Happy Pancake Day!!

Since our arrival on the West Coast, we've confirmed that we do things a bit different back East. For instance, our vast array of obscure celebrations. We have Grading Day which, for those of you not in the know, marks the official end of the public school year. Students go to school for about 1 hour, receive their final grades and grading certificates, and then go home to their parents for a day of gifts, fast food, and general merry-making. Apparently they don't do that here. It has been pointed out that the "no child left behind" movement has made the concept of grading obsolete, however, the tradition remains in the East. Frankly, I'm not sure how summer could start without a pocket full of twoonies and a DQ Full Meal Deal.

We also have "Tipsy Eve" on December 23. This holiday, although popular, was always difficult to define. We always observed it as a sort of "kick-off" to the festive season and would always go out for a night of partying, usually at a local pub. This year we hosted a Tipsy Eve party that is going to become an annual tradition. In preparation for this post, I thought I would do a quick Google search as to the definition of Tipsy Eve and was surprised to see we weren't far off the mark. This article from the website for Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage gives a good explanation not only of Tipsy Eve, but of several other popular customs including Pancake Day!

Pancake Day is celebrated as part of Shrove Tuesday, but back home folks of all religious persuasions enjoy it. As long as I remember it has always fallen in February, which when combined with Valentine's Day, made me wonder as a kid why people complained so much about February. Chocolate and pancakes are a winning combination! We would always attend the Pancake Supper at our church where I marveled at the seemingly endless supply of pancakes the griddle could produce. As adults, we tried to observe it and we were always disappointed when it would somehow get by us.

This year, of course, old traditions are seeming even more important, and so we made careful note on our calendar that February 16 was Pancake Day! One day we casually mentioned this and were surprised to discover that it wasn't a well-known event here. Some people had heard of it, or used to celebrate it, but all in all it seemed to be relatively unknown. And so we decided to have a pancake brunch with a few friends.

A pancake brunch is a great way to have a get-together. They're easy to make, are relativly inexpensive, and hey, everybody loves them! We decided to go with blueberry pancakes. I make mine from scratch but there's nothing wrong with mix, there's actually a few really great ones out there that only require you to add water (just read the ingredients if you have allergies to consider since most mixes will contain milk and egg ingredients). Warm your oil over medium heat until a bit of batter sizzles when dropped in the pan. Add your batter to the pan and watch until you see a few bubbles forming around the edge of the pancake and then it's time to flip! I usually like to get started cooking before everyone arrives and so I keep a baking dish warm in the oven to place the cooked pancakes in while I finish the rest of the batch. Add some sausages, butter, a variety of syrups and some fresh tea, coffee, and orange juice and your guests will leave full and happy! If you want to get a little fancier (which I didn't this time around, since I am a purist when it come to Pancake Day!) you could serve fruit toppings and whipped cream as well. Sometimes I add vanilla to my pancakes, and due to my dairy allergy I always prepare my pancakes with soy or rice milk (just swap it in for the milk in the recipe).

There's no need to wait until next Pancake Day to enjoy this breakfast favorite with friends (or without them for that matter, more pancakes for you!)! If you have a favorite pancake variation, or an obscure holiday that means a lot to you but leaves others scratching their heads, share it in the comments. I'm always looking for an excuse to have a party!

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