Dearest Boo, yesterday was a good day for me, as one meal reminded me of two of my favorite cities in North America and one of my favorite times of the Christian calendar.
We were forced to have one of my all time favorite things for supper – breakfast. I don’t know what it is about me, but I cannot eat a big breakfast and there are so many good things that are classified “breakfast”. Like omelets, and waffles, and pancakes, and french toast, and quiche, and donuts, and scrambled eggs, and muffins. The best part about being a “grown-up” is that I can eat whatever I like, whenever I want. So, tonight for supper we had breakfast! And not just any breakfast, but a specific breakfast for a real and specific reason. Pancakes! And why pancakes you may ask………..easy, it was Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. And Fat Tuesday reminds me of New Orleans. Fat Tuesday is Mardi Gras, the festival New Orleans, Louisiana, that this city celebrates loud and proud . “Gras” is French for fat and “Mardi” is French for Tuesday.
In ethnic English tradition, Shrove Tuesday, refers to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which started on Ash Wednesday. The annual festivities(Mardi Gras) start on January 6, the Twelfth Night Feast of the Epiphany, when the three kings are supposed to have visited the Christ Child, and build to a climax on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. This day is often known as Pancake Day. Making and eating such foods was considered a last feast with ingredients such as sugar, fat and eggs, whose consumption was traditionally restricted during the ritual fasting associated with Lent.
There are traditionally forty days in Lent, which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbor). Today, some people give up a vice of their’s, add something that will bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations. I try hard to add a “good” habit to my daily life. For me, to try to eliminate a “vice” for forty days just did not work out, as I would go back to that “vice” on Easter Sunday. For example, giving up sweets during Lent. Once I would wake up Easter morning all I could do was stuff my face with jelly beans, chocolate eggs, cookies, cakes…….whatever I could find. That just was not getting me closer to God. However, I found that if I would just incorporate one practice into my life that would bring pleasure to God and help me to lead a more Christian life it would bring the whole meaning of Lent and Easter closer to my heart. This year I will get back to my Bible reading each and every night. Not only will this get me more in tune to the season, but falling asleep with the words of my God will help me to sleep more soundly and restfully.
Back to our supper. Not only did the pancakes honor New Orleans, but they honored the Olympics. In honor of the Olympics, that are being held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, we also added a healthy dose of real maple syrup. Vancouver has to be one of the most beautiful and clean cities in all of North America. About nine years ago I won a trip to Seattle and Vancouver from the company I worked for at that time. This company yearly honored about 125 employees company-wide that had performed above and beyond what was expected. My manager nominated me for turning six retail stores, that all were operating in the red, into all highly profitable stores. At the awards dinner in Vancouver I was then honored, along with twenty-four other employees, with an all expense paid trip to Hawaii. Sa-weet.
Vancouver impressed me so as every night, once all the stores and restaurants closed, there was a huge crew of workers out cleaning up the streets. We would go to bed, with the streets full of litter, and wake up the next morning to totally litter free streets and sidewalks. Amazing. Pretty sure that your dear cousin, Amanda, must have trained this cleaning staff. That child is amazing! I wish I could bottle her up and sell her as the world’s best cleaning product. We would make a fortune.
I believe we stayed in, what is now called, the Fairmont Hotel. It was built in the late 1930’s and has a distinctive green roof is made of oxidized copper. The exterior has carvings of mythological figures such as griffins and flying horses, and parapets embellished with Gothic gargoyles with the interior mainly mahogany, brass and crystal. The carpets were lush and thick and the bathroom floors were all marble, with claw foot bathtubs and gold fixtures. I loved it! I felt just like a princess during my stay, as I thought it looked just like a huge old castle.
One day we were blessed to take a bus to Butchart Gardens. The Butchart Gardens is one of the world’s premier floral show gardens. Robert and Jennie Butchart established their home on the land that Robert quarried for limestone for his cement plant. When the limestone supply was exhausted Jennie began to shape this magnificent landscape in 1904. Jennie, conceived an unprecedented plan for refurbishing the bleak pit. From farmland nearby she requisitioned tons of top soil, had it brought to Tod Inlet by horse and cart, and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, under Jennie Butchart’s supervision, the abandoned quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden. By 1908, reflecting their world travels, the Butcharts had created a Japanese Garden on the sea-side of their home. Later an Italian Garden was created on the site of their former tennis court, and a fine Rose Garden replaced a large kitchen vegetable patch in 1929. Through successive generations of the Butchart family, The Gardens has retained much of its original design, and continues the Victorian tradition of seasonally changing the outstanding floral displays. Robert Gutchart took great pride in his wife’s remarkable hard work and added to the scenery with his “collections”. A great hobbyist, he collected ornamental birds from all over the world. He kept ducks in the Star Pond, noisy peacocks on the front lawn, and a ill-tempered parrot in the main house. He enjoyed training pigeons at the site of the present Begonia Bower, and had many elaborate bird houses stationed throughout Jennie’s beautiful gardens. Flowering cherry trees line the road into the gardens, completing a breathtaking nature experience. Oh, how I wish I had a camera with me for this trip. It is one place I would love to go back to visit.
Here is our favorite pancake recipe, that you insist I make with chocolate chips. And we must, must, must have real maple syrup. If I were thinking I would have dashed to the store to purchase Canadian Bacon, just to complete the Olympic theme. I kind of like this picture as it looks like Quatchi, one of the Olympic mascots! Joy Rising – Joie la Hausse!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 2-3 minutes per side medium-low heat
Source: too long ago to remember
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 T sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 c milk
- 3 T melted butter (or you can use bacon grease)
- Measure out milk; add egg. Mix together.
- Add flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to the egg/milk mixture and mix together
- Add melted butter (or bacon grease) and mix together
- Pour into pre-heated pan pour out equal amounts into shapes.
- Cook until bubble fill the surface (about 2 minutes).
- Flip and cook other side until brownede (about 2 minute).