Okay, so what doesn't look like a mess once you really get into it. But, I haven't met too many Moms that will refuse a pancake from an excited child or loving spouse, and tomorrow is Mother's Day, hint, hint. So don't forget to do something extra special for Mom. Sometimes though, it is hard to plan a special breakfast for Mom without all of the necessary ingredients in the fridge, or should I say, trying to sneak them past her. Like buttermilk for instance. It's not like you can hide it under your pillow and hope she won't notice. Although, I'm sure it would curdle quite nicely. But if you can substitute this and that, then Mom won't have a chance to suspect a thing. I nearly always have to make a substitute for buttermilk, especially if I'm making pancakes. There is no way I am running to the store for one item, and I hardly ever plan to make pancakes in advance. As a buttermilk substitute, I use whole milk and add a tablespoon of champagne vinegar for each cup of milk before starting the rest of the recipe. I let it sit until the recipe calls for it, and it has a nice thick consistency to it. You don't have to use champagne vinegar, but I have found that it doesn't overpower the recipe too much. I have used regular white vinegar, fresh lemon juice, lemon concentrate, and a variety of different light coloured vinegars depending upon what I have on hand. It is easy to substitute all kinds of ingredients if need be, just be cautious not to overdo it. I used golden yellow sugar instead of white sugar in the pancakes, which gave a slightly golden hue to the batter, and a taste more akin to maple syrup. But we're talking a very, very subtle difference. To the raspberry coulis I used orange marmalade instead of sugar, and I suppose I could have added maple syrup instead of water to thin it out. The raspberry coulis is also perfect for French toast, as an ice cream topping, along side cake, or even just along side plain fruit. Raspberry coulis is tangy and has just a little hint of sweetness. I made a few more substitutions, including mascarpone instead of whipped cream cheese with the heavy cream for the whipped cream. Do make sure to whip it until quite stiff, delicious. Sometimes, there is an idea you might have to create a specific dish, or perhaps you are inspired by a dish you have eaten elsewhere. But we don't always have all of those ingredients, or we just want to try it a different way to call it our own. I try to be careful not to substitute too many ingredients in a recipe, but tweaking even just one or two things, can make for an entirely new and utterly delicious creation. I think I am also a bit inspired by my new kitchen. Yes, that's right, we have finally moved! The kitchen is so much easier to use, it is ridiculous. I can pull out a few things and it doesn't look, as my Mom would say, "like a bomb went off". However, if you saw the state of the oven when we took possession, you would think a small war took place in there. I should even have a little more time to write about all the eating my not so little tummy has been doing. The walk-through pantry (yes, shelves on both sides!) still requires a heroic effort to make it look a little more organized, but it too is getting there. What did I do first? Clean the kitchen sink. I have never met a clean kitchen sink I didn't like. I have this thing that if the sink is clean, then everything else around it can become clean. But, a dirty sink, just means everything else is dirty too. It drives me crazy to see that brown ring around the drain, and then there are dishes coming out of it are equally nasty. And this sink was verging on nasty. It always surprises me how someone can have a spotlessly clean floor, clean enough to eat off, but a bacteria-ridden sink with chunks of food. Plates I eat off of come out of the sink, they don't go on the floor. I just don't get it. Here's the cure-all for nearly any dirty sink. First, tightly plug the sink with the sink stoppers, and fill it nearly full with the hottest water you can. For a regular sized sink, carefully add a cup of bleach (more for a larger sink), and give it at least an hour. Wearing rubber gloves, drain the sink. You will already see how much better it is! At this point, water should nearly bead off of it. Thoroughly rinse the sink, and then use vinegar or window cleaner to make the sink shine. Wipe dry. Repeat once every week or two. I insist I am not a clean freak, one bit, but a clean sink is a non-negotiable. Alright, so now that you've figured out how to make pancakes with whatever ingredients Mom happens to have on hand, and how to clean up too, here's the recipe to really wow Mom's taste buds first thing in the morning. When the batter has sat for a few minutes, it will look light and airy with hundreds of bubbles. The pancakes will also bubble up nicely. It gets hard to wait at this point, and Mom should be thrilled already. Pancakes with Raspberry Coulis and Mascarpone Whipped Cream Pancakes (Makes approximately 15 pancakes with an ice cream scoop): 2 cups of all-purpose flour 1/4 cup golden yellow sugar 2 1/4 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 2 eggs 2 tsp vanilla 2 cups whole milk 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar 1/4 cup melted butter, and some more for frying Raspberry Coulis: 2 cups frozen raspberries, slightly thawed 1/2 cup orange marmalade (or other preserve) 1/3 - 1/2 cup water Mascarpone Whipped Cream: 2 cups whipping cream/heavy cream 1 cup mascarpone cheese 1/2 cup icing sugar 2 tsp vanilla 1. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the whole milk and the champagne vinegar. Stir slightly, and allow to rest until needed. 2. In a large blender jar, place the frozen raspberries, orange marmalade, and 1/4 cup of water. Allow to sit until needed. 3. In a microwave safe container, melt the butter. Set aside to cool slightly. 4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yellow sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 5. In a medium size mixing bowl, beat the eggs slightly, and add the "buttermilk" and the melted butter. 6. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring minimally to combine. Let rest until the raspberry coulis and whipped cream are ready. 7. Using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream, mascarpone, icing sugar, and vanilla until quite stiff. Try not to devour before the pancakes are ready. 8. Blend the raspberries, marmalade, and water. Add a little more water if necessary. Taste, and add a little more marmalade, or a little sugar to sweeten it if preferred. When thoroughly blended, push through a strainer to remove the seeds. 9. To cook the pancakes, preheat a nonstick pan, or a cast iron griddle to a medium-low heat. A lower temperature is better to ensure the inside of the pancake is cooked, while the outside is still a nice golden colour. 10. Add a little pat of butter, and allow to foam. Swirl it around the pan, to ensure a thorough coating all over the pan. 11. Using an ice cream scoop, or a ladle for consistency, begin spooning in the batter. Allow the batter to bubble, and become just a tad dry around the edge before flipping, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Add a little more butter only as necessary, and in case the temperature of the pan becomes too hot. Keep warm in the oven, and serve as soon as possible. 12. Serve the pancakes with the raspberry coulis, mascarpone whipped cream, and maple syrup (just in case!). Watch them disappear.