Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Flat as a pancake?

Yesterday was, certainly here in England, Pancake Day.  Known more correctly of course as Shrove Tuesday.  When I lived in America it was called Fat Tuesday by some people that I knew, but I don't know if that is a "Southern" thing or if it is called that all over the country.  I have no memory of making any pancakes of any sort when I lived there though!

English Pancakes are somewhat different to American pancakes which tend to be smaller and puffier and sometimes have delicious blueberries contained within them!  I suppose that what we call Pancakes, the rest of the world would call a Crepe.  Indeed when I got my trusty pancake recipe out yesterday I saw that the recipe is actually for Crepe's.  My recipe and instructions for making them are at the end of this post if you are interested.

The origin of Pancake Day is of course that we use up all those good things to eat before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (today) and we begin a symbolic fast for 40 days and nights.  That has given way nowadays to us still having pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and then generally giving something up for Lent.

This year I have decided to give up sweets.  Not all sweet things, but chocolates, Percy Pigs (a gummy fruit flavoured sweet from a certain shop that is either delicious or revolting depending on your viewpoint!) and all other kinds of candies and goodies in that line.  That is not to say that I will not eat anything sweet, but sweets will not be on the menu for me.  That means that this Crème Egg that I purchased for illustrative purposes will either be eaten by Hubby (he is giving up biscuits (cookies)) or will be saved until Easter!

Of course come Easter there is bound to be a small truckload of chocolate consumed, but that is just the way that life goes isn't it.  Note to self - must buy another crème egg so that I get at least one!  It seems that they are a lot smaller than they used to be though, to photograph this one I had to stand it on the base of the eggcup as it disappeared inside the eggcup when it was the right way round!

Thinking about what to give up for Lent has had my mind going round somewhat and giving some thought to giving things up, taking things up, new habits and the passing of time.

First of all the giving things up.  I can definitely do with giving up sweets.  It will do me no harm, and it might seem an easy or frivolous thing to give up, but for me, this will sadly not be easy.  I am a big sweet muncher.  I always feel as though you should give up something that is hard for you to do, not something easy.

This leads to the second point.  Taking things up and new habits.  It was becoming a bad habit for us to eat off of trays and/or watching TV while having dinner.  This is absolutely not what I was bought up to do - although I have noticed a certain amount of TV watching while having dinner creeping in to my parents lives - and is not how I want to be.  Since the start of the new year we have eaten pretty much every dinner and lunch that we have been at home for at the table with the TV turned off.  At first we sat and stared at each other.  Then conversation moved - somewhat repetitively for the first couple of weeks - to "what do you want to do at the weekend".  This led to other discussions and now we sit and talk and continue to sit and talk after we have eaten dinner.  We sit at the table, no TV, eat and talk and do it automatically without even thinking now.

I really noticed the difference when we were out for a meal at the weekend.  We did sit in silence for a little bit eavesdropping on the very worthy philosophical conversation that the people at the next table were having, but we sat and chatted and talked and our meal took far longer than we usually take and it was far more enjoyable too!

So all of this has bought me to thinking about how habits can easily be changed by sticking to them and making the new things a habit.  Habits are not bad as long as they are ones you are happy with?  I hope that by having a new habit through Lent of not eating sweets that it will stick and become a new good habit.

The third part of my thinking was about the passing of time.  I realised of course that with Shrove Tuesday comes Lent which then leads inevitable and inexorably on to Easter.  The passing of time that flies before our very eyes quicker than we can blink it seems.

I realised I had better get my thinking cap on about my mantel for March and then an Easter theme for April too.  Otherwise time will pass by.  In the wonderful film Steel Magnolias - which I am horrified to find was released in 1989! - the character played by Dolly Parton, Truvy, says "Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin' across your face".  Time is indeed marching on and I have no intention of letting it go straight across my face!  So Shrove Tuesday has come and gone and now it is Lent and instead of letting that pass by too, I am grasping it with new hope once again that good things can and will come from making small changes that will become good habits that might make big changes!

Yesterday we ate pancakes that were, as they should be, flat as pancakes.  But all of this thinking has not left me feeling flat as a pancake.  It has filled me with optimism and hope and pleasure at what might be to come for my family and the coming year as spring approaches.  Lent is a time of giving up in some ways, but is, as Advent is, a time of preparation and thought and I am looking forward to what that might bring.

Flat as a pancake?  Me?  No.  Not today!



On the subject of change, new habits and time passing on, don't forget that the new Five On Friday launches this Friday. I hope that you will join in!  Details are in the All About Five On Friday page which can be found at the top of my sidebar.


If you want to try and make English Pancakes - or crepes! - here is the recipe.  I have even converted it into cups for you.

250 g Plain Flour (2 Cups All Purpose Flour)
600 ml Semi Skimmed Milk (2.5 Cups 2% Milk)
2 Large Eggs
Pinch of salt

Mix well together in a large bowl.  Allow to sit for as long as you can bear - at least an hour, but can go all day in the fridge.

Heat a frying pan until very hot, melt a small knob of butter into the pan, swirl around the pan.  Add a small amount of batter to the pan - approximately a quarter of a cup - and swirl until the base of the pan is covered in a thin layer of batter.  You can always add a little more if there are any large holes.

You can see just how thin it is.

Allow to cook over medium high heat until you see that the top looks dry and the edges start to lift away from the pan.  Take a spatula and ease the edge all the way round and shake the pan to loosen the pancake.  The first side should be a light golden brown all over or in places.  I then turn the pancake using the spatula, but if you are feeling brave you can toss the pancake.

This is what the first side will look like.

Allow to cook for a moment on the other side until it starts to have golden brown spots.

This is what the second side will look like.

Remove from the pan and either serve immediately, or put on a plate in a warm oven and continue cooking until they are all done and then serve them all together.

Serve traditionally with lemon juice and sugar sprinkled liberally over each one and then roll them up into a tube.

The first pancake will inevitably not be very good.  That is OK, it is the cooks perk - they get to eat it as well as their own share!

You see, the first one I put into the pan was very holey and a bit of a disaster, so was the cooked pancake, but that is OK.  It still tasted the same!

In a large frying pan this makes about 11 pancakes, but would make more if you used a smaller pan of course.  You can also halve the recipe to make less pancakes very successfully.

Happy cooking and eating!


  1. A lovely positive post. I've given up sweet things and salty snacks for Lent. Hoping to lose a little weight along the way! As you say, it's a time for positive energy. Onwards and upwards. CJ xx

  2. My DiL cooked us pancakes last evening, the best I have ever had. She has a special, almost flat pan, especially for crepes and pancakes. Definitely fresh lemon juice and a tiny sprinkle of sugar for me, maple syrup was also on offer. I took my Valentine's Day chocs to share with them all which drastically cut down my calorie intake - that was good for me.

  3. We enjoyed pancakes yesterday too in the Lake District. Had to make a lot for 13 people!! Looking forward to Friday and five if. Thinking hard what to post x

  4. A really interesting post Amy, when the kids lived at home we always sat at the table to eat, and still do when they come to visit, but lately we have started to eat in front of the t.v. when it's just the two of us. Time to break the habit I think! Still trying to put your five on Friday badge on my page, I am totally useless, but will keep trying to figure it out. I'm sure it's really easy, it's just me!

  5. I'm going to make pancakes today, with lemon and sugar, yum! Best of luck on the sweetie front Amy, I have to admit that jelly babies and fizzy Haribos are my downfall! I find that if I brush my teeth after dinner etc and before I sit down in front of the TV of an evening, it stops me mindlessly chomping sweeties. xx

  6. Oh Amy those pancakes look so delicious! Like you, I have also given up sugar, it does me no good!
    Yes, Easter will be upon us before we know it...
    Best wishes
    Alison xx

  7. We didn't get a round to having our pancakes yesterday for one reason and another so I'm thinking it may just have to be a pancake saturday in our house this year.

  8. Interesting post Amy, we sit at the table as a family & eat often. That's not to say the odd supper isn't taken in front of the box! Mind you I will not have a TV in the dining room nor the kitchen so that's quite easy. No pancakes for me as the boy didn't ask for any but we do prefer the american style ones. Mmmm giving things up for Lent I don't give things up anymore since the vicar said the other year we could choose to do something nice for others instead, so it will be a couple of more charity donations for me I think x

  9. We always eat our meals at the table but we don't switch off the telly - we're a bit addicted to Pointless! LOL

  10. This is a lovely positive post Amy. I went to the shops while the rest of the family had their pancake feast. I usually fast on a Tuesday :-(
    It is nice to sit at the table and talk. We do this every day except when we make pizza, which is always a TV dinner. Breaking a habit is one of the most difficult things to achieve, I remember talking about this with our medical students when discussing diet, smoking etc.

  11. I loved your post too-and I can't remember when the last was that I made crepes-which here in the states I always thought of them as a really nice dessert-where as pancakes are for breakfast--which is funny to me now cause they are so similiar in ingredients-lol thank you much for your recipe.

  12. They do appear to be crepes from this side of the pond. ;) And, yes, we call it Fat Tuesday. hee hee.

    Amy, I think your decision to change to eating at the table and how you have observed the change in your conversation is most interesting. We have fallen into the habit of watching the evening news while we eat our supper... I'm pretty sure that isn't the best idea. You've caused me to think on this. Thank you. blessings ~ tanna

  13. I live in Northern Ireland and our pancakes (some of which we had yesterday) are smaller and thicker - in other words not crepes. You are right about habits. Not all habits are bad and it is always possible to break a bad habit and forge a new good habit. I'm very glad that we are in the habit of eating at the table rather than in front of the TV.

  14. my son loves pancakes and so does my son in law to be. I think it's the syrup that goes on top that makes them loved. I cannot believe that lent is here already it seems that Christmas just ended!

  15. Your pancakes look delicious. We didn't have them yesterday but I did buy the lemon juice so we'll have them at the weekend. My first pancake never goes right either. We always eat at the table, it's one time when we've all got the time to talk to each other.

  16. Amy your pancakes do look like crepes, but so delicious. You're right on changing habits, you have to stick to the change. We don't watch tv when we eat, neither of us is a big tv watcher, but we do read and share what we're reading, may not work for others but we like it.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I am a bit better and that's a relief.

  17. Hi, Amy. I had decided to give up chocolate, but I like the idea that you are cutting back on all sweets. I have really gotten into a bad habit of nibbling on sweets, so this would be really good for me. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Lovely post, I observe Lent and I too have decided that chocolate is out, I do not eat any sweets but I will be restricting puddings and baked goods quite severely (for me that is). I did not make pancakes yesterday, I just did not fancy them, besides if you are eating them you need somebody else to be making them. I do prefer the thicker fluffy American pancakes and I add banana as it marries so well with maple syrup.

  19. Tradition has it that the first pancake is always "for the pan" - so that one's meant to be disastrous. I'm terrible at making them, but try again every year. This year, as always, the first one was terrible, I don't think I had enough oil or let the pan get hot enough. Hubby did the second one and used HALF the mixture! It was very fat. The next three (I only had enough batter for three more), were all perfect even if I do say so myself. Unfortunately nearly 4 year old daughter, when told that you only need a few drops of lemon juice, decided that she knew best and drowned her poor pancake, which she then couldn't eat... bless. Luckily she had some leftover chocolate instead. sigh.

  20. Here in Belgium, yesterday was also called "fat tuesday", so it is not an american expression ;-) !
    Yay for your goal of changing your sugar-eating-habit !! I wish you all the luck and courage you need to succeed !! I have tried it before, sadly I lack necessary discipline... Three weeks was my maximum for not eating sweets.. (And to think I stopped smoking with almost no effort - I smoked 1,5 packet a day during 20 years - but I just can't stop craving for sweets...)
    Talking about sweets, you got me curious about those percy pigs :-)... Don't know them - so now I'm off to google ;-) !

  21. Not being particularly religious, I don't 'do' Lent. I much prefer your idea of doing something positive and, funnily enough, I did some exercise yesterday after meaning to get back in the habit for ages so maybe I've unwittingly joined in! Your comments about sitting together and talking were interesting too. That was one of the things I enjoyed with my daughter when we went on holiday but we soon lapsed when we got back - something else to try to plan into our days.
    Also wanted to thank you for the suggestion for the ice dancers. I wasn't offended at all - it's always great to learn from other people's experiences. x

  22. I made pancakes last night and I know of a few other people who make them too so some of us are doing it over here! :) I think we call it Fat Tuesday because it's Mardi Gras in French, which means "fat Tuesday." I'm sure it has something to do with it being the last day to indulge before Lent. You've probably seen the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, they're anything but austere! :)

  23. After we had made ours and put the usual lemon and sugar on, we saw some on the tv with nutella and cut bananas! We had a tiny amount of nutella and no bananas.... Grrrrr! So we are having another pancake day tomorrow (I forgot the nutella again today) ;-)

  24. Like you, we had slipped into the bad habit of eating from our laps in front of the tv, but we have made the effort to eat at the kitchen table (although we still have the small kitchen tv on). As I am not in the least bit religious, I don't give up anything for Lent. Pancakes to me are quite different to your crepes - Scottish pancakes are small and thick ... and delicious!

  25. I admire your goal to give up sweets for Lent! I usually try to give up the things that distract me the most, and it's usually Pinterest and random internet surfing. This year I am using Lent as a time to be disciplined and work on and hopefully finish many of the unfinished creative projects I have around the house. I made a list of them and it's huge! Thank goodness for the upcoming forty days!

  26. Your pancakes look delicious. I like the tradition of making them on Shrove Tuesday with sugar and a squeeze of lemon. It will be difficult to give up chocolate since Dear Husband gave me a big box of chocolates for Valentine's Day!

  27. We have Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras in the north here in the states too. I'm so keeping your recipe for crepes (your pancakes) as I love them and yours sounds nice and easy! Mmmmm!!

    I'm getting ready to head to ash Wednesday mass soon actually. I'm doing Lent differently this year in that instead of giving something up I'm going to add something important. I'm going to get up earlier in the mornings (which is very hard for me) and spend better devotional and meditative time with the Lord. I'm also going to fit in some exercise of some sort. It's too easy to have excuses by later in the day so this is a way to not only "sacrifice" that time to give to Him but also hopefully set some better habits in the long term for me.

    Thanks for sharing and wishing you a blessed Lenten season. xoxo

  28. I love crepes! I haven't made them in ages. There's a fantastic breakfast restaurant nearby where I sometimes get crepes stuffed with eggs and spinach...then there's crumbled bacon on top and a light Hollandaise sauce. So delicious! I know what you mean about having an actual conversation during dinner. We don't watch TV while we eat, but we do play backgammon. That's almost as bad because we don't really talk. Perhaps we should try keeping the game put away until after dinner. See if we have anything to say to each other. ;-)

  29. We have a saying around here - no matter how flat you make a pancake, it still has two sides...and that would be referring to any philosophical debates we might be having.:) It is easy to sit in front of the television to eat, isn't it?, but with 3 dogs hanging about, not very practical for us, as we are that much closer to their hungry little snouts when sitting on the sofas! So we sit at table and sometimes I make it pretty with flowers and candles, and we talk about our day, which is nice. I used to be a practicing Catholic, but now I am not particularly religious, which is not to say that I am not spiritual...I just don't follow the rules any longer, but Lent is a lovely tradition and a good practice for discipline. My Mr. is a big sweet eater and if I could get him to give it up, I would love it because no matter how hard I try to hide the chocolate, he finds it and all I am left with is the empty wrapper. He has no shame when it comes to sweets. I admire your fortitude and wish you the best in your endeavor and hope that time is kind to us all because there is no way to stop it and doesn't it seem to go along faster than it used to? Have a lovely week, xo Karen

  30. We always sit at the table to eat together whenever possible... Except for our pancakes yesterday which barely made it out of the pan to the plate. Just time for a sprinkle of lemon and sugar before they disappeared!

  31. Lovely words, Amy. Creme eggs are smaller, it's not that my hands are getting any bigger. I stopped growing quite a long time ago! xx

  32. I don"t 'do' Lent but giving up a minor vice or trying to break a bad habit is always a food thing. We have a mixture of family dinners round the table and a couple of 'TV dinners' too, usually at the weekend, or on a night when everyone is doing something different and there can't be a fixed dinner time. X

  33. I think your pancakes look scrumptious, Amy! Cadbury Eggs. So tempting!

  34. I just loved reading your plans for Ash Wednesday and Lent. I plan to give up TIME and spend it visiting the elderly, and taking TIME to talk at length to lonely people.

    I love your Egg holder...just beautiful.

  35. do you think anyone will notice that we have 'pancake' day on thursday instead of tuesday? yours look so good...i'm queuing them up for tomorrow's dinner!

  36. I think your plans to give up sweets and the reasons behind them are great. I was not raised to give up anything for lent, so those sweets will still be near me. i like the idea of it though, I think it is really interesting. Those flat pancakes look delicious.

  37. Amy, what an inspiring post about attitude and bad habits. Your crepes look good and something I have not tried before.
    I wish I could persuade my husband about eating and watching t.v. Maybe I can get him to read your post.
    Thanks for your visit Amy. You are a loyal blogging friend that I appreciate.

  38. First of all I love Creme eggs and they have become smaller! I call that hidden inflation!! Hmmmfff! Lovely positive post. It's hard to change habits and it's easy to lapse into old habits but we all do change and evolve and grow as time passes. It's so important to remain positive and content in life I think. Spring is such a positive and exciting time of year. We always have the TV off at all meals, we are always talking about something even if it's silly! Have a great week kiddo!

  39. YUMMY!!!! What an inspiring post Amy! I do believe that through practice that habits can be changed and rituals and traditions can be started. Such outstanding points you have here....they have reminded me that I need to sit and think about what I will change this Lent. And yes...they have completely shrunk every single piece of candy out there!! Wishing you a blessed week friend! Nicole xoxo

  40. Thanks for sharing with us your thoughts and plans for Lent. I am giving up crisps, buying magazines and negativity. And I want to take more time to pray and reflect. I'm always buzzing about, I need to stop every now and again and use the time for prayer. X

  41. I say every year that creme eggs are smaller - they absolutely used to be much bigger! Didn't realise they were in the shops already....this is bad news as I have a bit of an addiction to them! The talking during / after dinner thing is so important, we don't have the tv on either as it is a big distraction and you quickly get used to watching it and ignoring each other. We eat as a family, but then after the kids are in bed & I've had my bath, we sit on the sofa and talk for a while before the tv goes on. We found we were pretty much not conversing otherwise as it was just go-go-go with B getting in from work, getting the kids to bed after dinner, and collapsing on the sofa in a heap ignoring each other :-) xxx

  42. Super post Amy, filled with thoughtful, positive things. And I love your egg cup- an Orange Tip butterfly! They are one of the first Spring flutters and it won't be long before they're here again. We have also got into a bad habit of TV dinners and also now try and sit at the table and catch up on our days. We never have a problem chatting but it's nice to sit up straight and eat at a table! xx

  43. I'm aiming to give up superfluous spending... that's a BIG challenge for me! I did a No spend January and then, unfortunately, a splurge February so ideally by Easter (it being well over the 21 days recommended to establish a new habit) I should be a frugal superstar!
    I love the cream egg... you definitely need to store at least one for Easter because it's a cert that by April the shops will have sold out and be stocking barbecue skewers instead!

  44. Good evening, Amy! I have seen your "Five on Friday" link on other blogs and this evening I was visiting my dear friend Karen when I decided I needed to come visit you :) I had a lovely time scrolling through your posts, reading your words and look at your beautiful photos. I would love to join your "Five on Friday" sometime.

    I am a happy new follower and I look forward to visiting again! Hugs! Stephanie - The Enchanting Rose

  45. A day devoted to pancakes? A brilliant idea. And yours look yummy.

  46. your idea of creating good habits is so much nicer than the idea of giving things up x


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