Tiny Buttermilk Pancakes in The Wild

My beloved, albeit painfully needy rescue pup woke me up at 3 o’clock Sunday morning to investigate a mysterious sound, again. I’m an all-or-nothing sleeper so once I’m up–that’s it for me. I try to be sympathetic in these moments. How do I teach her which sounds are inconsequential – the clicking of the ice maker in the kitchen – and which sounds might be raccoons rummaging through the kitchen, or aliens beaming up the whole damn house?

I got dressed, washed my face, and brewed myself a hot mug of spiced apple cider. I wrapped up in a blanket and plopped down on the couch in the dark. My mind wandered to the quart of buttermilk idling in the fridge. “Why yes, Stevie,” I said to the dog now contentedly snoring beside me, “buttermilk pancakes do sound good.”

I googled “buttermilk pancakes” and the first recipe to pop up was Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes. I had all the ingredients on hand so I went with it. NYT Cooking recipes tend to be consistently O.K. with a couple of modifications – in this case I added a tablespoon of vanilla and a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, incorporated the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls before combining everything together in one large bowl, I let the batter rest at room temperature for nearly an hour, and I opted for avocado oil in a cast iron skillet for perfectly golden pancakes.

While watching the sunrise over frozen hills from my kitchen window, I ate a single perfect pancake, complete with a cartoon quality pat of melting butter and a hefty glug of real maple syrup. I cleaned up while the leftover pancakes cooled, used a cookie cutter to cut them into several small circles, and dusted them with powdered sugar before tossing them into a travel container. I then brewed two thermoses of coffee and patiently waited for K to wake up.


We try to get out for a hike or at least a long walk every weekend.

Bette smiling while squatting halfway up a set of treacherous stone steps

Sunday was crisp and gray, and I layered up in fluorescent knits against the chill.

Close up of wet leaves decomposing on rocks

I’m a creature of the PNW and the smell of wet, rotting leaves soothes me. If I look at this picture, then close my eyes, I can smell them now.

Close up of tiny pancakes in a clear container held between Bette’s knees

Once we reached the peak of our outing, we stopped to sit and enjoy some tiny buttermilk pancakes and hot coffee.

Looking down from Bette’s point of view while sitting on a large rock, her hand is holding an open thermos of coffee and there is an open container of tiny pancakes held between Bette’s knees

I added hot cocoa powder to the coffees; a poor man’s mocha. We quietly ate more pancakes and I audaciously wiped my sticky fingers on the cuff of my pants. Stevie sat inches from my face attempting to showcase her self-mastery and obedience in exchange for a tiny pancake of her very own.

Close up of Bette’s hand holding a pancake slightly larger than a quarter in the foreground in focus, Stevie is sitting obediently in the background out of focus

Of course I obliged, I’m not a monster.

Close up of Bette’s hand holding a pancake slightly larger than a quarter in the foreground out of focus, Stevie is sitting obediently in the background in focus

I’m an equal opportunity hiking guide – everyone gets a pancake at the summit, no questions asked.

Bette posing in front of a stream in a long sleeve purple t-shirt, a pink and brown short sleeve hand-knit stranded colorwork sweater, khaki overalls, a fluorescent yellow wool hat over a pink baseball cap and dark sunglasses

I felt so grounded here by this gushing stream, I took a selfie to commemorate the moment.

Close up of rotting leaves and rocks in a stream

Escaping to nature is the best antidote against the “too muchness” of contemporary life.

The stream doesn’t grind, it flows.

Best xx Bette