Traditions and rituals are funny things. Religious followers abide by them to show a connection and trust in their respective beliefs. Athletes take part in them to repeat a certain outcome from the past. Some students even dress in nicer clothes the day of a test.
My life is full of customs, including the annual habit of eating chocolate chip pancakes the day before final exams start.
While in school in Pueblo, my friend Devanshi and I would go to IHOP the weekend before finals and eat a plate full of these decadent hot cakes. They always came with a mound of whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar. Accompanying the meal was the never-ending pot of mediocre coffee.
After the meal, we would head back to the dorm or go over to the library and study for hours. Devanshi would have her chemistry and biology books strewn about the floor – whether the dorm or the library – and I would surround myself with piles of readings in art history and political science. The caffeine buzz and sugar high sustained us through these study sessions.
We embraced this meal as a tradition after the very first time we ate it because we both passed all of our classes with flying colors. No sense in messing with what works, right?
Years later (no, I still won’t tell you how long I’ve been in school), the ritual continues but now the coffee is from my own pot and the pancakes are made from scratch. Unfortunately, Devanshi isn’t around to share the plate with me. She still lives in Pueblo.
I start every day with coffee; it is generally nothing-special-about-it coffee, but for finals I pull out my favorite. I was introduced to it, a holiday blend, from a bagel place in Denver, about five years ago. The flavor is a combination of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg that is subtle and it is a dark roast that perfectly complements homemade chocolate chip pancakes.
There is a beauty, however twisted it may be, to eating chocolate chip pancakes and drinking an oversized cup of coffee on your bed in the middle of the night while staring at an art history book.
While going out to a restaurant – even a so-so one – is fun, especially with a good friend, staying in with this meal is equally thrilling.
So, before the grip of finals takes its toll don’t forget to take a break, drink something caffeinated, eat something sweet, and sleep at some point. Some days it makes all the difference.
L’chaim and B’tay Avon (To Life and Eat Well).
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
In another bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the milk and vanilla.
Spray a large cast-iron skillet or griddle with cooking spray and bring to medium heat.
Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, and whisk until a thick batter is just formed.
Keeping the skillet at medium heat, ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet, to make a pancake. Make 1 or 2 more pancakes, taking care to keep them evenly spaced apart. Cook, until bubbles break the surface of the pancakes, and the undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook about 1 minute more on the second side. Serve immediately or transfer to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Staff writer Liz Sunshine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of the Collegian.