It’s “winter” in Santa Barbara. If you could even call this winter. Today I wore flip flops outside and ate a popsicle to cool down. This week it may be hovering between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but two days ago it was 78. Not that I’m complaining…
When I say I miss seasons, I mean I miss fall colors, crunchy leaves underfoot, and the first chill of the autumn air after a hot and humid summer. I mean I miss the relative warmth of a 40-degree spring day as the snow starts to melt and flood the basements of half the houses in Wisconsin. I don’t miss the winters or the summers themselves. In my mind, those have always been the greediest and least pleasant of the seasons, taking up far longer than their fair share of the year, especially in the Midwest.
The nice thing about seasonless Santa Barbara is that the farmers market is open year-round; flowers are always in bloom, and there are always vegetables ready for harvesting. So if it seems a bit odd that I’m posting a pumpkin-y fall-like recipe right now, take note: I live in a part of California where I frequently have to think hard, sometimes for five or ten seconds, to remember what season it is, let alone which month or which day.
Last fall I wrote about my friend Jill’s garden exchange, now on hiatus for the “winter.” But her own yard is ignoring the hiatus and is still hard at work producing pumpkins and avocados. Jill recently gave me a big batch of pumpkin purée, which would surely last straight through to next fall in my freezer, but I’ve already used most of it up…
My girlfriend loves the spiced pumpkin pancake mix from Trader Joe’s, but it’s a little too much spice and not enough pumpkin for me. And the real reason we can’t subsist on only that (and chilaquiles) every weekend? Trader Joe’s only carries it seasonally. (As if seasons applied in Southern California!)
So when Jill gave me one of the best gifts ever, some of her excess pumpkin purée, I knew what I had to do. Spiced pumpkin pancakes from scratch! I stuffed myself on these fluffy pumpkiny pancakes this morning, and am nevertheless getting re-hungry for them as I write. (In fact, they were SO good that they were only debatably improved by the experimental addition of chocolate chips!)
(Adapted from this Curvy Carrot post.)
(Makes about 12 small pancakes, probably only enough for 2 people)
~ 1 cup pumpkin purée
~ ½ cup milk
~ 2 eggs, separated
~ 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
~ 1 tsp. vanilla
~ 1 cup flour
~ 1 ½ Tbsp. sugar
~ 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
~ ¼ tsp. salt
~ ¼ tsp. cinnamon (or more!)
~ ¼ tsp. ground cloves
~ pinch of ground ginger
~ pinch of ground nutmeg
~ small pinch of chocolate chips for each pancake
How to Make it:
1. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and other spices (or use about 1 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice).
2. Using two smaller bowls, separate the eggs, and set aside the bowl with the egg whites.
3. In the bowl with the egg yolks, whisk the yolks, then add the other wet ingredients to them: the pumpkin purée, milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
4. Whisk or beat the egg whites until they thicken and form stiff peaks.
6. Heat a skillet or frying pan, melt a bit of butter on the surface, and pour about ¼ cup of batter out for each pancake. Cook until lightly browned on each side. (Optionally sprinkle in some chocolate chips before flipping.)
7. Keep pancakes warm, until they’re all finished, on a tin foil-lined cookie sheet in a 275 degree oven. Serve with syrup.