Today is Pancake Day - Shrove Tuesday. A wonderful excuse to forget the diet (it's going well, by the way - I've lost a stone already) and pig out on pancakes for the sake of tradition. The children are having pancakes at school for lunch, and when they get home it's pancakes for tea again. (I wish every day could be dedicated to some sort of food. It would make those "What shall I cook for tea?" decisions so much easier.)
Shrove Tuesday is a tradition going back many centuries, and occurs exactly 47 days before Easter. The six weeks before Easter are a period called Lent in the Church of England and Catholic tradtion; a time of repentance, abstinence and reflection. The word "Shrove" comes from "Shrive" meaning to confess, because on this day people confessed their sins so that they would be clean and forgiven for lent. Also on this day they ate all the good things they had left in the house reading for the period of fasting - and thats where the pancakes come in.
Although very few people even attend church these days (between 5 and 10% of the adult population), let alone observe lent, Pancake Day remains. Probably because it's so delicious!
Here's my recipe for British pancakes (American ones are quite different):
4 oz flour
½ pint milk
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg. Slowly add the milk, beating well all the time until a smooth batter is formed. Put it in the fridge for half and hour, then take it out and beat it again.
Heat a spoonful of oil in a frying pan until sizzling, then add a ladleful of the pancake mixture and let it spread across the pan to make a thin pancake. Fry until the top is set, then flip it (or turn it with a spatula if you're less daring) and fry the other side until golden brown.
Serve with sugar and lemon juice, or jam, or syrup, or chocolate sauce and ice cream, or... anything you like, really, except sausage and maple syrup which would obviously be gross.