Thrift Stores and Thrifty Polenta Pancakes

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Dear Readers,
Let me start off by saying I was never a fan of thrift stores. Too messy, time consuming and unpredictable for my high-strung personality. But, when we moved to Oregon and I began my job in the farm heartland, and didn't have a Target near my work (devastating for sure), I needed to go somewhere to spend my rainy lunch breaks. So, I discovered the closest such place was a Goodwill.

Then, I decided to fill my entire house with plants, and the Goodwill seemed like a great place to find neat planters and ceramics that can serve as pots. And that is how my Goodwill obsession began. Let me also say, the quality of Goodwill stores in Oregon seem to be much higher than the land I came from (Los Angeles), so that just fueled my new hobby, and apparently inspired the husband to write a post. 

I also want to add, I DO NOT DO compulsions, as the husband tries to suggest below. It's just not my style. And, the polenta pancakes were not bad. 

Every few days the Blog Lady was showing up to the house after work with Goodwill bags full of planters, pots, and puzzles for Viggo. She used her lunch hour to snack and then shop for new, old items to decorate the house with. At some point, I had to chase away thoughts she was developing a shopping compulsion from the sheer number of planter pots filling our patio and windows. Then one night she texted “Big mistake going to Goodwill. So much good stuff.” When she walked into the house and exclaimed “you’re going to have to bring in the box of stuff,” my suspicions seemed confirmed.

But, it’s good to be wrong. Sometimes. The content of that “box of stuff” was a genuine Goodwill find. Pottery from a Native American women’s collective in New Mexico, a signed bowl from Holland, sturdy plateware from well-known, but long-gone American companies, whale and geese coffee cups, etc. I’ve always known the Blog Lady to have a good eye, but this outing was something else entirely. Curious, I typed into my iphone the price for a gravy spoon from England. I followed this up by checking a set a plates, then the cups, adding the figures up and estimating the stuff was easily worth triple what she paid. I didn’t care about resale value, though, just the sheer quality of the goods. They were beautiful--to look at, to hold, to use.  When I got to googling the last item, I was actually sad she didn’t buy more!

While the Blog Lady’s been buying new plates and coffee cups, I’ve been trying to fill these dishes with weekend breakfasts. A recent attempt involved changing up straightforward wheat pancakes by adding cornmeal. Cornmeal seemed both exotic and homey, a Sunday morning breakfast virtue one should always aim for. The process of making cornmeal pancakes from scratch isn’t that different than regular old pancakes, except you add cornmeal. Oh, and this recipe included vinegar to apparently replicate the acidity of buttermilk. The Little Guy loved them, I thought they were interesting, whereas the last review went something like “I knew they’d taste like polenta pancakes.” The Blog Lady had a point. They were crunchy, grainy, and hit your stomach hard. Not quite the fluffy pancakes I normally make. They weren’t bad per se, but before breakfast was over, we agreed cornmeal pancakes would make a better savory dinner item with cheese and vegetables.

Not a thrilling breakfast endorsement by any means, but don’t let that dissuade you.

Animal cups too cute to pass up.
Basket for my weaving supplies.
Cornmeal Pancakes
via thepioneerwoman.com

1-1/2 cup (scant) All-purpose Flour
1-1/2 cup Heaping Yellow Cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Baking Powder
4 Tablespoons Sugar
2-1/4 cups Whole Milk (more If Needed)
2 whole Large Eggs
3 teaspoons Vanilla
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted

1) Mix together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

2) In a separate bowl, mix milk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredients, stirring gently. 

3) Stir in melted butter. Set batter aside. If batter is overly thick, splash in a small amount of milk.

4) Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. When heated, drop 1/4 cup batter per pancake and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.