Belated pancake day. It was only at 4pm yesterday I realised it was the big day itself.
I should have guessed though. In shops I have seen frying pans for sale, alongside packet pancake mixes and ready made pancakes. How can one of the easiest foods to make possibly NEED to come out of a packet? It just highlights how far removed we are from a self sufficient lifestyle and how little importance the majority of us place on spending time in the kitchen preparing food from scratch .
Mind you, I think the same of grated cheese and Jif lemon juice too, but obviously some people buy it, and as long as there is a demand, we will continue to find these products adorning our shop shelves. None of these products, the majority of which come in plastic packaging, are natural, sustainable, eco friendly or in the least bit green. They also cost so much when you work out the price per kg.
My cynicism made me nearly miss the day altogether. Even Little Miss Green asks why shops put things in for Easter / Christmas / Halloween so far in advance before the day itself. So I saw all the pancake day goodies and smugly assumed I had another fortnight or so before I needed to think about it
I picked up a pack of pancake mix last week, just to check out the ingredients (I’m terribly nosey like that) and was shocked at what I found.
Partially inverted syrup, acidity regulator, preservatives, stabilisers, antioxidants and thickeners were all listed on the outside of glossy plastic packaging.
One brand even came with two individual sachets of golden syrup.
Another came in a large plastic bottle with the ingredients covering about an inch at the bottom. It couldn’t possibly be, could it? Yes, the bottle was made just the right size so that you fill it up with milk and you end up with the ‘perfect batter’.
You don’t even need to measure out your own liquid, all you need to do is throw your plastic bottle into the landfill………………..
One company states: “xxxxxxxxx, a local baker in Brighton, believed that baking was one of the warmest ways to show your family and friends you care.” So far, so good. I heartily believe in what he says.
Then he goes on to say,
“In 1907, he came up with the idea to lend a helping hand in the kitchen by pre-mixing the dry ingredients and selling the packs in his store.”
Oh, how I love the irony.
Two of the ready made pancakes only had microwave instructions on them. Not a sizzling frying pan or tossed pancake in sight for some families then. (and no good for us as we don’t own a microwave)
So tonight, sitting in the fruit bowl, there was not a lemon to be seen. Just a grapefruit, a few apples and heaps of rapidly browning bananas.
Our fillings ended up being the juice of a florida pink grapefruit that a friend gave me last week with demerera sugar (it worked really well) and mashed bananas with cream, topped with a dusting of cocoa powder. (deliciously decadent).
Honestly, if you’ve never cooked before, do give pancakes a try. They are delicious, easy and fun to make. Delia Smith shares the perfect recipe:
110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
butter for frying
1- Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
2- Break in the eggs and whisk them in until all the flour is incorporated.
3- Gradually add the milk and water mixture, whisking all the time until you have the consistency of thin cream.
4- Sit back and relax for half and hour to let the batter rest.
When you are ready, put a tiny amount of butter into a hot frying pan (you just want to coat the pan) and pour in about 2 tbsp of the batter.
As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter.
It should take only half a minute or so to cook if you have the pan at the right temperature. When you see bubbles appear on the surface, flip the pancake and cook the other side for a few seconds.
That’s it – all done. Just slide the pancake out onto a plate and repeat the process. Easy, delicious and frugal. You can be as decadent with the fillings as you choose – you are only limited by your imagination.
For vegan pancakes, make the batter from
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp of mild oil such as grapeseed
2 1/2 cups soymilk
Lemon juice and sugar is the traditional filling, but you can try fruit and cream, lemon curd, ice cream, jam or chocolate. Try them with savoury fillings too, such as mushrooms, tofu, cottage cheese or crispy bacon and cheese.
While I was waiting for the pancakes to cook, I made two batches of chocolate chip and banana cookies with some more of the bananas. There’s nothing like using up ingredients that have nearly walked to the compost heap to make you feel virtuous