One Man's Heaven is Another Man's Hell (and a recipe for Paleo Dutch Baby)

My idea of heaven definitely includes books, and even better, children with books.


girl, reading

Here are my children, reading quietly.
He is perfectly content; she can't wait until the end of the chapter.
He chose his own book; her book was assigned.

His idea of heaven might include stacks upon stacks of books, especially of the comic variety.
Her idea of heaven might be completely free of books, especially of the historical memoir genre.

I can relate to both of them.  At her age, I didn't love to read either, especially assigned books.  Now I can't imagine a day without at least a few minutes lost between pages.

I just finished reading a short book recommended by a friend years ago, Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach.  At that time, I couldn't find a copy at the library, so the book was nixed from my reading list, but not forgotten. I recently came across a yellowing, moldy copy at the thrift store for a quarter.

Written in 1975, set in 1999, it is a futuristic tale of a new, utopian country formed by the succession of the West Coast from the US.  A journalist visits the country as a diplomat and investigative reporter to find out if it really is the utopia it claims to be.  Imagine an armed hippie revolution: strict ecological/environmental standards, a twenty hour work week, a female president, recreational marijuana use, free love, communal living, co-operative enterprises, no personal property. Will he love it or leave it?

Is it utopia or dystopia?  To compare it to the last book I read, Ecotopia is a Randian nightmare! But it got me thinking: isn't the heart of almost every conflict, in literature and in life, just a difference of perspective? One person's heaven is another person's hell.  One person's dream is another's nightmare.  One person's utopia might well be another's dystopia, and vice versa.  An atheist's paradise will have no churches; a believer's paradise will have no atheists.

This yin and yang conflict reminds me of one of my dad's favorite quotes: "One half of the people are here to test the other half."  Politically, about one half of Americans will be disappointed no matter who wins the upcoming election.  One voter's win is another voter's loss.

It's kind of sad, isn't it?  Utopia is a mathematical impossibility.

This quote from blogger Kara Vanderbijl slightly tips the equation for me:

"Eliminate from your routine . . . any way of thinking that promotes you to favor ideas over people."

I'm going to write that idea on a sticky note and hope that it sticks.


While election season has got me down, as it often does every four years, the arrival of apples has sweetened my sorrow.  Who can be sad when there are Dutch Babies for breakfast?  These apple pancakes are a far cry from the floury, milky treats I used to serve pre-Paleo, but for those of us who have eliminated grain and dairy from our routine, they're a protein packed treat.


Paleo Dutch Baby
(serves one, but recipe can be doubled or tripled)

1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
1 apple, chopped
cinnamon to taste (optional)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

In a skillet, melt butter or coconut oil over medium heat.  Add chopped apples and saute until tender; sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.  With a stick blender or regular blender, blend eggs, almond butter, and baking powder.  Pour mixture over apples, turn heat to medium low, cover and cook until the batter is just set.  If you're confident with your pancake flipping skills, go ahead and flip the pancake and cook briefly.  Alternatively, pop the pancake under the broiler to finish cooking the top of the pancake.

Personally, I've always loved my pancakes dry, but my kids like their Dutch Baby with a little bit of honey on top.  To be honest, their idea of heaven would include good old fashioned pancakes drowning in Mrs. Butterworth's syrup.  Too bad for them that my utopian ideas reign in my kitchen.


  1. These Dutch Babies sound great! My girls still love your apple almond pancakes too.

    Sigh. Would THAT be great? If HALF of Americans really were disappointed at the election results? Sadly, it will not be half because our national voter turnout is kind of dismal.
    Also...gulp...I have to confess that I will be disappointed no matter who wins as I am not planning on voting for either the Republican or Democrat candidate because I do not feel that either has my (or my family or friends') best interests in mind and even though I know that I may be "throwing my vote away"...I can't cast my vote, MY ONE IMPORTANT VOTE, for a party's rise to power that I don't truly believe in.
    There. I said it! Phew.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. i am right there with you, kim! i fiddled around with that sentence, and thought about changing it to "voters", but here's the thing: i know A LOT of people who don't vote, but i also know that many of them do have an opinion, whether or not they express it at the poll. no matter who is voted in, i think they will still be disappointed. so given how they feel, and how you and i feel, it is probably more than half who will be disappointed!

      funny - the song that is running though my head is "holding out for a hero" from footloose. we need a hero, do we not?

  2. Yes, good point. Many Non-Voters do have strong political opinions; in fact, Not Voting could be considered a form of protest right? These election years put me in an especially pessimistic mood...but I am still holding out for a hero! And actually, I see little acts of heroism all the time that give me hope; people speaking out when it's inconvenient; individuals standing up for the rights of others when they have nothing to gain personally. All is not lost :)

  3. I keep wanting to try making dutch babies (it's true, I have never had one!), and this is definitely going to be my first recipe. I can way better relate to this. Sounds delicious.

  4. Heaven (Talking Heads)


    -- Mark V.

  5. I want to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  6. my favorite thing as a mother is to read aloud to my kids... my second favorite thing? gathering together in the living room to read on our own! love these pics of your kids reading...!

  7. As Molly's father, I must say I'm glad the reading gene passed down. I'm very glad reading has become important in the Dunham home. I'm behind schedule for this year, only 70 in the 10th month (what a braggart!). Perhaps next year I'll surpass 100 books per year. It was Molly that inspired me to keep a journal of what I read, perhaps a good challenge? It is sad that reading has become almost extinct. Blogs like yours encourages literacy and reading, keep it up!
    Regarding the 50% test.....while not intended as political, it is a truism indeed. The current situation only makes one want for a REAL solution.

  8. I will use your father's quote with my students. Thank you.

  9. Because you've posted a paleo-ified dessert-ish recipe and we/ve just eaten one, I'll pass this along: the linzer torte. Almond crust (the small amount of wheat easily subbed out), a preserve filling and a beautiful, simple way to end (or start) the day,

  10. I love Ecotopia, not because the writing is amazing, it's not. The story isn't revolutionary either, but the ideas are.

  11. There is something wonderful about reading children. . . I have to control myself from taking a picture every time I see a child reading. One day I asked my students if I could take a picture of them because they were all reading, and the sound/ feeling in the room was nothing short of magical. But of course, like all magical moments, they die when the spell is broken; I killed it with my question, and it did not return :(

  12. on my second reading, I am struck by your friend's quote: "Eliminate from your routine . . . any way of thinking that promotes you to favor ideas over people." Definitely words to live by! thank you and your friend!

  13. I KNEW I liked you! I've never met ANYONE who has even heard of Ecotopia. I read it years ago and it still comes to mind regularly. Especially when the Hunger Games came out -- I keep telling everyone that the author was inspired by Ecotopia! Do you agree? I make the Dutch Baby recipe with a couple of extra eggs for crepes. Now, I'm going to fill them with apples, butter and cinnamon. Thanks for the Fall idea!

  14. It is amazing that every week and sometimes every day I find new blogs (new to me) that I can peruse. I just became a follower of your blog. Your children are beautiful and I think it is amazing they enjoy reading whether it is assigned reading or for enjoyment. My middle son grew up reading the Harry Potter books in his generation. Those books brought a comradeship which will last for a lifetime of friendships. I was also amazed at the created world of witches and wizards that J.K. Rowling brought to life. Her created world will be with me for a long, long time. And thank you for the apple pancake recipe...I will definitely try this one!
    Nice to meet you~ Ah, you must come to my blog for a peak at the latest book my brother Troy Howell professional children's book author and illustrator has had published for young adults 'The Dragon of Cripple Creek'.
    Teresa in California


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