Pancake Races and Depression Herbs


Breakfast at the Bolton house was a big deal when I was a kid. Our bawling cows and squawking chickens thought it was fun to awaken at the crack of dawn, and our rooster actually believed the lie that roosters crow at 4 a.m. I don't know the last time you were up at 6 in the morning shoveling doo-doo, but it's nice to have some sustenance to keep you going.

My dad was the master breakfast maker. He was famous in our family for eggs with onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and cheese. Not being a fan, I used to pick out the onions and mushrooms. One Sunday morning, when we were running late for church, my mom held scissors in her hand and threatened to cut off my hair, which flowed all the way down my back to my rump, unless I ate everything on my plate. I ate everything, mushrooms and all, and I am still in therapy about it today. (Actually, my mom is very sorry about her momentary lapse into iron rule, and I now like mushrooms and onions.)

When my brother started taking over the egg cooking, it was a sorry day. He made his eggs a bit undercooked; I referred to them as "runny." I had to microwave them for a minute—secretly, so his feelings wouldn't get hurt.

I think my previouis life was during the Great Depression, because I hate to throw anything away. The other day, after a dinner party, I was left with several small boxes of fresh herbs. I threw them in with some ground turkey and cooked them up as sausage patties. And as you can't have sausage by itself, I also made some pancakes with wheat flour. My husband was brought up on white flour pancakes, but he actually likes my heartier version.

Pancakes, healthy or not, are a staple dish throughout the world. In Mexico, the corn versions are called hotcakes, often topped with condensed milk and/or fruit jam, and sold by vendors on the streets. In the Netherlands, pancakes are eaten at dinnertime, with fillings ranging from sliced apples and candied ginger to cheese, ham and bacon. And we can't forget American buttermilk pancakes, topped with lots of syrup, butter and—if you are totally blowing your diet—whipped cream.

The traditions surrounding pancakes are as diverse as their countries of origin. One such tradition occurs on Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday"), also called Pancake Day. Early Christians cooked up pancakes with fat, eggs and dairy products—all the ingredients that would soon be off-limits during Lent.

Another tradition held on Pancake Day is the race at Olney in Buckinghamshire, England, which dates back to 1445. Tradition has it that the race got started when a woman cooking pancakes heard the shriving bell calling her to confession. In her haste to get there, she ran out the door in her apron with her frying pan in hand. (She must have had something serious to get off her chest.)

The only pancake race I participate in is when the smoke alarm in my apartment goes off. The race consists of running with a towel to flap under the alarm, running to the front door to swing it opened and closed, and finally running back to the stove just in time to flip the cooking pancake. I don't wear an apron, though, and I don't have anything to confess—except a bit of gluttony with the syrup.

(4-6 medium pancakes)
2 cups fl our
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups soy milk, water, or cow's milk

Mix dry ingredients together fi rst. Add wet ingredients and mix together. You may need to add a little more soy milk. Pour 1/4 cup of mixture into hot, oiled skillet. When bubbles appear on the top of the pancake, it's ready to flip. The pancake is ready when the bottom doesn't stick against the pan. Serve with fresh sliced strawberries, butter and real maple syrup. (Use the real stuff. It's more expensive, but trust me: Once you go maple, you never go manufactured again.)

(Makes 6 patties)
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup fresh, chopped herbs (dill, thyme and sage)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
Dash of Worcestershire sauce

To prepare herbs, dice dill into tiny pieces. Strip thyme and sage leaves and discard the stems; chop fi nely. Mix all ingredients. (The best way to do this is with your hands. Wash up and dig in.)
Form into small patties. Cook thoroughly in a hot, oiled skillet.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment