 100% clean of any gluten residue from prior cooking, as does anything that comes into contact with it.
One advantage to eating at home versus a restaurant, of course, is that you get to see your cute pets while enjoying your food!
Have a great Memorial Day weekend (to my U.S. readers), and happy Saturday (morning, afternoon or night) to everyone else!
Recipe (adapted from the Joy of Cooking):
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup gluten free flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Melt 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter into 10-inch cast iron skillet, coating the sides of the pan. Pour in the mixture from above and cook for one minute, without stirring. Place the skillet in the oven and cook 12-15 minutes until the pancake is puffed up and golden. (It may not brown evenly, but take care not to overcook and burn the bottom, which is also browned from all that butter, and it’s delicious!) Serve immediately while it is still light and airy. Enjoy!