These pancakes earn a nomination for best-ever

July 13, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Frying a whole-wheat pancake on the electric griddle could be considered a minor victory for Vicki Bodnar.

Bodnar, 64, and her husband, Ted, spent two years, nine months and two days living out of hotels. They weren't vagabonds. They weren't in the midst of a financial crises. Their living situation was an alternative solution for a family in need of housing while searching for new real estate, Bodnar said.

But no one thought it would take nearly three years for them to find a new home after they had sold their old one.

Today, Bodnar reflects on that experience from her sprawling, spacious kitchen in Black Rock Estates. Perhaps, absence - in this case, the absence of a kitchen of her own - really did make the heart grow fonder.


Bodnar cooks everyday, doing whole-wheat pancakes at least once a week.

In fact, for the interview with The Herald-Mail, Bodnar made whole-wheat pancakes with blueberries the size of marbles. The recipe came from one she had long before the move. But she had to recreate it once they moved into her new home because she couldn't find it among all their boxed possessions.

These might have been the most satisfying pancakes this reporter has ever eaten, and it had nothing to do with their backstory.

In need of a change, the Bodnars had sold their half-acre dwelling downtown in hopes of moving elsewhere. They were waiting for the prices of local houses to come down.

"But they didn't," Bodnar said.

So it was in and out of hotels for nearly three years. No home-cooked meals. No more whole-wheat pancakes in the morning.

Finally, they came across a very spacious, bank-owned property in Black Rock Estates with plenty of room in the basement to house her husband's recording studio and all the things they had accumulated when they lived downtown.

Vicki Bodnar fell in love with the kitchen.

"We had Christmas dinner here," she said. "It was about 10 or 11 o'clock at night before we found the dishes. My mother was here. We had just enough chairs to sit on."

For her pancakes, Bodnar uses equal parts of whole-wheat and all-purpose flours. She feels whole-wheat flour, alone, is too heavy. The dual action of baking powder and baking soda helps them rise. Brown sugar takes the edge off the yeasty taste of the whole-wheat flour. She adds blueberries to part of the batch because her grandson, Nick Bodnar, likes them that way.

Once the pancakes are topped with butter and maple syrup, they are contenders for the best pancakes ever.

Talking with Vicki Bodnar

Q&A with Vicki Bodnar and her biggest fan, grandson Nick Bodnar, 12

Q: What do you remember your mother cooking?

A: I remember her making buckwheat pancakes, only she put sausage gravy on it. She made it every Sunday ... My grandmother made a lot of good recipes. She has a really good 1-2-3 cake. It's a pound cake; you can fill it, you can ice it. She was German and Irish. I also spent the summers on my uncle's 119-acre pig farm in Woodbridge. We had a big family, so it was always a big Sunday dinner.

Q: So you're used to having to make meals for lots of people?

A: It's not much harder to do.

Q: What are some other things you like to eat?

A: I like Swiss steak. I have a recipe that my family has done for years. We eat fish twice a week - I like salmon, things that are high in omega oils. I like pies more than cake; I love cookies. I'm good at things you have to improvise. Last night we had some improvised Chinese food from leftovers.

Q: So, I get the feeling you cook every day?

A: I do, every day. We ate out for three years every day, except for breakfast, which we ate at the hotel. (Now) we eat in. We're really enjoying my new kitchen. I really like this open space, being able to see everyone while I cook. Sometimes that's when you really get to share, is over a meal.

Q: So Nick, what would you say is the best thing she makes?

A: Tacos. Tacos are the best. She has this spin-around dish with all the different ingredients and she puts the meat in the middle. Second would be (these pancakes).

Whole-wheat pancakes

1 1/4 cup whole wheat
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lightor dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup 1-percent milk, add more as needed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Handful of fresh blueberries (optional)

Combine the flours and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar. Once everything is added, sift all of the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and set aside. Add milk to the eggs, then add the olive oil to the liquid ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. Add more milk as needed to get desired consistency. If using, fold in the blueberries.

Set an electric griddle to 300 degrees. When fully heated, grease the griddle with olive oil. Ladle out the pancakes onto the griddle. Allow to cook on each side for a few minutes, flipping when middles and sides start to bubble. Cook the other side for a few minutes more, until it's a light golden brown.

Serves 4.

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