Hello, adoring public.  

So, it's been just over a week now since the race, and much like a mother who desires more children despite having endured the ravages of childbirth, I now have only vague recollections of the massive mileage I did last Saturday and feel a sadness that I do not have another epic quest in the near future. I did learn that the headwinds I encountered on the bike ride pick up every year at the same time-- sadly, if I knew that, I might have gone ahead and abandoned my "curb your bike arousal" strategy for the first loop, and allowed recovery on the second windy loop, which was gonna suck butt anyhow. It kind of makes me want to do the course again. Weirdo! Am I obsessing over this? Yes. Do I accept that I still did well enough? Well... kind of. I finished, and I did a good job, and I need to relax about it.

This week, I took it easy: Mom and I did a little hike in Griffith and saw an observatory show on Tuesday, then I ran three miles (didn't do the bike) during the Wednesday brick, did 1.5 hour of awesome yoga Thursday, took Friday off for giving blood (learned my lesson and waited until AFTER the race!) and did the Saturday Valley ride, where I was the only girl, and the only person riding conservatively, which made me feel like a slowpoke. I was truly lagging, and this of course bothered me, because I had to represent for my gender, but of course I was down a pint of blood and had done an ironman a week ago, so I had every excuse... though my pride wasn't so much in line with this. Even with my heart rate up to Zone 5, I couldn't keep up... it was astonishing how hard it was. Of course, then I found out at mile 30 that my front brakes were on... the whole time. Once I took them off, everything got WAY easier. What a doofus. I do think, though, if I hadn't been saying "well, it must be the blood loss, or I need to recover more..." I would have checked the dang brake sooner. Ohhhh well. As my friend David says, I got some good resistance training.

Today was the ocean swim and run at Zuma, followed by the amazing Amy-brainchild of a potluck parking lot brunch. Everyone cottoned to the idea, and it mushroomed into this crazy amazing feast, complete with a kerosene camping grill, grace a Michael Ruhland, on which I made four batches of my family recipe pancakes. I got a little traumatized from my ocean swim (upon exiting, I somehow was caught completely unawares by some gargantuan ninja wave that beat the shit out of me-- tore my cap and goggles straight off my face, it was nothing short of terrifying) so our communal food love was a nice little healing moment. Were it not for the company, I would have flipped off the ocean and never returned. (I not-so-secretly hate the ocean. And now it's even more clear why. Bastard sea, trying to kill me!!)

I will take a minute to float into tangent land and pancake ruminations: making epic loads of these homemade pancakes has been a love of mine since college. Anyone who knows me for an extended period of time, will, at some point, experience the pure unadulterated gluten form of love that are these pancakes. So, what gives? First of all, they are undeniably delicious. I myself, having eaten them since I had teeth with which to do so, am still always surprised when I try them by how freaking awesome they are. Secondly, they hold a certain deep significance to me, and so I like to share them, not only because it's super awesome to share something that's delicious, because then everyone will love you, but because you're sort of taking this private love that you connect with the dish and are opening it up to a larger audience, which is just a nice gesture. Sure, you can get good pancakes at The Griddle, but is it a family recipe with cute pictures of little girls in the kitchen to back it up? No. It's all about heart. (And these are free.)

For those not in the know, my Dad was an East German refugee. Germans don't do big American breakfasts... for them, it's more like a soft boiled egg, a couple rolls with a sandwich meat slice or two, and perhaps a little Nutella. So when he first had a whopping stack of hotcakes with syrup and bacon, he became totally obsessed with discovering the perfect pancake recipe. My whole life, I remember him refining it, and every Saturday was pancake day. There are home videos of first my sister, then myself, respectively at around age three, making the pancake recipe in its nacent stage. (In the video of my sister, she is mixing the butter with the egg, which, as you will see in the modern version, is no longer how we do it. She kept licking the spoon and saying, "Delicious", even though she was basically just licking egg and butter. Ew. In my video, I taste the batter, solemnly look at the camera, and say, "It tastes like baking soda". I was more of a realist, I guess.) By the time I was in high school, we had hit the sweet spot for years now, and it was well known that Dad's pancakes were spectacular: when we'd have big brunches with my friends and their families, the griddle would be on for over an hour, and everyone would leave happy and stuffed to the gills. (It's impossible to eat just one.)

Since we all knew the recipe, we never wrote it down... so it was only a couple years after my Dad died and I was visiting my cousins in Germany that they said (in German), hey, look, here's the pancake recipe. It was of course, all in milliliters and, well, German, so I copied it down, converted it to cups, and made it again at home. It was incredible, like alchemy: after three years, I was tasting his pancakes again, and they were exactly as delicious as they'd been every Saturday.

Ever since then, I've been making these pancakes in my own version of big family brunches with the people I meet... I've made them in the basement of a Princeton dormitory, for my grad school friends in Cambridge AND in the dormitory in Moscow, in Brazil for the kids who'd never tasted a pancake, let alone syrup, and my fellow teachers, and now here, in the Zuma parking lot, with my tri friends. And they always come out delicious, and they always make the day just a little bit more wonderful.


(I actually woke up from a dream at like 4AM that I was making these pancakes with my Dad, and was telling him about the tri brunch. It has been a while since I had an opportunity to make them for a bunch of people.)

Here's the recipe, so everyone can carry on the amazing pancake love into their own family traditions. A good thing to eat after a big day of cardio.

Muller Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (my addition)

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp yogurt or sour cream (I use fat free greek yogurt and it works PERFECTLY)
1 egg
1 cup milk (I use skim and it's fine.)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients and fork butter into the mixture. Create a well. Add the egg, yogurt and vanilla and mix. Slowly add in the milk and mix until smooth (depending on how thick you like your batter, you might add less milk. You can decide as you're mixing.)

*Make sure not to overmix your batter, or you'll get a chewy pancake! It's almost better to err on the side of slightly lumpy-- once cooked, it's just fine.

On preheated griddle (med-hot) grease with butter and pour medallions of batter. Flip when bubbles appear and batter appears a little dry on the edges-- should be golden brown on the other side. If you want to add fruit (I recommend banana slices, chocolate chips, apple slices with cinnamon or blueberries) do so when the batter is still wet. Serve while fresh and hot with syrup!

One batch makes approximately six medium sized pancakes. To feed a large group of people, I generally make four batches and it's more than enough (and yet they all magically get eaten!)

AuthorNikki Muller