Once, as it happened, I was house-sitting for friends and there was nothing in the house to eat. They did leave me a bottle of wine and a bottle of milk, but the refrigerator was bare. Just the milk and a couple of onions. I had jalapeños, because I always travel with them (see Ritual 6). Rooting through the cupboards was a disappointing journey: little bags of rancid walnuts, half-empty jars of store-bought jam, lots of instant ramen; none of that appealed.
And then I saw her: that familiar picture of Aunt Jemima smiling from a box of pancake mix. Jalapeño pancakes would be my simple supper! I sliced the jalapeños and the onions, mixed them with salt, cumin, and oil, and then added them to the thick batter. They were shockingly good, reminding me a bit of stuffed Indian naan. Now—sorry, Aunt Jemima—I make them from scratch. They are also excellent with fried eggs for breakfast or to accompany smoked salmon with a dab of sour cream.
Jalapeño Pancakes: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 egg, beaten, 1 tablespoon melted butter or olive oil; ½ cup thinly sliced onion or scallion, 1 or 2 jalapeño chiles, sliced thin, and ½ teaspoon toasted coarsely ground cumin.
Mix up the batter, and stir in the onion, jalapeños, and cumin. Heat up the griddle, and make your pancakes.