As a full-time student, my life is hectic during the semester. Each week is akin to jumping on a treadmill that's already on high-speed, and running for five days straight. When the assignments are done, the classes taught, the emails replied to, I can finally take a break to catch my breath each Saturday. But then the next week starts again, and until the semester's over, it's what my mom affectionately calls "non-stop-boogie."
Plus, I am not a morning person. That is perhaps and understatement - I am very far from functional or pleasant in the mornings. And the first priority is always the cappuccino I must craft myself stat, not the food.
To make the mornings easier, I've taken to cooking up a massive batch of pear-cardamom-buckwheat pancakes twice a semester. Inspired by this inspired-by recipe, I first cut my teeth making these at army canteen scale.
Yale University, where my husband is similarly a PhD student, has a unique food-exchange / social meal collaborative called "Veggie Dinner." It's a complicated idea at first glance, but really it's simple. In a single semester, each participant needs to pair up with two other people to make a meal. That meal must serve 12 people for every one person cooking (so, 3 x 12 = 36 people). In exchange, you can go to 12 other meals during the semester. All of this is facilitated through an online sign-up system.
When it was my husband's turn, he signed himself up to serve brunch and made sure I was scheduled to be spending that weekend in New Haven. So I was tasked with cooking up something for 36 hungry people. Naturally, I picked labour-intensive pancakes.
I am bad at following recipes on a good day. When I need to quadruple a recipe, there is a constant skimming off the top or rounding the error. That and the requisite doubling of vanilla and halving of sugar. That's just how I roll. Usually, this works out fine, but with healthy-blog posts, like this one from Sprouted Kitchen, cutting the sugar in half is not necessarily a good idea. Particularly when I am feeding Americans.
But the pancakes were a smash hit -- several people asked me for the recipe. And before long, I was making them for myself at similar scale and freezing the leftovers to eat week after week. Once I realized the toaster is my best friend, mornings became easier. With pear, buckwheat and almonds, there's lots of good stuff to get me going in the morning. With the pop of cardamom, I don't get bored eating them day after day.
The key is getting a number of pans going, so you can make 30-40 pancakes within a reasonable time frame. Much like Veggie Dinner, you profit from the economies-of-scale. You just cook the pancakes, let them cool off and freeze them. I don't use ziploc bags, so instead I put them in small waxed-paper bags or old plastic bags and into the freezer they go.
When I need a quick breakfast, I pop them into the toaster for 5-7 minutes depending on their size, and out the door I go, pancake in pocket. Alternatively, you can be more sophisticated and sit down to eat your eggo-waffle-style frozen pancake. For me, every minute in the morning counts and sometimes I need my pancake to go. Plus then I look cool eating my pancakes in public: "Why yes, I am eating a delicious pancake at 9:30 AM, while attempting to understand this equation. I'm just so cool like that." Or at least I like to think so.