Strawberries may be perfect summer specimens, but for me they're fraught. Five years ago K handed me three flats of berries in the bakery where I worked after culinary school. "Cut the strawberries for the fruit tarts." It wasn't a request. It was an order.
I took the paring knife, carefully separated the stem from each berry, and sliced perfect, even slivers. I was concentrating, mind you, because even though this was a bakery and not a surgical suite it had been made clear that mistakes simply weren't tolerated. If the strawberries didn't look pretty, the fruit tarts wouldn't look pretty, and then, I guess, people wouldn't buy them. Or something.
See, this was my problem: I'd spent time in a war-ravaged country. I'd birthed two children. I'd recently lost my mother. I just didn't have the mindset to really focus on the details necessary to be a slam-dunk, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners pastry chef. In other words, I lacked the killer instinct. And, apparently, it showed.
So I sliced. And sliced. And sliced. I was pretty proud of myself, actually. The strawberries were coming along nicely.
K approached. "Have you finished?"
Uh, no. But I've done eight strawberries, and they look pretty great, I think. They'll do the tarts proud.
Disgusted look. I mean, she really gave me the stink-eye as she pulled the knife away. "You're not too quick with the knife," she hissed, yanking the blade from my fingers. In about 35 seconds, chop chop chop, she proceeded to finish the three flats herself.
I wasn't long for that bakery.
And it's a good thing, too. Because I'm quicker with a keyboard.
Type type type. Blog blog blog.
How do you like me now, K?
Recipe for Oatmeal Pancakes with Imperfectly Sliced Strawberries
The whole grain flour gives these quick and easy pancakes a delicious, wheaty tang. If this scares you, go the wimpy route and use half all-purpose flour and half white whole wheat instead.
Makes 8 pancakes
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
strawberries, butter, and maple syrup, for serving
In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.
In a 2-cup capacity measuring cup (or a small bowl), whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk to combine. Let stand 3 minutes while you preheat the griddle.
Spray a griddle or nonstick skillet with cooking spray. When hot, scoop 1/4 cup batter onto griddle. Cook 2 minutes on first side, flip, and cook about a minute longer on the second side.
Serve with strawberries, butter, and maple syrup.