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      Pancake Breakfasts

      May 5, 2011


      This sign went up recently in a Wells Fargo parking lot in my neighborhood.  It brought back so many memories.  When I was little before my father left, and even after he left, Sunday was pancake day.  The day my father made breakfast.  It was always pancakes.  They were nothing fancy.  He used Bisquick pancake mix.  They were thin and he made big stacks of them.  It seemed like I ate five or six at a sitting but that could be my memory exaggerating.  I loved putting loads of butter between each one and dousing them with syrup.  Again, it was Log Cabin syrup, nothing fancy.  When I cut into them with a fork all the butter and syrup would squish up, the pancakes acting like a saturated sponge.  It was starchy, buttery, syrupy pancake heaven.  I looked forward to Sunday all week.  I ate until I was sick (literally once!).

      After my parents divorce my father would still come around on the occasional Sunday to make us pancakes but as time went on, and he remarried that ceased.  That’s when we started going to pancake breakfasts put on by the Lions Club, or the Kiwanis, or some other men’s social group.  Just like the one in the picture, they took place outdoors if the weather was nice, or in a church hall if it wasn’t.  There were long tables with chairs to sit at and eat.  The men’s club members made the pancakes, and I believe some of them were all-you-can-eat.  They were also inexpensive so for my mother raising two children on her own it was the perfect outing.  Food her children loved, away from home, we might have gone with neighbors or friends so it was social as well.  I grew up in a small California town so these pancake breakfasts had a real community feel to them.

      Living in large cities all my adult life I’d forgotten about them until I saw this sign.  I just might have to go this one.  The area of Los Angeles I live in, Atwater Village, has a small town vibe to it so a Lions Club pancake breakfast fits right in.  I’ve lived here for five years, this has been going on for sixty-seven, I’m not sure why I never noticed it before.  I’m glad I did.  It’s brought back some very nice memories.  If I do end up going, I’ll report back, and post some pictures.

      Are there pancake breakfasts in your community?  Do you go to them?

      100 Miles Shout Outs! Local events, mini-reviews, and mentions of things happening in the world of food:

      #1 – Honest Cooking ~ I’m now a Contributing Writer to the new online food magazine Honest Cooking.  My most recent story is “L.A. – Casa Vega, Hang With The Stars on Cinco de Mayo.” I’ll be writing several pieces a month about the L.A. food scene.

      #2 – Los Angeles ~ Sunday, May 15, 1 pm – 5 pm, ~ Taste of the Eastside 2011, an all-star regional tasting event with a diverse array of Eastside restaurants at Barnsdall Art Park.

      My Status:  Enjoying the arrival of spring in So Cal and the new spring produce: artichokes, asparagus, peas, spring garlic.  Continuing to blog, cook, and eat.

      Upcoming Posts: More on my great-grandmother’s garden, and my California childhood.  A visit and tour of Ojai Valley citrus grower Friend’s Ranch. More The Local Reports. Cookbook Reviews: Heartland: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig, and Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

      15 Comments on “Pancake Breakfasts”

      1. robert g. says:

        Should I ditch my Saturday class for this? Nice nostalgic piece. Nice to see that these events still take place.

      2. What a great memory, pancake breakfasts sound wonderful.

      3. JEREMIAH TOWER says:

        But Log Cabin, in those days, had maple syrup in it, or not?

        Blueberries in the pancakes way too over the top for me, just plain ones, maybe buttermilk, loaded with butter left out to be soft so it would melt immediately (don’t you hate those hard, cold, butter packets that aren’t fully melted until the pancakes have started to turn cold), loads of it between each cake, syrup as well, all piping hot. Heat the syrup slightly.

        Robert, ditch the class, take your own maple syrup.

      4. Robert: No, you may not ditch your class despite Jeremiah’s suggestion. I’ll bring you some leftovers.

        Natasha: Do you not have these where you live? They’re a great community event.

        Jeremiah: Yes, it’s very possible that Log Cabin was still real maple syrup in it. Agree that soft butter is the only way to go with warm syrup (actually I’d forgotten all about that — we did warm the syrup in a pot of water on the stove!)

      5. Jillston says:

        Oh Charles! Sunday was pancake day for us too. But, um, my dad didn’t make them. My mom did — or me, or my brother. My brother still carries on this tradition in his family. And I’ve started making pancakes a lot recently b/c I’ve found pint containers of wonderful buttermilk here in London (not easy). Makes all the difference. Love the memory of heating the syrup on the stove in a pot of water too. We did the same! Thanks for this post.

      6. pierre says:

        something very american I guess but nice story charles !!
        have a good day !
        Paris is so beautiful these days !!

      7. Jillston: So great to know that it was a custom in your house too. I wonder if it was a regular thing with other families? Yes, buttermilk does make a big difference! Until Jeremiah mentioned heating up the syrup I’d forgotten about it — but then you guys did it too. Love that!

        Pierre: Yes, very American activity. Thank you. I wish I could see how beautiful Paris is right now!

      8. The firemen are having their annual pancake breakfast on Memorial Day here in Mill Valley. Maybe I should go just to check them (the firemen) out rather than indulging in pancakes! I miss eating pancakes with butter and syrup, but too much of a carb load, now.
        I do not remember dad making the pancakes, at all. You have an amazing memory that makes for some wonderfully nostalgic stories.

      9. What I really need is an electric counter top griddle like mom has. Large flat teflon surface, great for pancakes and bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches. Even in my largets skillet it’s hard to do 4 pancakes that are perfectly round. There’s always one slightly flatened side of the circle. Does that bother anyone else? And while we’re on the topic, IHOP was one of our faves — they had (maybe still do?) “silver dollar pancakes” — little ones 3″ in diameter, the better to try all the syrups. Boysenberry — where do you get them? Where do they come from?

      10. Traci: Thanks! Maybe you were to young to remember when Dad made pancakes. It was definitely when we were both little.

        Sean: We have one of those! Robert makes pancakes on it. It does work well for a stack of pancakes. So funny you mentioned IHOP — I used to love that boysenberry syrup. And the silver dollar pancakes. I’m sure they still have those.

      11. Kristen says:

        If I think of all the Bisquick I have eaten in my younger years, I’m slightly horrified. We also only had Log Cabin syrup. Thanks for bringing back the memories ;-)

      12. Tammy says:

        I’ve eaten at IHOP twice, but the memory of that boysenberry syrup is still there.

        Here, no community pancake breakfasts, but the school has a “moules et frites” dinner a couple of times every year…served with beer and wine. Think gigantic quantities of mussels, cooked in wine, with chopped tomatoes, onions etc. And a very hot parent by the fryer.

        Tisn’t breakfast, but it is good time.

      13. Tammy says:

        PS: I adore that it’s their 67th annual breakfast. Fun rituals are a good thing.

      14. Note to Kristen: We were a Mrs. Butterworth family. It wasn’t ’til I met my Mr. Right Steve who hails from New Hampshire that I was introduced to Maple Syrup from Maple Trees. Well, at least I didn’t know any better; it’s better to upgrade than the reverse.

      15. Pearl Maya says:

        What a great idea – both as a community activity as well as a place to create memories. Now I need to get one going in our community :-)

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