It’s Fat Tuesday. As I sit here with my cup of tea and toast (the only breakfast I’ve eaten for the past 10 days due to an extremely debilitating head cold) looking out over the back yard with its 14 inches of snow, I am thinking of our Fat Tuesday traditional dinner tonight. We’ll be making pancakes.
At our house, Fat Tuesday always meant pancakes for dinner. As a child I never could parcel out the meaning of that; it seemed to me that a nice steak (which our family of 7 could not afford on Dad’s basic union wages) would have more fat than pancakes but, Mom kept this tradition for us just telling us that she needed to clean out the cabinets before lent.
Not that we didn’t love having breakfast for dinner, it just seemed odd to describe pancakes as a fatty meal when they were really so yummy with no visible sign of fat. To us kids it was like getting a reprieve. No spinach, no broccoli, no liver…..just the sublime meal of pancakes. And best of all, we could eat as many as Mom could make. Now this was our idea of a celebratory meal.
As we aged and learned the finer points of holidays, we grew to understand the idea behind the pancake dinner. We realized it was the last day before lent, before having to give up something to understand the pain Christ endured. We realized that Fat Tuesday was more than just indulging ourselves for a day of fatty foods like pancakes and paczki, a filled deep-fried donut-like pastry, sold on Fat Tuesday in the Polish neighborhood bakeries in our Chicago area. Fat Tuesday was a day to prepare ourselves for the penitent 40 days to follow. Forty days of fasting, of reflection and re-affirmation for Christians. Forty days to fast and pray. Forty days to remember what Christ gave up so we could have eternal life. Forty days to truly appreciate the gift that is Easter.
So, as we begin the journey to Easter through lent, the hubby and I will enjoy Mom’s pancake recipe for dinner tonight maybe with a little bacon or sausage on the side and some fruit. I’m not really sure where Mom’s recipe came from; probably Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks but is our family’s favorite and works every time. Enjoy!
Mom’s Family Favorite Pancakes
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons salad oil
- Sift together dry ingredients.
- Combine egg, milk and salad oil.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring only to moisten. The batter will have small lumps.
- Let batter sit for about 15 minutes while heating the griddle. It helps soften the lumps without excessive beating. The more you beat pancake dough, the tougher and flatter the pancakes.
- If your griddle is seasoned you do not have to grease it. If your griddle is newer; once the griddle is hot enough to make a drop of water dance on the surface; lightly grease the griddle with a little salad oil on a paper towel. I use a pair of tongs or a fork to gently swirl the folded paper towel around the surface. You only need do this once at the beginning.
- Once the griddle is hot enough to make a drop of water dance on the surface, drop dough by 1/4 cup onto the surface.
- Allow pancakes to cook till bubbles begin to pop on one side and edges look a little browned, flip with a broad spatula and finish cooking on the other side. You only need to flip them once.
- Keep pancakes warm on a baking sheet covered by a lightly dampened tea towel in a 250F oven while making the remaining pancakes.
- Serve at once.
NOTE: This recipe makes 8-10 large pancakes but can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled. As our family grew Mom multiplied the recipe to fit our family.