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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

HAPPY PACZKI DAY!

Happy Shrove  Tuesday!  Shrovetide is the day to use up all the fats and meats forbidden during Lent.  In our neck of the woods we ate paczkis (pronounced punch-keys) and type of yeast raised doughnut.  They are different then the jelly doughnuts that the local bakeries now pass off as paczkis.  My grandfather's fifth wife (what do you call a fifth step-grandmother), Mabel, made the best ones around.  Which was strange because she wasn't known for being an especially skilled cook.  Anyway, she would bring our family a large dry cleaning bagful.  So many that they cover the entire little round table in our breakfast nook.  They were so good warm and fresh.  And they didn't have any jelly filling.  Which was wonderful because none of us liked jelly doughnuts except for my father.  It was the only pastry he knew the name for so when we sent him to the bakery, we knew what he'd be returning with.  Which is why we never asked him to pick up any goodies! 

In England they eat pancakes on this day.  A nice tradition.  I'd much prefer a pancake to a jelly doughnut any day.  Especially when they are made with this recipe:

Overnight Buttermilk Pancakes

2 C. flour
2 C. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning prepare as usual.

These are the nicest, tenderest pancakes you'll ever find.  And since they are mixed up the night before, they are so easy to have ready for a nice breakfast.

Speaking of pancakes reminds me that it is getting time to tap the maple trees, as we are having warm sunny days and cold nights.  All you need is a spile and a bucket to collect the sap.  Then it's just a matter of boiling the sap down to make syrup.  The old instructions caution against boiling the sap down inside the house because it causes so much steam, but now days with advancements in high powered vents for kitchen ranges, I don't think it's such a problem.  At least, I've never had a problem.  It doesn't create much more steam than a long day of canning.

When I was a little girl, we used to take school field trips to a sugar shack.  This was an old-fashioned operation where the sap was boiled in big vats over a wood fire, not the modern-day evaporators.  Those images have stayed with me forever, but I do marvel at the strong nerves the teachers must have had to take a classroom  of five and six year olds to such a potentially dangerous place.  I'm sure now days with its lawsuits and such, it could never be done. 

So do you celebrate Shrove Tuesday?

12 comments:

  1. Hi! well you were lucky to get in your field trip before these days of rules! (Kids can't even play dodge-ball correctly anymore!) I will copy down that pancake recipe. I love pancakes! And any recipe with buttermilk would be the best, plus the convenience of mixing them the night before! I don't have much meat laying around here...but I did give away cake and candy to neighbors with kids! I like the story of your grandfather's wife and your dad:) love,andrea

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    1. Hey Andrea! Yeah, I'm glad I had my kids raised before all this nonsense started. Although, I have to admit 30 five and six year olds in a small room of boiling sugar does sound dangerous. That's one field trip I wouldn't have volunteered to chaperone!

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  2. Dear Jane,

    That's why I love blogging; I learn so much from my friends! Good home-made donuts sound wonderful. I had a recipe for oven-baked banana donuts once, but have forgotten it. We'll have to look that one up! And Evangeline has been begging for pancakes lately, so we'll have to try out your overnight recipe.

    Blessings to you today,

    Marqueta

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    1. Evangeline sounds like Jamie. Whenever I ask him what he's hungry for, he always says pancakes. She'll like these. They really are wonderfully tender! Thank you for the blessings!

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  3. Ok - your fifth step-grandmother? Wow. And tapping the maple trees? And paczkis? And overnight pancakes? Yum! I always learn so much from you! I try not to keep too much fattening food around, but chocolate has been my weakness this week!

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    1. Well to be fair, two of his wives died and one outlived him so there were only two (only two! sarcasm key) divorces. Yeah, I guess my life experiences are a little unusual. Makes for some interesting family dinners!

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  4. I've been seeing the maple buckets on trees as I commute to work. I love that. I have never tapped a tree myself...but I love good maple syrup.
    Hugs,
    Courtney

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    1. Must be fun to live in your neck of the woods this time of year, Courtney! Tapping trees is a fun thing to do with the kids. But we had to cut down our lone maple tree in the yard so I'll have to take a trip to the sugar shack this year. Which is fun because they do it the old-fashioned way with horses.

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  5. Hi Jane, I sure enjoyed your post today! The donuts sound so delicious. That was a neat field trip! The only field trip I remember taking as a kid was to the L.A. Harbor to watch the the big ships come in from South America and unload the bananas to the Dole processing plant. It was fascinating and we each got our own free banana! :) I didn't know about sugar making until I moved here to the south. We have a friend of a friend who has a sugar shack and invited us one year to a picnic-party at his home. It was sure fun. The men tended the huge boiling pot and it was such an interesting process to watch. Have a great day ahead! Delisa :)

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    1. That's interesting Delisa. I thought it didn't get cold enough in the south to tap maple trees. Your field trip sounds like it was fun. Having grown up in a port town, watching ships come in was pretty commonplace. We were always surprised when visitors wanted to go and watch them. It was just part of life for us! When I was little my dad got a job on the tugs so he could stay at home. So I got to be on the tug when they were helping push the boats in. Guess it was the ultimate take your child to work day! I didn't go very often because I was terrified of walking over the little board plank to get onboard!

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  6. How interesting, I have never heard of Paczki before. They sound delicious, I have been down with the flu and was unable to enjoy "pancake day" on Shrove Tuesady, luckily, since the kids were off of school for president's day on Monday, hubby made a big batch of homemade pancakes for us, he loves making us pancakes a couple weekends a month. How wonderful it must be to get to tap your own maple syrup! Sounds like such an interesting process. :)

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    1. Sorry to hear you're feeling under the weather April. It's this crazy weather I'm starting to believe. Tapping your own trees is a fun activity to do with the youngsters. Especially when the tree is just steps away from the back door so you don't have to trudge through the wet snow to get to the sap pails!

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