It’s-time-for-change pancakes

I’ve been a criminal lawyer for the past five years and it’s been a crazy, hilarious, surreal journey.

I’m a first generation Canadian, born of immigrant parents who moved here from mainland China 33 years ago. They couldn’t speak a word of English and worked gruelling hours doing manual labour so that they could clothe, feed and house four daughters and two grandparents. The Little Red Headed Girl likens my childhood to a Dickensian novel but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Character building was a running theme in my household. Nothing came easy. My parents taught me that if you want something, you have to work for it. It wasn’t going to be given to you.

Of course, being an irksome, contrary child, I was supremely lazy during high school. My marks plummeted, I started getting Cs and Ds, mostly in math and science. I focused my time and energy on fun courses my parents deemed useless, such as English, creative writing, jazz choir and theatre. I joined clubs and would decorate the gym for school dances instead of homework. I would talk on the phone until three in the morning and nod off during class. I’d print teeny tiny cheat sheets off my computer and tape them to the inside of my ruler and calculator to use in exams (so bad! Don’t tell!).

People don’t believe me when I tell them I was a terrible student but I was. I cringe now to think about it but hey, let’s chalk it up to youthful shenanigans!

It’s a miracle I got into university but as soon as I got there, I did a complete 180. Because I was paying for school myself (and if there’s anything you’ve learned about me from this blog so far, besides my love of eating, is how much I hate wasting money!) I was damned sure I was going to make the most of my time there. I studied my ass off. I worked hard. I got good grades. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life until I took a introductory criminology course.

It was magic.

I was hooked.

In our course materials was a book about serial killers. The first chapter detailed one man’s penchant for wearing clothes he fashioned from the skin of his victims. In what other subject matter would this be part of the curriculum?! I had found my major.

As university drew to an end, I again found myself deciding what to do with myself. I was an out of shape four-eyes, so I couldn’t be a cop. I didn’t want to go into probation or corrections. I wasn’t smart enough to pursue a career in forensic science. What could I do with my arts degree?

Through the process of elimination, the answer was clear. Law school.

Another miracle occurred – I actually got in. And now, fast forward 8 years, I’m at another cross roads. Everything I’ve done since high school graduation has been directed at a career in criminal law. And now I’m leaving it. As much as I love it, I’ve decided to go to a civil law firm and try my hand at civil litigation. There, I’ll basically be helping people sue other people, as opposed to trying to keep people out of jail.

Change is both exciting and scary. Changing blueberry pancakes only falls into the former category.

I love the recipe from my 2004 edition of The Best New Recipe from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. It never fails to produce light, fluffy, crispy pancakes. I usually add blueberries but this time, decided to alter it even further.

Orange Lemon Blueberry Pancakes (adapted from The New Best Recipe’s light and fluffy pancake recipe)

juice of one lemon
2 cups milk
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
zest of one lemon
zest of one orange
1 cup blueberries

Whisk the lemon juice and the milk together in a medium bowl or large measuring cup; set it aside to thicken. This produces something akin to buttermilk. It’s going to look curdled but don’t worry. That just means whatever scientific thing is supposed to happen is happening.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ground ginger. I also added the zest directly into the flour mixture as opposed to the wet (which is what I normally do). It doesn’t really matter – this is a pretty fail-safe recipe.

Whisk the egg and cooled melted butter into the milk until combined. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture. Whisk together gently until just combined and there are still a few lumps remaining.

I love the sizzle when the batter hits that hot, buttered pan. My kitchen smelled amazing with all those citrus notes.


Heat a pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes and oil it (I used butter just because it’s awesome). Pour the batter in and drop however many blueberries you want over the top side. Flip, cook, stack, syrup, eat.

And try not to think about work on a Saturday morning.

Think about pancakes instead. Especially pancakes that are deliciously crisp at the edges due to the hot, buttered pan, incredibly light and fluffy on the inside from the home-made buttermilk, bursting with fresh local blueberries nestled inside and fragrant with orange, lemon and cinnamon notes that meld together harmoniously, the ground ginger incredibly subtle against those dominant flavours.

Change can definitely be good.

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15 thoughts on “It’s-time-for-change pancakes

  1. You do realize that on the civil side you’ll be working most weekends???? I’m just sayin’…we’ll miss you, anyway. Hope you come back! You’re much too nice to be a civil lawyer!

  2. To paraphrase Louis DePalma in “Taxi”, “You’ll be back. They all come back. Except James Caan. And HE’LL be back….” Keep a foot in it. Nothing wrong with dabbling. Good luck!

  3. WOW on the professional change, and the pancakes! I don’t eat pancakes all that much, but these I have to make … they look downright delectable. Much luck with your new career in civil litigation. Change is good … to quote the great philosopher turned martial artistactor Bruce Lee, “Running water never goes stale, so you just have to keep on flowing.” 🙂

  4. Wow! You’re amazing, I was never that motivated in studies… not even when I reach university (I was really lucky I managed to pass the examinations haha!) The pancakes look amazing and delicious! Congratulations and all the best on your new job!

    • Thanks so much, Jasline! But I am FAR from amazing. I credit my educational/career journey on a hell of a lot of good luck 😉 The pancakes were delicious – I froze the leftovers, ate them the week after and they were still great.

  5. Not only an excellent recipe, but I relate to the 180 degree change upon starting university. During high school I was a mediocre student, but when I realized “my calling” when going through my years undergrad and grad schools, I excelled because I really became interested to what I was learning and to the career it would lead to!

    • Thanks, Frances! I think that’s the key to pushing one’s self – to find something that you really love and are passionate about (and being too cheap so as not to waste time and money 😉

  6. Making the change is terrifying! I’m facing my own crossroads these days too. Love the pancakes mmmmmm now I want some for a late night snack XD

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