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Pancakes take a lemony Hawaiian twist

Recipe: Lemon-coconut corn cakes with coconut syrup

Garnish these Hawaiian-inspired pancakes with lemon and coconut.

Garnish these Hawaiian-inspired pancakes with lemon and coconut. Debbie Arrington

A recent trip to Kauai inspired this twist on an old favorite – including the corn part.

While vacationing on the island’s south shore, we met a corn expert from Iowa. His company was working on new corn hybrids, developed on the island’s western slopes. Since most of the Hawaiian Islands never experience winter (as we mainlanders do), corn can grow year round – making it an ideal place to test new varieties.

Likely story, I thought when I heard his occupation while grilling at our beach-side resort. Who wouldn’t want to escape Midwest snow to monitor corn on Kauai? But when we ventured to the west side of the island past Hanapepe and Waimea, we discovered – sure enough – vast cornfields where sugar cane once grew, all part of ag-science research.

4 pancakes, 1 brown and done, other 3 with bubbles
Flip the pancakes when bubbles form.

That got me craving corn cakes, but with an island twist. I wanted something as sunny as those western slopes with a little taste of the tropics, too.

When I got home to Sacramento, the combination of lemon and coconut worked beautifully in these corn cakes, lightened with lemon yogurt. The result was similar to a lemon-polenta cake. Coconut syrup was the perfect topper. Who knew that corn cakes could be tropical, too?

Lemon-coconut corn cakes

Makes 10 to 12 corn cakes

Ingredients:

½ cup cornmeal

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup lemon yogurt

½ cup low-fat milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter, cooled

½ cup flaked or shredded coconut plus more for garnish

Butter for griddle

Instructions:

6 pancakes on a griddle
Don't press on pancakes when they're cooking.

In a mixing bowl, sift together cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix together yogurt and milk. Beat in egg. Add lemon juice, zest and baking soda.

Add yogurt-lemon mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Add oil or melted butter. Fold in coconut.

Heat griddle and melt butter. Ladle batter onto griddle, spacing cakes apart; corn cakes will almost double in size. When bubbles form on top (about 2 or 3 minutes), flip cakes. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from griddle and keep warm.

Serve with butter and coconut syrup. Top with shredded coconut, if desired.

Coconut syrup: In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup coconut milk and ½ cup sugar. Over medium heat, bring to boil, stirring often. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Store in refrigerator.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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