Tuesday, March 1, 2022

International Pancake Day: Flip for Pancakes!


It seems there is a "special" day for just about everything. There are days delighting in doughnuts. There are days for savoring sandwiches and hallowing hamburgers. Pie even gets more than one day.

It's always a good day to flip for pancakes. But if you need an excuse, International Pancake Day is today - Tuesday, March 1. Pancake Day is a moveable feast whose date is determined by Easter. It's celebrated exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday (April 17 this year).

Down the road in Liberal, Kansas, the 73rd International Pancake Day is back after a hiatus last year due to Covid.  

For 73 years, the women of the two communities - Liberal, Kansas, and Olney, England - have raced down the streets of their respective communities, flipping pancakes and running against the clock and each other. The race is always on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. It's the only race of its kind in the world.

"Shrove" is not a thing, but a verb. "Shrive" (shrove, shriven) comes from the Old English verb scrfan, "to decree, decree after judgment, impose a penance upon, hear the confession of," according to the dictionary. Shrove Tuesday is a day to reflect, to seek penance and get ready for Lent.

In Olney, the Pancake Race tradition dates back to 1445. Legend has it that a woman was busy making pancakes and using up cooking fats, which were forbidden during Lent at that time. Hearing the church bells ring to announce the Shrove Tuesday service, she grabbed her head scarf and ran to the church, with pancake-filled skillet in hand. In following years, neighbors joined the race to the church. The first to arrive collected a Kiss of Peace from the bell ringer.

Photo from the International Pancake Day Facebook page: Liberal's Billie Warden crosses the finish line in 1950. Billie won the local race with a time of 1:18 but lost to Olney's Florence Callow, who finished in 1:10.4.  

The international race with Liberal began in 1950, when Liberal Jaycee President R.J. Leete saw a photo of the English race in Time magazine and then contacted Olney, challenging their women to race against the women of Liberal.

Racers must still wear a head scarf and apron. Each runner flips her pancake at the starting signal and again as she crosses the finish line to prove she still has her pancake after running the 415-yard course.

Photo from the International Pancake Day Race Facebook page

According to the book, America Celebrates! A Patchwork of Weird & Wonderful Holiday Lore, some superstitions have evolved among Liberal racers:

  • It is considered good luck to carry a past winner's skillet in the race or wear a past winner's apron.
  • One year, the stack of concrete pancakes marking the starting point of the race was stolen. This was considered a bad omen, but the stack was later returned.
  • Although the women practice running 415 yards, it is considered bad luck to run the official race course during the practice sessions.

If you're looking for your own International Pancake Day treat, Country Crunch Pancakes are good for breakfast ... or for a breakfast-themed lunch or supper. The topping mixture offers another layer of flavor and subtle crunch. And Randy is always a fan of added blueberries. I used frozen blueberries, since there weren't fresh ones at my local grocery store. 

Kinley & Brooke are fans of breakfast, too - at any meal of the day! 

Photo from 2020 - I need an updated pancake picture! 

Whether you make pancakes or not, I'll leave you with the traditional blessing bestowed upon the pancake race winner - whether in Liberal or Olney:

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

These days, we can take all the PEACE we can get.
Country Crunch Pancakes
From Taste of Home

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, optional

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a bowl, combine flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Combine buttermilk, eggs and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in blueberries if desired.
Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle about 1 teaspoon for each pancake onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Pour 1/4 cup of batter over topping; immediately sprinkle with another teaspoonful of topping. Turn when bubbles form on top of pancake; cook until second side is golden brown. Serve with your favorite syrup.
NOTE: I did use frozen blueberries, since fresh ones weren't available at my local store. I also made my "buttermilk" by combining vinegar and milk.


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