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!