Coconut oil sputters in my cast iron pan as I draw a heart shape with pancake batter,  my nose scrunched in concentration. Zigzags are quickly poured in the middle of the pancake, and the edges of the batter start to firm and then brown under my watching eye. Bubbles erupt in the batter of the pancake, and I know it's time to turn it. This fragile creation must be turned carefully, so I turn a deaf ear to a minor argument my girls are having in the other room while I gingerly turn it over. Success. A minute later it is browned on the other side, placed on a plate, gently dusted with organic powdered sugar, and presented to my two girls who "oooh" and "aaahhh" at my efforts. I am proud.

I am generally someone who enjoys the natural beauty of food, and a simple pile of homemade pancakes is beautiful. But every once in a while, it is really fun to do something unusual and special. Sometimes that means buying special ingredients, but other times you can just take an everyday recipe and turn it into something unique and special. This is one example. I won't lie. It did take a little practice to get right, but once I figured out a system it went smoothly. (I should note that the hearts don't use a lot of batter, so you won't waste much in practice - and we just ate the scraps of my less-than-perfect ones).

You can use your favorite pancake recipe. Here are some suggestions:

Valentine Pancake Instructions:
1. Using the pancake batter of your choice, fill either a squeeze bottle (you can use a leftover and thoroughly washed condiment bottle) or, like me, a baster. (I used a Norpro Glass Baster)

2. In a cast iron pan, over medium heat, melt enough coconut oil or butter to thoroughly grease your pan.

3. Working quickly, squeeze the batter out evenly as you “draw” a heart shape on the pan, and then do zigzags in the middle of the heart. Make sure you connect all of the lines to the sides of the heart.

4. When the edges are browned, and the batter is bubbling, turn over and brown the other side. It will cook quickly. Serve right away.