First stop, good ol' Wikipedia to figure out just what Shrove Tuesday is all about.
In short, the word is a past tense for an old English word, shrive, the absolution of one's sins. It's also associated with Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday-- a last indulgence before the season of sacrifice and Lent takes place.
Why pancakes? Since people, once upon a time in the practice of Lent, were forbidden to eat milk, butter or eggs during the Lent season, and these ingredients could not be stored for the 40-day duration, the story goes they would use up these ingredients the night before Lent with a big pancake feast.
This is a practice I can dig a fork into. I love to make and eat homemade pancakes. Sometimes we even have them for dinner. Seems like a great celebration to me!
I have used the same pancake recipe for over twenty years, and make changes to the ingredients as the mood hits.
Basic Recipe: (From the 1982 edition of Sunset's Easy Basics cookbook, or as I like to call it, the Idiot's Cookbook. It was the ideal wedding gift for me.)
Mix dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
Mix wet ingredients:
1- 1/4 cups milk
3 Tbs melted butter/margarine
Make a well in mixed dry ingredients, add wet ingredients all at once, stir till blended. Pour batter (about 1/4 cup) on to hot, greased pan (I use spray oil). Cook on medium until top side looks dry, then flip. Serve with syrup, hot mixed berries, or whatever toppings you enjoy.
Flours: Play around with the flours you add. I sometimes use 1/2 cup white flour, 1/2 cup wheat, 1/2 oats or similar variations. Wheat and oats may alter the moisture needed-- just adjust milk to get the consistency you want.
Add Ins: Ooo our family likes a few things thrown in sometimes-- a handful of pecans, chocolate chips, dried cranberries-- have fun and be inventive!
Yum. Let's celebrate! I think any practice that includes the eating of bread-like substances with a sweet topping and perhaps a side of sizzling pig-flesh and eggs, is one we should all observe!