The Joy of Cooking Milhouse

“Treehouse of Horror VII,” season 8, episode 1

We’re entering Halloween season, and every year around this time I re-watch the classic Treehouse of Horror episodes. Some of my favorite Simpsons moments come from these yearly events, and the seventh edition (from the 8th season) is no exception. It has Hugo the “evil” twin! And the ever-classic “Citizen Kang!”

It also features “The Genesis Tub,” a Twilight Zone-inspired story. It puts Lisa front and center, so I’m totally on board. Per usual, Lisa is working on a project for school, and puts her recently lost baby tooth in a dish with soda (“I can still ruin soft drinks for everyone!”). After getting shocked by Bart, she touches her tooth and infuses it with electricity. The next morning she sees what she thinks is mold, but upon examination through her microscope, she discovers she’s created little cavemen.

She’s in awe until Marge interrupts with an announcement of breakfast, and Lisa runs downstairs proclaiming “Ooo! Waffles!” She’s disappointed to discover that they’re not waffles, they’re just square pancakes. The waffle iron’s been in the shop forever, and she heads back upstairs disappointed. Another look at her dish reveals that her tiny society has progressed into the Renaissance. And they’re Lutherans!

The next morning the little world has advanced past our technology into the future. When Bart comes to visit, he grabs the dish and pokes his finger into the little world over and over (“Oops, my finger slipped”), causing chaos. That Bart is soooo rude. That night, the civilization sends tiny rockets to attack Bart, annoying the crap out of him. He threatens to flush it down the toilet. As soon as he leaves, Lisa is beamed down by the de-big-ulator and transported to her little world thanks to a mini Professor Frink.

Sitting on her tooth throne, she realizes she is worshiped like a god and Bart is considered the devil. She also finds out they don’t have a way to make her normal size again. When Bart returns, you think he’s going to destroy the world and Lisa with it, but he steals the experiment instead. He wins at the science fair with “My Little Universe,” even beating out Martin’s milk carton ukulele. All the while, little Lisa yells “I created the universe! Give me the gift certificate!”

While I was tempted to make fish heads for “The Thing and I,” I also wasn’t tempted to make fish heads. So square pancakes it is! I know they’re no waffles, but what if your waffle iron is in the shop? Maybe Homer ruined it by making Moon Waffles! Try to fool your loved ones with these square pancakes. They’re still totally delish, even if Lisa doesn’t approve.

Square Pancakes (Not Waffles)
based on Mark Bittman’s recipe
Serves 3-4

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for greasing pan
For serving: More butter, syrup

  1. Preheat a skillet or griddle over medium heat.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter in a medium bowl.
  3. Stir the two together just until combined.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of butter to the hot skillet and let melt. Add enough batter to make a large pancake, quickly coaxing it into a square-ish shape.
  5. Let cook until the pancake is setting up around the sides and bubbles are rising and popping throughout the batter. Adjust the heat as needed. Once browned on the bottom, flip and cook on the other side until cooked through and browned on both sides.
  6. Place pancake on a cooling rack and add more butter to the pan. Repeat until you use all of the batter. You should have 4-5 large pancakes. If needed, you can place the cooling rack with the completed pancakes on a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven to keep warm while cooking the remaining pancakes.
  7. Use a large, sharp knife to trim the sides to make each pancake into a perfect square. Serve with butter and syrup and tell your family they’re waffles.

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