I struggled writing about this for a few days…but I decided to go ahead and do so. My father passed away on Wednesday. His obituary mentions none of his children. After all, I have not seen or heard from him in almost 29 years. Still…that was incredibly hard to see and read. It was equally hard to learn of his passing via a message left on my sister’s phone. What a way to find out….but what do I expect. Although the choice to be without a dad was made without my permission, I never wanted to chase someone who did not want to be in my life any longer. So naturally, I should not be surprised by the way in which we were informed. But, the absolute hardest part of all was not knowing how to feel. Rather than write about the way and why things are, I decided to share once more about the way things were….a memory of him I have chosen to hold onto over the years…the one trait I have inherited from him…his love of cooking.
Ol’ dad had quite the talent for cooking. He had taken a second job as a cook at a small café outside of town called Nona’s. It was right off the interstate and easy for truckers to stop in for a hot cup of coffee and my dad’s delicious pancakes. There is something about walking into a dive café that triggers my hunger. A combination of café sounds and sights; the clanking of off-white colored cafe dishes, diners’ conversations and plumes of smoke from their cigarettes, the smells of maple syrup and coffee lingering in the air and the token waitress with an awesome beehive hairdo. Nona’s had it all. Those café sounds and smells became a solid reason as to why I enjoyed breakfast so much.
My dad often took on those familiar smells of coffee, fried eggs, syrup, pepper, cigarette smoke but with the addition of Budweiser. I could smell him from the hallway as I walked into the kitchen yawning, sleepy-eyed with uncombed hair and one sock dangling halfway off of my foot. There he stood making pancakes. There was definitely an art to making those yummy fluffy slabs of warmth. He would slowly pour a stream of batter into a black skillet that was the perfect temperature. I would stand on my tip toes to peek into the pan and see bubbles popping up to the surface of the batter. Once he flipped the pancake to the other side, it began to take on a beautiful caramel color and an aroma sent from heaven. In a smaller fry pan on the burner next to the skillet, were two eggs frying to over medium. He would place a pancake onto his plate, then a fried egg, then another pancake, followed by the second egg on top of the stack. After drizzling maple syrup over the top, he would then cut into the stack as if it were one of Nona’s pies. The yolk would ooze out and mix in with the syrup; the bright rich color of yellow marbleizing with the sweet maple shade of bourbon. Watching those two slowly collide and dance together gave me warmth over my body as though I were a cat sitting in the morning sunlight. Looking back, I find it interesting I understood and appreciated all of those elements at such a young age. After all, it was a beautiful thing to see. It was culinary genius.
Almond Flour Banana Pancakes with Cardamom Cinnamon Butter
2 ripe bananas
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup almond flour
1 cup milk or almond milk
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 cardamom pods, seeds removed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar
1 ripe banana
Peel bananas, place in large mixing bowl, and mash with a fork. Add both flours, milk, egg, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk together until a smooth batter forms. You may need to add a bit more milk to thin batter. Set aside and begin heating cast iron skillet over low heat.
Place butter in a small bowl. Add cardamom seeds along with 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix to combine and set aside.
Add a tbsp of cinnamon cardamom butter to pan and melt. Spoon pancake batter into hot skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes then flip to cook the other side. Repeat until you have 6 pancakes. Set aside on a plate.
In a separate non-stick skillet, heat pan with a little oil and fry eggs to over medium. Place one pancake onto serving plate, top with fried egg, then another pancake, egg, and finish with pancake. Add banana slices to pan and fry for a few minutes on each side. Top onto pancake and egg stack. Drizzle with syrup and serve with remaining cinnamon cardamom butter.