The language of love and homemade pancakes
COME FRY WITH ME - Johanna Garcia (The Philippine Star) - February 5, 2015 - 12:00am

Have you ever heard about the different languages of love? Well, feeding people is how I show love. Chances are, if I’m making you something to eat, it means I like you at least a little bit. And when times are especially harrowing, my first instinct is to go to my tiny kitchen and make something.

Perhaps that’s something I picked up from my mom or maybe just from my family in general. Both sides of my family have always been very passionate about food, and the most difficult dishes or the most luxurious delicacies were generally reserved for family, aka the people who mattered most.

To this day, my siblings and I will take a mom-cooked meal pretty much over any restaurant meal. Perhaps that’s why Knorr’s recent campaign, “Sarap ng Lutong Nanay,” caught my eye.

Knorr’s resource person for this campaign, Dr. Stuart Firestein, is a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University. His primary work involves investigating the link between flavor and our sense of smell and taste, and how these work together to leave deep neurological imprints on our minds.

According to Firestein, “It’s the love of a mother’s cooking which leaves that unforgettable mark on us as kids, because the flavors she cooks up in her kitchen reach the parts of the brain, heart and soul that other things just can’t reach.”

Of course, in this era of double-income families, I do wish Knorr would expand its campaign to encourage dads to cook, too. With that said, I will acknowledge that I grew up in a more traditional household.

My dad brought home the bacon (and the steak and the lobster), which my mom then turned into delicious culinary creations that were probably instrumental to our blended family coming together as a now unbreakable whole.

So despite its somewhat sexist stereotypes, I’m still glad there’s a campaign that encourages people to cook more often, especially in light of some dismaying facts.

According to Knorr’s news release, the number of Filipinos who eat in fast-food restaurants at least once a week has doubled compared to just a few years ago. In fact a local survey of 1,000 respondents revealed that almost 80 percent of adults between 23-27 admitted they can’t cook.

Why? The top two reasons mentioned were a lack of confidence in their abilities and inadequate knowledge about recipes.

While I’ve always been an advocate of excellence, I also believe in the maxim, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” In cooking, just like in life, if we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we never get started, then, we end up missing out.

For far too many of us, if we can’t work out for at least an hour and to the point of exhaustion, we won’t exercise at all. And if we can’t cook a gourmet meal entirely from scratch, well, then, we order takeout, usually fast food.

But, as Firestein pointed out, “(Home-cooked) flavors create powerful bonds across time and distance, and when families face the inevitable trials and tribulations, it’s the wonder of mom-cooked flavor which brings everyone back together.”

And particularly in these trying times, couldn’t we all use the unifying, comforting, nourishing power of home cooking? So to moms, dads, and pretty much everyone else out there, get cooking. Make stuff from scratch when you can. Get a little help when you can’t. But go ahead and nourish your families, your friends, all the people you love.

Don’t forget to have fun with it, either. Cooking shouldn’t be a burden and, more importantly, it shouldn’t be one person’s burden. So, make like a cell phone and share the load.

The world can be a scary place, but it’s so much brighter and better when we love, support and nourish each other. And meals made with love are the best meals of all, even when they’re not perfect or made entirely from scratch.

Speaking of which, here’s a recipe for homemade pancake mix (and pancakes!) that you can store in a jar and whip out any time you need it. It’ll be cheaper, healthier and way more delicious than commercial pancake mix and best of all, it’ll be just as quick and just as easy.

Recipe File

Homemade pancake mix

(Yield: 4 batches)

Ingredients:

800 grams (2 boxes) cake flour

4 tablespoons double-acting baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Procedure:

Whisk together all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Sift the mixture into another large bowl and then sift back into the original bowl. Spoon into a large canister with a tight-fitting lid. Label the canister so you don’t confuse it with your regular flour and store in a cool, dry place.

Classic pancakes

(Yield: 8-10 pancakes/4 servings)

Ingredients: 

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 1 additional tablespoon for brushing the pan

1 extra-large egg

1 1/2 cups homemade pancake mix

Procedure:

To prepare batter:

In a small bowl, combine milk, melted butter and egg and mix well. 

Measure pancake mix into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Gently stir the wet ingredients into the pancake mix using a whisk just until combined. Do not overmix or your pancakes will be tough. Lumps are okay.

To cook pancakes:

Heat a large nonstick pan or griddle and when hot, brush lightly with melted butter.

Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter onto the hot pan. Cook over medium-high heat until bubbles on the surface break and edges start to firm, around 1-2 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side until golden, about another 1-2 minutes.

Move to a platter and serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.

Note: For buttermilk pancakes (which I think are so much better!), substitute 1 1/4 cups buttermilk for the 1 cup milk and whisk a teaspoon of baking soda into the dry pancake mix.

* * *

For more information on Knorr’s Sarap ng Lutong Nanay campaign, follow Knorr Philippines on Facebook or visit www.knorr.com.ph.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY COOK DR. STUART FIRESTEIN FIRESTEIN KNORR KNORR PHILIPPINES LUTONG NANAY MIX PANCAKE RECIPE FILE
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