Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

I laid in bed as the sun began to peak through the windows. I didn’t want to get up. The still house and looming quiet beckoned me to pull the blankets up a little higher and sink deeper into my pillow. As I began to think about my day, I sharply rose, immediately regretting those five extra minutes in bed. The long list of items I wanted to check off for the day was already making me feel crunched for time.

The school year was quickly sneaking closer and I had a mountain of items I wanted to complete before the first bell rang. I started strategizing how many things I could complete before the rest of my family would begin to stir. I was carefully planning out my minutes and how to fit a thousand things into one twenty-four hour period. After a few moments it dawned on me that while I was racing to knock out my to-do list, I was forgetting to focus on the most important part of my day, my family.

As a mother, it is difficult to see progress in the day-in-day-out minutia. Time spent encouraging, teaching, and loving never equate to instant success. There is little physical proof for the hours spent caring, and the blood, sweat, and tears I pour into my children. There are no pay checks earned, promotions given, and very little proof that I am on the right path. Occasionally I see a few encouraging glimmers of who my children are becoming. Watching my son have compassion for the new kids in school and inviting them to play, and seeing my daughter care for her hurt brother encourages me that I am directing them towards successful adulthood.  But often, days can be filled with tired, grumpy  kids fighting over the same toys, and using the same bad manners.  The days when I become lost in the regular bedtime routines, dinner clean-up, and  homework, I look for something to show the time and energy I have expended. I become easily distracted with chores, hobbies, and volunteer opportunities that give me instant gratification. When I have a dirty house, a few hours of elbow grease, and I can tell a marked difference. Running errands and checking them off my to-do list gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Loving your children well isn’t something you successfully check off after a few hours. With agendas packed full, I often have difficulty giving anything my full attention. My mind easily wanders to the next item needing my attention. Frivolous things become more important than focusing on what is sitting in front of me.

That morning, instead of rushing through a breakfast of cold cereal, I decided to begin the day on a different note.  I rummaged through the pantry and refrigerator and pulled out ingredients to make pancakes. I had a few lemons that were living their last days and decided to make lemon poppyseed pancakes. As I sifted the flour, whisked the eggs, and poured in the buttermilk, my focus gradually shifted from my long list to enjoying time with those around me. Forcing myself to slow down strong-armed my mind into relaxing. As sun made it’s appearance well known through the kitchen windows, sleepy-eyed children slowly made their way into the kitchen. I scooped them up in my arms, enthusiastically greeting them; genuinely happy to see their faces

We spent breakfast laughing, telling jokes, and eating our way through the mountain of pancakes stacked high on the table. I listened to next lego building project and silly dreams about kittens. I paid no attention to the clock passing the minutes. I ate at a lesuirely pace, being fully present with my family. With full bellies and smiling faces, my kids ran off to play. I surveyed the dirty kitchen and dining room and couldn’t help but smile. The sense of urgency I woke up to became less dire. As my hands ran the warm water over the pile of dirty dishes, my heart was full of gratitude. I didn’t finish my long list for the day but was okay letting a few things go. The time spent being fully present with my kids was well worth the load of laundry I didn’t complete.  I understood that sometimes my days don’t need to be packed full with teaching them to be successful adults, but merely enjoying the persons that they are. It’s good for me to remind myself that building a relationship with these amazing humans is the most important job I have; that in itself provides enough satisfaction for a lifetime.

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes: 

1 1/2 cup buttermilk

3 large eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 t. vanilla extract

1/3 c. fresh lemon juice

1 c. sugar

2 3/4 c.  all-purpose flour

2 t. baking soda

1 t. kosher salt

2  tablespoons poppy seeds

2t. finely grated lemon zest

Cream Cheese Topping

Only slightly adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook

*I have been obsessed with this topping for pancakes recently. It’s a perfect alternative when you want something besides maple syrup.  I found it in Joy the Baker’s recent cookbook. Go pick up a copy. It’s a great read.

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Pancakes:

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Pour in the buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in the lemon juice. Mix well. Stir in the sugar and mix until combined. Gradually pour the flour mixture into the bowl. Mix until there are no longer any lumps. Mix in the poppyseed and lemon zest. Pour 1/4 c. sized batter onto a hot griddle. After a few minutes bubbles will begin to form, flip and cook remaining side. Serve with sweetened yogurt or cream cheese spread. Garnish with fresh fruit.

Cream cheese topping:

Beat the cream cheese and sugar until well combined. Thin the mixture with milk until it reaches desired consistency. Serve on top of anything you want to be tasty.

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