Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Megan Cooks

Megan McArdle reposts "the best pancake recipe ever." Back when Megan was Jane Galt, she said the recipe was "[n]ot really hard, or confusing, just time consuming. But, I guarantee you, worth it. Once you've tried these, you'll never go back to Aunt Jemima." For someone who names herself after John Galt, only the best, most successful pancakes will do. Let others make do with mixes; when the revolution comes, they'll be left behind with their short cuts and frozen abominations, like the inferior creatures they are. It'll be just like the Rapture, only you can still have sex with superior, manly men and build superior, manly railroads and have superior, manly babies.

What is Megan's criteria for assessing the excellence of her recipe? We can only speculate, since she doesn't explain her reasons. We must accept them gratefully, since we are not her manly equal. So let's take a look at her recipe, which she took from Betty Crocker's 1950 Picture Cookbook. My comments are in red.

Several hours/night before: Soften 3 tablespoons (a little less than half a stick) of unsalted butter(1) We have something called a microwave oven now, dear. It will do this for you in seconds.

Start by separating 3 eggs (you can use something like this if you don't know how to separate eggs by passing the yolk back and forth between the two half shells. I have a little plastic one that cost $2 or so, which I bought at a kitchen store.) Separating eggs is totally unnecessary. It's a good idea for waffles, which should be extremely light, but overkill for pancakes.

In a mixing bowl, beat the yolks with a hand mixer or whisk.

Add 1 2/3 cup of buttermilk and 1 tsp baking soda. And then what? Let them
sit, while the acid in the buttermilk and the alkaline baking soda release all their carbon dioxide too soon?

With a stand mixer or hand mixer, begin beating the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy.

Sift together:

1 1/2 cups sifted(2) all purpose (not self-rising) flour1 tsp baking powder1 tablespoon sugar1/2 tsp salt That seems like a lot of salt and not nearly enough baking powder.

Add sifted dry ingredients to the liquid. What about the butter?

Check your eggs. If they're stiff and glossy, and a scoop stays on the spoon even when it's tilted vertical, they're done. Be careful not to overbeat, as they'll separate.

Don't add the egg whites yet. Instead, beat in the softened butter and
1/2 tsp vanilla. No, you should beat the butter into the yolks so they emulsify properly and eventually mix evenly into the batter.

Once all these ingredients have been harmoniously blended, you
gently fold in your egg whites. Folding means you don't stir; you ever so
delicately bring liquid from the bottom of the bowl and pull it over the egg
whites, repeating until the egg whites have blended with the rest. The object is
to keep the air beaten into the egg whites where it belongs: in your batter,
making it light and fluffy. Air is something of an escape artist, but as long as
you're gentle, you should be fine. (Even if you're not gentle, the pancakes will
taste fine; they just won't be as fluffy.) Oh, now you're worried about losing air.

Cook the way you would normally cook pancakes, but be aware that the batter is very thick, and the pancakes will surprise you with their height. Don't worry about this. The inside is light and fluffy, and soaks up an amazing amount of syrup. For best results, use a stainless steel or aluminum pan, which may require you fry them in butter, but will give you a crisper exterior than you can get with nonstick. Yeah, go ahead, cook them in an aluminum pan, the worst possible type.

(1.) If you don't have unsalted butter, you may use salted butter, and omit the salt later in the recipe And end up using much, much less salt. Which, on second thought, might be an improvement.

(2.) i.e. you sift a couple of cups of flour, and then scoop 1 1/2 cups of flour into the sifter to sift together with the other dry ingredients

The funny thing about our modern era is that anyone interested in food and cooking probably watches food tv and knows everything Megan is trying to teach, and maybe more. She's not educating the unsophisticated rabble who must depend on her wisdom and good taste to develop beyond boxed mixes and supermarket ground beef, she's reprinting a 60-year-old recipe from her mother's cookbook. Badly.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading that recipe some time ago and finding it needlessly comoplicated and pretty much recognized all the same cooking faux paus you did. And anyone who uses the word "harmoniously" while giving recipe instructions needs to be slapped. She cooks as bad as she writes.

Susan of Texas said...

She thinks she's winsome.

Anonymous said...

I love that she thinks she needs to explain how to separate an egg to her readers. That's so precious.

Anonymous said...

Image is everything to Megan. She's such phony. She doesn't know anything about food or cooking, she's just acting like she does by trying to use the right words to imitate what knowledgeable say--just like she does with economics.

You're absolutely right that Megan could never explain what makes these pancakes so special. These are pancakes for god's sake--it doesn't get any more basic than that. Pancakes are one of the first things little kids cook--these things are really very simple. It's not something that takes any special skill or talent, like making an omelet or roasting a chicken. It's just eggs, flour, and milk mixed together and cooked in a pan, then you douse them with syrup or berries or whipped cream or anything to give them some actual flavor.

So Megan, to show how superior she is, has to use this incredibly complex recipe for fucking pancakes. Do you really think anyone could tell the difference between Megan's pancakes and everyone else's--after the syrup goes on? Judging by what she eats--Frito's and peanut butter--her palate reached final form when she was in middle school. She's just reposting (and reposting) this recipe to "prove" her non-existent culinary credentials. And her idiot readers eat it up (no pun intended).

Back in the 1950s recipes used to be intentionally overly complicated, requiring the housewife to perform a multitude of useless steps which they were told were needed in order to make the "perfect" this or the "perfect" that. That's why, a lot of people think, Americans stopped cooking in the 50s and began eating processed "convenience" foods instead. Who has time to beat egg whites in the morning? Who has buttermilk on hand? The idea was (and it's still alive today with people like McArdle) that in order to be sophisticated and be serious about food, you have to cook only the "best" recipes for your family and guests, regardless of the costs involved. So you'd get recipes like Megan's where instead of just dumping eggs, flour, and milk into a bowl and mixing it up for a bit to make pancake batter (the way slobs do it), you have to use several bowls and get the standing mixer out to beat egg whites which you "gently" fold into the batter. And heaven forbid you "stir" the whites in, then the whole fucking thing's ruined, as Megan gleefully points out to her readers. Thankfully the 50s are over, however much of the 50s sensibilities survive, especially with people like McArdle It's an ideology that must appeal very much to Megan's overall outlook: one part blind obedience to authority; one part snobbish arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Blake has it dead on:
So Megan, to show how superior she is, has to use this incredibly complex recipe for fucking pancakes. Do you really think anyone could tell the difference between Megan's pancakes and everyone else's--after the syrup goes on?

My take is that Myself the Elf fancies herself as some kind of Martha Stewart for the Jane Galt set (overeducated yet talentless East Coast, old-money wannabes). This is yet another pathetic spoonful from that pile of slop that she can pass off as copy to make deadline.

Thick (fluffy) pancakes are an abomination anyway, so the whole exercise was a execrable waste of time, ingredients, and her snazzy, plastic fantastic $2 gadget that she bought at a kitchen store. ("o-o-o-o!" go the JG fanboys/girls)

Susan of Texas said...

There are so many good food and cooking sites, as well as tv shows. Biggie's bento box site is a great example. She's fluent in Japanese, has lived in Japan, makes bento for her child every day, and has made a name for herself through quality work.

And then there's Megan, who has no training and little knowledge yet feels free to pontificate to the seething masses. So far she's 0 for 3--in cooking, politics and economics.

Anonymous said...

Susan, your "beat the melted butter into the yolks" reminds me of Cook's Illustrated's great buttermilk pancake recipe, which a) I can't find on their site, and b) did not, AFAIK, include egg whites.

Finally, who the fuck wants "a crisper exterior" to pancakes?

Anonymous said...

figures bloggers would be jealous of megan- whose blogging turned into a successful, PAID job at a major publication... so she cooks like betty crocker, so what- there's a reason that cookbook is still in print- people like its recipes. writing lots about megan's pancakes has to be much lamer than her favoring the from-scratch variety. get a life. from a non-blogger

Anonymous said...

so the blogger chooses what gets on here. way to make it seem like everyone agrees with you!!!!!! how ingenious of you.

Susan of Texas said...

You triggered the spam filter because this post was made months ago. Patience is a virtue.

Sucking up to instapundit and whoring for the elite who crashed our economy and who violate Christ's laws of charity and love is not something to envy. I'll happily leave the support for war, torture and theft to others.