Gold Medal Pancakes

Now that the winter rains are in full swing, the damp Seattle air drives me inside. After the crazy pace of the past few months, I look forward to home cooked meals and catching up with friends. Braises, soups, and breakfast goodies signal a slower pace of life, if only for a little while....

My friend Lisa D. and I both gave up conventional employment this year and so, in the middle of the week, she arrived at my home for brunch. It felt quite decadent. Outside, a slow drizzle of rain soaked the fallen leaves. Inside, Lisa's warmth and energy lit up the room.

Good fortune has smiled on me. Counted among my closest friends are some ridiculously talented people...and Lisa is one of them.

In her younger days, Lisa was a competitive swimmer. In fact, she qualified for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

At that time, Cold World tensions with Russia were high. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter led a multi-national protest. The result?

The U.S., along with 64 other countries, boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games.

All of Lisa's training and sacrifices were meaningless in the face of politics.

Then, as it so often does, life got in the way. She was unable to compete for the next Olympics. Eventually the pattern of day to day living and other obligations moved her away from swimming.

When I first met Lisa, she was emerging from a 20 year hiatus...and finally started swimming again. It wasn't long before she got serious about training and entered a couple local meets.

Each race fueled her desire to win.

She hired a nutritionist, worked out in the gym for hours every day, and swam even more. Success in the pool spurred multiple positive changes in her life.

At 45 years old, Lisa is now the World Champion in Master's Swimming.

She is currently seated:

- 1st in the 50 meter butterfly
- 2nd in the 50 meter freestyle
- 1st in the 200 meter freestyle relay...AND set the world record!

I couldn't be more proud of her.

So on that rainy Tuesday, Lisa arrived a very different woman than the one I first met. Over fruit and pancakes, we laughed about our blunders in the past...and looked at the future with limitless possibilities.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
adapted from Cafe Beaujolais by Margaret S. Fox

In this recipe, whipped egg whites create a light and fluffy pancake. The addition of cornmeal adds a bit of tooth, followed by buttermilk, which provides a slight tang. A sprinkle of sugar before flipping, caramelizes the pancakes ever so slightly.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 Tb sugar
1/2 Tb baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal (I used 1/2 fine, 1/2 medium grind cornmeal)
2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs, separated
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) additional sugar, if desired

Note: You can use frozen blueberries. Add them partially defrosted; the heat and steam will thaw them.

Sift together all dry ingredients. Mix together buttermilk, egg yolks, and butter with dry ingredients. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, and fold into the batter.

Pour 1/4 cup batter onto a hot griddle and top with about 2 tablespoons blueberries on each pancake. Sprinkle top with a light dusting of sugar.

Cook until bubbles form and start popping on top.

Flip cakes with wide spatula and brown the other side. The sugar will caramelize slightly.

Turn pancakes only once, and take care not to press down on them to accelerate the browning process.