Those were the first words I would hear every weekday morning between the ages of about 6 and 12, when my Dad used to waltz into my room, open all the blinds and try to coax me out of bed to get ready for school. I grew up in Santa Cruz, only a five-minute walk from the beach, so on most days a thick fog greeted me as I unwillingly opened my eyes. But occasionally, sunlight would come streaming in, and I would hop out of bed without my Dad having to yank the covers away.

On Sundays, there was no need for him to come into my room – I would awake naturally to the smell of his delicious pancakes, which permeated every room of the house, and the faint sound of jazz. I can’t really remember a Sunday from my childhood beginning in any other way (except for, occasionally, a guest appearance of my Mom’s waffles)…

Pancakes were the only thing my Dad ever cooked, aside from grilling meat on the BBQ. He was known for his pancakes – my friends would come over on Saturdays, excited that a delicious breakfast awaited them if they spent the night. Even my Dad’s discovery that he was allergic to gluten (the horror!) later in life couldn’t stop our family tradition – he just amended his recipe, and surprisingly, I could hardly tell the difference.

My Dad’s pancakes are thin, not quite as thin as a crepe (particularly with the gluten-free recipe) but pretty close, and he would gradually make a gigantic stack as the rest of us woke up and made our way into the kitchen. He always seemed to make far more than we could ever eat, but somehow we always finished them. They were just too delicious to throw away.

He was a pancake purist, refusing to put anything extra into the batter (nuts, blueberries etc) – just some butter and pure maple syrup on top. I ate them as they were served for many years, but then at some point I started to make him save me some of his batter and would spice it up with a dash of cinnamon and some ripe mashed banana. He didn’t seem to approve, but let me have my way. I finally made him taste of one “my” pancakes and eventually, he admitted that he really liked them. I soon heard reports from my Mom that bananas had become a fixture of their Sunday pancakes, which made me smile!

Now when I go home to visit, I wake up on a Sunday and go for a run on the beach, motivated by the FACT that there will be a big stack of banana pancakes waiting for me upon my return, along with freshly squeezed orange juice and a big cup of steaming coffee. Sometimes my sister will have come down from the East Bay to see me, and we all sit together as a family, just like we used to as kids. Even better, if the fog has already burned off, we eat out on our back deck and soak up the California sunshine. That type of morning is probably one of my favorite things about being home and I really do miss it.

Although my Dad hasn’t served as my personal alarm clock in awhile, either with his cheerful “Rise and shine!” or his pancake prowess, I still can’t help but associate Sundays with pancakes. And given that I’m almost always in training these days, I usually link Sundays to long runs as well. So this morning was particularly special when my alarm went off at 8:45am and I opened my blinds – Good-morning sunshinehaven’t seen you in awhile! Pure blue skies and crisp January air – perfect running weather, or shall I say, gearing up for pancake eating weather?

When I got back from my awesome 10.5M/90min run along the river  (and had already had my cappuccino), only one thing was on my mind – PANCAKES. What better way to reward my efforts and make my Sunday complete?! And I don’t know about you, but everything tastes better when I’ve earned it! Unfortunately, I didn’t have my Dad’s recipe – which now that I think of it, is strange – but it was fine, because I was craving something a bit more wholesome anyway.

I turned to the NY Times Recipes for Health section for inspiration, since I had recently made some delicious pancakes based on this Oatmeal Buttermilk Blueberry Pancake recipe. Last time, I added cinnamon and mashed banana to the batter, and because I didn’t have any blueberries, I instead baked sliced bananas glazed with cinnamon and honey to place on top of the pancakes.

Today, I used fresh blueberries in the batter as well as for on top of the cooked pancakes. I added two small ripe mashed bananas, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts to the batter, and used skim milk rather than low-fat and brown sugar rather than white. Also, like last time, I didn’t use real buttermilk, but instead made an easy substitute: just get a 1 cup measuring cup, put in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fill the rest with milk and let stand for 5 minutes. This recipe calls for 1.5 cups, so I also took a 1/2 cup measuring cup and put 1 teaspoon lemon juice and filled the rest with milk.

The end-result was incredible – fluffy, wholesome pancakes bursting with juicy blueberries. No butter necessary, I promise. In the words of my Dad, as he always said upon his first bite, “These are delicious, if I may say so myself!”

So if you’re in a Sunday pancake mood but want something healthier than what you’d find in a restaurant, then try my Triple B (banana, blueberry & buttermilk) Pancake Recipe! Please note, however, that this recipe is best if you let the batter stand for one hour (or make the night before and refrigerate). The first time I made these, I was too impatient and they came out fine, but I must say, if you can wait, it’s definitely worth it.

Here are some photos for inspiration:

So rise and shine everyone – it’s pancake time!

Advertisements