If you ever wake up one morning with a hankerin' for pancakes, and find a box of pancake mix hiding in the back of your pantry that you forgot about, check the expiration date before you use it. If it's past the date listed, do not use it even if it passes the smell and eye test. There may be some hidden nasties in there that could be deadly.

Korin Miller with Delish.com recently shared a couple of instances from a few years ago where people went into anaphylaxis after having an allergic reaction to mold spores, including penicillin, that had grown in the expired mix. Unfortunately one of those people, a 19-year-old man died as a result of the reaction. In the other case, a 52-year-old woman had a reaction after simply inhaling the vapors that were created while the pancakes were cooking. In her case, the mix was contaminated with dust mites. Fortunately for her, she survived what was no doubt a terrifying experience.

Dates on packaging can often be misleading. Some food is stamped with a "Sell By" date while other's have a "Best if Used By" date, both of which get misconstrued by consumers like you and I as an expiration date. Once that date comes and goes, we choose to toss the food out instead of taking the risk of getting sick from it, because if you've ever had food poisoning, or know someone who has, you know it's a miserable experience. The reality is, those dates are more for the store selling the product as the manufacturer has determined, through whatever procedure they use, the product will start to lose its peak flavor after that date. Some products do use an expiration date, and according to the Cleveland Clinic, if you have a product that is past that date, throw it out.

Personally, I prefer to whip up my pancakes using a recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook my wife and I were given as a wedding gift years ago. I've tweaked it a bit by adding vanilla extract and letting the batter rest in the fridge for a little while before I cook the 'cakes. Instead of reaching for the pancake mix, give this a go instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*If you don't have buttermilk on hand, make sour milk by adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to your 1 cup of milk. Let it sit in the fridge for a few minutes so it can work its magic.

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Lightly whisk the egg and add it to the buttermilk (or sour milk). Whisk in the vanilla extract and cooking oil.

Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, making sure not to over stir. A slightly lumpy batter is what you're looking for.

Using a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop the batter into individual pancakes on your griddle or skillet and cook through. Flip them over when you start to see air bubbles popping on the top.

Tips & Tricks

I make pancakes for my family at least once nearly every weekend. I've learned that giving the sour milk and finished batter time to rest in the refrigerator is key for getting thick, fluffy pancakes. This lets the baking powder and baking soda react with the acids in the lemon juice of the sour milk (or the lactic acids in buttermilk) creating tiny air pockets throughout the batter because, SCIENCE! When you take it out of the fridge, you should see several popped bubbles along the surface.

How long you leave it in there is up to you. I've left it for as long as an hour or more, which is probably more than necessary, but I would say give it at least 15 minutes. When cooking breakfast for the family, I generally make my batter first and stick in the fridge while I work on the bacon, sausage, and eggs.

If you give this recipe a try, I'd love to hear how it worked out for you. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail with the results!

[Source: Delish.com]