My Maw Maw…and her Pancakes!

Pancakes? Really? That’s what you’re going to show us today? I know that’s what you’re thinking. And yes, it will be pancakes. Not because it’s easy (which it is..because it’s pancakes), but because recently I had to write a report in one of my classes about who I would honor if I were to participate in a Mexican Day of the Dead celebration.

I chose my Maw Maw, Betty. I won’t bore you with the details, but she was as every grandmother is – warm, friendly, hilariously spoiling of her grandchildren, and an all around hoot and a half. She had a cackle (no, really, that’s what it was) that you could pick out anywhere, and she was a true Marylander, never happier than with a beer and a steaming pile of freshly-caught crabs in front of her. She lived on the water, so as a child I learned to fish and crab – and we always had fresh seafood readily available to us. She also had a knack for gardening, and there were always wild raspberries to be picked, so she’d hand each of us a basket and walk with us all over the place while we gathered them. Remembering the fresh fruits and veggies from my childhood and the influence my grandmother had over how I feel about food and fresh/healthy ingredients today is very special in who I am as a person.

On the weekends during summer, as most grandchildren do, my cousins, brother and I would spend time with MawMaw at her house so we could play. We always fought over who would sleep on the “gold couch” (arguably the most comfortable couch in the house, even if it was mustard yellow), and when we’d wake up, we always begged her for her famous pancakes. She taught me how to make these when I was a small child, and to this day I cannot completely master the beautiful golden color she seemingly effortlessly produced. Every single time. I think it’s because she used an old electric griddle and rubbed the thing down with bacon grease when she made them. I, personally, don’t trust our bacon grease (you may have noticed the can on our counter that says ‘MMM BACON’ on the top of it. Guess what we put in there!) and it seems stupid to rub down a nonstick pan with it anyway..That being said, I do tend to brush mine down with a small dab of canola oil just because I’m paranoid that they’ll stick to my nonstick pan (make sense? Nah, didn’t think so). However, I’m coming to the conclusion that the oil interferes with the texture of the pancakes, so I will be doing this recipe next time in the pan without the oil. We shall see.

Nobody in my family has yet to perfectly master Maw Maw’s pancakes, though I am notably the one who has come the closest. At least that I know of (if one of my cousins or aunts reads this, they may Facebook me and tell me otherwise – we’ll see). I was standing in my kitchen one day trying to figure out the things that the recipe was missing, and lo and behold – some memories popped into my head that sealed the deal. The sneaky old woman added a dash of nutmeg and a TINY drop of Vanilla. Only she hadn’t put that on the recipe she gave the ENTIRE family. Obviously she was trying to keep her golden touch in the pancake business so we couldn’t duplicate it and she would always have a job cooking breakfast for the lot of us. Sadly, she died when I was only 11, and it is only now that I am older that I see the true impact of all the things she taught me and how they affected my life. I miss her dearly, and I hope she’s cackling, drinking beer and eating crabs wherever she is.

So, I now present to you – MawMaw’s pancakes:

Ingredients: 1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tbls sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 egg (slightly beaten), 2 tbls shortening/oil and 1 cup milk. Also nutmeg and vanilla, but she didn’t care to include those on her standard family recipe card. You will need a literal “dash” of those, to taste as you like. This will yield 4-6 pancakes (which is perfect for two people), however if you are serving a larger bunch, double the recipe.

Pop all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Then mix them together.

I don’t know if it actually makes a difference, but my Maw Maw taught me to measure the milk out, drop in the egg, then add the oil & vanilla proceed to whisk it all together to slightly beat the egg. She always used a fork, I suspect for the convenience (whisks don’t fit in measuring cups very well), but just to keep the tradition alive, I also use a fork.

Pour the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk thoroughly.

Your mix will start to bubble and become thick. That is what you want.

Ladle a bit into a skillet over medium-low heat. If you have an electric griddle, do the same. I don’t have one, and the cast iron doesn’t really pop out pancakes like I thought it would, so skillet it is! 😛 I think, though, once the Ryan and I are in a house, we should get an electric griddle. It would make pancakes easier instead of 1-2 at a time. My Maw Maw could do 4-6 on hers, that old bat.

Maw Maw taught me to wait until little bubbles started appearing and popping around the edges and in the middle of the pancake. Additionally, the perimeter will start to look a bit stiff and cake-like. That is when it’s safe to flip. Don’t let it sit too long, it will burn.

And voila! A pancake – Maw Maw style. Notice the color differences? I think it has to do with the oil on the skillet, so again, I will be making these again without any oil. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Maw Maw ALWAYS served her pancakes with real butter, and Betty Crocker syrup. She also ALWAYS served them with Jimmy Dean’s Sage Sausage. The smell of it cooking will trigger memories of summer at her house any day. I always think of her and smile whenever I make this breakfast for friends and loved ones. And I traditionally serve it with Jimmy Dean’s Sage Sausage as well. 😉

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Filed under Baking, Cooking, Food

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