Bon Voyage!

>> Monday, February 19, 2007

Every important journey deserves a great send-off! Shrove Tuesday is a wonderful beginning to the Lenten season. It is marked by making a confession and praying for the souls of sinners. The term "Shrove" comes from an old English term "to shrive", which is the equivalent to administering the Sacrament of Penance. So when you attend confession, you have been shriven.

Mercifully hear our prayers, O Lord, and spare all those who confess their sins unto you; that they, whose consciences by sin are accused, by your merciful pardon may be absolved; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Actually, the roots of Shrove Tuesday’s pancake extravaganza are not so much a feast before the fast, but the practicality and frugality of the English housewife. Dairy foods – fats, milk and eggs – were forbidden during Lent. In order to use up supplies, housewives made pancakes from the eggs, milk and butter that were left in the larder. The types of pancakes are as varied as the imagination. There were thick, fluffy varieties; rich, eggy pancakes; filled crepes; and quire – a stack of paper thin cakes. They were served with baked or preserved fruits, cream fillings, sugars fancy and plain, or even doused with spirits! Those pieces of bacon that weren’t consumed on Collop Monday – the day that eggs and bacon (or enormous beef or pork roasts) were consumed in great quantities – were certain to find their way onto plates alongside those steaming, golden medallions. Just because pancakes are on the menu doesn't mean you can't feast in the evening!

German Apple Pancakes

My family loves this for breakfast served with bacon or sausage (a rare treat). This makes a batch large enough for a family of 8. You can (if you’re feeling particularly ambitious) make these in mini pans to serve individually. For those of British descent, you’ll recognize this batter as being the same as for Yorkshire pudding. If you made this recipe with ‘bangers’ or sausage instead of apples – you’d have Toad in the Hole, which is a good teatime recipe. Serve with cream if you wish and for sure remember the homemade cocoa!

8 eggs
1.5 c. flour
1.5 c. milk
1 tsp salt
½ c. butter
4 medium apples, thinly sliced
½ c. sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place two large baking dishes (glass/Pyrex) in oven with ½ stick butter in each. Beat eggs, flour, milk and salt together for 1 minute – some folks like to use a blender for this part. When the butter is completely melted and HOT, add equal amounts of batter to each dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Combine cinnamon and sugar, set aside. Divide the apples evenly between both dishes, sprinkle on cinnamon sugar and bake for and additional 10-15 minutes. The batter will have puffed way up the sides – very impressive! When you bring it to the table, it’ll still be sizzling – that’s the panache!


Crepes are beautiful things. These are truly the pancakes we’re talking about on Pancake Day. They can be stacked and layered with sweetened whipped cream (laced with spirits if you like) or stewed fruits; or they can be filled with preserved fruits and cream and rolled up, drizzled in sweet syrup or honey and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

4 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
Beat ingredients together in a large bowl using a balloon whisk. Cover and let sit for 1 hour. Heat butter or oil in a crepe pan (low sided frying pan) and pour small amount of batter into the center. Swirl the pan to distribute the batter and cook until set. Pick up and flip to cook the other side (should take only seconds). There seems to be some unwritten law of crepes that the first on MUST go to pieces. Have no fear – carry on and try the next one.
Try adding up to 2 T. sugar and your favorite flavouring or spirit to zhuzh up your cakes. I love my crepes filled with lemon curd (homemade if possible), rolled up and topped with stewed blueberries (or pie filling), cream and powdered sugar. You can also fill with sweetened mascarpone cheese and chopped pistachios. Have fun – offer a variety of toppings and fillings and let your family invent their own combination!
Makes 12-14 crepes.

Nana Belle’s Corn Pancakes

These are a major treat. I remember my Nana making these for me when I was a little girl. She always served with apple syrup and breakfast sausage. Oh, boy!

2.5 cup self-rising flour
2 T sugar
2 c. soured milk (add 2 tsp of vinegar)
2 large eggs
2 T melted butter
1 c. fresh-cut corn kernels (thawed frozen also work beautifully)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. Measure the milk, then add the egg and butter to the measuring cup, and whisk them together until blended. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until blended, stir in corn kernels.

Lightly grease a skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Pour about 1/4c. batter per pancake onto the skillet, and cook until the bubbles on the surface begin to break. Turn the pancakes over and cook until lightly browned. Makes about 2 dozen pancakes.

Now there is no reason you couldn’t substitute fruits for corn. If you are using berries, sprinkle the fruit on top of the batter on the skillet. This will prevent breakage and discoloration of your cakes.

Try organizing a pancake race for your children. Determine where the ‘Church’ will be, have two each of aprons, bandanas, frying pans, spatulas, and pancakes. The race begins by ringing the bell. The children don the aprons (tying securely) and bandanas, pick up the pans (with pancake inside) and spatulas and run like the Dickens to the bell-ringer, serve their pancake and run back. The fastest runner gets a new prayer book from the ‘Priest’.

Please remember to send me your simple, "Plain Food" menus and recipes, soup recipes, and meatless recipes for inclusion throughout Lent!


Mary Ellen Barrett 1:14 PM  

I love that picture!! This is such a wonderful blog. Thank you so much dear Nissa for all of your hard work.

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