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Buckwheat Pancakes

I think children are like pancakes.  You sort of ruin the first one, and you get better at it the second time around.  ~Kelly Ripa

Bill,-Denise,-Zack-Aunt-Heather-Piper
My cousins Bill, Denise & Zach Olczak

Two Sunday’s ago, mom made the batter for buckwheat pancakes.  I totally love buckwheat pancakes!  They are a little bit thinner and crispier than regular pancakes and in my opinion they have a hardier taste.  What’s the difference between regular pancakes and buckwheat cakes?  Basically the buckwheat.  So next question what is buckwheat?  Truthfully, I had no idea so I did a little digging around.  Naturally, I did what every person sitting at a computer does, I Google’d it.  In my little bit of reading, and we all know the internet doesn’t lie or contain false information, (sarcasm) I found that buckwheat is a fruit off of a plant.  Then it’s ground down into flower.  It’s considered a hardy and nutritious fruit, rich with omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids.  I also read:

“Buckwheat is a member of the grass family whose seed is high in calcium. Buckwheat seeds are ground whole into a flour before used in cereal, which result in the appearance of small, black specks in flakes. Buckwheat is gluten-free.”

Does all that really mean a lot to me?  Yes and no.  I already liked the pancakes prior to this knowledge and if buckwheat wasn’t really healthy, I still wouldn’t give it up, just be mindful.  Of course, with this knowledge tucked away in my brain, it actually causes more damage.  Now I have it in my head that I can eat the entire batch, which is not healthy either.

So why the rediscovery for buckwheat pancakes?  Pretty simple actually.  Dad just purchased the buckwheat flour with the intent of making buckwheat pancakes.  The entire family is a fan of the hardy food, well Kyle is he just forgot.  Did the internet tell me this piece of information?  Nope, I actually have proof on this statement.  Every year, we try to make it to the Flax Scutching Festival, (65th Annual Piper Reunion) where incidentally they sell buckwheat pancakes.  So I know Kyle has tasted buckwheat over the years and if he disliked it in any way, we would have heard about it.  Kyle is not shy about voicing his opinion.  Yep, we are all fans of buckwheat!

Being a little unsure about the buckwheat pancakes, Kyle helped me flip them anyway.  Partially because he takes pride in trying new foods and experimenting with cooking methods, and because he really enjoys cooking with me.  I must admit, it has become a favorite of mine too.   Mom mixed up the batter the night before and Kyle helped me man the griddle, well he started to for a little bit until he helped himself to the fresh hot cakes with maple syrup while I finished up.  On a side note, nothing beats real maple syrup, 100% genuine maple syrup!  I don’t really care for the store brands that are loaded with a list of ingredients.  Anyway, I don’t mind cooking at all, plus it gave mom a break, considering she definitely has more hours invested in front of the stove than I do.  But no matter who’s cooking, the conversations seem to surface.  While I was standing there flipping the cakes, I was talking to mom about the best pancakes in history, courtesy of my uncle Walter.

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Uncle Walter & Family. My grandpap Chester is on the far right

My uncle Walter was one of my grandpap Chester’s brothers.  He was truly a great guy!  Uncle Walter lived down the hill from us on the farm and was a huge part of our lives.  He had cows and chickens and he made hay, just a simple farm boy.  Not to mention he and my aunt Mary had a greenhouse where they sold soil and plants.  In his younger days, uncle Walter was a merchant marine in the navy.  His job?  A cook of course!  There is no doubt those guys were very well fed!  I’m sure Uncle Walter’s life reads like an impressive resume, but I just wanted to give a synopsis.

As mom and I stood there babysitting the buckwheat pancakes, I brought up one of our trips to Erie, that’s where the story of the best blueberry pancakes takes place.  My cousin’s Bill and Denise live in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Casey’s dad, Jim and Bill are brothers, both sons of my Uncle Walter.  They are all on my mom’s side of the family.  One weekend, all of us including my cousin Casey’s crew and my whole family took a road trip to visit that branch of the family.

It was so much fun!  We went to Presque Isle and ran around on the beach.  We hung out at Bill and Denise’s and fished from their pond off the dock,  paddled the canoe around the water (being mindful of the drain), checked out the beavers living near the water and visited their goats.  Incidentally, that was the first time I ever had goat milk.  I am not a milk drinker but that trip opened my eyes to the love of goat cheese and ever since then, I am a dedicated fan and advocate.  At the time, I don’t remember if they had their horses, but it certainly was an adventure.  Even down to the sleeping arrangements.  Since there were so many of us, all the kids camped out in tents in the yard, making the trip even more exciting and fun.

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Mom & dad sitting by the pond at Bill & Denise’s 7/4/85

That Saturday morning, I remember waking up early to the smell of breakfast, blueberry pancakes!  To this day I can describe the fluffy spongy texture of the pancake that encapsulated the juicy sweet blueberries, perfectly spread throughout the circular treat.  As uncle Walter flipped the hot cakes, I stood behind watching his technique.  I was amazed that they never stuck and the pancakes seemed to be perfectly round.  As I was staring, uncle Walter just gave me a smile and asked if I wanted some.  To be honest I was just content watching him make the pancakes, although they smelled so good my stomach told me differently.  What I really wanted to do was assist him, but I didn’t want to screw up his system.  In no time at all, I gave in to hunger and ate my beautifully sweet, heavenly blueberry pancakes.  To this day, I just remember how awesome they were!  No other pancake has touch his, ever!  I’m sure there were other meals that weekend, and I’m sure uncle Walter helped out, but nothing stood out in my head like those pancakes, except maybe the introduction of goat cheese.

With all the running around and the excitement of hanging out with family, we had a great weekend!  Ever since that weekend in July 1985, 27 years ago, we kept saying we are going to head back up and visit Bill and Denise.  But alas we never made the time.  I think we are past due, and this spring Bill and Denise are going to get some visitors, including one who’s never been to Erie, our little Kyle.

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Uncle Walter with one of his five kids

Just to give a short bio on Bill and Denise.  Besides being a pillar in the community, they are great role models and a testament of what one family and one dream can become.  Even though the desire and knowledge to start Mystic Mountain was always in their hearts, it didn’t come into fruition until 2001.  They opened Mystic Mountain Training Center, a nonprofit organization for children and families to learn mentoring, discipleship, and teamwork.  So what do they do?  Besides offering equestrian, shooting, and drama, they inspire and bring families together.  I can’t image growing up and not knowing what the countryside is like or riding a horse.  Bill and Denise developed programs to bring inner city kids to Mystic Mountain to experience all the benefits of God’s country and the beasts of the earth.  I believe being a part of nature, especially being around horses energizes the soul and helps to develop a new respect for life.  Keep up the good work guys!

CampStaffNCounselors Aunt Heather Piper
Mystic Mountain Training Center

Interested in experiencing Mystic Mountain Training Center for yourself or would like to make a donation?  They would love to hear from you.   Go to www.mysticmtc.com.  Tell Bill and Denise Aunt Heather sent you!

Published inCommon SenseCooking with KyleEducation & LearningFamilyMilestoneObservation & ImaginationReminiscingTravels

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