Lent and Easter
in the Domestic Church

Shrove Tuesday

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Page 6 in "Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"

I remember Pancake Day from my childhood. It seemed a bizarre tradition, one that turned my mother's nutritional schedule upside down and one that transformed math class into a picnic. Though I asked, there was little or no explanation for the inexplicable adult actions. Of course, offered plates of pancakes brimming with butter and dripping with syrup, I did not question the matter too closely.

Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church

"Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"
at the
Catholic Company store.

During my first Lenten season as a Catholic, I finally began to gain some understanding and explanation for this strange habit. Actually it is not so strange at all; it makes perfect sense when viewed in a liturgical light, as does all of Catholic tradition.

Shrove Tuesday (also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or fetter Dienstag) is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Since Lent is a time of abstinence, traditionally from meat, fat, eggs, and dairy products (one wonders what was left), Shrove Tuesday's menu was designed to use up all the fat, eggs, and dairy products left in the kitchen and storeroom. It is also a "feast" to prepare for the time of "famine" in the desert. In some cultures, it is traditional to eat as much as possible on Shrove Tuesday, sometimes up to twelve times over the course of the whole day.

The English terms "shrovetide" and "Shrove Tuesday" are from the word shrive, which is described in the Webster's dictionary as an archaic term that means both to hear and make a confession and to give and receive absolution. Since confession is a preparation for the receiving of Communion, Shrove Tuesday is a preparation for the beginning of Lent and the great feast of Easter.

In many traditions, Lent is a time for cleaning in preparation for Easter and spring. First one's soul, then the kitchen, then the rest of the house was cleansed and purified of the past year's accumulations. Old clothes were mended and new clothes purchased at this time of year. In the Ukraine, houses were whitewashed inside and out during Lent. In this way, everything was made ready to face the season of Salvation and Rebirth. Traditions of spring cleaning stem from this Lenten religious observance.

The recipes given will make about ten pancakes enough for three people. Throw cholesterol concern to the winds, and have lots of bacon too!

Recipe: Plain Mlyntsi (Griddle Cakes)



Place the dry ingredients in a bowl, and stir them together well with a fork.

Add the remaining ingredients, and beat well with a manual or electric beater until thoroughly blended.

Heat a heavy griddle or frying pan (cast iron is best). Grease the pan lightly with a few drops of oil.

Test the griddle with a few drops of cold water. The griddle is hot enough when the drops keep a globular shape and skitter across the pan. If the water spreads out, the pan is too cool. If the drops evaporate immediately, the pan is too hot and the cakes will burn.

Pour the batter into the pan with a small scoop or measuring cup to form cakes about 3 inches in diameter.

Cook the cakes until bubbles break on the surface, flip them quickly, and cook the other side. Do not turn more than once.

Serve very hot with syrup, honey, or corn syrup and thick sour cream or yogurt.

Recipe: Oatmeal Apple Pancakes



Place the oatmeal and buttermilk together in a large bowl. Allow to soak for a few minutes.

Add the eggs and oil and cinnamon (if using). Stir well.

Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and apple. Stir until blended Heat a heavy frying pan. Grease lightly with oil.

Pour about '/s cup batter into the pan with a small measuring cup.

Bake the pancake until bubbles break on the surface, flip quickly, and bake the other side. Make sure the pancakes are baked through.

Keep the pancakes warm in a warm oven until all are done.

Serve hot.

Recipe: Hot Honey Butter Sauce



In a small saucepan, mix together the cold water and cornstarch.

Stir in the honey and butter, and cook over low heat until butter is melted and sauce is thickened.

Add the lemon juice. Serve hot on pancakes or apple dumplings, butter cake or anything else that appeals to you.

Recipe: Potato Pancakes

Crisp and brown, these are great with sour cream or yogurt, bacon, and applesauce. This year, I am going to try cooking them in the waffle iron.



Wash and grate the potatoes. Place the potatoes on a double thickness of paper towels, fold the towels around them, and twist and squeeze until most of the moisture is removed.

Unwrap the potatoes and dump them in a bowl. Add the flour, cream, egg, and salt, and toss until mixed.

Heat the fat or oil in a skillet.

Put about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture in the pan. Press and shape the pancakes into a flat 3½ -inch cake.

Repeat until pan is full but not crowded. Cook each pancake about 5 minutes over medium-low heat until the bottom is crisp and brown. Turn and cook the other side for 5 minutes more.

Keep warm in a 300°F oven until all are ready. Serve.