Sunday, June 5, 2011

And then there was the time she put sugar in her salt shaker ...

Please welcome our good friend and guest blogger, Janet Bolin, whose very entertaining first mystery, Dire Threads, will debut on June 7th. Janet's trademark sense of humor shows in the story behind this unusual but delicious recipe! Have fun reading and cooking and discovering her family secrets.
Thanks for letting me appear on one of my favorite blogs!
My mother liked salt. When she cooked, I could taste very little except salt. She added salt to fruit and to cakes and cookies, and she strongly objected to sweetness if she thought something should taste salty.
To her, tomatoes were supposed to be salty, never sweet. She canned tomato juice from tomatoes my father grew. My aunts—my father had four sisters, none of them married, who lived together—canned tomato juice from tomatoes they grew, too.
In the canning process, my mother salted her tomato juice . My aunts sugared theirs.
Thanksgiving dinner was always at my aunts’ house.
As we milled around in the living room before the meal, my aunts proudly handed us each a small glass of their lovely, slightly sweet tomato juice.
My outspoken mother didn’t want to hurt my aunts’ feelings, so she made faces that she thought they might not notice. Before her horrified grimaces became really, really obvious, one of us kids would sidle up to her, chug our own glass of tomato juice, trade glasses with her, and talk to her about something, anything, else until her I-just-might-gag-right-this-very-minute expression finally subsided.
I can just imagine the faces she would have made about the dessert that another friend’s mother fed to her kids. This mother cubed cheddar cheese, poured maple syrup over it, and served it in bowls to be eaten with spoons. I was leery—cheddar is a bit salty, after all, and maple syrup is sweet, but I liked it.
All that cheese and syrup seemed a little decadent, though. I like cheese crêpes and I like pancakes with syrup, so I created a compromise—adding grated cheese to pancakes. First, I tried medium cheddar. Although nice in crêpes, the cheddar was too salty (!) with the syrup. Next, I tried grated part-skimmed mozzarella, you know, the kind sold in bags at the grocery store (grating mozzarella isn’t exactly easy or fun.)
The pancakes came out with a creamy yet slightly nutty (not surprising, since I also added walnuts) tang. And of course, I poured gobs of maple syrup over them.
They’re almost a dessert, but since they’re chock full of eggs and cheese, I call them lunch. Or brunch.

Makes about a dozen saucer-sized pancakes.
1. Beat lightly in a largish bowl:
2 cups skimmed milk
4 tablespoons walnut oil
3 large eggs
2. In a separate bowl, put:
2 cups pastry flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
Stir with a fork to sift (or use a sifter if you really must)
3. Stir into flour mixture:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups grated part-skimmed mozzarella cheese
4. Pour flour mixture into liquids and stir until flour is damp.
5. Cook by large spoonfuls on hot griddle or frying pan. When bubbles form on top, turn and brown the other side.
6. Don’t forget the maple syrup. And maybe a pat or two of butter.
7. Warning: if you eat many of these pancakes, allow time for an afternoon snooze. But that’s always true with pancakes, right?

Janet Bolin writes the Threadville mystery series, about a sleuth who teaches machine embroidery and helps catch murderers in a village of textile shops (and suspects!)

DIRE THREADS, Berkley Prime Crime, June 7, 2011

Visit Janet at


  1. another one added to my TBR list!

  2. I never thought to put cheese in pancakes. Interesting.

  3. Perfect Sunday post, Janet. These are a great breakfast to welcome the kids and grandkids for weekly Sunday brunch on the deck. Let's I have mozzarella?

    And I love the story of your "salty" but good-hearted mother!

  4. Janet, this is such an unusual idea. I have to try it! Especially since I'm not a huge fan of pancakes. This may make all the difference for me. Love your tomato story!

  5. PS - Congrats on DIRE THREADS!! I'm really looking forward to it.

  6. Yum! Sounds delicious!! I do love pancakes and like to try different types. Hope to try these soon!!

  7. Book Dragon, Thanks! Yes, Dru, Laineshots, Julie, and Betsy. It's sort of a cross between cheese crepes and pancakes. I love maple syrup, the real stuff from trees. Laineshots, you summed up my mother very well, salty but good-hearted. And Julie, now that I've actually held DIRE THREADS in my hand (and had a launch party!), the whole thing is beginning to sink in. Until now, having a book published seemed like a far-off dream. Dreams can come true!

  8. Oh those pancakes look yummy! Congrats on the debuting mystery. I can't wait to check it out.

  9. Two days to DIRE THREADS! Can't wait!

    Janet, I love this recipe. Who would have thought about mozzarella in pancakes?

    ~ Krista

  10. Thanks, Bella and Krista! There's nothing quite like adding several comfort foods to one recipe . . .

  11. Janet you know me and cheese. And I love salty with sweet. Delish. Congrats on the release of Dire Threads and all the great reviews!!!

  12. Thanks for joining us in the kitchen, Janet! And congrats on the release (yay! it's finally here!).

    I love the story about your mom. While we never shied from sweet, my family put salt in and on all sorts of things. I had no idea that you could eat cantaloupe without salt until I went to college. :)

  13. Thanks, Avery. I do love cheese, especially melted. Here's a bonus, my macaroni and cheese recipe: macaroni and cheese. Yep, that's all.

  14. OK..I'm intrigued enough to try this...mine is a family of weird husband loves cold pizza with jam, our kids love all veggies (even beets!!) and well I just like to eat!!! Thanks for an original and intriguing new recipe!!!
    Also congrats on your new book...

  15. I am late to the table but I sure want these pancakes, Janet. I think I'll follow them with Dire Threads which I am waiting for!

  16. BIG Congrats on your new release this week, Janet! DIRE THREADS is a terrific debut to a winning series, and you should be very proud. BTW - You had me LOL'ing with your salt-lovin' mom. :)

    Wishing you the very best!
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter