Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Favorite Sunday Dinner: Alphabet Pancakes

"A" is for Annabel, June 2011.
This past weekend I brought back a Sunday dinner tradition from my own childhood-- "Alphabet Pancakes".  We never had a name for them when I was a kid, but sometimes my mom would let us make pancakes in the shapes our our initials and my sister and I loved it.

On Sunday morning my husband took the kids out of the house so I could sleep in.   While they were gone, I slept as long as I could (which was only until 8:30 am-- pathetic, I know) and then took a nice long bath.  When my family returned from their morning's adventure, everyone was starving and I was looking for a way to show my gratitude.  Inspiration struck-- PANCAKES!  I asked the crowd of hungry faces, "Who wants pancakes?"  Two not so tiny people screamed, "I do!", while my somewhat haggard-looking and unshaven husband looked at me as if I was crazy and said, "I was going to tell you not to go to so much trouble, but it's too late now."

I happily shuffled off to the kitchen in my slippers and before long I had two cast iron skillets bubbling away with initial-shaped pancakes.  This wasn't the first time I'd made pancakes in the shape of my family's initials, but it had been ages since I'd done it.  In fact, the last time we'd eaten them might have been Mother's Day 2010-- and they were made by my husband as a treat for me.

It was so long ago that I was pretty sure my toddlers wouldn't even remember the special meal of my childhood.  When the first batch of pancakes was ready, I called out, "Come and get it!"  In the midst of the stampede I heard my five year-old daughter say, "I wonder if she's making mine in the shape of a 'V'.  I hope so!"  I could tell that my husband was about to tell her not to hold her breath when they entered the kitchen and saw their initial-shaped pancakes at each spot at the table.  My daughters squealed in delight and my husband gave me a big kiss.  It was one of those rare perfect moments of motherhood.

Truth be told, I often feel slightly annoyed to be the mom who has to stand over the hot stove making batch after batch of pancakes while the hungry masses enjoy their breakfast at the dining room table.  But this morning, I set the plates down at our tiny kitchen table so I could hang out with my family while still maintaining my post at the stove.  I made silver dollar pancakes, a few more initials, and a stack of man-sized pancakes in my dueling skillets.  I don't know if it was because everyone seemed so pleased with the special treat or because I could, for once, enjoy seeing my family enjoying the food I made for them, but on this morning, being the mom seemed like the most wonderful job in the world.

I know there are mothers who have mastered the art of keeping pancakes warm in the oven so they can sit down with their families to enjoy a civilized meal together.  I am not one of those mothers.  It never seemed worth the effort until now.  The next time I make pancakes for my family, I think I'll give it a try although I suspect it won't be the same.  There's something magical about a pancake hot off the stove-- they're crispy and tender all at the same time.  Maybe I'll save the last pancake off the stove for myself and let my family eat the reheated ones.  Does that make me a bad mother or just a smart one?