In celebration of Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, whatever you like to call it) I always love to eat pancakes.
Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the beginning of the season of Lent and, traditionally, people would get rid of their excess yeast, sugar, and flour (generally prohibited in the Lenten season) by making pancakes. Giant feasts would ensue and, somewhere along the line, someone would flash someone else, beads would be exchanged, crazy masks were introduced, etc, etc…and we got away from the less-sexy Shrove Tuesday.
But I digress.
The Lenten season has always been very special to me and something I have celebrated in my church and with my family almost all of my life. I remember one Lent when I gave up soda, and was so proud of myself for abstaining completely. Keep in mind that this was in my younger years, when soda was a somewhat-regularly consumed food group. I was so proud to take my first sip of Coke on Easter Sunday.
This year, I’m still deciding on what to fast from. Fasting from desserts never works. Fasting from fried foods would be a moot point. Fasting from coffee would just be cruel, and fasting from Facebook wouldn’t really be that bad. I’ll let you know what I decide come Wednesday, the official start of the Lenten season and Ash Wednesday.
I like to celebrate Ash Wednesdays in the church, by attending a service and receiving the ash cross on my forehead. It is a comforting tradition, yes, but moreso it is a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and the solemnity of the season.
And yet, how glorious that we get to celebrate His resurrection on Easter Sunday!
Mark Bittman’s Cornmeal Pancakes With Vanilla and Pine Nuts – New York Times
(I substituted pecans for pine nuts – less expensive and right in my freezer!)
1 1/2 c. cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk (I used almond milk)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 t sp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. pecans
Honey, for serving.
1. Heat the oven [griddle] to 200 degrees. Combine the cornmeal, salt and 1 1/2 c. boiling water in a bowl and let it sit until the cornmeal absorbs the water and softens, 5-10 minutes.
2. Stir in the milk, a little at a time, until the batter is spreadable but still thick. Stir in 2 Tbsp. oil, vanilla and nuts.
3. Put in a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. When a few drops of water dance on its surgace, add a thin film or oil and let it become hot. Spoon out the batter, making any size pancakes you like. Cook until bubbles form on the top and burst and the underside is golden brown, 3-5 minutes; turn and cook on the other side until golden. You may have to rotate the cakes to cook them evenly, depending on the heat source and pan. As they finish, transfer them to a plate in the oven while you cook the remaining batter. Serve with honey. Yields four servings.
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These + maple syrup + copious amounts of coffee + sunny-side eggs = delicious.