6.17.2010

Fathers and Grandfathers


You didn't often find my father in the kitchen. But there were three things he did know how to make to perfection: pineapple sherbet, caramel popcorn and something we all called Houseboat Special. (Hamburger meat broken up and browned, with a can of mushrom soup added and the entire thing poured over toast.)

                                                                                Grandpa and Dad at the cabin, late 40's

And his father, my grandfather, made only one thing: buckwheat pancakes. Which is what this post
is all about.
 
                                                                                                   Grandpa at the cabin, 1937
 
My grandfather owned some property and a cabin on Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay. It was prime wooded area with a great deal of marshland. I loved visiting the cabin; it was a child's delight with its double bunk beds, all kinds of wildlife, labrador retrievers to play with, the river to explore, a small pond with plenty of fish, marshland to paddle around and acres of forest to wander in.

                                                                                  The cabin, after two additions, 1989

Grandpa had canoes, duck boats, small outboard boats, (in later years an air boat), to use on the Rifle River and in the marshes. He was always into some project or other, but took time to help us search for beaver and muskrat lodges, black walnuts (which my mother loved), berries and grapes to make jams and even took us frog hunting; we all learned at a really young age to skin and prepare frog legs for our dinner.

My grandmother was quite an artist and she set up her easel in locations all over the property. My sister and I have some of her work, in watercolors and chalk, which we treasure greatly.


But what I remember most are my grandfather's buckwheat pancakes. He used a starter dough and made them every morning for breakfast along with side pork. To this day, I prefer side pork to bacon anytime I have pancakes, although it's not readily available in Florida markets. And bacon and side pork are not interchangeable. Fresh side pork is basically bacon without the curing and salt. It's thicker, takes longer to cook (sometimes we added a little water at first) and the rind is quite chewy. The aromas of side pork and bacon are entirely different.


Slowly, over the years as grandpa aged, the starter dough disappeared and my Mother developed a similar pancake recipe without the starter, which grandpa used the remainder of his life. It's nearly as good as the original and Grandpa thought so too.

I was really stumped on how to describe these to you so I asked my sister. The texture is not
fluffy or cakey like most pancakes, but more dense. She thought I should describe them as a little like crepes, but thicker. The batter is definitely thinner than most pancake batter and the pancakes are about 5 inches across. Best to use the freshest buttermilk you can (which is a little thicker) and be sure to shake it well. I like them with buckwheat flour, which is the way my grandfather made them, but my sister uses only all purpose flour. She is the only one of us who still makes them and usually only when she has company at her Leland cabin. I don't make them anymore either but sure am happy to chow down on hers when I visit. And I made a batch for this post. Dad always liked to put brown sugar and butter on them; I like warm Michigan maple syrup.

Grandpa Smith's Buckwheat Pancakes


Ingredients:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons crisco oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hot water


Method:
Mix the first six ingredients. Mix the soda with the hot water and add to the flour mixture. The batter will be quite thin.
Cook on an oiled pancake griddle. When you see the bubbles appear in the pancakes, it's time to flip. Cook only about 3 more minutes.


The only photo I have of the three of us together.
Rifle River, 1960's


69 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful tribute to both your Dad and Grandfather! Loved reading about the buckwheat pancakes and your memories of the cabin. I'm sure the photo of the three of you is one of your prized possessions!
    Now, learning to skin frog legs made be just a tad squeamish...LOL

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  2. Barbara, great tribute to your father and grandfather. I loved the old photos. I've never had buckwheat pancakes and my husband mentioned them the other day. I think these would be great for his father's day breakfast. Thanks for the recipe.
    Sam

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  3. Lovely post. I'm a little misty, remembering my own father's kitchen talents. What he did, he did well - I'll have to google the name and see if anyone else called it the same thing...

    He loved buckwheat pancakes too. I'm sure the recipe is spot-on, because the first time I had crepes, I asked my friend's mother if they were thin buckwheat cakes...

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  4. This is a lovely post !! Thanks for sharing your family member photos and also sharing us this lovely recipe.

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  5. What a great tribute for Father's Day!

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  6. A beautiful cake! I love buckwheat pancakes. Yours look lovely!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. What a nice post! THe pictures are beautiful, and those pancakes look absolutely sublime!!

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  8. Cherishing moments like these are what creates our great memories as well as shaping part of who we are.
    My most cherished moments was spending time making soup with my 'Nonno' and my 'Papa' teaching me Geography with chocolate chip cookies ;o)
    Barbara...wonderful post.
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

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  9. Barbara, your post took me back to the wonderful times at my parent's lake cottage in northern Wisconsin and all of the wonderful breakfasts we shared while my girls were little.

    What a great tribute to your dad and grandfather. I'd love to try making those buckwheat cakes some time - they look wonderful.

    Great photos!

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  10. Barbara absolutely lovely post and pictures dear, I love the picture of your Dad with his Dad, and the other with you, nice memories dear.
    Here Sunday is the Fathers day too, send you huggss xx gloria

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  11. I bet this post was a wonderful trip down memory lane for your. What a great post. I always love reading about people's families and your photos are wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. I was going to have waffles tonight, but now I'm wondering if pancakes are the way to go...

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  13. This is such a lovely post. I adore food that is associated with memories. It's very cute that your grandfather's specialty was pancakes of all things! They sound delicious.

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  15. Sorry, I have got to learn not to be in such a hurry to hit the publish button. I only wanted to say I thought I was the only one who still ate fresh side. You were very lucky to have two of the good guys in your life. Thank you for sharing this, it stirred some old memories of mine. I'll be smiling all day.

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  16. Great post! Back when cabins were cabins, and the great outdoors was great... Saginaw bay is a great spot to fish, and I've never been on the Rifle river, but I know where it is!

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  17. What a wonderful post- and the land is so idyllic. Thanks for sharing your family recipe for buckwheat pancakes...I'll be sure to try them out. They are a staple in France with leek and béchamel sauce, but I've never thought to have them with something sweet before now!

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  18. BTW what is crisco oil? Would ordinary sunflower or rapeseed oil do?

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  19. What a nice piece of your family history through the generations, and what a nice tribute to your grandfather and his recipe. We make a type of pasta and polenta with buckwheat flour.

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  20. lovely post for father's Day!

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  21. The Buckwheat pancakes look delicious but what I loved most about this post was hearing about your father and grandfather. I wish I had fonder memories of both my father and grandfather... so I'll live vicariously through you :)

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  22. What a terrific post for Father's Day! Such wonderful memories! Your grandfather's Buckwheat pancakes are outstanding!

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  23. What a super tribute! and such wonderful memories! Somehow food stirs up such nice remembrances! Really enjoyed this post, love the pictures and saving the recipe!

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  24. Beautiful post. What a lovely tribute to them both

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  25. oh love the pancakes and your Father and Grandpa sound like fun great snaps your blog is such a joy

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  26. I really enjoyed reading this post and looking at the pictures of the beautiful property and the cabin. What fond memories! The pancakes look terrific and I bet they are very comforting to you.

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  27. Your dad & grandfather... Gee, those photos still look great! I love seeing this kind of photos. They tell stories! Lots of lots of stories.... Wishing all a very Happy Father's Day too!
    Have a great day, Barbara.
    Blessings, Kristy

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  28. This is such a beautiful post, I really enjoyed reading about your family's traditions. Houseboat Special sounds delicious to me -- it reminds me of my mom's version of meatloaf! (And who doesn't love their mother's version of meatloaf, right? ;) ) The pancakes look fantastic too.

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  29. A touching and uplifting tribute; love the buckwheat pancakes! no eggs I am pleased to notice, too.

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  30. What a wonderful post!!

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  31. This is such a wonderful tribute to your Grandfather and father. I like how you can continue to stay connected with them through food. Great memories.

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  32. Such wonderful family memories - how wonderful that although your grandfather is no longer here his pancakes are :)

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  33. It is great that you have such memories of your father and grandfather. I just love how those memories will stay alive through their wonderful recipes.

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  34. Such a great tribute to dad & grandfather; must say that I've never eaten buckwheat pancakes but really want to try these!!

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  35. What a great post and a tribute to your grandfather and I must say those three things that he can make sound very intriguingly different! :) )

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  36. This is one of your best posts yet, Barbara! Absolutely wonderful.

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  37. Hi Barbara,

    What a lovely post and tribute to your Father and Grandfather.
    I enjoyed reading about your idyllic cabin retreat and it looks wonderful.
    What happy memories and photos you have to cherish.
    My husband often cooks pancakes with maple syrup and bacon for Sunday breakfast.

    Have a great weekend
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  38. i feel all warm and fuzzy inside, barbara--that must mean this is a fabulous post. :)
    seriously--great tribute and recipe. i've had buckwheat pancakes only once before, and that was for my grandpa's birthday last year. he loves them too!

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  39. Barbara: Wonderful post. The lighting and composition of the first photo is a winner! Well, they all are. I grew up in the south and am quite familiar with the "bacon". My mother called it "side meat" or "steaked meat". It does have a different taste--a quite delicious taste! And there's no substitute for pure maple syrup on buckwheat (or any) pancakes. Thanks for such wonderful memories.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  40. Fantastic post, and delicious pancakes. What a wonderful way to remember your grandfather. My dad is a great cook, much more so than my mom. I got my love of baking from him.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    *kisses* HH

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  41. the times i remember my father cooking are over and open flame in the woods...ther he was an amazing cook...or we were so hungry we thought so smiles.

    did respond to your comment...as i agree the horse and buggy is not a viable option...

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  42. This is a wonderful post! I always enjoy getting a deeper glimpse into a fellow blogger's life/history. The photos are amazing, as are the pancakes. ANd although I've never heard of side pork, I am not intrigued!

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  43. Lovely photos, lovely memories, lovely recipe, lovely YOU.

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  44. Indeed lovely photos and memories and such a marvelous tribute to both of them... and of course regarding the pancakes, one word... excellent! Buckwheat is so healthy for our bodies... well done Barbara!!

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  45. Visiting the cabin sounds like it must have been so much fun, and the pancakes sound fantastic! Watching your grandfather make them must have been great too. I don't recall either of my grandfathers ever cooking anything.

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  46. Great story of your dad and grandpa and what good looking buckwheat pancakes!

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  47. What a beautiful evocative post Barbara. That cabin sounds like such a wonderful place. And your grandpa and dad could actually cook yummy food? I'm impressed! I've never seeen either of mine successfully cook anything (the keyword here is successfully) :)

    That side pork looks almost like a cut my butcher labels as "spare ribs", I wonder if it's the same.

    And of course, the pancakes look fantastic too, I have got buckwheat flour languishing in the cupboard, now I can put it to use.

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  48. These pictures are fantastic.

    I am always looking for another yummy pancake recipe, but what elese can you use buckwheat for?

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  49. Barbara...that was a pricless post.
    Your grandfather the Buckwheat pancakes...the cabin..and your phot with you in it!
    How special those childhood memories are.
    They make us so rich!!!!
    xoxo~Kathy @
    Sweet Up-North Mornings...

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  50. What a beautiful tribute to Father's Day....beautiful pictures:)

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  51. What a beautiful tribute to Father's Day....beautiful pictures:)

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  52. Hey Barbara, your grandparents food makes me feel nostalgic. My Dad is a lot like your grandfather in his range of kitchen knowledge. He doesn't enter that room much, but has a few specialties for emergency situations (smile).
    These pancakes sound wonderful-very old school and wholesome with the buckwheat! I like them already...

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  53. What a heartfelt post Barbara. A wonderful tribute. I don't think I've ever had Buckwheat pancakes. I should remedy that ASAP.

    Thanks for sharing...

    You're Invited to the picnic and you're bringing the letter F.

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  54. omg i absolutely love all your photos! it's so nice to be reminded of the past times

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  55. Oh, superb to honour the men in your life. I love buckwheat pancakes, though baking soda is not one of my favourite ingredients - can you imagine that!!!!! Love the melting butter on top

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  56. I really need to make time to visit your blog more regularly. I absolutely love the stories and old photos that you share. The recipes are lovely as well but I do love hearing about the past.

    Hope the Fathers in your life have a happy Father's Day!
    ~ingrid

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  57. What a lovely post! I never met either of my grandfathers, and my father didn't cook much, but he did make side pork sometimes! I had forgotten about it and must look for some. I love buckwheat pancakes and these look wonderful.

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  58. What a wonderful tribute to your Grandpa! The pancakes must be something special for him to eat them everyday. They certainly look delicious and hearty too!

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  59. Hullo Barbara,
    Oh i love this beautiful property on grandfather had, i would love to live there sometimes too, with the water bodies and fishes and labradors around!!
    Hah...bliss...
    I love Pancakes and love more so why u love them!
    Bookmarked!!
    Love love love ur summer pudding too and they are deliciously luscious gurl!
    And well the post discoveries have me thrilled as well, that salad is gorgeous!
    Must hop by all the links, am writing for all the posts here coz i sure dont want to get stcuk with my laptop:-((((

    Hey would love to know about ur bake it pretty stuff when it arrives,i have to take pics of mine too:-))
    And hey are u on Face book?
    If yes i would love to connect, im there as Little SUmmer Rose!
    And i love tht u have ties here too!!!
    BEjinhos e bom fim de semana!!!

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  60. That last picture is the BEST!! So glad you have it. Buckwheat pancakes...they are a cabin treat. Have not had them in way too long. Thanks for reminding me how much I love them.

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  61. what a great post - we go through a lot of pancakes around here so a new recipe is always welcome!

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  62. A wonderful Fathers' Day tribute Barbara, I just know your Dad and Grandfather wouldhave loved the post and those stunning pancakes. They look so fantastic. I've never tried buckwheat ones but with maple syrup, they must be irresistable.

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  63. I love these snap shop of the men in your life and the fact that food isn't only about ingredients but about relationships and connections

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  64. I love your images today my friend...such lovely memories. Thanks for sharing. xoxoxoxoo

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  65. Wonderful memories...and the pancakes sound amazing!

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  66. Oh, Barbara. Such beautiful memories. That photo is a gem, as are your grandmother's drawings. These pancakes look absolutely beautiful, so I must give them a try. I like the sound of the Houseboat Special, too. :)

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  67. Thanks for sharing your family pics, aexperiences and recipe. I have never tried side pork but it sounds interesting.

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  68. Oh, Barbara, I'm wiping a tear away as I read this. I remember my grandfather's weekend pancakes. They tasted better because it was Saturday, I think. Thanks for posting this loving memoir.

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