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Locally Yours: Blueberries spruce up any stack of pancakes, homemade or from a box

By: Carol Arnold
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In honor of Father’s Day I thought I would look at some family traditions handed down by the dads in my family. What do all of the dads in my family have in common? Something pretty funny. From the flatlands of Plainview, Minn. to a cabin by a lake in Wisconsin, and on to family ski trips in Sun Valley, Idaho, there was one thing we could always depend on — at least one Bisquick pancake breakfast. It is almost eerie to look at a theme that crosses the country, spans generations, and even covers an amazing variance in cooking ability and discover that it is Bisquick that binds the past and the present. Brown, beige, underdone, burned, all describe the Bisquick pancakes my family eats. Even my children, who have had light and airy pancakes made from scratch, prefer pancakes made with a mix. They like the texture and the flavor. How to explain it? Is it genetic? My dad made my sister and I Bisquick pancakes every Saturday morning. My sister tried every trick in the book to get out of breakfast on Saturday. She feigned stomach aches, came up with early-morning homework assignments, anything to avoid eating the brown discs my Dad so lovingly prepared for us. Once, during a vacation trip to Minnesota, we went to visit my dad’s parents in Plainview. My grandmother, a notorious non-cook, made us pancakes for breakfast. You guessed it. We found the origin of my dad’s pancakes. If it is possible, her pancakes were thinner, browner, and tougher than my dad’s. At least we know where they came from. My sister won’t eat pancakes to this day. My father-in-law Dave and I cooked quite a bit together and one ritual we shared was preparing breakfast on ski trips. We both woke up early and broke out the pancake mix. Dave understood basic cooking techniques; he didn’t over stir the batter and his pancakes were the best I have ever had from a package. Even still, they weighed heavy in our stomachs as we hit the slopes. My Grandfather Burgraff routinely made Bisquick pancakes for two dozen family members at the cabin on Eagle Lake in Wisconsin. The pancakes were forgettable; what I remember about breakfast at the cabin was the homemade syrup. He never bought syrup. He mixed brown sugar, water, and who knows what into a wonderful concoction that made one forget the pancakes and focus on the topping. So when I asked Karen Brenner from Brenner Ranch for some blueberry recipes and she suggested pancakes, it was with great trepidation that I decided to test a blueberry pancake recipe out on my family. How would they react to light, fluffy, made-from-scratch pancakes using fresh blueberries? Well, the verdict was split. My beloved husband, wonderful father to our children, loved them. He thought they had great flavor and texture, and he loved the homemade blueberry topping/syrup. My daughter prefers pancakes from a mix, although there may still be hope. At least she makes the fancy recipe which calls for lemon juice, sugar, and baking powder — in addition to the Bisquick. If you are making a memorable meal for the dads in your life don’t forget to shop the Farmers’ Market. Wonderful pork and lamb are available for the barbecue and there are lots of berries for shortcakes and pancakes. See you in Auburn at the jury parking lot from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Carol Arnold is the general manager of the Foothill Farmers’ Market Association. She can be reached at clarnold@yahoo.com. This recipe is from a cookbook. In my family no one hands down pancake recipes. They exist on the box for perpetuity. Serves 6 4 large eggs 2 cups milk 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup blueberries, rinsed 1. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one medium bowl and the whites in another bowl. Whisk the egg yolks with the milk and melted butter. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg/milk mixture. Whisk together gently just until blended. Don’t worry if a few lumps remain; they will work themselves out. Fold in the egg whites and gently stir in the blueberries. 3. Preheat a lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. Ladle out the batter to form 3-inch pancakes. Cook until bubbles appear on the top, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 1 minute. 4. Serve with butter and warm blueberry topping. Pancake recipe from “Recipes from a Very Small Island” by Linda and Martha Greenlaw Blueberry Topping for Pancakes 1 cup fresh blueberries 1/3 cup water ½ cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon almond flavoring Mix together all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cook on low until mixture thickens. Serve warm.