If you’re planning to make pancakes for breakfast and it’s been a while since you did that, here’s a hint: plan plenty of time.

Like, say, half a day.

Yeah, I know. Pancakes? How hard is it to make pancakes? Especially if, like me, you have at the ready a brand new box of “Krusteaz” pancake mix. Just add water. Honest.

It’s so easy even a child can do it. Provided he or she has good close-up vision.

But before making said pancakes, you first must set the table with plates, napkins, silverware, mugs, butter and syrup, make some hot coffee ... wait, back up a minute.

Syrup.

That’s actually what takes so long.

And it’s really the fault of manufacturers, who all put their food products in glass bottles of about the same size and general shape. They are short, with bumpy “hips” at the top, a skinny neck and labels done in red.

Since I had cataract surgery, my close-up vision is shot. That has made finding nearby things - such as, say, my little bottle of sugar-free syrup - a real challenge, even in such a small, enclosed space as my refrigerator.

Until this past weekend, I did not know I possessed so many food items packaged in small glass bottles with bumpy glass hips, red labels and bright red caps.

Now, I know.

I share this information with you because some of you will celebrate Shrove Tuesday on Feb. 16, the last day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

Internet sources allege that the day is associated with “releasing high spirits before the somber season of Lent.” It’s also known as “pancake Tuesday” in some circles, so you will want to be up-to-date on the latest Pancake News.

Shrove Tuesday also ties to the more carnival-like traditions associated with Mardi Gras, I learned.

It seems to me that Mardi Gras is a far better way of releasing high spirits - or imbibing them - before Lent, for those who practice such things, than eating pancakes for supper. But hey, I did not invent this tradition, nor do I follow it.

All I wanted, actually, was two pancakes for my weekend breakfast, topped with sugar-free maple syrup.

What a struggle to get there.

As I set the table, I grabbed a little bottle of thick brownish liquid that appeared to be the sugar-free syrup.

But it turned out to be salad dressing.

Oops.

Next I grabbed a bottle I was certain was the syrup, though my cheater glasses were not handy for making absolutely sure.

I placed the bottle next to my plate, silverware and coffee on the table. The coffee, which I already had poured, was cooling, but still warm enough.

I proceeded to make my pancakes. I discovered that Krusteaz works so well that even if you don’t measure too carefully (glasses off again) the pancakes come out fine. Just dump some mix and water into a bowl and stir it up to the proper consistency. Youza.

With a bit of oil in the pan to keep the cakes from sticking, I plopped in some batter and stepped back to have a sip of my now-lukewarm coffee while the pancakes turned golden brown.

When they were done I put them on my plate, sat down at the table, spread some butter over them and poured a generous dollop of syrup on top.

Only it wasn’t syrup. This time around, it was barbecue sauce.

Even the dog was not interested in that breakfast.

I washed up the plate and silverware, poured some more coffee and made a couple of fresh pancakes while searching for the Log Cabin logo among the maze of little glass bottles in the refrigerator. This time I wore my cheaters.

By then it was lunch time, but I was determined to have my pancakes. And so I did.

You know, barbecue pancakes probably aren’t all that bad, really. Just don’t think about it too much.

Maybe it’s an acquired taste.

 

Originally Published in The Cody Enterprise. February 4, 2010.