Friday, August 3, 2007

Switzerland's National Day, Gladioli and Pleasing Pancakes

August First is Switzerland's National Day. You can Wiki it if you want to know its colourful history. One interesting point is that it was neutral during the world wars and spies criss-crossed it or were based there, slipping information across its borders with Germany and France. In Somerset Maugham's 'Collected Short Stories: Volume 3', I read of British secret agent Ashenden's adventures while he is stationed in Switzerland.

Maugham's eminently readable spy stories are essentially studies of character and portraiture in words. He is a master at describing and fleshing out grey characters with little judgment or proffering merely wry comment.

Thought I should include a picture of the little town I live in, Cham. Here you can see a golden crown (at left) hanging outside a restaurant, while a double-rainbow arches over a flag.

Also, on account of the national holiday, I would like to present close-ups of one of my favourite flowers grown in der Schweiz, gladioli. (Mrs HBT, here's a tribute to you and the lovely mothers we know.)

Also, as it's still summer, it's a good time to indulge in some pancakes which you can top with fresh red currants (Johannisbeeren) and slices of banana and nectarine or peach.

World-Is-Flat Pancake

3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk (buttermilk makes it fluffier)
1 egg
1 tbs powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Mix flour with baking powder, salt and sugar. Use a handmixer to combine flour mixture, milk and egg. Add 2 tbs water if you want a thinner pancake. Top with fruits of your choice directly after pouring enough dough into a heated and buttered pan to make a big round. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium-low heat. No need to turn over.

If the pancakes are made plain (flipped over once to lightly colour the other side), you can eat them dusted with powdered sugar and powdered cinnamon with applesauce (Apfelmus). Or with honey and a squeeze of lemon. Also tastes wonderful with some chopped mushrooms saute-ed in butter with onions, beef stock and a bit of milk.

Pancake dedicated to Lyrical Lemongrass: "Here's smilin' at you, kid!"

This one's with freckles and a hint of moustache (adolescent spent too much time in the sun?).


Lee Ping said...

Dear Argus,

Thanks for the tribute... Beautiful Gladioli and such a beautiful city you live in. Your photography skill is good. Capturing rainbow (and ghostly photos - from your other article) are skills I have yet to learn.

The smiley face pancakes look a little like crepe. The cherry dripping effect is as though one is drooling...

The split personali-tea is for the Spy stories?

Argus Lou said...

Dear MrsHBT, you're most welcome. It's just pointing and shooting. For the rainbow, it was a matter of timing. But thanks!

Red currants burst with the heat on the pancakes and 'drooled'. ;-)
Yes, crepes are similar but thinner.

Spilt, not split in this case (for the tea) - coz this post has multiple topics.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Awww argus sweetie...tank yew tank yew tank yew! how did you know I look liddat wan? I like my pancakes plain with powdered cinnamon...yummy!!

Gosh, the flowers are gorgeous!! And the town you live in - so picturesque!! The crown looks like something from my chess set. :-P

Sigh......I shall sleep tonight with dreams of rainbows and mountains and gladioli and most definitely smiley-face pancakes. Perfect!

Argus Lou said...

You're welcome, Lyrical. Since you're most of the time cheerful, positive and nice, you must've a smiley face, I figured. ^_^

My hot Weisswurst said to tell you that he rolls up the pancake to eat popiah-style. So imagine your dear face squashed inside a tight roll, heh heh.

Kelly Mahoney said...

Well happy national day then! Great recipe, too.

Cynthia said...

Happy National Day! Funny pancake :)

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Kelly. Yours was on July 4, wasn't it?

Cynthia, thank you, too. Malaysia's National Day is on August 31.

SteamyKitchen said...

My boys want a pancake too!!!!

Andrew says, "Lookie mama! A smiley pancake! Its my favorite!"

Argus Lou said...

Dear Steamy, that was so cute of your Andrew -- to look at blogs with you and comment on them. ^_^
He's a boy after his mom's heart, I betcha.

Kenny Mah said...

Mmm... pancakes... I remember crêpe parties where we'd demolish giant jars of Nutella... Now that's the Ultimate spread for me! Guaranteed to put a smile on my face. :D

Argus Lou said...

Kenny, did you notice they pronounced Nutella as noo-tella in Germany? Tickled me pink, I tell ya, the first time I heard it.

wonda said...

Argus, my jolly friend,
You multi-colored gladioli made me glad. Your pancake greeted me with a smile. Ah, what more can I ask? My problem now is to reduce weight! BTW, how long is the flight to M'sia?

Argus Lou said...

Hey, Wonda, I just came back over from your blog. No wonda my earlob was itching (not that I haven't cleaned it this week!).

You're one of the wonderful mums the blooms are a tribute to. To reduce weight, eat more seaweed and drink less sake. ^_^
The flight from Zurich to KL is about 13 hours.

wonda said...

Haha! Argus, we travel faster than your flight with just one click! BTW, rice vinegar is not used in onigiri; only in sushi. I don't drink at all but these food blogs are tempting me too much. The flab around my tummy is as thick as car tyre not. No wonder pp says it's a spare tyre.
Going to bed now. Burp! Just had sushi for supper. Ssshhhhh!

Argus Lou said...

Wonda, you quick-click McClick, you! Thanks for telling me about onigiri. I'll still buy the rice vinegar so I can also make sushi on other days -- the nice, fresh salmon and tuna are just calling out my name every time I pass their counter/shelf at the supermarket. Will have to wear earplugs.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Hey Argus

What a thought! My face squashed up in a pancake?? LOL. Do tell your hot weisswurst that I blame him for any additional wrinkles that come my way. I'll be sending him my facial bill shortly. hehehe.

Kenny Mah said...

Ya, ya, I did. The Germans would naturally pronounce everything according to their own pronunciation system, which quite right, actually. Like the Euro is pronounced as "Oi-Roh" --- I got me some stares when I was travelling in England, I can tell you that. But elsewhere on the continent, they have their own pronunciations of the Euro too, so they didn't really mind my German version.

Years later, when I was working in Indonesia, this turned out to be really helpful as their language system was based on Dutch, quite similar to German, and made my life easier. E.g. a cellular/mobile phone is called a Hand Phone or HP for short, pronounced "Hah-Pey" ala Dutch/German, not "Aitch-Pee".

Yay for multiculturalism! :D

Argus Lou said...

Hey, Lyrical. Maybe a pancake facial is just what we need. ^_^ (Heard of food masks?) I'll join you in sending him my anti-freckle facial bill as well - he makes me walk and cycle in the hot summer sun, and sunblock is not 100 percent effective.

Kenny, here in Switzerland, a cellphone is called a Handy (pronounced in the English way!).
Indonesia's Har-pay is funny though, like a cross between harpy and sharpei!
And all websites here are Punkt CH (.ch) which keeps reminding me of the singer Seha.
(CH = Confederatio Helvetica in Latin)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

ooh your hot weisswurst is quite a slavedriver, isn't he? LOL.

Lee Ping said...

Ah, it makes sense. Split personali-tea means multiple post in one article.

I had a sample of red currant at the farmers market recently and it is tart. Are your red currants tart?

In Malaysia, we used to drink Ribena. That is made from black currant right? I wonder if heavy syrup is added to make it sweet?

Argus Lou said...

Oh ja, Lyrical. Slavedriver is his middle name. But I don't do windows, vacuuming and ironing. LOL

Mrs HBT, correct, but surely you must have noticed that the 'split' has become 'spilt' for the 'tea'? ^_^

Yes, red currants are tart but slightly sweet -- that's why I put them in sugared pancakes and my other half's baked cheese cake (made with quark, not cream cheese).

Cassis is another name for black currant, I'm guessing. Probably Ribena in our time had, besides cassis, lots of fructose in it if not sucrose.

Lee Ping said...

Blogging is certainly increasing my vocabulary. Spilt is a word and it is the past tense of spill. Wait a minute. I do know that word. Be kind to me, I don't have high IQ. :)

I am familiar with cream cheese but quark, I had to look up that word in my online dictionary. Quark is a soft creamy acid-cured cheese of central Europe made from whole milk. We do import cheeses from other countries. I wonder if we have Quark in the US.

Argus Lou said...

Dear MrsHBT, eye sight and not IQ is in question here. Besides, you tend to underestimate yourself. ;-)

Quark is much lighter than cream cheese, fewer calories. Look up kefir (or keffir) and creme fraiche while you're at it, Mrs H. It's interesting how many products you can obtain from milk, ya?

wonda said...

Counting down to the days you are going back? Hope your luggage won't exceed the maximum weight when you come back. Mine did by 7 kg but the officers let me go seeing me with a kid and partially disabled (cos I required for assistance).

Argus Lou said...

Dear Wonda, yes, I'm looking forward to seeing my sisters, brother, nieces and friends again, and eating all my favourite food.
My luggage has never been overweight (except for my hand luggage once to Australia when they strictly restricted it to 7 or 8kg only, so I just repacked some of the stuff into the check-in bag). I prefer to travel light most times.
You were fortunate the airline officials overlooked your extra-heavy bag.

Tunku Halim said...

Cham looks Charming! Hah! I make pancakes every Sunday morning. Same recipe but minus the handmixer and baking powder. Sometimes I add vanilla essence but if I'm really adventurous in goes the pandan essence for green pancakes!

wonda said...

Oops, I meant "requested" not required. I can smell kiam hoo in your luggage when you come back.

Argus Lou said...

TH, green pancakes and ham! Dr Seuss should be proud of you (Dr Xeus already is). My pandan essence is colourless - it works well in Kaya and nasi lemak, too.
One day I'll blog about Kaiserschmarrn, a German shredded pancake eaten with powdered sugar, applesauce and sometimes with powdered cinnamon and apple slices saute-ed in butter.

Wonda, well, you 'required' help as well as 'requested' for it. MCCs of the world unite!
My other half hates the smell of kiamhoo - mmm... methinks I'll buy more of it - to fight his smelly cheeses. ;-)

Padma said...

Dear Argus, I am learning more about Switzerland through you. You are my first friend in Switz...and those two rainbows and beautiful flowers made my day.

Faces on pancake adds the beauty on a fine morning breakfast. As always nice write-up, thanks dear!

Argus Lou said...

Dear Padma, thanks for visiting and leaving such kind comments. You're my first friend in New Jersey, US. Many years ago, I was there for a couple of days to visit the Shiseido factory for a writing assignment.
You're always an inspiration with your heavenly and wholesome Indian cuisine.

WokandSpoon said...

Lovely photos and I especially like the smiley pancakes!!

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Wok&Spoon. My other half likes them smiley pancakes too. ;-)

My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)