Tomorrow is Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday or whatever it is called in your end of the world. In Newfoundland the Tuesday before Lent is called Pancake Day. Although our family never observed Lent we certainly did keep the tradition of Pancake Day. The thought of eating pancakes for supper was as exciting as finding money in them as pancakes weren't an everyday item on our menu. Money was the prized find and that's what Mom would hide in most of the pancakes for my sister and me, but there were the other symbols as well.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site gives a little history of the day and its customs around the objects that could be found in a pancake:
Pancake Night, or Shrove Tuesday, is typical of Newfoundland calendar customs. Derived from widespread customs in European traditions, and shaped as much by religious beliefs as by traditional divinational activities, it is a mixture of traditions, evolving continuously. Shrove Tuesday (named for the religious practice of confessing one's sins and being "shriven" or "shrove" by the priest immediately before Lent began) was a time to use up as many as possible of the foods banned during Lent: meat products in particular, including butter and eggs. Pancakes were a simple way to use these foods, and one that could entertain the family. Objects with symbolic value are cooked in the pancakes, and those who eat them, especially children, take part in a divinatory game as part of the meal. The person who receives each item interprets the gift according to the tradition: a coin means the person finding it will be rich; a pencil stub means he/she will be a teacher; a holy medal means they will join a religious order; a nail that they will be (or marry) a carpenter, and so on (cf. Hiscock 1990:9). 1999, Philip Hiscock Newfoundland & Labrador Heritage Web SiteMany families had their own meanings for what was found. I remember a wedding ring meant you would marry, a pin or safety pin meant you would be a seamstress or tailor, money, of course, meant you would be rich. A button meant you would be an old maid or bachelor, a piece of wood (a match stick or toothpick) or a nail meant you would be a carpenter and a piece of straw from the broom meant you would be a housewife or maybe it meant you would be poor! I think that's what they meant. It's been so long since I tore into a pancake and found Mom's wedding ring or a pin. It was all in fun and we didn't believe the future was mapped out by anything we found in a pancake.
Our favourite find--MONEY. Heather and I would be thrilled to find nickles, dimes and quarters. That was a lot of money to have jingling around in your pocket. I've had to upgrade to a Twoney ($2) because of inflation.
Since those days of childhood I've made thousands of pancakes. I have a wonderful recipe for Mom's Pancakes which make delicious plain or blueberry pancakes but I often vary the pancake fare by making something different now and then. Today I made Corn Cakes which are made with flour and cornmeal for a very nice textured and tasting pancake. I like to add a little corn to the mix as well.
These Corn Cakes are delicious with a little butter and syrup but they don't have to be relegated to the breakfast table. They can be eaten at any meal in place of a bread or roll. Corn Cakes can be served with soup or chili for a different and tasty side dish.
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (may add more for a sweeter pancake)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup milk
⅓ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed, optional
Oil for fying
In a medium size bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Lay aside.
In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg, oil and milk together.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients lightly mixing until everything is blended. There may be a few small lumps. Don't over beat trying to remove the lumps. If using the corn fold in.
Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat and add just enough oil to coat. When the pan is hot fry pancakes until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn and cook until golden.
Serve hot with butter and syrup or use as a side dish to soup or chili.
Makes 10-12 medium pancakes.
Gather the dry and wet ingredients: Cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; egg, oil and milk; and the optional corn.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together.
Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and combine lightly to mix. Don't try to beat out the small lumps.
Fold in the corn if using.
Fry Corn Cakes over medium heat on an oiled pan or griddle.
Fry until bubbles appear on the surface.
Turn over and fry until golden.
Fluffy and delicious!
Corn Cakes and Chili and sour cream. For those of you with more adventurous taste buds a few chopped chillies or red pepper flakes can be added to the Corn Cake batter before frying.
A stack of Corn Cakes with butter and syrup.
Let the kids tear open the pancake to find the buried treasures.
Any day is Pancake Day with Corn Cakes!