Family Traditions: Camping, Shooting Stars and Pancakes

We just took Baby Bird camping for the first time! She did great and had fun getting dirty, playing outside and spending time with Mama and Dada. I kept thinking about camping with my parents when I was little.

Camping out east we got away from the big city light pollution and had the treat of seeing a sky full of stars and the Perseid meteor shower. My dad loved being outdoors and took my sisters and I on major backpacking trips in Yosemite. He always timed them for mid-August so we could see the shooting stars. I remember sleeping out in the open, all in a row in our sleeping bags and counting how many we could see as he pointed out constellations.

These days I am content to “car camp” instead of carrying a heavy pack up mountains at elevation. But when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and planned a victory backpack trip for when he would beat it, of course I agreed to go. We never ended up backpacking again, but I most easily connect with him outside in the beauty of nature, visiting the waterfall where we scattered his ashes or catching a shooting star.

I’m so glad we could introduce our lil’ one to the joys of living outside and being with friends. I know her grandpa would approve.

So, anyway, pancakes?

As we were preparing for this camping trip, I asked my husband what food he would like me to buy as he does most of the cooking when we camp. I was a dutiful wife with most of his list but balked at “pancake mix,” figuring I could do better. I recently made these super light and fluffy pancakes with some of the excess kefir I have been making and they were delicious. I pre-measured and packaged up the dry ingredients and added the vanilla to the kefir. Voila! Instant “instant mix.” More affordable and infinitely more tasty. I also packed some of my cajeta, a traditional Mexican syrup made from goat milk that is a cross between dulce de leche and sweetened condensed milk. (Update: the cajeta recipe is now up.) Papa Bird manned the camping griddle and they were a huge hit with our friends camping.

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I have to confess that making my own pancake mix was not my original idea but something I remember my mom doing when we used to camp. I clearly remember one camping trip when I was seven or eight. Before the campground we stopped to visit friends of my parents in Big Sur. I was petite and looked younger than my age, but I thought the lady was still a little out of touch when she said, in full on baby talk, “Maybe if you are lucky your mommy will make you pancakes.” I had to set the record straight and told her as a matter of fact, “No, but I will make crepes.”

Fluffy Kefir Pancakes

Recipe from Tammy’s Recipes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups kefir (homemade if you have it)
  • 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine kefir, milk, vanilla extract, and eggs. Add to dry mixture and mix just until moistened. Pre-heat griddle or skillet over medium heat (or just below). Lightly grease griddle or skillet, and spoon batter on. When many bubbles have risen to the top of the pancake (about 3-4 minutes), flip over and continue cooking until done (about 1-2 minutes). Serve immediately, or keep pancakes warm on a plate in the oven until all have been cooked. Serve with butter, fresh fruit, or syrup.

Notes:

Baby loves the pancakes, with or without syrup, and can eat them as is. This recipe is very basic and unsweetened. While it is awesome simple, it would also be a good “base” for adding anything you like. I have added a few tablespoons of flax meal. I’d like to try adding lemon zest in next time, inspired by lemon ricotta pancakes.

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