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Batter-born goodness

Popular as the proverbial hot cakes, pancakes and crepes are on September's sampling menu at Ashland Food Co-op.

"They're such a comfort food." says Mary Shaw, Co-op culinary educator. "Like a burrito, you can put all kinds of fillings in them."

The Co-op often promotes "breakfast for dinner" as its Meal Solutions, says Shaw. Unlike classic, breakfast-time egg dishes, crepes and their batter-born cousins can be served sweet or savory.

"It's just like a plain, black dress — it's a wrapper," says Shaw.

They're also an ideal vehicle for showcasing seasonally fresh produce, one reason for planning the in-store demonstrations to coincide with the annual Eat Local Challenge, Sept. 7-16.

"I see people everywhere on the Bear Creek trail picking blackberries," says Shaw.

Fresh blackberries will be prepared as a compote for pecan crepes, available for free sampling Saturday, Sept. 8. Also at their peak, tomatoes will be simmered into jam for quinoa crepes Thursday, Sept. 6. Quinoa pancakes with cheddar cheese and corncakes are on the schedule Sept. 11 and 13, respectively. Demonstrations start at 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Quinoa flour not only produces a gluten-free dish but makes for interesting flavor and texture, says Shaw. Pancakes, crepes and griddle cakes are ideal recipes to prepare gluten-free because they aren't expected to rise, the quality that gluten lends to baked goods.

"It's a good way to start," says Shaw. "They're like a flat muffin or something."

Teff flour makes "wonderful crepes" that are soft and chewy and could go sweet or savory, she says. And contrary to notions that crepes are difficult to make, Shaw explains that while easiest with a nonstick skillet, crepes flip almost effortlessly if fully cooked on the undersides.

"I've done them in my cast-iron skillet."

Make crepes a day ahead of time and stack them between sheets of waxed paper and refrigerate until ready to reheat quickly in a hot pan, or freeze them for a few weeks. For that matter, measure out and blend dry ingredients for several batches of batter and store in the freezer for pancakes any time of day, any day of the week. Making your own mix, instead of using a prepackaged version, is not only "way cheaper" but "way fresher," says Shaw.

Co-op customers can see crepes and pancakes cooking at the culinary kiosk since a stovetop burner was installed and a recent remodel added counter space, says Shaw. Many more hot-food demonstrations and sampling are planned for coming months.

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.

Batter-born goodness