National Pancake Day: Celebrating Shrove Tuesday
I somehow made it to adulthood without ever learning about Pancake Day. I feel like I have missed out on years of carb-y goodness.
Pancake Day — also known as Shrove Tuesday — falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. For many Christians, Lent (the 40 days before Easter Sunday) are a time of abstinence and reflection. Traditionally, certain foods, including butter, eggs and fat, are given up as a kind of penance during Lent.
Butter, eggs and fat are three things you need to make pancakes. Thus, Pancake Day.
After all these years of not knowing about the pre-Lenten pancake feast, I’m ready to celebrate this year.
Our Favorite Pancake Stories
Pancakes Pancakes! by Eric Carle
This story walks young readers through the process of making a pancake from cutting the wheat, creating flour and so on, all in Carle’s signature bold style. This process is almost mythical for Max, since in our world you pretty much open a box and add milk and eggs.
Pancakes for Breakfast, by Tomie de Paola
Madison loved this book when she was little. The wordless illustrations tell the story of a woman who creates pancakes in a process that is dreamlike and creative. Of course, if it was a story about a mother who makes pancakes out of a box but illustrated by dePoala, I think Madison would still love it.
Toss the Box Mix for Pancake Day
I’m thinking tonight will be an impromptu Pancakes for Dinner night and I’m going to step out of my normal box o’ mix routine and attempt “real” pancakes.
Martha Stewart’s Pancakes 101 primer is a good place to start if your usual approach to pancakes is to open a box and add water. I like the idea of making pancakes from scratch but I have a hard time wrapping my head around this one instruction: “Never whisk the batter until smooth; leaving lumps of unmoistened dry ingredients will result in fluffier pancakes.” That doesn’t seem right. If you’re ready to ditch the box mix, though, you can start with Martha’s Easy Basic Pancakes recipe, or challenge yourself with these ideas for pancakes from around the world. I am intrigued by the English Toad-In-The-Hole and the Buckwheat Blini from Russia. I feel like I should note that these are not what Americans think of as pancakes. If I served any of these so-called “pancakes” to my children, I’m not sure they would ever forgive me.
Alton Brown’s “Instant” Pancake Mix is billed as an easy alternative to premade mixes (the dry ingredients can be store for up to three months in an airtight container, which does save some time, I guess). This recipe looks like it would be a little more tasty than your standard box mix, but it’s also more complicated. I guess you’ll have to decide how desperately you don’t want to make your pancakes from a box.
(I’ll be honest, I’m feeling a little less enthusiastic about this process the more I research recipes.)
Even Box Mix Pancakes Can Be Cute
I’m going to stick with my box mix for now. My theory is that if you make the pancakes look good, it won’t matter how you made them.
Crate and Barrel’s silver dollar pancake pan lets you make seven perfect silver dollar pancakes at once. I have just a teeny bit of OCD and the thought of uniform pancakes makes me feel a little giddy. The pan is also dishwasher safe which goes well with my aversion to washing dishes. You could also opt for a heart-shaped pancake pan, which makes all your pancakes look like love, even if they’re from a box.
Considering the link between Lent and Pancake Day, I think a Jesus Pan would be incredibly appropriate (if a little bit irreverent). “Kids, we’re having Heavenly Hotcakes tonight!” If the pancakes have Jesus’ face on them, does it really matter that you used a box mix? I’m guessing the pancakes will taste extra special. I’m also willing to bet you can come up with a few other foods you’d like to see Him on. Grilled cheese? I wonder if you could see Jesus in an omelette? There’s only one way to find out!
If the Lord’s face on your hotcakes is too much, how about just serving them on some fun Pancakes Make People Happy plates? Because, it’s true: Pancakes DO make people happy! I feel like you could serve just about anything on these plates and they would make you smile. I’d like to serve a steak on the pancake plates because things like that are funny to me.
If you’re just not up to making pancakes, even from a box, then IHOP can help: To mark National Pancake Day, you can get a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. Free pancakes and no cleanup! Let’s go! It’s all part of a fundraising partnership with charities that help children battling critical illness, including the Shriners Hospitals, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Even if you make your own pancakes at home, consider making a donation to one of these organizations — it’s a nice way to start the Lenten season.
Hooray for Pancake Day! Sure it’s not Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but it has its own appeal. Like, no hangover.