Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hands-on hotcake cooking lesson

Children preparing firewood on a stone-base stove.

Blowing air to build fire from a tiny ember.

Caption 3) Volunteer mother pours hotcake batter into the frying pan which I brought to The Center. See some hotcakes on a plate.

Hotcake mix now cooking slowly.

A Tembari kid poses next to a pile of whole meal flour from Lae Biscuits.

A Friend of Tembari Children

ON SATURDAY, I taught our volunteer mothers how to cook hotcake, aka pancake.

Hotcake would be one of the four simple flour recipes that I am going to impart with the mothers so that they could maximize the use of two tons of whole meal flour that were donated to The Center by Lae Biscuits a few days ago.

The three other recipes I have lined up are steamed flour cake (puto, a Filipino cake), “chakoy”, a Filipino version of doughnut and “ginataang bilo-bilo” (flour balls cooked in coconut milk). I would teaching the recipes one at a time in the next coming Saturdays.

It appeared that our volunteer mothers are seeing for the first time how hotcake is prepared and cooked.

They know of a simple process to cook flour – make a soft mass of it and deep fry. That simple, and I knew how it felt in the mouth and tasted. This recipe is very common among many households in PNG, especially those outside Port Moresby.

I have noticed one thing: whole meal flour is quite difficult to use for hotcake recipe because it easily breaks up when trying to lift it from the frying pan. I would prefer using plain flour. But we have to use our flour stocks before they are spoiled by bugs.

What I taught them last Saturday was a hotcake recipe that I have been familiar with since I was a child. As a fifth-grader in the 60s, I cooked hotcake as source of additional income for our family, which I did right in front of our house. They were picked up buy passers-by and neighbors as afternoon snack.

I had to bring my own frying fan to The Center to make sure that I could produce hotcake that looked good. The Center does not have one.

Hotcake would serve as our preschoolers’ noon snacks after their classes in the morning. We have 45 of them plus another 42 children attending classes at 11 elementary schools in Port Moresby who would be coming home to The Center after lunch.

Since we have 97 children right now including toddlers, preparing 97 pieces of hotcake everyday would be a big challenge. So we needed a bigger hotcake pan that could immediately cook at least six rounds in one go. One hotcake could take at least 3 minutes to cook. Multiply that 97 times, you could easily imagine the number of hours you would need to cook them all.

This would require a hotplate the size of 20” x 30” steel plate, which would cost us K400 to acquire. It’s quite costly, so we are having second thoughts about buying it.

But it is required so I am looking for a sponsor who could provide us with this one.

As I have said, we have two tons of flour to deal with. We should be able to use it otherwise it would be taken over by flour bugs before we knew it.

Hopefully, now that our four volunteer mothers know how to cook a simple hotcake, which they will do for noontime snacks on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we would be relieved of the costly tough biscuits that we used to serve to the children.

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