With sleep-kissed eyes I poured the slippery melted butter into a silver, medium-sized bowl. I mixed it with 1 egg and added it to my dry ingredients. 1 cup white flour. 1 tablespoon white sugar. 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder. Having forgotten the milk, I added it, a splash getting onto my flannel pajamas. I yawned.

It was 5am. At the time most people are in a deep sleep, I was making chocolate chip pancakes, half-awake, counting the ingredients aloud trying not to forget anything essential. On this particular morning, I had thought it would be a nice gesture to get up and make breakfast with my boyfriend, who happens to wake up and go to work before the sun rises. My adorable idea the night before was developing into a cursing-under-your-breath kind of idea the following morning.

I whisked the wet and dry ingredients together into a gooey batter with only a few clumps swimming within. Rubbing my eyes, I used a ½ cup measurer to scoop batter onto my butter-sizzling griddle. I watched patiently as the bottom of each patty began to brown and I dropped 3 dark chocolate chips into each. The warm, earthy smell filled my apartment. Like in a dream, I flipped them over and looked at the graffiti of the rising sun’s orange and pink reflecting off my kitchen walls. My morning’s task sizzled and crackled on the griddle, as if snoring loudly in its bed.

When the pancakes were crisp on both sides, I slid them onto our plates and readied a can of my favourite pure light maple syrup, bought during my trip to Montreal last spring. I poured it, soaking the pancakes and turning them a deep amber colour. The woody smell of maple tickled my senses, and finally, 20 minutes since I had dragged my body out of bed, I was waking up. I shaved a thin slice of butter with my knife and let it melt upon touching each cake, dripping down their brown, crusted edges. Cutting into the messy Jenga stack of pancakes, I uncovered their white and fluffy insides as steam escaped from their seams. One moist and gooey bite with tinges of vanilla and chicory told me this venture was well worth it.

The sweet, melting dark chocolate, combined with toasted and silky maple made each fluffy forkful taste better than the last. However, the extent of my fulfillment was not completely measured by the ingredients I used, but rather dominated by the success I was feeling before my day had really even started. Beyond the simplicity of a thing like chocolate chip pancakes, I was tasting my triumph, bite by bite, of having kicked myself out of bed to prepare this meal. With cooking, when you overcome new recipes, your accomplishments are rewarded, not by a standing ovation at the finish line, but by feeding your friends and family a dish they love and enjoying it with them, no matter what the circumstances or what time it is.

Author Erika Simon

Freelancer from Toronto, creator of carryonkitchen.com. Working as a writer, graphic designer, and communications specialist with several Canadian companies and publications. Much love for travel, living naturally, and outside-the-box thinkers.

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