You say Shrove Tuesday; I say Pancake Day–The 2021 Pandemic edition!

Happy Pancake Day!!!  In 2019 I wrote the blog post below about the annual Pancake Day race competition between Liberal, Kansas USA and Olney, England.  They’ve been holding the annual trans-Atlantic race for more than 70 years.  I swore I’d try to attend the Liberal KS Pancake Day race in 2020.  Then it was cancelled for the then-new Covid-19 pandemic.  Now it’s 2021 and the event had to be cancelled for a second year for the pandemic.  So here I am looking back at the events and vowing to get there in 2022. Have a lovely day, and maybe some pancakes. (US and UK pancake recipes are at the bottom of the post.)

skill cooking GIF



(The original post from 2019)

They say it started more than 500 years ago, when on Shrove Tuesday (the day before the start of Lent), a housewife in England was cooking at her stove, heard the bell for church, and dashed from her house to the church still wearing her apron and carrying her skillet.

Today it is an annual international women’s race, in which the participants wear a housedress, headscarf and apron, and must carry a skillet with a pancake in it, and flip the pancake.

The event takes place in Olney, England and Liberal, Kansas USA.  Each town holds a race, and the fastest finish time wins the international contest.

(Picture from Olney’s website)

A multi-day festival has grown up around the event.  Each town maintains a Pancake Day website; and each maintains a Facebook page, which is great for enthusiasts like me who want real-time updates on race day.



How the International Pancake Day Race came about:

Each of the two cities’ websites gives a brief history of the Pancake Day Race.  Since each site provides a fact or two that the other one doesn’t, I’ve included both.  But hey, the best thing to do is visit both websites for more history and photos of past events.

From the Liberal, KS site: 

“In Olney, England, the Pancake Race tradition dates back more than 500 years to 1445. A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes. Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron-clad. In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach the church first and collect a “Kiss of Peace” from the verger (bell-ringer.)

“HOW DID PANCAKE DAY GET STARTED IN THE UNITED STATES?​

“It all started in 1950 from a magazine picture of the Olney women racing each other to the church. Liberal Jaycee President R.J. Leete contacted the Rev. Ronald Collins, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul’s church in Olney, challenging their women to race against women of Liberal.  Like in Olney, the traditional prize of the race is the “Kiss of Peace” from the verger (bellringer).”

From the Olney, UK site:

“No one is quite certain how the world famous Pancake Race at Olney originated. One story tells of a harassed housewife, hearing the shriving bell, dashing to the Church still clutching her frying pan containing a pancake. Another tells that the gift of pancakes may have been a bribe to the Ringer, or Sexton that he might ring the bell sooner; for ringing the bell signalled the beginning of the day’s holiday and enjoyment, no less than to summon the people to the service at which they would be shriven of their sins before the long Lenten feast.

“Tradition declares that the race was first run in the year 1445, pancakes at the time being a popular dish, receiving royal favour. It was run on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, and the whole day was given over to a festival of celebration, pranks and pastimes. It is not known where the original start line was but the finish line was at the Church door.

“The race continued through the centuries, and whilst many other local customs died, and the race itself may have lapsed many times, such lapses never caused the race to be entirely forgotten by the womenfolk of Olney. It is known to have taken place during the troublesome times of The War of the Roses (1445 to 1487).

“THE CUSTOM REVIVED

“After a lapse during the Second World War, it was revived again in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney the Reverend Canon Ronald Collins. In clearing out a cupboard he came across some old photographs, which had obviously been taken in the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties of women running with frying pans. Filled with enthusiasm to revive the ancient custom, he called for volunteers, and in response thirteen runners appeared on Shrove Tuesday that year. The race immediately caught the popular imagination and people of Olney set out to enjoy this simple and colourful link with their rich past, a day of festivities.

“THE LINK WITH LIBERAL

“In 1950 the race became an International event. A challenge was received from the town of Liberal in Kansas, USA, where they had, after seeing the press photographs of the race at Olney, conceived the idea of setting up a similar custom. Olney readily accepted the challenge and, in a spirit of international goodwill and friendship, the two towns now compete annually and prizes are exchanged. The race is run on a timed basis.”



THE RACE!

  • At 11:55 am Olney time (5:55am Central US time), the Olney Race begins.
  • At 11:55 am Liberal time (5:55pm Olney UK time), the Liberal race begins.

The (updated) weather forecast for today (February 16, 2021) at what would have been race time:

  • Olney:  Partly cloudy and 50°F with a SW wind of 13 mph, causing a feels-like temp of 45°F.
  • Liberal:  Cloudy and -6°F with a SE wind of 15 mph, causing a feels-like temp of -18°F.

Don’t be fooled by the dresses, aprons and skillets; these races are legit athletic contests.  So, what is the actual race like?  Here is a recent video from each side of the pond:

The Olney, UK race (2012)

The Liberal, KS USA race (2014)

Attending these two Pancake Day races is a bucket list item for me.  It’s only a 3.5 hour drive for me to Liberal, KS, but Tuesdays pose a problem.  Once again this year, work has intervened to keep me from going.  Next year, Pancake Day is on Tuesday, February 25.  I shall try again.



I love to eat pancakes, so pancakes must be included in this story:

American pancakes are typically thicker than English pancakes.  I love both.

An American style pancakes recipe:  https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/21014/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/

(photo from allrecipes.com)

An English style pancakes recipe:  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2907669/easy-pancakes

(photo from Epicurious.com)

I love pancakes so much that on my first ever trip to England (in 2010), I took a picture of my first-ever English pancake, and the lovely, skilled vendor cook who made it for me.

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrove_Tuesday

Alexa, the Show-Me Edition (about the Echo Show) — Part 2 in the Alexa series

Last July I wrote about how an Alexa device has enabled us to communicate easily with our mom who is wheelchair-bound with advanced Parkinson’s disease, and has been an ‘inmate’ in a locked-down care home since the pandemic began. Back then, I wrote about the Echo Dot, which is a speaker the size of a hockey puck, that sits on the desk or table.

We’ve since upgraded to the Echo Show 5, which enables video conversations. It’s been well worth the upgrade.

(Photo from Amazon)
(Photo from Amazon)
**This is my unsolicited, uncompensated review and recommendation of the Echo Show device, but the links to Amazon are 'affiliate' links, meaning if you click and buy through one of them, I may receive a few cents in commission, at no additional cost to you. The identity of anyone who clicks on an affiliate link will be completely anonymous to me.** 

At regular intervals Amazon has the Echo Show 5 promo-priced as low as $45 (regular list price is $89). The Echo Show 5 screen is comparable in size to a smartphone screen.

A few details about our experience with the Echo Show 5:

Mic–The online customer reviews of the Echo Show 5, reveal a recurring complaint that mic is not as sensitive as on the other Echo devices such as the Dot. I agree. It’s not so bad that it keeps me from recommending the Echo Show; far from that. But the Show mic is not as good, which is frustrating at times. I can be sitting inches from the Echo Show on my desk and give it an Alexa command, and the device does not respond, but the Echo Dot in the next room hears me and does what I asked.

The optional adjustable Stand:

Amazon sells a little matching adjustable stand for the Echo Show 5. Many of the online customer reviews express my reaction on seeing the item: Really, $20 for a little piece of plastic? Yes. And for our mom, it has been worth it. She needed a different angle for the mic and camera, and we couldn’t figure out another way to prop the Show at a good angle for her. So, we caved and bought the little piece of plastic, and it did the trick. It is secure and easy to adjust. I don’t need one for my own Echo Show, but for her, it was worth the $20.

Click here or on the picture below, to go to the stand on Amazon.

(Image from Amazon)

Gradually, quite a few of our family members have acquired their own Echo Show 5s to be able to visit Mom and each other.

Zoom:

One of my brothers has gotten the Echo Show 8, which is apparently the only Echo device that works with Zoom. (Here’s an article from Zoom on how it works: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360053161571-Getting-Started-with-Zoom-on-Echo-Show )

Changing the Settings on the Echo Show:

With the Echo Show, there are a plethora of settings available to personalize the device and maximize the usefulness of the video screen. Examples:

  • Display a slide show of your photos (uploaded to Amazon Photos, which provides free cloud storage)
  • Play movies and TV shows
  • See your local weather conditions and forecast
  • See curated news updates
  • See Alexa tips and tricks
  • You can also limit promos from being displayed.

Some of the Echo Show and Echo Dot settings can be made on the device screen itself. To see the Settings options, swipe down from the top of the screen. But you’ll also want to install both the Alexa desktop browser app and the mobile app. Some settings can only be made on the desktop, and some only on the mobile app. That’s a complaint I have. Figuring out where to find a specific setting is unnecessarily complicated by Amazon having put them in two or three different places.

If you simply want to do an action or a task, speak it to Alexa. Or, to see available actions that you may have recently used, or that Alexa recommends, swipe the Echo screen from right to left.

Selfies (and video):

Just say “Alexa, take my picture.” Take a plain picture, or first swipe through the sticker selection.

There’s so much more. I haven’t even mentioned the Alexa Skills and Routines which enable your Echo do specific useful tasks. It will read your Kindle books to you. And then there are the ‘smart plug’ accessories for turning on the lights, vacuum, etc. Stay tuned…

Alexa can get cheeky on occasion:

“Alexa, what time is the K-State basketball game?”

Painting smock made from a man’s shirt

This was a Christmas gift for my mom, who’s wheelchair-bound, with advanced Parkinson’s. She can no longer sew, and wants to try painting. So I made her a painting smock, upcycled from a man’s shirt.

The pockets and other add-ons are made with fabrics from my stash.

Here are some of the details.

  • The front pockets can hold supplies.
  • The ties go around the shoulders; not across the back, so she can get the apron on from the front, without being lifted out of the chair.

To protect her sleeves, I made these coordinating sleeve gaiters from chambray in my stash. You can also see the shape/template of the apron as it was cut from the front of the shirt.

And another smock!

After finishing the smock and then looking at the leftovers, I realized there was another smock in the back of the shirt, so I made her a second one, too.

How are the aprons working out? Well, she hasn’t shared any feedback (or paintings) with me yet, so I can’t assess the success. But I got a big smile from her when giving her the smocks, so I know they are appreciated and will be used.

Is there a tutorial? I didn’t take progress pictures to make into a tutorial. But if you do an internet search (like this) for images of aprons from upcycled men’s shirts, you’ll see a bunch of inspiring examples like I did before starting my project. The examples were all I needed, but the search will lead you to tutorials if needed.

Christmas gifts–Hand Crocheted RBG collar

In September, we lost Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was beloved by many for her words and values. Her passing inspired a trend of crocheted collars.

This picture is the cover of her memoir. Click the picture to go to the book in Amazon.

Hand crocheted RBG collars were the right gift for a few of my peeps. Here’s the version I made:

Supply list and product links:

*From one spool of ‘Red Heart #3 crochet thread’, I got three (3) of the collars described below.

Time commitment: Each collar took somewhere between 2 and 4 hours to crochet. If you like to watch college basketball, you can crochet while watching two games and you’ll likely finish crocheting the collar during the second game.

Work in progress.

My Version of the Collars (caveat: This is a listing of my rows and what’s in them, but not professionally-written crochet instructions.):

  • Row 1: Chain 77
  • Row 2: Turn. In every other chain stitch, single crochet + chain 1
  • Row 3: Turn. *Chain 3, single crochet in space between Row 2 single crochets, repeat from * to end.
  • Row 4: Turn. *Chain 4, single crochet in chain 3 space in Row 2, repeat from * to end.
  • Rows 5-7: Repeat Row 4
  • Collar end: Turn and single crochet 8 stitches along end.
  • Repeat two more single crochet rows.
  • Chain 8 for button loop, and attach loop to neck edge with slipstitch.
  • Neckline: In each chain 1 space, single crochet + chain 1 to other end of collar.
  • Collar end: Turn and single crochet 9 stitches along end.
  • Repeat one more single crochet row on end.
  • Add button at neckline and tie off thread ends.
Close up of the stitches and back closure button:

Shrink and block the collar.

  • To shrink, I soaked the collar for a few minutes in a cup of boiling water, and then tumble-dried it in a hot dryer. It came out in a compact ball.
  • To block the collar, stretch it back into shape by pinning it to padded cardboard, cover with a press cloth and steam it with the iron.

Then sew on the button.

For easy gifting, the collar fits in a greeting card. Hint: The flatter the button the better for mailing in a card.

Other patterns:

For ideas and inspiration, I studied these two RBG collar patterns:



MORE ABOUT RBG

Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg

Notorious RBG tour: Take a virtual tour via Zoom, of this special RBG exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum through February 20, 2021. https://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/rbg/ (Pre-registration required.)

On the Basis of Sex (movie): “The true story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights, and the early cases of a historic career that lead to her nomination and confirmation as U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4669788/

Several of the usual streaming services offer this movie. Here is the link to stream on Amazon Prime. https://amzn.to/2WzmbRw

**The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you click and buy, I may receive a few cents from Amazon, which will help me offset the cost of my blog, which I’m committed to keeping ad-free.

Beer Bread vs. Wine Bread

It’s well-known that beer bread is tasty and simple to make. I’ve pondered whether bread could be made with wine instead of beer. According to a few people on the internet, the answer is yes. This past week I tried both beer and wine, and both worked. The wine version had a different flavor from the beer version; in a way not easily described. The flavor of beer bread is distinct and also not easy to describe, but it’s very tasty. It’s sweet, with a velvety soft, slightly spongy texture.

Here is what my beer bread and wine bread looked like side-by-side.

WHAT TO PAIR THEM WITH:

  • Beer bread tastes great warm or toasted with butter. That’s my favorite way to eat it. But it can also be used for sandwiches or as as you would use any loaf of bread.
  • The wine bread flavor wasn’t quite so easily adaptable to my palate, but I did enjoy it made into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I still want to try it with savory spreads as well.

THE RECIPES:

Beer bread could not be simpler to make. It’s only three ingredients mixed together: a can or bottle of beer, self-rising flour, and sugar.

Beer bread recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/6717/beer-bread-i/ (I took the suggestion of several reviewers’, and increased the sugar to 1/4 cup.)

Wine bread recipe: https://www.instructables.com/id/Wine-Bread/ (I used some of my Instant Pot Wine!)

No self-rising flour on hand? Make your own with this recipe from King Arthur Flour: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/homemade-self-rising-flour-recipe (It’s just all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.)

CONCLUSION:

I think beer bread tastes better, but when I find myself with a bottle of wine that has been sitting too long, this will definitely a way to use it.

Yeast shelf life…I stand corrected

No matter how long I’ve kept a jar of yeast, it has never gone bad. Until now. Just two months ago, I wrote about DIY bread mixes; and wrote that ‘yeast keeps well past its sell-by date’. Turns out, that very yeast was going bad as I was writing the post. The bread made and pictured in that post turned out fine. But in the weeks that followed, one of those mixes turned out like the one pictured on the left below. I tried another loaf from the same set of mixes; got the same result. So I tried one more loaf, but added 1/2 teaspoon of yeast from a new jar, and got the result on the right.

The old yeast still has not reached the sell-by date on the jar, and has been stored continuously in the frig, but for some unknown reason it went bad anyway. These things happen, I guess. I stand by my advice to buy and keep a jar of yeast on hand. I’ve baked bread since I was a little girl, and this is the first time I’ve ever had yeast go bad.

The short loaves didn’t go to waste. They sliced and tasted fine, but a bit more dense than a regular loaf.



More desert island music

We are into the final three rounds of the Slice The Life 2020 Album Draft. Round 8 has just begun. For the latest ‘desert island album’ picks, click here.

For the latest Run-Sew-Read pick, click here, and enjoy the sample below.

Squishy Squeaky Squares — DIY dog toys

When Myrtle the two-year-old pup is being awful, and I need some peace, I can reach for the red plush fabric, and spend 5 minutes making her a squishy squeaky square.

When she sees me grab the red fabric, she calms down and sits as still as a statue by my sewing chair until I’m done. When I finish and hand it to her, her appreciation is a wonder.

THE PROCESS

The squeakers came from Amazon. For Myrtle, I got the 2-inch size. https://amzn.to/3jLL9q5



More desert island music

Round 6 of the Slice The Life 2020 Album Draft has just concluded. Four more rounds to go. For the latest ‘desert island album’ picks, click here.

For the Run-Sew-Read pick, click here, and enjoy the sample below.

Three upcoming releases I’ll be watching

TED LASSO

The first four episodes are available now on Apple TV+. Future episodes are being released each Friday. The first episode was silly. From then on, each episode got better than the one before. I now don’t want the series to ever end.

This is the story of the coach who led last year’s (fictional) Wichita State Shockers football team through an undefeated season, and trip to the Rose Bowl; and then agreed to coach the Richmond, UK football (soccer) team. It’s London, Kansas, sports, and a bit of baking, all in one delightful package. In real life, there is no Wichita State football team. The university hasn’t had a football team since 1986, which makes this series even more awesome. They use the actual WSU mascot and logos.

IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10986410

FARGO, Season 4

The next season of Fargo will be released on September 27 on FX. It is set in Kansas City in the 1950s, and stars Chris Rock. I cannot wait. “Girl, you’ve got a panty on your head.”

IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2802850/

REBECCA

The latest remake of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca will be released October 21, on Netflix. How much am I looking forward to it? I’ve written a whole post on it, that’s how much. Read it here.

IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2235695

(This is an entertainment report on the movie; not a trailer)



And now for some music: We are now in Round 5 of the Slice The Life 2020 Album Draft. For the latest ‘desert island album’ picks, click here.

For the latest Run-Sew-Read pick, click here. Or sample a song from the album:

I went to a baseball game this week.

Only in 2020 is it a blog-worthy announcement to say, “I went to a baseball game this week.” This past week I proudly wore one of the masks I’ve made, and attended the championship game of the long-running annual National Baseball Congress World Series tournament. I’ve written about the NBC World Series in prior years, here in 2016, and here in 2018. This month they managed to plan and carry out a 2020 pandemic version of the tournament, in a borrowed stadium.

The COVID-19 rules for attendees: Masks were required to be worn by every person in the stadium. Every other row of seats was roped off, so attendees sat at least a row apart. We were also instructed to sit several seats away from other fans.

The championship game was between the Cheney (KS) Diamond Dawgs and the Santa Barbara Foresters.

My only 7th inning stretch of 2020.

The Foresters led from the start and continued to build on their lead as the game progressed. A rain and lightning delay was looming.

The Diamond Dawgs signaled with a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th, that they weren’t going to be rushed out of the stadium. But then came the 3rd out, and congrats to the champions, the Santa Barbara Foresters.

The first gust from the storm hit as I left the seats. The first drops of rain fell as I was getting into my car.

More sports to come?

The last live sports event I’d attended before this was a Big XII basketball game on March 5. On the day of this baseball game, it was rumored that two of the Power-5 collegiate conferences were going to cancel football for the year. The Big 10 did in fact cancel 2020 football, and the Pac-12 postponed their football season to Spring 2021. At the time, I thought this NBC baseball game might be the last live sports event I’d be attending in 2020.

But maybe not. The Big XII has announced that it does not plan to cancel or postpone its 2020 football season. Teams want fans there, too. Wishful thinking on my part? We’ll see what surprises are out there for the final four months of 2020. Wear those masks and be distant and considerate of each other. It’s our only hope of having more chances to head to the stadiums to cheer our teams on this year.