Hubby's incessant calls from work, yes, on a Sunday, took all the pleasure out of a late lie-in, so I decided to get started on breakfast at eight-thirty; sacrilege on a weekend *grrr*  Out came the pumpkin I'd bought about two weeks ago, and had left by its lonesome under the ironing board. Oh, the joys of cramped apartment life; my tiny, three bedroomed kingdom for a proper pantry. The microplane grater fell off its hook and onto the pumpkin, as my baby walked in, all tousled hair and sleep drenched eyes. "Mummy, can we have pancakes today?" The fate of this adorable little squash was sealed.

I don't know what kind of pumpkin this is, but boy did it smell good! I split it open and my nostrils were instantly assailed by the scents of milk and honeydew melon.  It made me think of soy milk and I decided today's pancakes were going to be vegan. I never intentionally set out to cook vegan or vegetarian, but I do love almost all things leafy and beany and, I have an on again, off again relationship with the egg.

When I was a child, I loved eggs! Couldn't get through the day without two soft boiled eggs, doused liberally with soy sauce and a shower of ground pepper. The whole mess would be sopped up with thickly buttered bread. Oh, sweet, simple, eggy heaven!!! The thing is, when I was a child, everything we ate was organic and free range. It was the natural order of things and most things, tasted far better than they ever could today.

Long story short, even the organic eggs from free range hens that I buy today, are a sad shadow of the glorious ones I ate practically every morning of my then young life. I think chickens were happier then. I should know; I used to chase them around my neightbour's yard and ferret out their eggs from their favourite hiding places, for my breakfast. We had an understanding. I was to have as many eggs as I wanted, fresh and still warm from her hens, and her youngest son was to be my husband. She got a raw deal, the dear woman.

So, now, I avoid eggs as far as possible, and have found that many cake, cookie, pancake and  waffle recipes can actually get by quite nicely, thank you very much, without eggs. I do get wistful at the sight of an egg salad sandwich and a perfectly fried sunny side upper still makes my heart skip a beat. Needless to say, soft boiled eggs awash in dark soy sauce and flecked with freshly ground black pepper almost make me weep. Sadly, though. some things just don't stay the same.....

I digress. These pancakes are a cinch to whip up. All you need - an evil sharp grater and the very laziest kind of stirring, with a whisk. Energetic whisking is a no-no if you want fluffy, feather light pancakes. The lemon juice or vinegar is a must as both react with the baking soda for an incredibly light batter. My boys don't exactly love pumpkin, so the chocolate chips were a needful bribe, just in case. Eating these, you will not know they are vegan, cross my heart! All twelve were gone in minutes, with no one (except the cook) any the wiser about why this particular batch of pancakes was unusually orange. They were too distracted by the chocolate. Mission accomplished.

the camera shy joseph trading his apprentice's apron for the critic's knife and fork - the coffee's mine, no stimulants for minors on my watch ;)

Prep 20 mins         Cook 12 mins         Makes 12 demitasse saucer sized pancakes

330 ml (1 2/3 cup) soy milk (unsweetened or lightly sweetened)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g (2 cups) plain or all purpose flour
1 level tsp baking soda
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 level tsp fine salt
2 Tbsp soft brown sugar
3/4 cup very finely grated  fresh pumpkin (mine was the size of a toddler's head and I used a quarter of it)
3 Tbsp light vegetable oil ( I used canola)
Mini dark chocolate chips (desired amount)

Combine the soy milk, vinegar or juice and vanilla extract and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and sugar and mix thoroughy with a whisk. Add the pumpkin, vegetable oil and soy milk mixture.

Start heating your pancake pan. It should be very well seasoned or non stick, and lightly greased with an oil soaked piece of kitchen paper.

Gently but quickly whisk together the pancake mixture. Do not overmix.  Stop mixing the moment everything is combined. It's alright if tiny specks of flour remain, here and there. The batter should be on the thick side, and slightly foamy on top.

Put heaped tablespoons of the mixture onto the moderately hot pan. Add as much chocolate chips as you like, to each pancake. When the edges look dry, right around (after about 2 - 3 minutes) flip over and cook the other side for about 1 minute. Too long and the chocolate will burn, so watch it. Transfer pancakes to a heated plate and keep covered while you cook remaining batter.

Serve pancakes warm with lots of real or vegan butter and maple or golden syrup. Lyle's golden syrup, a kind of inverted sugar syrup, is as delicious as maple syrup.