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Buttermilk Skillet Pancakes

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Pancakes are, you could say, my culinary Achilles heel. They always turn out awful. Too undercooked, burnt, too gooey, too chewy, not fluffy enough, whatever. I hate making pancakes. I’ve yet to find a recipe that gave me the perfect results I want so usually when I crave pancakes it means we’re going out. Why eat mediocre pancakes at home when the world is full of diners?

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However, thanks to the power of suggestion and certain websites, I learned about skillet pancakes, also known as “Dutch babies” or “German pancakes.” Essentially these are pancakes that you cook in a skillet and slice like pizza. No muss pancakes AND another recipe to add to my ode to skillet collection, PLUS a good way to use up the rest of my buttermilk? Sold! I searched around a bit and finally settled on this recipe and I have to say, these were fantastic. Not only were they delicious (topped with strawberries and honey hallelujah Spring is here), they heated up in the toaster oven for days to come, making breakfast (my least favorite weekday meal to worry about) a piece of (pan)cake.

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We’re off today for New Orleans for Lauren’s wedding. We’ll be gone for 8 days (ah!) and I’m a mess of frantic, excited, anxious, and thrilled. Happy almost wedding, Lauren & Bradley!

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Buttermilk Skillet Pancakes

4 tbsp butter

3 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt

Dash of powdered ginger

3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I used rye)

Preheat oven to 425.

Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, salt, and ginger. Stir in flour. Melt butter in a skillet on the stovetop. Pour batter into the hot skillet and transfer to the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

 

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Buttermilk Pie

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Strictly speaking, siblings are one of life’s greatest joys. Fifteen years ago I was spinning a completely different tale, but these days I have nothing but appreciation and gratitude for my brothers and sisters. A few weeks ago when I went up to Chapel Hill for the Our State Magazine launch I had some free time and had the opportunity to enjoy an hours-long coffee date with Reid, just the two of us. For years my time with my family has been centered around big trips South or events- graduations, reunions, weddings, holidays. I’ve rarely had the opportunity to pop in for dinner or grab a bite to eat with any of my siblings which also meant that that we spent moments together catching up on the big stuff. This coffee date we were able to talk about everything else. Work and life and goals and dreams and love and family and everything in between. Over a slice of buttermilk pie and a cardamom latte I got to listen to Reid talk candidly about his life and I couldn’t help but to feel so proud of him. He’s accomplished so much and it’s such good work. I am full of admiration for what he’s been able to do by staying focused and committed to his passions and his beliefs. He’s a great man, that Reid Rosemond.

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I’ve spent the past month craving buttermilk pie (Scratch makes a mean buttermilk pie), so yesterday I picked up a bottle of local buttermilk and in the small space of time in the late afternoon I whipped up this pie for a friend’s party. Making and photographing this pie, with the glorious light in the kitchen and an oven that cooks evenly and buttermilk so thick and glorious it should be sipped from a glass on a mountaintop in the Alps made me so glad to be in this new space, in this town, in this state, back home. And somehow this simple post about a delicious pie has become a reflection on gratitude, which is fine. I’m incredibly grateful for my family, for old friends that are now so close, and for the new friends that are welcoming us into the fold and seem to like us and laugh at our stories and share their stories and make us feel home here.

buttermilk pie 4 Next week we’re heading to New Orleans for Lauren’s wedding. First we’ll pick up the minivan then we’ll get Reid in Durham and then Ryan and his girlfriend Erin in Charlotte and then an 11 hour car ride later we’ll be there waiting for Genevieve and Naoise and our parents and cousins and aunts and uncles and, of course, Lauren and Bradley. And while the week of celebrating and the wedding is going to be amazing and wonderful and so much fun I think one of the things I’m most looking forward to is that drive, that chunk of hours spent in a rental car with my family, catching up and talking about the small things. The important things.

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buttermilk pie 6 Buttermilk Pie

crust:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

Pinch of ginger

Pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup shortening

1 stick butter

1/2 cup cold water

filling:

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cups butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

3 tbsp flour

1 tsp vanilla

Pinch of salt

Stir together dry ingredients for flour. Work in shortening. Cube butter and work it in with your hands until the texture of the dough is like coarse cornmeal. Stir in water, a little at a time, until a ball forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Melt butter. Mix together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour and salt. Slowly mix in buttermilk.

Roll the dough out and press into a pie dish. Heat the oven to 400 and pour the filling into the crust. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes and then drop to 350 for an additional 50 minutes. Pie should be golden brown. Let rest for 2 hours or until center has firmed.

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Front Yard Garden

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For the first time in my adult life I have garden that achieves the holy trinity of personal gardens- it’s well located (our front yard), it has great soil, and it’s big enough for everything I want to grow. In years past we’ve struggled with our own gardens. In Baltimore our backyard garden was small, had terrible soil (lots of runoff problems), and was plagued by hungry guests. Our community garden plot was far enough away that it became a chore and an inconvenience, something that lead to neglect and ended with giant prehistoric okra plants that took over everything.

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ilm garden 17 When we first moved into this house we were so taken with the big back yard. Perfect for cookouts, sitting around the fire pit, and running around with the dog. Unfortunately it is NOT perfect for gardening- it is shaded by two big and beautiful live oak trees that will mean wonderful respite from the summer sun but no place for tomatoes. Thankfully our landlord is open to basically any home improvements that we’re interested in doing and signed off on us turning our small front yard into a big garden bed.

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ilm garden 6 A few trips to the hardware store and the farm supply store later and we had our garden. We built it to fit the sort of crooked space, so it’s 10x6x6x8, with a nice little sliver between the bed and the walkway for sedum and flowers. Thanks to our handy saw, cordless drill, and a car that is just barely big enough to haul weathered 2x6x10s we were able to build the bed and only spend approximately $20 on wood.

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ilm garden 5 We turned over the existing soil (which was gorgeous) and added six bags of top soil ($5/pop), which left us with a nice layer of good soil and plenty of room for our plants to put down roots. The yard had been overgrown with weeds (I mentioned I’m a bit lazy, right?) so our composter got a nice thick layer of greens and Kaylee got a temporary bed in the yard.

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ilm garden 2 Understanding the risks of an open, front yard garden (people helping themselves) we planted difficult-to-pick items against the sidewalk. Potatoes, okra, and pumpkins line the back gate, followed by tomatoes (four varieties), pimentos, jalapeños, bell peppers, lettuce, chives, green onions, and basil in the middle. A small pathway divides the arugula and the climbing plants- beans and cucumbers. A row of marigolds along the side will hopefully protect our growing ‘maters from hungry aphids.

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Thanks to the overgrown bamboo patch in our backyard I was very easily able to build an arch to support the tomatoes and a trellis for the beans and cucumbers to climb. I even got a compliment from Dan on my lashing, which, coming from an Eagle Scout, meant a lot.

ilm garden 1 In the yard outside of the bed we planted our rosemary which had become root bound and choked in its pot, a lavender, and a flower mix that aims to attract hummingbirds, something that I’m hoping will edge out some of the more aggressive weeds and make our front yard into a more beautiful place. Finally, on the porch, we have a collection of pots that house our dwarf pomegranate, a few varieties of mint, thyme, horseradish, dill, and oregano.

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All in all the garden feels very settled, a small place full of hope and opportunity. I know that by mid-July it’ll be bursting at the seams and that I’ll be tired of fighting the battle against the weeds (does that ever end?), but I’m hoping that its perfect location keeps it a place that I’m happy to escape to every afternoon.

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