Why I have to travel for a good pancake

I don’t do breakfast café’s much here in South Florida and here’s why. Since alcohol is the fuel that drives South Florida, most folks here consider breakfast the meal that is served upon waking…around 4pm. It is coincidentally around the same time they start drinking again.

So with a mouthful of chemically dulled taste buds, burnt home fries and under cooked eggs slathered in cheap cheese does just fine for this meal. That is unless you’re one of the few that rise with the sun… as I do.

South Floridian’s almost never eat lunch.  (it gets in the way of their beer). On the other hand, did you know there are more school trained chefs here than in the rest of the entire universe? So what are South Floridians doing with all these chefs if they don’t do breakfast or lunch? Why dinner of course. South Florida is famous for its fine restaurants…by fine I mean expensive.  So why bother with a five dollar breakfast or lunch when you can open at five and close at eleven and make more money in one day than a politician gathers in ten fundraising events?

I think most 6am to 2pm eateries here are ones that failed in the evening meal circuit and must stay open due to a building lease agreement.

It isn’t until you approach the heavily forested northern part of the State, that real honest to gosh breakfasts’ are started to be found. From there it’s just a hop, skip and jump into breakfast heaven… Alabama and Mississippi.

My favorite greasy spoon is across the street from a Piggly Wiggly grocery mart in Alabama. I wanted to say it’s name and exact where about but in return for the recipe below, I promised the owner I would not give his name or place of business out. Something about a copy write legal issue involving an expensive  recipe book containing this recipe. But I digress; I want to talk about real old fashioned buttermilk pancakes here.

Now you can do box mixes such as Aunt Jemima or Krusteaz  (if you’re a restaurant) but take a second and look at the ingredients! What is all that junk? Much of it is so that the flour beetle  eggs found in most flour don’t hatch while stored six months in your pantry. Other ingredients prevent the oils from turning rancid or the baking powder from losing it’s oomph.

Please, it takes only a minute to mix your own pancake mix up and you get the benefit of knowing all your ingredients are fresh and no preservatives are involved. So without further blab, here’s the heritage pancake recipe I brag about.


2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

2Tablespoons of sugar

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 cups of buttermilk (powdered can be used to make two cups liquid)

¼ cup of sour cream

½ teaspoons of vanilla

2 eggs

3Tablespoons of  melted butter

2 teaspoons of oil



Mix all dry ingredients together first. ( If you are going to use powdered buttermilk, add the water to make a liquid then include it with the wet ingredients.)

In a second bowl, whisk eggs by themselves, then add buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla and melted butter and whisk together.

Scoop out a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mix. Stir but do not whisk or use a mixer. Batter should be somewhat lumpy so don’t over mix it. Set aside mixed ingredients for a couple of minutes to activate batter.

Preheat and grease up your pan or griddle then add oil or bacon grease. Remove any excess grease or oil first with a paper towel, leaving a thin film behind. This prevents uneven baking as oil is cooler than the pan or griddle top. (uneven baking makes a splotchy light and dark pattern on the pancakes surface, kind of making it look like a world globe rather than a nice even browning)

Using a ladle, pour enough batter to make a fist size pancake. When bubbles are bursting throughout the pancake and the sides are a bit firm, turn them over gently with a pancake turner. When done, remove and stack on a wire rack within a warm oven. Replace oil or grease only as needed. This should make about 12 pancakes or so.

For those who want to try making their own syrup, here’s an old recipe I found while out west. In the old days, Maple syrup was a rare item out west. Most maple sap products were in the form of candy, not syrup. JW

Home Made Pancake Syrup

1 cup of water

2 cups of sugar

¼  cup of brown sugar

¼ cup of corn syrup

1 teaspoon of maple extract*

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

In a saucepan simmer all ingredients except maple extract for 15-20 minutes (about  200 degrees)  *Remove from heat and only then stir in the one teaspoon of maple extract.

Over time, sugar crystallizes. This in no way ruins the syrup just reheat it.

Securing his place in Florida’s culinary history, Clem invented the beer batter pancake.


A true WV heritage recipe, Ramps

This story and its recipe are taken from my recipe book, Maw maws recollections, observations and recipes.

The road leading to Maw maws house


The  Chapter is called, “Migration to the North”.  An inside look into a rural WV town and its people.

 What began as an single interview with a 90 plus year old woman living in Southern West Virgina, turned into a long love affair with her, her family and the State of West Virginia. Many of this families Heritage recipes have been shared with me for the purpose of my writing her story.  You can download a free PDF file of her story which contain the stories of her life and recipes from my post on this blog written on April 7th. JW from campfireshadows

Polio made it’s way through our small mountain community in the late 40’s. Seemed like many a child for years afterward was seen wearing leg braces or had what I call baby arms. My own got missed by that evil demon (thank the good Lord).

To this day I always believed it came on over from Europe or somewhere’s else where our service men in WWII was stationed.  It was too much a coincidence. Soon as they started coming back, the diseases started.  The government said “No” but I don’t believe a Government man even knows what the truth is to be able to tell it. We all was scared to death. It was like playing that Russian Roulette game. One day all seemed calm then you’d hear Johnny Lawson’s new baby done got it. It was frightful, no one knew what to do. The Newspapers was reporting that in the major cities it was past epidemic proportions. Seemed like a runaway train with no stopping it. Every mother feared hers would be next. Many people cut back on socializing with each other during them years. Church attendance was low for fear it was there in the pews, even though more and more people was on their knees. I think it was in April of ’55 that the hero Mr. Salk was informed his vaccine was a success. I had read as others did, that a couple years previous Mr. Salk had invented a vaccine but it needed to be on trial to see if it actually worked or not.

I will never forget the day they announced it. Every radio station blared the message into every home! People was out in the street cheering, honkin’ automobile car horns, lighten off fire crackers and crying in public. It was the first time I heard every church ring it’s bells at the same time. Unless you was living then, you just couldn’t begin to understand.

We had us a future again! Farmers holding off buying new machinery went out and made the purchase. Schools that just a few months before had been talking of closing made announcements of adding playgrounds and gymnasiums. The future looked so bright to us. We vowed never to take life for granted again or forget the God who after all, had answered our prayers.

By July at best, most had returned to their unthankful ways and life went on as before. Those left crippled were given small monthly Government subsidy checks.

Life was a fragile thing back then. Why, I remember my friend Louise’s husband left for Michigan to find work at the Ford plant there and was never heard from again! Two Years later she found out he had had a heart attack in a motel room. It appeared someone either before or afterward had lifted his wallet off him. Without no identification, he was buried anonymously in Dearborn. Not one of us thought he had run out on her but the Police up that way said his M O was a common one for disgruntled husbands .    It was during an investigation of another crime that his old wallet had turned up. The man never admitted to stealing it but police was able to locate Louise by her picture in it and his Social Security card. It made one wonder what really happened to those who just vanished. There was a large amount of men who left the area for jobs up north in them days. Some never did come back for their wives and children. Most everyone thought they’d just run out on ’em.

Henry never did have a hankerin’ to move away from here. Lived all his life within these hills. We did a vacation or two. We visited others who had moved to Michigan and Ohio for jobs but never was drawn to leave West Virginia. I’m aware it seems most the other States got a bad idea of what West Virginian’s are. Many of the men folk who left for other parts were those that we’d say to today,”Don’t let the door  hit you in the … as you leave”. They was a lot of no goods in my book. Good riddance!

An I do apologize for my English. I know it grates upon the ears of those living North an East of us but we really did attend school and even get degrees. It’s just that you’re taught one thing while living another. After a time of being away from school books one just reverts back to what language is spoken at the dinner table.  I got a boy lives up in Cincinnati Ohio. Half his kids speak as I do, the other half don’t. I wonder if it’s in the genes.

So the recipe I’m given you here is one that any person raised with an accent will give two thumbs up  to.  Ramps! -Maw maw 2009

 Delicious Ramp (Onion) Casserole

  “This recipe can substitute green onions or even scallions for ramps if you can’t find any. Ramps mostly grows around Virginia to Ohio with a few other places around thrown in for good measure.” Maw maw


3 beaten eggs

4-5 diced 1/2 inch  potatoes

6-8 ramp onions* – found growing wild in WV and sometimes called wild leeks.

½ lb pork sausage

½ cup of diced American cheese

½ teaspoon of salt

½ cup of milk

* 3 cloves of crushed garlic (read below first)

cook potatoes in pan of water until just tender. Steam ramps over potatoes using metal strainer 2 -3 minutes. Then chop ramps. Drain potatoes, and add chopped ramps. In skillet, fry sausage and drain. Combine with potatoes. Add eggs, diced cheese, salt and milk. Mix together in baking dish, bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

*Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic to the recipe if using an onion other than a Ramp. Ramps have a strong onion / garlic taste to them.