Tuesday, 21 February 2012

or is it??

Today, February 21, 2012 is Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnivale, or Pancake Day.  It's the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Everyone knows about Mardi Gras thanks to the celebrations in New Orleans and Carnivale has long roots as far back as Roman times and you might have heard of Shrove Tuesday if you're an Anglophile or like reading medieval literature. 

It's really all the same, essentially. It's the day before the beginning of Lent when you either use up your soon-to-be forbidden items or celebrate in one big blow out, deprivations, supposedly, coming up. I suppose if you want to do more research about the history or religious connotations you can Google it or check Wikipedia.

But, the reason I'm writing this is not to go into the history or religious significance of Lent or pre-Lent, I want to write--ok, RANT--about pancakes! Since this is a blog that I've been using to point out some of the cultural differences between the US and the UK I think this is a perfect time to shine the light on another GLARING  difference.  
The problem is this: What do we consider a "pancake"? If you look at the picture of the "pancakes" above they will not look like the pancake most every American is used to. Here in the UK pancakes are made with just flour milk and eggs, maybe a bit of butter. For those of you who cook, you will notice an essential ingredient missing: Baking Powder and baking soda! In other words the British "pancake" has no leavening agent to make them raise so they come out very thin and flat--which is, as I think you'll see in any cookbook, a CREPE!

Another difference is the topping. As any red-blooded American knows it's maple syrup and butter all the way. Ok, ok, I know that in IHOP there is a whole rack of syrups and some people have other favorites like blueberry syrup but if you think of pancakes (you Americans that is) the first image that comes to your mind, traditionally is this:

See, nice light, cake-like inside

On the other hand, here in the UK, the preferred and traditional way to serve "pancakes" is with a squeeze of lemon juice and sugar. 
Or you can see in this video how Delia Smith (the UK equivalent to Julia Child or Betty Crocker) does it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE0KEtWAmEw
As you can see on the video, tossing your pancake is very popular and they even have pancake tossing competitions and pancake races in places and villages.
 Of course when the pancake is thin like these it is easier to toss.

I was, by way of contrast, going to look up one of my old recipes for pancakes from scratch but I think everyone pretty much knows how to do it--if not, go to any recipe or food site: www.southernliving.com, www.allrecipes.com or even YouTube. 

My favorite pancake is buttermilk pancakes and the easiest way, and what for me turn out the best, is to just use Bisquick and follow their recipe. I always used buttermilk rather than milk even though there's buttermilk powder in Bisquick. I just like the extra flavor. 
But, since Bisquick is sometimes hard to find here, I have to usually, make them from scratch which has been a real challen for me, I'll tell you that. Buttermilk is also sometimes hard to find so I do think that my pancakes haven't been as good since I've been here. 
Check out the price of Bisquick here from Amazon:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bisuick-Bisquick-PUSA-567g/dp/B003ZZ8E7I/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1329838117&sr=1-1 That roughly translates to about $8.00 a box!

So, back to "Pancake Day". One thing I do have to say about the Scots, in the grocery stores you can buy what's called Scotch pancakes which are very similar to what we would call a "Silver Dollar" pancake. It's the same as our pancakes just smaller. The one thing they don't do "right" is that they usually eat them at tea or dinner as a dessert with butter and/or jam. Sometimes they just roll it up and eat it in place of a scone, in fact Robert insists that pancakes like I make it are really what they call "drop scones". 

And there you have it, another cultural difference and I have had my annual rant. You will usually find me shouting to the TV: "THOSE AREN'T PANCAKES!" today. As far as I'm concerned, Shrove Tuesday ought to be called Crepe Day not Pancake Day! 

However you spend it, here's hoping your day is just how you like it: either sweet and tart with lemon and sugar or rich and sweet with maple syrup!  

Sunday, 12 February 2012

janetl621's Favorites | foodgawker


janetl621's Favorites | foodgawker

I have found the coolest site. It's called foodgawker and it picks and chooses from multitudes of food blogs and then posts some amazing recipes. These are just some of my favorites (click on the link above and you'll see). The pictures look good enough to eat on most of them and some of the links have taken me to a lot of fun new blogs. There's so many really interesting people out there doing some really interesting things with food! This is really widening my horizons...and probably other parts of my anatomy! Ah well, that's life for a foodie! Between this site and Pinterest, which I have literally fallen in love with...oh my goodness...(I'll blog more about this soon but you could check me out there at http://pinterest.com/janetlmccord/!), I have not moved from the computer all Sunday afternoon/evening. Good thing Robbie got a frozen lasagna for dinner!