The Elvis Pancake Stack and Shakespeare

FOOD

Peanut Butter Banana Honey Pancakes

Inspired by the King himself.

Let’s talk about English breakfasts for a moment. In my opinion, they look absolutely nauseating. Granted, being a vegetarian doesn’t help me like the idea of them, but really, does this look good to you? Blegh the idea of blood sausage being anywhere near me is scary. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the topic:

And here is what it looks like…

I think it looks rather unappetizing, but granted, I think a lot of breakfasts even in America look unappetizing. No disrespect to anyone who loves it of course, but it’s really not my cup of tea. You know what I do love though? Pancakes. I love pancakes. What else do I love? Peanut butter. We were in a relationship for a little while.

It’s one of my favorite things in the world, especially at breakfast. What’s my number one fruit? Bananas. They aren’t my favorite fruit (mangos and grapes beat them), but they are just so versatile that if I had to pick one fruit to have for the rest of my life, it would be the banana. Elvis and I would have been pals. Hence the inspiration for this recipe.

The Elvis Pancake Stack.

NOM.

Pancakes are a really budget-friendly, creative breakfast food, as they’re really easy to make in many different ways. It’s obviously not an everyday breakfast, but for special days a big ol’ stack of pancakes is just so soothing and homey. Here’s the pancake recipe I adapted for today’s adventure—I halved the original peanut butter pancake recipe to make a large one person serving, but the recipe below has the original measurements.

Peanut Butter Banana Honey Pancakes

Adapted from ‘Color Me Vegan’ by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

1 1/4 cup flour

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup milk, dairy or non-dairy

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 bananas, sliced into 1/4” slices

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

In small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the milk, honey, and peanut butter until smooth.  Add to the dry ingredients and beat just until a batter is formed.  Do not overbeat.

Lightly oil a nonstick saute pan or griddle over medium heat.  Spoon the batter by 1/4 cupfuls into the pan.  Place banana slices on top, before flipping. Cook until golden brown on both sides.  Serve immediately with fresh banana slices and a drizzle of honey and peanut butter.

It really is crucial that you put these over medium heat, because if you put it too high (like I did), they’ll be beautiful on the outside before they’re cooked on the inside. I ended up having to microwave these for a little while after I took my pictures. But no worries, they still tasted phenomenal.

Go big or go home, right? :)

The drizzle of honey and peanut butter on top really makes the dish.

And of course I don’t have a plate. Why would I? Bowls are the all-purpose dish.

I really think Elvis would have loved these little guys. Maybe next time I’ll even throw in a few peanuts for added texture.

Happy Pancaking!!

TRAVEL

Alright. So before I say what I am about to say, please know that I really do like London and all that it has to offer. However. There are some things that the UK is lacking that I think are quite significant. They are probably things to consider if you’re planning on packing your suitcase with any extra goodies.

The British don’t have graham crackers. Or Hershey chocolate. Do you know what that means? Most people I know have never tasted the most heavenly of summer treats, s’mores. It’s really unfathomable to me. S’mores are the quintessential campfire food. Stealing them away from summer just makes it a whole different experience. It is really, really upsetting that I can’t help them discover it.

Next, on a topic unrelated to food availability, I have a bit of a problem with the music here. Why? Because, given what I’ve heard so far, I swear that it is 75% American top 40 from 2 years ago. Another 10% is actual top 40, and then the last 15% is European or British. I thought I had escaped T-Swift for a glorious 3 months. Nope. Don’t get me wrong, I love American music. But I was hoping for something different, you know? I think the British and Europeans think about America and engage in our culture far more than we do in theirs, and I sort of wish that weren’t the case.

Continuing on another tangent, there are no trashcans on the streets. There are also no cigarette recepticles, which is surprising given the massive amounts of people who smoke. Thus, the streets are positively littered with cigarette butts. I recently discovered how the city isn’t thoroughly drowning in them—it is the diligent work of the street sweepers. But I find it astonishing that the city of London has not endeavored to install trash cans or places to put cigarettes. It would keep the city much cleaner and wouldn’t force every person to carry an empty coffee cup for about 5 miles.

Also, the weather. I thought that Maine and Ithaca were bad about being unpredicatable. London is ten times worse. In the states, at least I can look at the forecast and have a general idea that at some point the forecasted weather will occur. In London, the weather could be anything, and then something completely different in half an hour. It’s really hard to dress for London, because I never know if I actually need to put on my rainboots or not. And I love dressing up, so that’s an issue.

Now. Coffee. This is going to be my biggest rant, as coffee is very near and dear to my heart. London is FILLED with coffee shops. Londoners drink coffee nearly as much as we do in the States, and you can’t walk anywhere without passing a Costa, Caffè Nero, Starbucks, or Pret a Manger that will happily provide you with a good dose of caffeine. Seems perfect for me, right? Wrong. The problem is that here, you are hard-pressed to find any coffee shop that offers drip coffee, and it is literally impossible to find iced coffee. Even at Starbucks, the barista barely knew what iced coffee was. Being an iced coffee addict, it was really an upsetting event. I’m not a huge fan of espresso. I can enjoy it, but it has a different sort of nutty, woodiness that I do not prefer. Also, you can’t drink an entire cup of espresso. The closest thing to a drip coffee you can get is an Americano, and few places offer it on their menu (although I suppose they could make it specially). I’ve been making my own french press coffee, but because the press preserves certain oils in the coffee grounds, it has a different flavor profile, and I inevitably get grounds at the bottom of mine. Thankfully the weather is getting colder and I’ll be craving hot drip coffee, which is available at Starbucks, but the lack of coffee is really concerning. And, one last note, the British do not have half and half. As in, they don’t really know what it is and there is no substitution unless you decide to mix it yourself. For me this is an issue given that I am used to using half and half in every cup of coffee I drink. I don’t use sugar, so the quality of my cream is really important to the enjoyment I have in my coffee. I’m using whole milk now, but it’s just not the same. I wish there was an American coffee shop that actually catered to American desires, considering how many Americans live in or visit London.

Well now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can tell you about all the parts of my days that make me love London :).

Sunday Night

Okay, where did we leave off? Ah yes, almond croissant and a cozy bed. Well, shortly after posting, I met the last of my flatmates! We’re officially all moved in. I kept busy for the evening doing various things, having ridiculous conversations with my sister, and rediscovering all that I had missed in a week without Pinterest (okay, judge me).Then, a bit of pregaming fun—coffee for me!—and we were off to Koko for the Fiesta party. We were very concerned about the rain being a problem and had resolved to take the bus. However, being new to the crazy driving-on-the-left-side thing that the British have, we were on the wrong side of the street and watched as the bus passed. It wasn’t an issue though, because it had stopped raining just for us! Okay, not really, it was just London’s odd weather going in our favor, but it was still very nice to be able to walk there. The wait in line wasn’t long, and when we had put our coats in the coatroom and stepped inside the club, it was BEAUTIFUL. The building is a renovated theatre, and it is really, really spectacular. Here’s a picture of the place:

This is where I discovered that people in Europe listen to SO MUCH American music. There were people there who new the lyrics to Eminem’s raps better than I do. It was fun, and I could really get into songs I knew, but at the same time I had expected a little more variety than my at-home radio station. Also while at the club, I realized something that I rarely notice: I am really, really short. I was not wearing heels, and everyone was positively towering over my little 5’3” personage. It was overwhelming to say the least, getting bumped around by masses of bodies against which my strength would have been no use. I tried to stay in open spaces as much as possible, and enjoyed myself thoroughly for as long as the caffeine lasted, which was until about 1:00AM. We stayed for a bit longer (the party ended at 2), but I was ready for a nice sleep after a lovely night and my first full-length club experience.

Monday

Well, let’s just say that Monday was a long day, in the worst and best senses of the phrase. I woke up early to get in line to sign up for my courses. I only have 3 in my department that will transfer, so it was really crucial that I get into at least 2 of them. I had never received information about pre-registration as many other students had, so I was…nervous. And after about an hour to an hour and a half of waiting in a cramped hallway, I was brought in. And all of my classes were full. I am graduating in less than 8 months. I NEED these credits to transfer into my Sociology major, or I won’t be able to finish it. I just started crying right there. The advisor seemed to panic when that began and I explained the problem. She seemed sympathetic and promised to help me as much as she could, but I left with an overwhelming sense of doom. Not to mention, I didn’t have rain boots (called “wellies” here) or an umbrella, so I was cold and soaked to the bone as I walked to get those very things.

Luckily, Oxford Street isn’t very far from campus, so although it was enough time for me to resign myself to my sopping wet state, it wasn’t enough for me to fall into total misery. Turning the corner, I stopped at Primark, although I knew that my final destination was H&M given the previous evening’s research. And might I say, Primark is AMAZING. It’s like Forever 21 on steroids. More selection, more floors, lower prices…it was beautiful. Of course, I can’t be shopping my heart away because I have to fit everything into 2 suitcases at the end of the semester, but it was a wonder to see. None of their boots fit quite perfectly though, so I did go to H&M and wore these lovely little beauties right out of the store. Aren’t they cute?!

And, of course, when I left, it didn’t rain for the rest of the day. Typical. I caught a train back home and sat in my bed pitying myself for a little while. But a hearty lunch of the last post’s soup and some encouraging emails from my parents got me back on track and I left again with a renewed sense of ambition. I went to get permission for courses in other departments, got advice and help from the Cornell homebase here, and then having done those things, decided to have an adventure around the city. So much walking and so much discovered. And although I stayed in a very bustling and populated part of London, my one rule was to go on the streets that weren’t crowded to bursting, so that  I might find little hidden gems that I never would have found in tourist territory.

I’ll make a list of the things I passed and discovered, actually :)

Bubble tea at Bubbleology

I tried to get bubble tea at first, but because I didn’t have any cash, I wasn’t able to get it in the end. The cool thing about this place? All the employees are dressed up as scientists, you can pick the flavor of the bubbles or jellies in your drink, and the menu has snarky, fun little comments all over it. I think there are three of them in London, so it’s pretty accessible.

Froyo at Snog

I’ve been looking for froyo all week, and finally found some!! I didn’t get any, because by this point I had pretty much decided that I wanted to find a really fantastic cupcake, but it reminded me very much of pinkberry. The name is also fantastic of course, and they really play it up on their website, so definitely go online too.

Fresh Bread at The Breadman

This is a cart in the Berwick street market. By the time I got there they were mostly sold out, but it looked really cute and if I’d been there earlier, I probably would have bought a loaf!

Haagen-Dazs has a RESTAURANT

As in, they have waiter service for their icecream creations. Woah.

Covent Garden Market

Somehow I also ended up in here! It’s very cute, open air in the middle, and has a good variety of little shops. There was an opera singer who just walked in, set herself up, and started pleasing the whole place with her lovely voice. Yay for random performances! There is a cupcake shop here, but it’s pretty overpriced for the availability. There is also a cute little cookie shop across the way.

Primrose Bakery

This place is SO CUTE. This is also where I finally got my cupcake, which was absolutely the most delicious double chocolate cupcake I have ever had. There isn’t a whole lot of seating so I had to go find coffee somewhere else where I could sit down and read my book with the loveliness of the cupcake-coffee combo, but I wish I had been able to just sit there. If you want a cupcake in London, try this place, or a place I’ll talk about later in the post. But if you’re anywhere near the theatre district, take the time to go to this place.

The Theatre District

It’s my love. I want to go see War Horse, The Woman in Black, and perhaps even Wicked. We’ll see how it all turns out!

Whew! Well clearly I saw plenty in my travels, and that of course was not all. On my way back from Starbucks (where I had my cupcake and read my book), I pondered a couple things, one of which applies particularly here. I was trying to figure out if I enjoy London or New York City more. After thinking about it, I determined that I still love NYC, although it is admittedly a close race. The problem with London is not so much the city itself, but me in it. I often feel displaced—my accent seems alien and rough, the things I have come to love (like iced coffee, for a little example) are not always available, and I, necessarily, do not feel that warm feeling of being one among many united Americans. It’s sappy and a bit cliché perhaps, but there is a hominess to being in your own country that I think I would miss if I stayed here for any extensive amount of time, no matter how great the city is.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I knew that waiting would just be the name of the game as far as my schedule being worked out. So, I decided to just relax and enjoy myself. There are a bunch of things to do even within a 10-15 minute walk of my hall, so I decided to go to the British Museum to see the Shakespeare exhibit! Of course I was incredibly excited, got all dressed up, and resolved to check out this bakery that apparently has the best scones in London (or so says Google) on the way to the museum. I popped into Bea’s of Bloomsbury , took a look at what they had, and…immediately went to go get some cash. The place was absolutely adorable, the people were really friendly, and though it was a bit pricey, I did get the best scone I have ever tasted. There were currants and cranberries and raisins in it, with a light sugary top. Golden, flaky, and perfect with a gorgeous Americano and a book. It took me about an hour to eat it because I was so intent on making the gloriousness of it last forever.  Actually, I think the employees were a bit concerned because they thought that I didn’t like it and that that was why I was eating so slowly. Two of them came over and asked if it was alright! During this session I had various epiphanies and many moments of pure optimism and love of life. It’s something I tend to do frequently, actually—just sit with a cup of coffee and reflect on how blessed I am to be here, to have this beautiful life. I haven’t always been this way, but in the past couple years I have come to realize how wonderful life is when you don’t stress out about it too much. Here are some pictures of the bakery. I’m hoping to plan an afternoon tea with some friends here in a couple weeks :)

After finishing at Bea’s, I took a short stroll to the museum and went immediately to the Shakespeare exhibit. It was £12, as it’s a special exhibit going on for the Shakespeare Festival, and it was totally worth it. The exhibit explored the world Shakespeare lived in, had videos of the Royal Shakepeare Company performing monologues, and was just so interesting and lovely to take a quiet walk through. Afterward I got this really spectacular poster showing the characters of Shakespeare’s plays as a sort of Tube map, as well as a Shakespeare pin. I’ve decided that I want to get a pin from as many visited places as possible.

After getting my little souvenirs, I meandered about the upper level exhibits learning about so many things, from money to ancient Egypt. I took many selfies and laughed to myself. When I was in a Shakespeare’s Money section, I was taking a picture and a man taking notes kind of made fun of me, and then gave me a package of Cadbury chocolate, wishing me a good visit to the museum. I’m not going to eat it, you know, don’t take candy from strangers. But it was really funny and nice. I won’t show you all the pictures I took, because there are a bunch, but here are some that I played around with on PicMonkey.com :)

We’re like twins, right?!?!

Afterward, I did some errands and various other things. I skyped with the fam and then made myself a cup of tea. I think I now understand part of why tea is such a thing in London—because sometimes on cold, rainy days, all you want to do is sip a light, warm drink cupped inside your cold fingers. It’s a very cozy experience. And I was resolved to read until bed when someone started banging on my flat door. As it turns out, someone was having a little party on the ground floor and wanted me to come! I was a bit taken off guard, as these two girls I had never met in my life were standing outside our door, but I figured, why not?! I’m in London! I have to take every opportunity for adventure that I can. I went downstairs and had a lovely time meeting some very friendly people and it was just a great finish to a wholly wonderful day.

Much love to all my readers, and happy days until my next post!

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