This week our offerings of food columns includes one with a recipe for pancakes. What better comfort food as the cold winds blow and the temperatures go below freezing.

Pancakes, while often a breakfast food, was not always eaten for breakfast in our house. Many times we had pancakes with sausage or bacon and eggs for supper. It was filling and with some real maple syrup, there is no comparison.

Of course, for us it was always buttermilk pancakes. My grandmother made them using a cast iron griddle over a woodburning kitchen stove. Dad tells me she would make them as big as a dinner plate and then stack them up and serve them. Grandma, as I’ve been told, didn’t think Dad could eat them all when she set a high stack in front of him. But Dad says he had no problem digging into those homemade pancakes. No wonder, grandma made them from scratch so I’m sure they were delicious.

Mom also made them from scratch and hers were excellent. I on the other hand will sometimes use a mix but only one that is from somewhere I like the food. I picked up one mix on our travels in Vermont one year. The mix was for buttermilk pancakes and it was from the Brown Family Farm. They were what I expect buttermilk pancakes to be – light, fluffy and flavorful.

Mom also cooked hers on a cast iron griddle and now I do the same. I still remember Mom telling me that the griddle has to be hot but not too hot so that the pancake cooks and is golden brown but doesn’t burn. It always took a try or two before she had the griddle at the right temperature and was turning out golden brown, fluffy pancakes one after the other.

Those meals were never quite eaten together as a family though. Us kids and Dad would be seated and Mom would be making pancakes. She’d be putting them on our plates and telling us to eat them while they were hot. She just kept on cooking them until everyone had their fill then she’d cook hers and sit to eat. That was just Mom, always thinking of the family first.

Waffles were also a suppertime meal quite often. Especially when it was chicken and waffles. Mom would cook the chicken in a pressure cooker first and then shred it and put it with gravy. She’d then make golden waffles and laddle the chicken and gravy over top. That too is a great dish for a cold, winter’s night.

It’s funny how a simple picture of food can spark memories of home and family. I guess it’s because for us, the dinner table was a time for family to gather together and talk and laugh.

Of course, it could also be because family gatherings always had food. It could be a simple cheese and cracker tray for guests who came to visit or a complete meal for family and friends. That type of hospitality was normal when I was growing up. My grandmother always had friends visiting and she always had something to feed them. Mom was the same so I guess it should be no surprise that I see a connection between food and family.

With winter here to stay for awhile, I think it may be time to relive some of those old dinner memories. Time to heat up the grill and check out the cookbooks for a good buttermilk pancake recipe.

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