Pancakes ( Our diabolical regression in the Art of cooking)

Of course, our eating habits have changed. Who would have thought mums now buy a plastic bottle with the advice ‘just shake it’? The ‘just shake it’ seems to be a prepared kind of pancake mix. I would imagine the intending cook fills up the empty space in the plastic bottle with milk and then ‘just shake’ it, with mixture ready for pancake making. It probably makes about five or six pancakes and at $ 1.85 works out at the outrageous price of 30cents a pancake, not including the golden syrup or jam on top. Perhaps the ‘just shake it’ has been embedded from a latent subliminal message from eager husbands pestering tired wives late at night. A clever use of product enhancement.

It must be back-breaking work to put flour in a bowl, and then add some milk, a couple of eggs and whisk the lot together and get the old fashioned pan-cake mixture for a quarter of the cost. Walking slowly past the supermarket’s shelves there were other similar products. A cheese in a tube, some powder that turns into instant mashed potato, but the most irksome of them all, and H is so sick of me commenting on them, are…simmering sauces. My eyes forever keeping guard on our dietary habits, I even spotted a kind of meat-spread in a tube. It was called, I think, devilish spread which came in mild and spicy.

Yet, again, I switched on the telly and it’s almost obligatory now to find and watch a cooking show. No matter what time, there is someone with eyes turned heavenly upwards, saying ‘oh, how yum’ or ‘wow’. Fresh ingredients are tossed together; fish, meat, snails, frogs are being infused, thrown about and cooked almost to the point of a kind of Le Mans’ car race.

It’s all very confusing. There are options in watching French, Italian; Spanish cooks either cooking away in their own country or in top restaurants in Britain. They seem so enthusiastic, you wonder if they have mattresses tucked behind those huge gleaming stainless steel stoves and just take quick naps in between the stacking of delicious looking char-grilled hearts of goats and noodles with infused ginger and deep fried shreds and strips of celeriac with chanterelle-shiitake mushrooms on giant plates.

Then there are culinary delights shown in Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, even Thailand. Fresh fish swimming, frogs are croaking and eels or snakes still slithering about. Within minutes it is all cooked and on the table with huge smiling families feasting away.

If pancake making is the only thing my grandkids will remember me by; so be it. It would be nice to have an epitaph on my pebble crete slab; “here lies the greatest pancake- maker” (but keep off the grass).

Cooking needs to be an act of love. You can never cook something in total indifference. When the kids are over, pancake making has almost religious overtones. Their own parents’ pancakes seem to lack ‘crispy edges’, I was told by Max who is the youngest of the three grandsons, adding, ‘they are alright though’, not wanting to dob in his parents.

It is not as if I swoon over every pancake but I do hand mix the dough adding water and pinch of salt. I use real butter and cook on two cast iron solid pans on high heat. When I gently lower the mixture into the pan, the edges frizzle and sizzle out into the much desired golden crispy and crunchy edging. While hot, I rush them over to the kids seated at the round table, fork and knife in hand and at the ready. I squeeze some lime juice and sprinkle a light dusting of sugar.

I leave the rest to them.

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16 Responses to “Pancakes ( Our diabolical regression in the Art of cooking)”

  1. Lottie Nevin Says:

    I think you are spot on about the subliminal message of ‘Just shake it’ – I’ve always thought the same about ‘the jus-roll it’ pastry which comes in a neat sausage shape..funny that we think the same way.

    I used to make pancakes a lot when my children were small – (Scotch pancakes which are the small ones) for breakfast. We’d all share the mixing, measuring and stirring, but when it came to the actual cooking, I’d stand there at the stove and they’d line up behind me to catch the pancakes as I tossed them with the spatula over my shoulder and they then had to catch them on their plates. It was pure pantomime and great fun!

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  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    It’s all rock and roll, isn’t it, often with /without cream

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  3. 730reportland Says:

    lt`s all part of the dumbing down of the population as far as l can see Gerard, not only being able to cook or prepare basic meals, blokes outside tradesmen can`t nail a damn paling back on the fence, and sheilas can`t sew a button or rip. lt`s all chuck it in the bin and get a new one and burger from fast-food. Dopes.

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    • solidgoldcreativity Says:

      BS! I may not be able to make pancakes (yet) but I knit socks and there are legions of young women and older women knitting madly.

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      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Well, I can make pancakes and knit. (not at the same time). My knitting hasn’t progressed much beyond pan-holders. We were taught that skill at primary school level in Holland.
        I caught a train a few months ago during winter and as it was cold entered the heated waiting room. Much to my surprise there was a solitary bearded man calmly knitting away. He had his ball of wool in a plastic bag and the needles were stuck under his arm. He didn’t bat an eyelid. Some women though, hurriedly exited the waiting room.
        I believe the original knitters were shepherds sitting under Sicilian oak trees knitting while watching their flock.

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  4. solidgoldcreativity Says:

    I liked this, particularly the line “It would be nice to have an epitaph on my pebble crete slab; “here lies the greatest pancake- maker” (but keep off the grass).”

    All my life I’ve wanted to make pancakes and never have and my mouth’s watering from your telling here. So consider me your student please. What exactly do I mix in a bowl?

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  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    You put some flour in the bowl first, which most of my pancake students have no trouble with. Follow this with pouring some milk (preferably buttermilk) and stir vigorously till the mixture is fairly smooth and has the consistency of ,well…a pancake mix. Add a pinch of salt and an egg or two. Mix again. Preheat a solid based fry pan and put some butter in it to melt. Make sure the pan is hot. Then, here comes the exciting bit, ladle in the mixture and make sure it is spread thinly. After one side is cooked turn around with a spatula and cook the other side till golden brown. (solid gold) Voila.. put on plate and squeeze some lime or lemon juice then,,. put on golden syrup, jam or just sugar.
    Perhaps you are an expert already and you are pulling my leg…never mind…I still enjoy being asked to teach you the art of pancake making. Hope this helps.

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  6. solidgoldcreativity Says:

    Great. Thank you. I will make pancakes on the weekend. Also, I don’t pull legs. I gave up irony as a vice some time ago. It was hurting me and keeping others at arms’ length.

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  7. solidgoldcreativity Says:

    Was that an Australian train carriage? God, I would have loved to have seen that😉 One of the most commercial knitters on the internet is a man called Brooklyn Tweed, and yes shepherds were mad keen knitters. I wrote about them here: http://solidgoldcreativity.com/2010/05/10/a-short-cultural-history-in-yarn/

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  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    Sorry, the waiting room was on the NSW’s Bowral train platform (perron) not on the train. Loved reading your link to history in yarn. I never learnt knitting with one needle but did manage the two needle art, albeit very tight or with totally loose stitches, worse, dropped stitches, hoping it would not be noticed.
    Still, dropped stitches imitates life sometimes, doesn’t it?
    That picture of the shepherd on stilts with the dog keeping watch as well is really charming. The sheep were calm and all was serene.

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    • solidgoldcreativity Says:

      Got it. I didn’t read closely. Amazing to learn it was in Bowral. haha, yes, knitting is a metaphor for life, especially the second sock syndrome!

      Knitting is so calming and it creates a space in which other people can speak freely as you’ve probably noticed. I often work as a management consultant and I fantasise about bringing my knitting into interviews with people. I’m positive I’d get more information and richer information.

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  9. gerard oosterman Says:

    I am sure knitting is calming.
    I am less sure about the ‘ les peuples’ taking their fold-ups to excutions, especially of Robespierre and while knitting baby booties, cheered on as heads fell in the bucket! Not a stitch was dropped, (but that might just be hearsay.)

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  10. Patti Kuche Says:

    Here in the US you can buy ready mixed omelette (free-range and a variety of flavours!) in cartons!

    Your grandchildren will remember those crispy, crunchy pancakes forever. Wishing for a fresh stack to come my way!

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    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Ready mixed omelette? What next? Perhaps ready mixed people in polystyrene. Somewhere in the bowels of this blog there is a piece on ‘free range chickens’.
      Here are some pancakes for you with fresh creme and strawberries.
      Bon appetit!

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