Hi, Local Milk readers! My name is Kimberly Espinel, and I live in cool and cosmopolitan London, England, where I am the food photographer and plant-based food blogger behind The Little Plantation. I’m also the host of The Eat, Capture, Share Podcast, which focuses on delivering inspiring and helpful content about food, photography, and social media to listeners from all around the world. As I share this blog post with you today about imperfect, easy vegan pancakes, I’ve been living the quarantine life with my husband and 10-year-old son.
Cooking in Quarantine
When we closed our doors to the world and cooped up to help slow the spread of COVID-19, I wondered, “What should we cook now that the world had come to a standstill?”. What could I make to put a smile on everyone’s face as well as fit into quarantine living and the new and somewhat unusual demands it put on our time, mental energy, and overall well-being? Comforting, easy, and delicious pancakes for starters; you can never go wrong with pancakes, am I right?
In the past, when I’ve made pancakes, I’ve tried to reinvent the wheel, add lots of spices and little extras to jazz them up and make them feel special, ‘perfect’ and unique. And though there is nothing wrong with that, living in quarantine has gently nudged my approach to cooking into a slightly different direction. This time of pause, reflection, and unsolicited slow living has allowed me to question whether sneaking in hard-to-find ingredients from far-flung places is necessary. Instead, I make do with what I have to hand. You know the stuff that’s at the back of the cupboards, the simple staples, the down-to-earth ingredients, and the plant-based, seasonal produce found in my weekly CSA box.
As a food photographer, it’s easy to add more than necessary to make a dish look especially pretty for Instagram and hide the imperfect bakes or discard the downright ugly ingredients. Cooking in quarantine has thrown that approach into question. Rather than seek out something that would make these pancakes picture-perfect, I thought about making them comfortingly imperfect, by merely accepting their wonky borders and injecting a sense of nostalgia, using ingredients my grandmother would have used. I also wanted to make these pancakes substantial, filling, and hardy and hence included LOTS of fiber to bulk them up and make them go that little bit further.
Thinking Deeply About Our Role as Food Consumers
Slowing down also created space for me to recognize our nonchalant, sometimes even dismissive approach to the value of food, and amplified my sense of unease about how wasteful we sometimes had been in the past. And though we’re not strictly vegan, living in quarantine and taking time out to think through the origins of COVID-19, the treatment of animals, the far-reaching effects of factory farming and over-consumption of animal-based products has certainly evoked a new desire in me to take my plant-based living way more seriously.
Slowing down has meant recognizing and fully accepting that we are an integral part of this planet, not above it, not separate from it. And if wonky-rimmed vegan pancakes can help us all acknowledge what we probably already knew deep down (that we are one with the planet), then skipping the Himalayan sea salt and sprinkles of dried Middle Eastern rose petals to make these pancakes was all worth it.
Slowing Down & Embracing This Season
Of course, the proof is in the pudding, or better still, in the pancake tasting, and you’ll be glad to know that my family decided these easy vegan pancakes were the best I’d ever made. But of course, you get to choose all for yourself. Here’s hoping they bring joy, wonderful full bellies, and the opportunity to slow down and take note of the cooking practices you want to embrace this season.
Easy Vegan Pancakes
For the Pancakes
- 2 cups self-raising flour see below for substitutions
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil plus extra for greasing the frying pan
- 1 cup plant-based mylk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
For the Rhubarb
- 600 g rhubarb washed, trimmed and cut into small-ish pieces
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
To Serve (Optional)
- Maple syrup
- Soya yoghurt
- Preheat the oven to 360F/180C. Open the vanilla pod with a knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds and combine them with the sugar. Place the rhubarb in a deep oven-safe dish with the vanilla sugar and mix until the sugar covers all the rhubarb pieces evenly. Place the rhubarb into the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Once done, allow it to cool while you finish making the pancakes.
- While the rhubarb is roasting in the oven, combine the dry pancake ingredients (flour, oats, sugar, salt, ground flax seeds) in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the wet pancake ingredients (mylk, oil, vinegar). Then pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and combine, ensuring the batter is free of lumps without overmixing!
- Heat a small pancake pan over medium heat, add some oil to the pan when it’s hot. Then pour about 1/4 of a cup of the pancake batter into the pan. When bubbles form on top of the pancake, and the bottom side looks golden brown, carefully flip the pancake over and brown the other side. Repeat until all the batter has been used.
- Once the pancakes are done, serve immediately and top with the roasted rhubarb and some maple syrup, yoghurt, and granola if you wish.