I gave up on trying to achieve it a long time ago. But, to be honest, I don’t say that with regret or disappointment.
I say that with acceptance, relief, and confidence.
I think perfection is extremely over-sought and overrated in our society. Why? Do we even know what perfection is? Does it have a concrete definition?
. . . Not really.
In the fall of my junior year, I was getting ready to take the SAT. Countless hours spent on practice tests – reading random passages, punching numbers furiously into my calculator, filling in answer sheets. Always trying to beat the clock. So not how I like to spend my Saturdays.
I woke up at 6 a.m. the morning of the test and headed straight for the kitchen, as usual. (As you already know, I love breakfast. It almost makes getting up early worthwhile – almost.)
When I walked into the room, I saw my mom standing at the stove and finishing up a batch of pumpkin pancakes. I took a seat at the table, along with my cup of coffee, and picked a few pancakes from the growing pile. I carefully drizzled on some maple syrup, then started to eat.
I wasn’t nervous. It was just a test – just a compilation of essentially meaningless papers. But I was anxious.
I hoped my score would be good enough to not have to take the test again.
Walking out from the test, I knew that I could have done better. So I went home, went straight to my computer, and signed up for the next month’s SAT.
6 a.m. my alarm went off and, as if programmed to do so, I headed straight for the kitchen. Once again, my mom was standing dutifully at the stove, flipping pancakes – this time whole wheat. I mounded a few on my plate and poured on the syrup.
A few hours later, having just finished taking the test, I met my mom at the car. “How’d it go?” she said.
“It’s a coin-toss. It’s up-in-the-air,” I replied.
Three weeks passed until the scores were released. I wasn’t nervous - until that morning.
I had no idea what to expect.
I woke up at 5:30 a.m., turned on my computer, and tried my best not to be blinded by the screen. I eagerly went to the website, logged in, and . . .
NO WAY. OHMYGOODNESS.
I couldn’t believe my score.
(For the record, I did not get a perfect score – or even close. But as I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t strive for perfection. I strive for what I can achieve; I strive for my personal best.)
I immediately woke my mom up.
“What? What’s wrong?” she asked, half-asleep.
“My score! My score! I can’t believe it!”
We spent the rest of the morning celebrating until I left for school.
Obviously, I can’t attribute my success to the power of the pancakes. I can, however, largely attribute it to the support that I had (and have) from my parents – especially my mom. From driving me to prep classes, to buying extra study materials, and even making me pancakes at such an unpleasant hour, she was an integral part of the entire how-to-be-successful-on-the-SAT equation. Thanks Mom!
Whenever I make pancakes, I can never seem to get them to be uniformly golden-brown. But hey, I’m not IHOP. And I can still make a pretty damn good pancake, if I may say so.
These pancakes are slightly nutty from the whole wheat flour and have a bit of a tang from the abundance of buttermilk, which also makes them super tender. The flavor reminds me a lot of a sourdough (no starter necessary!), and I love how the pancakes are accented by the sweetness of a pat of butter and, of course, a healthy drizzle of real maple syrup. Simple, straigh-forward, delicious.
Perfectly imperfect? Sure, why not!
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Adapted from Sheila Lukins’ U.S.A Cookbook
- 1 ½ C. Whole Wheat Flour
- ½ C. All Purpose Flour
- 1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
- ½ tsp. Kosher Salt
- 2 Eggs
- 2 C. Buttermilk
- 1 C. Whole Milk
- 4 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
- 2 ½ Tbsp. Butter, melted, plus more (unmelted) for greasing the griddle
- Real Maple Syrup, for serving
Combine both flours, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, buttermilk, milk, sugar, and melted butter.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat until just smooth. Let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat; grease with butter. Scoop ¼ C. of batter onto the preheated griddle and cook until the edges start to dry out and the first side starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for another minute, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter, re-greasing the griddle as necessary.
Serve immediately with maple syrup.
Yields about 20 Pancakes; Serves 6 – 8