Sunday, March 16, 2008

Grandpa's special pancakes

I made an unexpected trip to Texas last week: it was to attend my grandfather’s funeral. And while words can’t express my sadness, I know that Grandpa would much rather have me smile than cry, so I’ll share with you one of my warmest memories of him: his special pancakes.

When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house in the Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff. Sundays through Fridays, my grandmother ruled the kitchen. But on Saturdays the stove belonged to Grandpa. Every Saturday morning, you’d walk into their house and the smell of smoky bacon, spicy sausage and sweet syrup would waft through the air, inviting you to take a seat at the table and dig into a tall stack of Grandpa’s special pancakes.

When cooking his pancakes, he’d always mix his batter with an eggbeater in a large 32-oz. glass measuring cup, which made it all the easier to pour the batter into the skillet. And while his pancake recipe is pretty simple, because they were made with both expertise and love they are still the best pancakes I’ve ever had.

Even though my grandparents were living in Dallas, they had never given up their family farmland in far North Texas. On both farms are pecan trees, and so they always had a steady supply of this sweet and crunchy Texas treat. Grandpa would throw them into his pancakes, and when blueberries were in season he’d add those as well. The soft, puffy pancakes combined with the snap of fresh nuts was a perfect marriage—so sweet and delicious, in fact, that no butter or syrup was even necessary.

When they retired and moved back to the farm, Grandpa didn’t abandon his Saturday-morning pancake tradition. If I’d be visiting, my grandparents always insisted I stay through Saturday so I could eat some of his pancakes. It was a request I never refused.

My family loves to both eat and cook, and my brother Jacob has decided to continue Grandpa’s pancake-making tradition. So on the morning of the funeral, we woke up early to find Jacob in the kitchen beating up a batch of pancakes just like Grandpa’s. After eating and cooking, my family loves nothing more than the opportunity to remain at the table talking and laughing for hours on end. And Jacob's pancakes were indeed a fine tribute as we sat around that morning at the farm, eating puffy pancakes while sharing memories and stories about Grandpa.

Grandma gladly gave me his pancake recipe, which is made all the more dear by the added instructions, “Mighty good on Saturday morning.” And yes, you can eat these pancakes anytime, but for me they’ll always be Grandpa’s special Saturday pancakes—a sign that a happy time of family gathering has begun.

The author and her grandfather quite a few years ago. Photo taken by Uncle Austin


Grandpa’s special pancakes
Ingredients:
1 egg
About 1 1/2 cups of milk
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of whole-wheat flour
1 heaping tablespoon of fresh baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of shelled pecans

Method:
1. Beat together the egg and milk.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix (can add more milk if needed).
3. Pour 1/4 cup onto skillet heated at medium.
4. Cook for a couple of minutes on one side (until edges are brown and bubbles form in batter).
5. Flip and cook on other side a couple more minutes.
6. Serve immediately.
7. Don't forget: Mighty good on Saturday morning!
Notes: When Jacob made these, he used buttermilk, which made them extra fluffy. He also used less than four tablespoons of oil. And my uncle Austin recalls that Grandpa insisted his secret to great pancakes was in using a fresh and hearty tablespoon of baking powder.

Related Stories Widget by LinkWithin

70 comments:

Lissa said...

I'm so very sorry to hear of the loss of your grandfather. You write so lovingly of your family, and I can tell this is a huge loss for you.

Thank you for sharing his pancake recipe. It's as if you've invited us into your family for a special moment.

*hugs*

Kalyn said...

I'm sorry to hear about the death of your grandfather, but very happy that you have such loving memories of him. What a lovely glimpse into a very nice family tradition. I love the photo of you with your grandpa; I bet he's very proud of you.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing a wonderful recipe and a sweet memory of your Grandpa that makes the recipe even more treasured.
Best,
Wendy

RecipeGirl said...

What a sweet story... so sorry for your loss. I too have wonderful food memories related to my grandparents. May your grandpa's pancake recipe brighten up many a morning via your blog!

Danielle said...

I'm so sorry to hear that he's gone. What a wonderful photo of the two of you together!

eonyc said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. What a great legacy he left you all.

Pam said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a lovely way to remember him. Loved the photo, he looks like he was a very special person.

Gena said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my Grandma last fall (she also grew up in Oak Cliff) and cherish the long list of recipes I've gotten from her over the years. Making her pies and soups always brings back special memories that we are so fortunate to have.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My heart goes out to you and your family. To this day, I remember the taste of my grandmother's cooking, and she's been gone for 30 years.

borchard504 said...

Great picture of you and Grandpa. My grandparents passed 20 years ago, but I still feel like they are with me today, as I tell my "almost" grown children, stories about them and I. What a blessing those memories are Homesick Texan! Best regards...

Ginny said...

I know your Grandpa had to be proud of his granddaughter. He certainly looks proud and smitten in that picture, and your love for him shows, too. Thanks for sharing his recipe. I remember my East Texas grandmother with her fried apple pies and her snacks of saltine crackers smeared with mayonnaise. It's interesting how much food is associated with grandparents.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your grandfather. Your memories will be precious, refreshed each time you make those pancakes.

Kate said...

What a really lovely post. I enjoyed it so much. Thanks for sharing your grandfather's recipe.

Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said...

Aw, this was one of the sweetest posts ever. I'm sorry about your loss. My grandpa is in poor health these days, too. When I was younger, he'd always make me pancakes. He'd use Aunt Jemima mix, ignore the instructions and top them with honey.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you have lost someone you loved so much. It seems that you have such a wonderful and close family and I envy you. Isn't food and the traditions surrounding it an interesting bonding agent?

lunettes said...

I'm so sorry for your heartsickness. I hope that it gets better with time, and it is wonderful that you have recipes and memories of your grandfather that make you so happy.

One of the few memories I have of my grandfather is his sweet tea recipe: one scoop of powdered tea, one cup of ice, and about twenty cups of sugar, mixed in while drinking. It never fails to bring me back to my grandparents' house.

Meeta said...

Lisa, my warmest condolences! i know how you must feel as I lost my grandmum last year - which really set me back emotionally. But time will make things better again. You have great memories and that's what helped me get through it. A lovely picture!

Culinary Cowgirl said...

My heartfelt condolences...but what a fabulous way to remember him :)

Jerry said...

Lisa,
I've been where you are too many times in the lst two years. I have no words of my own for you, but the following has always made me smile, so I'll pass it along, as I have done before.


Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free!
I follow the plan God laid for me.
I saw His face, I heard His call,
I took His hand and left it all...
I could not stay another day,
To love, to laugh, to work or play;
Tasks left undone must stay that way.
And if my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss...
Ah yes, these things I, too, shall miss.
My life's been full, I've savoured much:
Good times, good friends, a loved-one's touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief—
Don't shorten yours with undue grief.
Be not burdened with tears of sorrow,
Enjoy the sunshine of the morrow.

Texana said...

What a blessing to have such warm and lovely memories (and a great photo) of your grandfather--one can tell from the photo that he was a special man. My heart is with you through this loss. And you can bet I'll be makin' those pancakes! Thanks for sharing.

Molly said...

My sympathies to you. My grandmother died at age 93, the same week we found out we were pregnant with our son.

My grandmother saved everything, and one of my sweetest treasures is an old Win Schuler Bar Cheez crock from the grocery store. It used to sit next to her stove with kosher salt in it. Now it sits next to mine. I think of her every time I cook.

Mrs. W said...

Oh, please accept my sympathy.

Look at that photo--he was so obviously delighted with you.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post, and of course the delicious-looking recipe.

bec said...

I'm sorry for your lost. I have never left a message here before but your story of your grandfather really touched me. I think those memories are priceless.

Natalie said...

My sincerest condolences for your loss. There are no better memories of our loved ones than those that involve hugs or food made with love. It makes me remember my grandfather's beef stew and corbread muffins. What a lovely warm thought. Thank you so very much for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. It is funny how these kinds of things are sometines the most enduring memories of our loved ones. I still remember browned potatoes and green beans with bacon that my Grandmother used to make.

Regarding the recipe - are you sure the liquid is correct? I know you say to "add milk as needed" but 1/2 cup as a starter to 2 cups of flour seems more like bread dough than pancake batter. My wife and I tried it this morning and didn't have much luck. We are at a pretty extreme altitude so maybe that was the problem.

Anonymous said...

This post brought tears to my eyes,and to you brother Jacob,that was a great tribute to your Grandpa.

Luisa said...

Oh dear - I'm so so sorry. That photo of the two of you is just so sweet.

Sharon said...

My condolences for your loss, and my thanks for the recipe.

Where in Oak Cliff did they live? I grew up on Kramer St, one block south of Ft. Worth Ave and W. Davis St., and three blocks west of Westmoreland Rd. Went to school at Geo. Peabody Elementary, L.V. Stockard Jr. High, and Sunset High.

Mansi Desai said...

It's great to have happy memories, and that's what makes the loss of someone more manageable...I'm glad that you have your grandpa living with you always through memories like these!

nikkipolani said...

Lisa, I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. That photo of you and him is a treasure - and you still have the same smile (albeit with a few more teeth!). Thanks for sharing your memories of your loved one.

Leslie said...

Lovely story, and thanks for sharing.

Texann said...

My deepest condolences at the loss of your grandfather. What a beautiful tribute.

Brave Sir Robin Hussein said...

I'm sending especially good thoughts your way my dear.

It sounds like his life was wonderful, and your memory of him is all the more special, as all of us will remember him each time these are made.

That, my friend is immortality.


take care.

Mike said...

So sorry for your loss....siiiigh

I too enjoy making pancakes early on weekend mornings....my goal is to always be quiet enough not to wake anyone as I cook....and then see the kids faces light up as they take that detour from the
cupboard (for cereal) to the stove area for a plate.

I'm the only one in the house who enjoys Nacogdoches blueberries....kids obviously love the chocolate chips in theirs.

...peace

danni said...

Your blog brought a smile to my face because my Great Uncle would make pancakes for me too. He called them hot cakes and they were about the size of a coaster but instead of pecans we grew-up on a peach orchard so we had fresh peaches with Auntie Mel's homemade peach jam.

Thank you for shareing your memories

hayden said...

I am very sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for sharing this very special recipe with us.

Celeste said...

although i still live in texas (valley raised, although houston is my current home), i love your blog. i've often said i don't think i could ever live anywhere but texas, although i'm willing to try any texas place once (maybe laredo next).

my grandfather died three weeks before my h.s. graduation, and he was to make the beans - or rather, his nurse/companion/the lady who cooked and cleaned for him and my grandmother was going to make them per his instruction. unexpectedly this easter weekend, i stumbled onto your blog looking for a capirotada recipe - just like grandpa left without sharing his beans, 7 months later my grandmother left without sharing capirotada.

unexpectedly this monday night, i'm also crying. i'm so sorry for your loss. he looked like a sweet texas man, and you clearly loved him much.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Lisa, my heart goes out to you. This is a beautiful tribute to your grandfather.

Camila said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a lovely way to remember your grandfather, with Jacob cooking his pancakes and you sharing the recipe. My grandpa makes pancakes, too -- banana pecan ones, with Bisquick and love. I think I will appreciate them even more on my next visit.

Thank you for sharing with us.

Austin said...

HT, you got the pancake recipe right, including the heaping tablespoon of FRESH baking powder. But you left out one part of the Saturday morning pancake ritual. The poot. You gotta fart in the kitchen before making pancakes. That's how my dad, your Grandpa rolled.

He was a great man, a pioneer in the field of psychology. He made life better for veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietman at the VA hospital in Dallas. And he made life better for all of us who were priveleged to know him.

And his pancakes were the best.

We mourn his death and we celebrate his phenomenal life.

Bee said...

This reminiscence/recipe had so much sweetness in it -- and a lot of personal resonance for me.

First of all, and most importantly, I'm sorry for the loss of your grandfather. Those of us who have had grandparents to positively impact our lives are lucky, lucky people. I lost my last grandfather (from Ft. Worth) on Christmas Day a couple of years ago.

Whenever I read your stories about family/home/Texas I am often reminded me of similar special times -- so often revolving around food! Even though our life stories have many parallels, I'm sure that everyone who reads you finds that point of communality in your writing-- that moment of "yes, I've felt or thought just that" (but you said it better!).

Coincidentally, and I find this is a bit freaky -- I made my family recipe for pancakes (with some pecans added!) on Sunday morning. I was even going to post about it; but then decided to save it. I will try your recipe -- just for comparison's sake, and in an honorable salute to grandfathers!

One last thing: I'm making some more cajeta today. By special request from my children -- who, literally, wailed when we ate the last spoonful. Do treat yourself to "No Country for Old Men" -- in either form. The Sheriff Bell character is made up of everything that is good about the old style of Texas man. Also, there is a great dry wit in amongst the philosophizing and carnage.

Julie said...

I'm so sorry about your grandfather. This is a lovely tribute to him, and I know he must have enjoyed reading many of the sweet things you've written over the last couple of years about your grandparents and the rest of your family.

Gretchen Noelle said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for allowing us to share a special and intimate family moment. I am sorry for your loss.

renee said...

what a nice story and memory. i bet he would be honored to know that you shared it with so many people.

that makes me want to get going on starting a family tradition here.

thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family. I lost my grandfather 3 years ago next week. What a beautiful way to honor his memory with his recipe. I can't wait to make them for my daughter and tell her more stories about my grandpa's.

restyled home said...

What a sweet tribute to your grandfather. He sounds so wonderful, and I am very sorry for your loss.

So thoughtful of your brother to keep up the tradition...

Linda

Olivia said...

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your grandfather. But your family ties are strong, and traditions keep on going, as evidenced by Jacob soldiering on with the pancakes!

Kathy said...

I found your site by accident. I am a native Texan. I truly feel your loss. Nothing like losing a grandpa! Anytime you need some Pace let me know!

Rebecca said...

I only posted once before, as a Homesick Arizonan. But wanted to add my sympathies to this list of comments. I always read your blog, and it brought me to tears this time.

I always thought I'd like to start a food blog, and you got me thinking ... would I post Mamma's cornbread or her peanut brittle? Grandma's chili or her whiskey biscuits?

Your post was the perfect tribute to your grandfather, and I know he would smile if he saw it.

Brilynn said...

What a wonderful post for your grandfather, I'm sure he loves that you've passed along that tradition to all of us.

AdamH said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm playing some Patsy for you.

Cynthia said...

I've always enjoyed your write-ups about visiting your grandparents. You made us a part of your family by sharing your times with them... I am so very sorry to hear that your grand-dad has passed on... Warm hugs to you. I think that like you said, your brother Jacob making pancakes was such a fitting tribute.

Tace said...

I'm sorry about your loss. Thank-you for sharing your memories and pancakes with us. It made me think about the foods I shared with my Grandma when she was alive. :)

Life in Recipes said...

Such a sweet and tender ode to your grandfather. I can taste both the memories and the pancakes in my mind. My condolences.

Kelly O said...

Beautiful post. I am sorry for your loss, but appreciate the joy you share. It reminds me of when my grandfather died 10 years ago. My grandparents also lived in Oak Cliff (farm in Tyler) and at our family gathering, we made popcorn, in the pot, just like he used to, then melted the butter and spun the bowl around to make sure it hit every piece. So sweet.

Anonymous said...

What a great picture of you and your papaw! I'm going to make a big batch of "Grandpa's special pancakes" this Easter weekend. Thanks for the recipe (and the memories). :)

creampuff said...

What a beautiful tribute to your grandpa! I bet those pancakes made him proud.

Alanna said...

Ahh dear, don't you imagine your grandpa's just beaming: your brother minding the family tradition, you inspiring so many to establish their own, no matter how humble ... I'm so sorry for your loss. All the best to you and your family. AK

Homesick Texan said...

Thank you ALL so much for your sweet comments and e-mails. You don't know just how much your kind words have brightened my days. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lyra said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your loss-it is good that you have such a warm and loving family, with people like Jacob and yourself to keep up these important food traditions.

I am sure your grandpa would be proud.

Shelley said...

I'm so sorry, these things are never, ever easy.

Still, it sounds like you've a lifetime of equally warm and wonderful memories, and this is a great tribute, to boot.

nicole said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a sweet picture of you two. Thank you for sharing your memories of your time together.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. You always write so lovingly of your grandparents. I could tell you all had a very close relationship. My sympathies.

Anonymous said...

Fellow Texan here and Dallas native. My condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing a part of your grandpa with us. God Bless.

Yvo said...

Oh Lisa, I am so very sorry for your loss... My deepest condolences. I have tears in my eyes from reading this... This is a great tribute to your grandfather and I'm sure he is smiling at all the people who are reading his recipe and thinking they should make it (and perhaps this year I will make them for my annual Christmas breakfast for my family). Hugs to you and your family.

Dori said...

these pancakes were out of this world. i left out the pecans, but they were still amazing. thank you for sharing your grandpa's special recipe.

ladybug said...

I'm sorry for your loss but am so happy that you have the memories. I lost my dad right before Christmas and I know how important memories are. I, too, have those special 'recipe' moments with my dad to look back on and those are more important that words can express. Thank you for sharing your memories and his recipe. I look forward to trying the recipe (can hardly wait actually) and will remember the love that you expressed and shared when enjoying them.

ladybug said...

Another fellow Texan and Dallas native. I'm so sorry for your loss and share your pain. I lost my Dad right before Christmas and I know just how important those memories are. Like you and your Grandfather, my Dad and I have some special recipe moments and one of those is definitely his banana pancakes and breakfasts in general. It was always a joke with us as to what the next meal that he'd prepare would be and whether I'd like it or not (of course, the food wasn't the issue near as much as the love that he added into each and every recipe). Thank you for sharing the recipe and your memories. I will think of you and your Grandad when I prepare these next Sunday morning for my family.

Richard said...

Thanks for the tears, Lisa. I really choked up when I saw your picture of the egg beaters. Dad kept the recipe thumbtacked inside the cabinet where the Calumet baking powder and the Morton salt were kept.

When he taught me to make pancakes, he watched me as I observed the bubbles pop on the pancakes cooking on the skillet, meaning they're ready to turn. When I flipped one, he punctuated the movement with a quickly quipped, "Pretty."

Uncle Richard

P.S. You own the lovingly used skillet - photograph for my kitchen?

biz319 said...

I think its so weird when a food blog has been around for as long as yours has, and I am just stumbling upon it!

I have leftover pecans from my pie making over Thanksgiving and will be making these for breakfasts this week.

Sorry for the loss of your grandpa, but after this much time has passed, hopefully you can smile about the good times.

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated to avoid spam. And if you don't have a blog, please leave your name as it makes it friendlier that way!