December 2009


Driftwood (Groucho): All right, fine. Now here are the contracts. You just put his name at the top and you sign at the bottom. There’s no need of you reading that because these are duplicates.
Fiorello (Chico): Yeah, they’s a duplicates.
Driftwood: I say they’re duplicates.
Fiorello: Why sure they’s a duplicates…
Driftwood: Don’t you know what duplicates are?
Fiorello: Sure. There’s five kids up in Canada.

I spent a great deal of time when I was a kid watching black and white comedies–Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers.  With the exception of the Three Stooges (a lesser Marx Brothers) and Abbott and Costello (a much lesser Laurel and Hardy), I loved all of them.  What’s stuck with me most though, and what sprung into my head as I was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on my way to work this morning, was the dialogue of the Marx Brothers.

Perhaps its because we’re closing on a seriously confusing financing instrument this week at work, but this scene from “A Night at the Opera” won’t leave me alone.  Now this is how you negotiate a contract!  Watch and learn, people.  Watch; and learn.

Hi All!  Ever since I had the amaranth pancakes at the now-defunct Vella Cafe in Bucktown, Chicago, I’d been meaning to attempt a version of my own.  Here’s what I came up with this morning.  They’re fairly simple, but with a distinct nuttiness, and a depth of flavor that run-of-the-mill flapjacks usually lack.  Plus, amaranth not only sounds cool (I think its up there with coelacanth), it’s pretty good for you!

This recipe serves 2 people, so if you’re planning on feeding any more than that, I’d at least double it!

A note about the amaranth flour:  I made my own, running amaranth through a flour mill a few times, but you can also find it at just about any specialty grocer.

The Ingredients:

A varietal of amaranth in its native habitat. Native to the Americas, it is now cultivated in Europe and Asia as well.

Wet:

1 cup whole milk

1 large egg

1 Tablespoon buckwheat honey (any variety of honey is fine)

1/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon oil (canola, walnut, etc.)

Dry:

1/2 Cup all purpose white flour

1/2 Cup amaranth flour

2 Teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon allspice (depending on taste)

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

A pinch of nutmeg

The Method:

Combine all of the wet ingredients together and whisk in a mixing bowl to fully combine.  Do likewise with the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix just enough to get all the clumps out.  If you over-mix pancake batter the pancakes will get tough!  Let sit for 5 minutes or so while you heat up your pan or griddle.

Oil the griddle (extremely lightly!) and when hot start frying the pancakes.  Adjust the heat as necessary and continue until all the pancakes are done.  I know I mentioned this before, but this recipe makes only 6 or so, so double it if you’re feeding more than two people!