I’m a copy editor, not a chef. And I’m a mediocre home cook at best. I’m trying to amass a stable of veg recipes for my family’s enjoyment. I’ll use some of the product samples we get here at VT HQ (Vegetarian Times Headquarters) and make recipes from some of the books in our cookbook library (don’t expect the most current releases). I’ll share the non-scientific results from my four-person-family panel of tasters. If something doesn’t impress, I’ll let you know, even if my novice kitchen skills are to blame. Read on to meet the panel and get our debut review of Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking & Pancake Mix.
Meet the Panel
My Better Half
B1/2 has been avoiding gluten for a little over a year now. It started as a way to lose weight, but she noticed her knees didn’t hurt like they used to and she had fewer headaches, so she’s mostly been sticking with it. The few times she’s fallen off the wagon, her knees and headaches set her straight. B1/2 is also trying to eat more vegetables. I hope that encourages the rest of us.
Rambunctious 9-Year-Old Boy
R9B’s first food love is pasta; his second is dairy products. We think he’ll suffer a lot of comestible heartbreak. He gets really snotty after a dairy bender, and slightly less so after Hoovering up pasta for the umpteenth time in a week. Nondairy milks get a thumbs down from R9B; gluten-free pastas usually receive an “eh.” His fresh fruit and vegetable intake is meager, but better than that of some of his friends.
Picky 2-Year-Old Girl
P2G likes colors on her clothes, not her plate. Pasta, bread, tofu, rice, and dairy products are faves. She wants her oatmeal dry (at least cleanup is easy). One of the few vegetables she’ll eat is cucumbers—another white food. Sometimes she even eats them with hummus. Every so often she likes "trees" (broccoli), grapes, and berries. And she loves "tweats" (not the Twitter kind). A recent visit to our local ice cream purveyors led to another customer noting P2G's runny nose and suggesting our girl is probably allergic to dairy. Wouldn’t surprise me. Eat some more trees and cucumbers, kid. Then you can have some vegan ice cream. Or how about some berries?
Our Rating System
Sampled items can score up to four plates—based on how clean the plates are after one serving. Plus, I’ll add any comments and/or suggestions from the panel.
Now that you've met the panel, here's our first taste test:
I scored a package of Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking & Pancake Mix from the giveaway table at VT HQ a couple of months back. R9B mentioned he wanted pancakes, so one recent Sunday morning, while he was sleeping in, I got to work.
The “Pamcake” mix went together easily enough (I doubled the amounts listed on the package). To get the smooth consistency the directions called for I did need to use a whisk.
Upon awakening, R9B noticed I was dolloping batter into our large cast-iron pan.
“Pancakes?! Are you gonna add blueberries or chocolate chips to those?”
Um, well I wasn’t, but frozen blueberries are a staple in the Copy Cat Kitchen. So, I dropped some onto several of the Pamcakes.
Maybe my pancake-flipping skills need work. Maybe my large cast-iron pan could have used a few more drops of oil between batches. Or maybe the pan was too hot, or too cold, or maybe I should have used our smaller, better-seasoned cast-iron pan. Regardless, the Pamcake batter cooked unevenly—it was runny and thin on one side. Each Pamcake from my first batch came out partly burned and partly barely cooked. I thought subsequent batches might come out better, but the results were pretty consistent in their inconsistency. But I finally used up the batter I made. Now for the taste test.
“These taste like rice flour,” B1/2 said. But she came around enough to finish her initial stack and spear a few more besides.
R9B’s syrup-to-Pamcake ratio was a bit heavy on the syrup—his dentist will be pleased—but he cleaned his plate.
P2G took the Pamcakes off her plate and set them on the table. "No pancakes!" she said.
I started eating the rejects. She threw a fit.
"No! No! Don't eat my pancakes, Daddy!" She jabbed the air to emphasize her point. (This happens a lot.)
So P2G ended up eating a silver-dollar-size Pamcake or two.
I ate all of mine, plus the P2G rejects I was allowed.
My Pamcakes didn’t look very good and cooked inconsistently, but they tasted OK with syrup, jam, peanut butter, or hazelnut-chocolate spread. We still have about two-thirds of the mix left, so I’ll try again another morning. Maybe next time I’ll add a little more oil to the smaller, better-seasoned pan and see if that improves my results.
Three-and-one-quarter plates out of four.