Have a seat, son.
G, honey, stop throwing pillows. Please. Put them down. Sit here next to me, sweetie. Hands off your penis. Good.
Mommy is going to tell you a story.
This morning, your Grandmother is preparing for you a stack of fluffy, piping hot homemade pancakes.
But they are a lie. Or, at the very least, they are only part of the story. It’s time you heard the truth about Marsha’s Pancakes. Take my hand, son, as I walk you through a month of pancake breakfasts during my childhood:
First Monday of the month - Our kitchen would look like a Good Housekeeping Spread. Picture two young girls, eyes just above the kitchen tabletop, wide with a hungry anticipation. On the table: Eggs. Pancake Mix. Milk. A mixing bowl. On the stove: a sizzling griddle.
Marsha would pull her red gingham apron over her head, roll up her sleeves, wipe the flour off her face, and whip up a batch of cookbook-cover quality pancakes. She would make enough of those bad boys for a Sunday morning pancake breakfast fundraiser.
(I’m not gonna lie. There were some burners. And sure, we have been known to sink our teeth into a lil’ bit of uncooked batter in the center every now and then. No harm, no foul.)
But for the most part, the first Mondays of the month were a Pancake Dream.
After that marathon cooking session, she would stack those fluffy Bisquick air mattresses on top of each other in stacks of 6 or so, slide them into Ziploc bags, shove them into the freezer, then wash her hands of breakfast for the rest of the month.
Grandma was sleeping in, y’all.
There are people in the world who have a DNA-level propensity for the culinary arts. And these people I speak of do not include any women in my family of origin.
There are those who can open their pantry door, pull out random things that happen to be there, then whip up a dish that becomes an instant family classic. And then there are people like my mother, my sister, and me, who can follow a recipe line by line, and have a disaster waiting in the oven at the end. Something that needs to be cleaned up.
What follows is my mother’s solution to her internal battle between a red-hot hatred of cooking, and a maternal instinct that insisted she feed her kids. Below is the aftermath of the Great Breakfast Compromise.
Week One was ‘cake.
- Remove Ziploc bag from the freezer.
- Break off two or three pancakes from the stack.
- Heat in microwave.
- Go about your day.
Editor’s note: at this point in the telling of this story, a smoke alarm goes off. The little boy listening to the story is unfazed.
Uh oh. Let me go see what is going on with Grandma in the kitchen. Don’t worry. It's probably not a fire. The pancakes are probably just getting a little burnt. No big. Can you just stand here and fan that white blinking circle on the wall with this paper plate? I’ll finish my cautionary tale in just a minute.
(a few minutes pass)
I’m back. Where were we? Ah, yes.
Week Two: This was when the real work began. What you might not know is that after 168 hours in the freezer, ice chunks on pancakes begin huddling in the spaces between them, like Paleolithic cavemen taking shelter in caves to avoid the elements. Drops of moisture huddle together for survival, sometimes working their way all the way to the center of the pancake.
The growing mass of frozen water acts as a sort of adhesive, making the separation of the pancakes a bit of a challenge. This feat is often accomplished with a sharp slam of the pancake disc into the corner of the counter. The more stubborn stacks needed to be dropped to the floor from above our heads in order to shatter their icy bonds. At this stage, it was not uncommon for chunks around the edges to break off or shatter. By the time they reached our breakfast plates, they sometimes looked like they had been gnawed on by lil’ critters.
These breakfasts called for extra butter at the table. Apparently, after a week, ice feeds on pancake flavor. Just a little bit.
Week Three marked the beginning of the Knife Age. By now, only a blade wedged carefully between the pancakes would separate the two. The best-case scenario would be a stab, then a quick twist of the blade: POP! Sometimes it took repeated stabbing. If you were lucky enough to find the serrated bread knife, sawing proved to be an especially effective method.
(Note: By this time, the weight of the ice, combined with the other pancakes, had made the pancakes very, very thin. Also, the frozen parasite had its grip on its host so completely that scraping it off was pointless. If the pancake was a hermit crab, the ice had become its gastropod shell.)
Week Four: We just threw the remaining pancake stack into the microwave, ice and all, heated them up, and call them “crepes.” Grape Jelly and Powdered sugar were standard Week Four toppings. It just seemed more French than maple syrup.
Oh, there’s Grandma now. Looks like breakfast is served, son. Go on, now. Don’t forget to say “Thank you.”
Editor’s Note: Here at Old Single Mom, we wish to be fair in our coverage of life. Grandma Marsha was given a chance to offer any rebuttal she might have to my claims. She did not dispute the practice of freezing the pancakes, and even pulled from her freezer a gnarled ball of aluminum foil which held the latest batch of pancake fossils just to show me that her method was alive and well in the Panhandle of Florida.
She then defended the practice, saying, “I was ahead of my time. That method was simply a precursor to those heat and eat pancakes you can buy these days from the frozen aisle.” The very ones I feed my own child.
So. Breakfast Pioneer? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I will let you be the judge.
But this much is absolutely indisputable: my family loves this story almost as much as we loved those pancakes. Probably more…
Well, that's my piece, and that's my peace. Thank you for taking the time to read my silly words. It means the world. Carry on...
Old Single Mom
If you enjoyed this, and would like to go one more round, might I recommend: Ermigah, you guys. I Fell Down!
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