Last weekend in New York, I had the privilege of spending time with not only my family, but my roommate from three years ago, Emily. If you’ve ever realized within the first few minutes of knowing someone that you were going to be close friends, that’s the two of us. From the first night we met when she introduced my family and me to Burgatory, it was instantly established that we’d get along just fine. And it wasn’t long after that when we realized we would be getting along far better than just fine. Our year of living together, being in rehearsals, watching Criminal Minds, making spring rolls, having our own karaoke nights, and engaging in plenty of other nonsense, was the most enjoyable first year in Pittsburgh I could have asked for.
The day we had to part ways, then, was an equally unforgettable experience, in a terrible way. (Ironically enough, it began with a friends’ Burgatory dinner) I will never forget the hollow feeling that came over me as I stepped–stepped is a generous word, more like hobbled pathetically with my bulging suitcase–down our apartment stairs that last time; my stomach felt sick with the realization that I would never again wake up across the hall from one of my best friends. I apologize for the dramatic tone, but I simply HATE goodbyes.
Of course I ended up being fine and moving on; I even found equally wonderful roommates with whom I’ve spent the following two years of my life in Pittsburgh. Emily and I stayed connected through social media and called when we could, as often as two busy dancers on opposite schedules could manage. We always spoke optimistically of our hopes to visit each other, usually knowing the likelihood of it actually happening was low. She even did get a chance to come to Pittsburgh once, but it was very short and spread out among many people because unfortunately individuals as great as her have more friends that want to see her than just me.
I tell you this only to convey just how immense our anticipation was, then, that built up to our reunion last week. We spent every day together for 10 months and then didn’t see each other for more than a few hours in almost two years. Yeah, we were just a little excited.
So when I spotted Emily’s head peek around the corner of her building in Manhattan last Sunday, every ounce of self-control and public etiquette my parents had painstakingly drilled into my energetic self momentarily left my body as I screamed and ran in to hug her. It’s truly amazing how years of separation can’t even touch the strength of friendship. We hadn’t seen each other in person for so long and yet not a bit of awkwardness or discomfort threatened to impose on that moment. I hope you all have someone like that– someone that you might only get to see every now and then, but when you do, it’s like no time has passed at all. For the next two days, we kept busy: going out to eat, taking photos (she’s an incredible photographer), exploring bakeries. We didn’t have to plan any grand outings, though. Simply finding the right subway station or grabbing some groceries was special, because we were together again. It doesn’t always take constant interaction to sustain a good friendship, as wonderful as it would be to have that. My two days with Emily were brief, but they filled my heart enough to last until our next adventure together.
It was Emily who helped me conceive the inspiration for this recipe. Fittingly enough, we chose to tackle breakfast, something else that for many isn’t bound by the barriers of time. I spent my last morning in New York making and eating the first draft of these pancakes with her, a finale activity that couldn’t be more fitting for the two of us. Emily was always the one pushing me to start a baking blog; I was always brushing it off. I have to thank her for her persistence because clearly she knew I had something in me I just hadn’t seen yet. Well, Emily, I did it. To close, I’d like to share just a few of the things Emily has taught me: never put limits on yourself, on friendships, or on the time of day to eat pancakes.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Orange Cardamom Streusel Pancakes (V)
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 TBSP orange zest
- 1 TBSP sugar (vegan if desired)
- 1/2 tsp cardamom (If you don’t have cardamom, you can use 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 flax eggs (2 TBSP ground flax mixed with 6 TBSP cold water left to sit in fridge and thicken for at least 5 minutes)
- 1 TBSP vegan butter/margarine, melted (plus more for cooking pancakes)
- 3/4 cup “buttermilk” (1 tsp apple cider vinegar mixed with enough almond milk to make 3/4 cup, left to sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar (vegan if desired)
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 4 TBSP cold vegan butter, cut into pieces
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, oats, and cardamom.
- With your fingers, break apart mixture into butter until pea-sized crumbles form
- Set aside in fridge or freezer while you make pancake batter
- In a small bowl, whisk together, flour, sugar, orange zest, salt, cardamom, and baking powder.
- In a larger bowl, mix together flax eggs, melted butter, and “buttermilk.”
- Add dry ingredient mixture to wet ingredients in a few additions, mixing until all dry ingredients are incorporated well.
- Heat skillet on medium heat, and add a bit of butter to coat bottom. Remove streusel from fridge or freezer.
- When pan is heated and butter is melted, pour 1/4 cup of batter onto pan, spreading into a circle with spatula.
- Take a small handful of the streusel and sprinkle it all over the top of pancake.
- Let pancake cook until the bottom side is completely cooked, about 1 1/2-2 minutes.
- Flip pancake and cook the second side for the same amount of time.
- Repeat until all of batter and streusel has been used. Enjoy immediately!