Pancakes, with Zucchini and Carrot Variations, and a Hike to Century Lake

This is about as close to a “real food” post as I have gotten in the past couple weeks. Pancakes! We have a favorite pancake recipe which my dad used to make for Saturday breakfasts quite often when my sister and I were younger. Our pancakes use whole-wheat flour, oat bran, and soymilk, rather than the traditional buttermilk and white flour. I prefer these pancakes to restaurant-style pancakes, which are usually too fluffy and light, and a little bitter for my taste. The whole wheat flour and soymilk combine to give these pancakes a sweeter flavor and a denser texture, which I like.

My dad is also the master of making pancake shapes. I have great memories of him making
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pancakes in the shape of whatever my sister and I requested, whether it be more simple, like flowers and smiley faces, or more complicated, with multiple layers, like cats, puppies, dragons, or dinosaurs. Some of his more elaborate creations included a creche for a church Christmas exhibit, and the Sun logo. As I grew up, I was able to make some of these shapes for myself, but I never had the patience ucla-logo1and skill that he has, so I usually just stick to boring round pancakes, with the occasional smiley face. Recently, my dad made pancakes one morning and he made one in the shape of the UCLA logo! This brings me to the other reason I love these pancakes, not only are they delicious, they also bring back memories of the good old days when I was a young child, carefree and clueless, and free to sleep in and do nothing on Saturday mornings. Sigh. Those days are gone, but the memories remain! As does the recipe for these pancakes! which brings me to the original recipe. 

Pancakes

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Makes about 10 small pancakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup oat bran

2 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 cup plain soymilk

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions

Sift together all the dry ingredients in a 4-cup measuring cup. In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat together the egg, soymilk, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined, but still lumpy. Add more soymilk as necessary to get your batter to be easily pourable.

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Pour 1/4 cup portions of batter on the skillet, as many as will fit comfortably. For just-cooked pancakes (these are my favorite), cook until bubbles just start to form, then flip with a spatula and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, until the pancake is just cooked through, then remove and place on a plate to serve. If you like well-done pancakes, wait till the bubbles begin to pop before flipping, then cook for an additional 1-2 minutes before removing from the pan. Continue until all the batter is used up. Enjoy!

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Now for my variations! I had some leftover grated zucchini from a giant zucchini in our backyard, and some leftover grated carrots from making this carrot cake, so I decided to make some zucchini pancakes and carrot cake pancakes! I love zucchini fritters and zucchini pancakes, and they’re super easy to make. To be honest, I didn’t really follow any recipe at all, I just kind of mixed some basic ingredients together and hoped for the best. It worked out! These zucchini pancakes make a great side dish for a light summer meal. My family enjoyed them with a fresh chopped salad.

Zucchini Pancakes

2 cups shredded zucchini

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

Directions

Preheat a skillet over medim-low heat. Mix all ingredients in a 2- or 4-cup measuring cup. Drop about 3 tablespoons of batter on the hot skillet and press down with a fork to flatten into rounds. Cook for about a minute on each side, or until cooked through. Adjust cooking time depending on how large or thick your pancakes are. Remove and serve warm. Enjoy!

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Now for more of a dessert-inspired pancake. I got the idea for carrot cake pancakes from Smitten Kitchen, but they involved buttermilk and a million ingredients. I decided to make my own, adapted from our favorite pancake recipe. These pancakes are mildly sweet, which a spiced carrot flavor which would make them work for breakfast, a sweet side dish, or even a dessert! While developing this recipe, I came up with the brilliant idea of mixing the batter in a measuring cup. This makes for easy pouring and less dishes to wash! Yay!

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Makes about 14 small pancakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups grated carrots

1 cup soymilk

Directions

Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a 4-cup measuring cup. In a smaller measuring cup or bowl, beat together the egg, vanilla, carrots, and soymilk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until slightly lumpy and the batter is pourable. Add more soymilk as necessary. Heat a skillet to medium-low heat. Pour batter onto the hot skillet in circles about 3-4 inches in diameter. Cook for about a minute, or until bubbles just start to form. Flip the pancakes with a spatula and cook for another minute on the other side, or until cooked through. Remove and place on a plate. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Now for the hike! On this fine Sunday in LA, the weather was hot, and it was the perfect day to go on a hike involving water! I had planned to go with a few friends in the late morning, but I ended up having to go to work for a couple hours, so we actually left in the early afternoon. We chose to do a hike to Century Lake in Malibu Rock Creek Park. The hike is not too strenuous. It’s mostly flat, with maybe a few hundred feet of elevation gain. I’m not sure exactly how far we went mileage wise, probably around 3 miles, but the best part of this hike was the lake! Most people come to the Malibu Rock Creek Pools to go cliff jumping, but that spot is often extremely crowded and overwhelming, with people jumping off the rocks from way too high. News flash: If you’re thinking about jumping from a 40 foot cliff into the water below, which only comes up to the waist of your friend who is goading you on from the bottom, that’s probably NOT SMART! But people do it anyway. We chose to skip this part of the hike and instead go to the less-traveled-to Century Lake. It’s this lovely, peaceful little lake created by Century Lake Dam. We did some rock scrambling around the bottom of the dam, then climbed up and swam in the lake. Overall, we hiked for about four hours, spending almost an hour and a half at Century Lake. It was perfect timing, since when we started out it was pretty hot and we really enjoyed getting in the water, but by the time we got out it was cooling off. It was still warm enough that we dried off pretty quickly, but the hike back to the car was pleasant, with the sun going down and a slight breeze. I highly recommend this hike, which is taking the Grasslands Trail to Century Lake, or you can also extend the hike past Century Lake and do the M.A.S.H. set hike, but we were mostly interested in the water. This hike is one you can do again and again and still find new things, as there are lots of fun side trails to explore.

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Deer!

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Century Lake Dam from the side we swam in

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Century Lake Dam from the other side

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Getting up to the lake from this side involved lots of fun rock scrambling, including scaling this part with the help of chain someone had conveniently installed!

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Deer!

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More deer! They were starting to come out at the end of our hike, since it was near dusk.

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One thought on “Pancakes, with Zucchini and Carrot Variations, and a Hike to Century Lake

  1. […] pancakes are based off my usual pancake recipe, but I replaced the sugar with maple syrup, and I added a swirl of melted butterscotch chips, as […]

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