Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: Bacon Pancakes, the Wrong Kind; and Lingonberries. The Right Kind.

First of all, let me just say that I went about this all wrong.  Now, I wouldn't go so far as to call this project a complete failure; but truth be told, I had a good mind to scrap this post and start all over when I realized my stupidity.  Being as I am American, what do you think comes to mind when I think of bacon pancakes?  Why, flapjacks with bacon mixed in, that's what.  But a person from Sweden, where The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo takes place, might think of something else.  More on that at the end of this post. Since I am a novice food blogger, however, I decided to allow myself to be an idiot on occasion; and besides, hardly anyone will read this anyway.  Now onward we go.

Last summer I read the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  (I'm devouring  books again this summer, but so far I haven't come across any food that I'm inspired to cook; there is still a month and a half left, though, and I'm sure I'll come up with something!)  Back in January I made some DELICIOUS lamb chops like the ones the main character, Mikael Blomkvist cooks. (For the recipe and more about the story and its characters, click here.)  Oh, and recently we watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo starring Daniel Craig.  In my post from last winter I said I was afraid that I wouldn't like that film as much as the Swedish-language one, because Noomi Rapace is so amazing as Lisbeth Salander I wasn't sure if anyone else would do the character justice.  Not to worry.  The actress who plays Lisbeth in this film, Rooney Mara, is just as good.  And I can't wait to see Noomi in Prometheus; at this point it looks like we'll be waiting for the DVD.  Joe is anxious to see that one too, because of Charlize Theron.)

In The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist, has been doing some research for the rich and powerful Henrik Vanger, regarding a niece that went missing years ago.  He has just returned to Henrik's home on Hedeby Island after serving jail time because of a scandal involving Blomkvist's magazine, Millennium. (Interestingly, they left this detail out of the Daniel Craig movie, but not the Swedish one.) 

He found Vanger on the ground floor.  The old man raised his eyebrows in surprise when he saw Mikael.
"Did you escape?"
"Released early."
"That's a surprise."
"For me too.  I found out last night."
They looked at each other for a few seconds.  then the old man surprised Blomkvist by throwing his arms around him and giving him a bear hug.
"I was just about to eat.  Join me."
Anna produced a great quantity of bacon pancakes with lingonberries.  They sat there in the dining room and talked for almost two hours.  Blomkvist told him about how far he had got with the family chronicle, and where there were holes and gaps.  They did not talk at all about Harriet...
(The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, p. 277)

Well, I had never heard of lingonberries, and I made a mental note to find out what they are and where (or if) I could find them.  Recently as I was searching the grocery store shelves for maraschino cherries, I spotted a jar of lingonberries and grabbed it.  Inside the jar was something that looked like wild blueberry preserves, except it was red; the stuff was tart and yummy, and tasted like cranberry sauce, only a little bit sweeter.  Rightly so; according to AboutDotCom, lingonberries are found all over Scandanavia, and are a cousin to the cranberry. (HA!  I knew it.)

The other night I needed to cook something quick and I decided to break out the bacon and lingonberries and make a "Blog Dinner," as I've recently started calling them.  I poked around online a little bit to find recipes for bacon pancakes (here is where I went wrong, more below), and most of the ones I found were recipes for plain old pancakes, with crumbled bacon as an ingredient.  There were one or two that consisted of a slice of bacon coated in pancake batter, but those didn't really appeal to me.   I decided to just add bacon to a pancake recipe that I've recently kind of adopted as my own.  You see, for years I've been using a recipe for buttermilk pancakes from my favorite cookbook, The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, and adapting it slightly to meet Moe's food allergy needs.  When we visit my parents, my mother always makes pancakes using a recipe she found on the outside of the Ener-G Egg Replacer package; the ingredients for those include orange juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, which makes a unique and delicious flapjack.  After the boys begged and begged me to make THOSE pancakes, I took my Southern Living recipe and substituted half the milk (or soymilk, in our case) for orange juice, and added cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and vanilla.  Here's the recipe that I came up with (starred items are the ones I added):

ZESTY ORANGE PANCAKES (I made that up just now; it's cheesy, I know...)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon*
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1 heaping tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer beaten together with 1/4 cup water)
1 cup milk (I use soy or rice milk; the recipe in the book calls for buttermilk)
1 cup orange juice*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Crumbled cooked bacon (optional; I didn't measure it, but I would guess I used about a half to 2/3 of a package)

Combine first 7 ingredients; stir well.  Combine eggs, milk, orange juice, vanilla, and oil in a bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Fold in crumbled bacon.
For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle.  (To make these even more bacon-y, I used the leftover bacon grease.)  Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked; turn and cook other side.  Serve with lingonberries, syrup, or whatever topping you like.
(Adapted from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, p. 72-73)

To further complicate things, I wanted to make gluten free bacon pancakes for myself, so I pulled out my new best friend, Gluten Free Bisquick.  I just followed the recipe on the back, and like with the "regular" hotcakes, I used orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.  And bacon, of course.  Easy-peasy; and if you're scared of gluten free pancakes, Gluten Free Bisquick will cure you of that.  You're welcome.

Now for the verdict.  When the boys asked the nightly question, "What's For Dinner?" and I said, "Bacon Pancakes,"  they all kind of wrinkled their noses and said, "Oh.  That sounds terrible."  Even Joe wasn't too thrilled with that idea.  Turns out that unbeknownst to me, Joe doesn't like the orange juice pancakes!  He never told me.  And nobody liked the idea of the bacon inside the pancake; they would rather eat it separately.  (Sheesh.  They said they wished I would have made some of them with bacon and some without.  I figured since everyone likes pancakes and everyone likes bacon this wouldn't be a problem.)  I will have to give Curly, our thirteen-year-old who eats everything, credit for not complaining, and saying that even though he would rather eat his bacon on the side, he liked them and would eat the leftovers.  I wanted to hug him.  And how many people tried the lingonberries?  One.  Me.  They were delicious with the bacon pancakes.  Then again, I'm the only one in my family who likes cranberries.

So what did I think?  I liked mine, although in defense of those who wanted their bacon on the side, I will say that some of the flavor of the bacon was lost in the pancakes.  I don't know if this is because I used the special recipe with orange juice and spices, and that was what masked the bacon; but truthfully I would just as soon had my bacon separately as well.  The next time I make gluten free pancakes for myself--without all that extra stuff--I might crumble some bacon into some of them just to see if that makes a difference.  BUT, I liked them well enough to have them for lunch the next day--with lingonberries, of course--and for breakfast just this morning.  I have two left, safely stored in my freezer for later consumption.

And now for the post-script.  After making this meal (and writing most of this blog post), I decided to see what would happen if I Googled SWEDISH bacon pancakes, and guess what?  I found recipes that are COMPLETELY different from your run-of-the-mill flapjacks with bacon added in.  Holy crap!  I'm dope-slapping myself.  Why didn't I think of that BEFORE??  I even found a blog post by a fan of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the person made--you guessed it--Swedish bacon pancakes.  Those look more like a frittata, with lots of eggs and little or no flour. (One site described it as being like a Yorkshire pudding, except I don't really know what THAT is!)  I definitely think a do-over is in order.

Be sure to check back here soon for my first meal from the Nicholas Sparks book, The Last Song:  Summer Spaghetti!

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