Fat Tuesday? Mardi Gras sounds so much more exotic. Why, you may be asking yourself, should an otherwise boring weekday in March be one of the major party days in the world? Did someone just wake up one dreary winter morning and say
‘ I think we need a party- right now!’ ? Was it merely a spontaneous reaction to the bleary blues of boredom? No, no my friends, the history of Mardi Gras, aka Fat Tuesday is much more solemn than wild drunken parades with lots of bright flashy beads. Fat Tuesday is supposed to be the final day of indulgence before the forty days of Lenten fasting begins. Fasting, you say? What fasting? Let’s get back instead to the indulgence part.
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Traditionally, Fat Tuesday is when you should be using up all of those lovely, rich, tasty ingredients in your refrigerator before that fasting begins. I’m fine with that. But I’ll probably be restocking on Wednesday, just so you know. Maybe I can find one special well-loved food that I can vow to give up for Lent. Let’s see now, chocolate is now known to have healthy side affects, so that won’t happen. I’ve already had to give up my most favorite food of all time, fresh crab, having developed an allergy to it. So I think I’ll give up crab again. A less than morally sound decision, but I’m still going through crab withdrawal.
The Scots figured out that the really yummy perishable ingredients that needed to be used up were things like eggs, butter, cream, and milk. Scottish people never throw away anything remotely usable, so they started making pancakes on Fat Tuesday. If they had some bacon, the meal got even better. Pretty soon Pancake Suppers became an annual event. Pancake competitions sprang up, and folks could travel from one pancake event to another all day long.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I am very picky about pancakes. I don’t like pancakes that are thick, dry and doughy. A good pancake should be light, tender and full of flavor. A good pancake should be so tasty that you eat the first one without any syrup or jam so that you can savor the delicacy in its’ pure form first. The only problem with pancakes is that most of us don’t have a huge griddle for making several at a time. It’s a test of our patience.
Pancakes are incredibly easy to make- served with applesauce and possibly bacon or sausage, you can have a great dinner or breakfast at any time.
Barbara’s Buttermilk Pancakes
one cup buttermilk
two tablespoons melted butter
one cup of sifted flour
one tablespoon sugar
one half teaspoon salt
one half teaspoon baking powder
one half teaspoon soda
Be careful to not over blend after adding the dry ingredients. It’s okay if there are little bits of flour that aren’t mixed in. They will actually blend all by themselves once they hit the hot griddle. The key is to achieve the perfect degree of batter viscosity. Makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about- the batter must pour easily. But not too easily! When your griddle is hot, cook one test pancake. Sometimes I have to add a spoonful of flour, sometimes a bit more buttermilk.
Syrup can be overwhelming to a good pancake, especially the ones which are too sugary. Real Maple Syrup or Little Wild Blackberry Syrup are my personal favorites. Nancy Lachel, at the Hoquiam Farmers Market makes a superb LW Blackberry syrup, along with the very best jams. We are fortunate now in having a good supply of farm fresh local eggs, and Anthony’s Sausage transforms a pancake supper into a complete meal! If Hoquiam ever decides to have a Mardi Gras parade, the Farmers Market will create a float for the celebration. Meanwhile we’ll concentrate on providing great food, using the best ingredients, and making every day special. Deidra’s Deli is now offering delivery service every weekday. You can call in your order to 538-9747 or send a fax to 538-5821and Chelsea will zip your order over!
Ruth brought in the first harvest of exquisite hothouse grown lettuce and herbs today! There is a Lettuce mix, an Asian Spicy Greens mix, Mustard Greens, Cilantro, and Sage. These are the most tender gourmet greens ever grown. Ruth tends all of her plants with a mothers’ loving touch, and these are her first-born in the new greenhouse!
Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager of the Hoquiam Farmers Market and Deidra’s Deli. Winter schedule; Open Wednesday through Sunday!