And they are available to you for a co-pay of only $3475 per pancake. Toppings are extra.

I know the title of this post may come off as just a tad flip. As someone who lost both parents to cancer (breast and colon) by age 26, who had cancer herself (Hodgkin’s Lymphona) in her teens, and who expects a second helping to hit any day now, I feel entitled to whip out my “Get-Out-of-Being Flippant About Cancer Jail Free” card for this occasion.

Despite the impact that breast cancer has had on my life, I despise the whole “buy this pink crap to cure cancer” bullshit. Buying pink crap doesn’t cure cancer, it puts more money into the pockets of people who manufacture and market pink crap – most of which probably dumps cancer-causing toxins into the environment, thus perpetuating the cycle of teddy bears wearing pink sweaters.* Granted, I don’t think that participating in the LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow Event will cure cancer either, but at least it’s an excuse to eat pancakes.

*If you want a pink blender because you really like pink, buy a pink blender.  But if you want to help women with breast cancer, donate directly to a place like Breast Cancer Action.  Or help an actual woman with breast cancer to get through a chemo session or go grocery shopping or clean her house.  

If you want more on the Pinkwashing of America, I recommend you to Twisty.

Also: If you want to start an argument about this in the comments? Don’t.

Lance Armstrong ate these pancakes before winning his 7th Tour de France.

I won last month’s Royal Foodie Joust, which meant I got to pick this month’s ingredients; I went with mango, cardamom and brown sugar. As the entries started rolling in, I got a little bummed at not being able to participate this month. So I decided to make something anyway, and submit it to LiveSTRONG.

It was time for breakfast anyway, so I threw together some pancakes with a mango-citrus compote scented with cardamom and ginger and sweetened with brown sugar. I had half a bag of frozen mango in the freezer; frozen fruit is invaluable for throwing together quick sauces for breakfasts or desserts. I tossed the mango into a sauce pan with the juice of one tangelo and one lime and left it to break down while I made the pancakes. Mid-way through, I mashed the large mango chunks with a potato masher and left the mix to thicken into a syrupy, chunky sauce.

I did not mix this batter with a pink whisk.

I wish I could say that pancakes with mango compote is a dish that’s gravid with meaning for me, or one that has some deep emotional connection to my parents. It doesn’t; I just love a pancake. Who doesn’t?

Not flipped with a pink spatula.

The act of cooking does connect me to my mom, though. She was an astounding Italian cook and never used a recipe a day in her life, even when baking. She would cook to express love, she would cook to deal with stress (it wasn’t unknown to find her baking at 3am), she would cook when she was homesick for Italy, she would cook just to cook. When I was younger and we didn’t get along so well – or at all – she would often try to bond with me by inviting me into the kitchen. I virtually never took her up on it. Because I was a kid, and kids are fucking stupid.

I lost her at just the time things were starting to turn around, and I mourn not only her, but everything I’ll never be able to learn from her. Fortunately, I seem to have absorbed some of it, either genetically or via osmosis. Even if I’m not cooking her dishes, the act of cooking on the fly – of throwing a bunch of shit into a pot and, more often than not, ending up with something good to eat – connects me to her.

My father was my best friend and a terrible cook. He knew how to make 3 things – spaghetti sauce, pork chops & mashed potatoes, and broccoli soup – and he needed a recipe in front of him every time. He once left lamb chops on the grill for such a long time that they DISINTEGRATED ENTIRELY. After my mom passed away, his fridge usually contained nothing except Cheez-Whiz, Swiss Miss pudding cups, club soda and OJ (for making Screwdrivers). Whenever I accidentally use salt instead of sugar, scorch scrambled eggs to the pan or eat potato chips for dinner, I feel connected to him.

More importantly, he taught me to curse. He was simultaneously a giant mush and a fucking curmudgeon. He once remarked, of a deceased relative who no one had liked while she was alive, that we should “stuff her bones into an apple crate and be done with it.” How fucking precious is that?
I feel healthier already.

I didn’t ruin anything while making this breakfast and did very little cursing, so I guess this is more of a “mom” dish. I made some simple pancakes courtesy of Mark Bittman and piled them up on a plate. I spooned the warm compote generously over the top, and added a dollop of creme fraiche to add some creaminess and cut the sweetness of the brown sugar and fruit.

The dish was a definite winner. The taste and texture of the compote was rich, sweet and slightly caramelly, but the lime juice added just enough brightness and the creme fraiche just enough tang. There were discernible chunks of mango, but the fruit broke down enough so that the compote would still coat the pancakes and drip down their sides invitingly.

So there you go. LiveSTRONG and prosper.

Mango-Citrus Compote
Serves 4 for breakfast

5 oz. mango, chunked (this is half a bag of frozen mango)
Juice of one tangelo
Juice of one lime
3 tbsp. brown sugar + more to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit starts to break down.

Once the mango softens and is starting to break down, mash it with a potato masher or fork then let it simmer a few minutes more until the mixture is thick and syrupy. Taste, and adjust the sweetness level by adding either more brown sugar or more lime/salt (to up the brightness if the sweetness is too heavy).

Can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated; re-heat before serving.