Sourdough Pancakes

Dated: November 4 2019

Views: 239

The truth should not hurt the pancakes

During World War Two my father was a purser on  Liberty Ship. The Liberty Ships were hastily constructed cargo ships that were manned by 36 to 81 Merchant Marines. The Liberty Fleet were  ships that played a major role in supplying the troops during the war. I remember as a child crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge on the Hudson and my father pointing out the “mothball fleet” that was up-river from this long bridge that went across the Hudson river just north of New Jersey, where we lived. In that Moth Ball Fleet, he said, were dozens of Liberty Ships.  I had no clue what a moth ball fleet was, and I conjured up a mental picture of a bunch of moths inhabiting these ships. I didn’t ask many questions because it is was rare that Dad spoke of anything  during the war. I dare not interrupt.

He went on to tell me of his favorite meal on board being a breakfast of Sourdough Pancakes. He shared that the entre crew could tell the night before that they were going to have sourdough pancakes because the whole ship had the aroma of yeast and molasses. You see, he said, the pancakes were made the day before and allowed to raise over night. The rising sourdough was made from a very special recipe that he still had to this day.

A version of the recipe is used in my family  today.  We still call the recipe Dad’s Sourdough Pancakes. I love making them for my grandkids and seasoning the pancakes with stories about their great grandfather, “Imagine cutting the recipe for 100 men down to a size that so that I can make them for you?”   I would pull out the stained and tattered 3 x 5 index card, written in a fine gentlemanly handwriting by the great man himself, who was most certainly a legend in their minds,  they would look at it at awe and practically taste the sweet maple syrup covered pancakes. The  story of the liberty ship and the war seasoned these pancakes with extra taste that only the imagination can create. They are indeed special pancakes.

Today Gail and I stopped at my sister Julie’s house In Jacksonville on the way back to Fort Myers from a fall stay at Otter Cottage in North Carolina. At dinner last night Julie said she was going to make Dad’s Sourdough pancakes for breakfast. She had some extended family guests (fresh audience) so I began to tell the story of how these special pancakes were constructed by Dad from a recipe for 100 men. How Dad only cooked two things in my life. Grilled meat on the barbeque and THESE pancakes. I still make them from a recipe written in his hand on a tattered 3 x 5 index card.”

“Not true, Not true,” muttered Julie.  “Dad got that recipe out of the Herald Tribune. Real Sourdough pancakes need a sourdough starter that is kept from batch to batch.” Julie is eight years of my senior so she must have heard the true story when I was a kid.  Dad of course did not have the sourdough starter from his Merchant Marine days, he used a packet of yeast he bought at the grocery store and a recipe tailored for 6 people. To me this detail was so minor to the seasoning of these pancakes I quickly planned to forget it.

Well we have five people for breakfast this morning. I got up at 5AM to finish the recipe.  Julie had asked me if I was up early  enough to finish the process because the batter had to rise a final time after adding the last ingredients. Laying next to  the mixing bowl was a  tattered molasses stained 3 x 5 card, written in Dad’s handwriting. It was a recipe that he cut down from a  hundred to six. It was from World War two.  They are the best pancakes. Ever. 

The truth may not hurt the pancakes, but it sure doesn’t help.

Like I have always been told. Facts tell, stories sell.  

Sourdough Pancakes

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Gregg Fous

Real estate has been my passion since I took my first Al Lowery class on real estate investing in the 1970’s. I vowed during that class that I would buy one property a year. Over the next five ....

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