Elsewhere I have mentioned that my maternal grandfather, Guy Anderson, was one of the apron-wearers in our family. My sister, today gives a boost to our father, Paul Kaser, who was handy at a lot of things, but limited his cooking pretty much to pancakes, carving the turkey and backyard barbecue. I’m so happy to welcome my sister as a guest writer.
By Paula Kaser Price
(This post is about Paul Kaser, 1909-1996)
That old aluminum griddle with the detachable handle was one of my favorite Saturday morning sights. It was dented, stained and a thing of beauty.
The magic was that my Daddy was going to make animal pancakes for me. I am sure it was just for me because my sister and brother were too old and didn’t appreciate the wonder of it all.
The griddle covered both front and back burners on one side of the gas stove so there was plenty of room for creativity. Dad usually wore his old man-apron or if on occasion it couldn’t be found he wore one of Mom’s aprons which, of course, brought gales of laughter from me and profound scorn from my teenage siblings.
I remember sitting at the Formica-topped kitchen table, swinging my feet as I sat waiting for the griddle to reach the exactly right pancake temperature. Finally, after an eternity, Dad would wet his fingers, shake water onto the griddle, and when it sizzled – ready!
Then came that question I had been pondering the answer to as I swung my feet, waiting.
“What kind of animals should I make?”
I always came up with something impossible. “How about a duckbilled platypus and a porkypine?”
The reply would always be, “How about a turtle?”
He would begin his works of art, wielding the spatula like a conductor’s wand. Often the viewer needed great imagination but soon turtles, snakes, cats, bats, dinosaurs, bears and birds appeared on my plate. I’d apply butter until it melted and formed a great lake then I’d mix in some syrup. When I was stuffed full, happy and loved I’d run out to play with my friends, bragging about my Daddy’s animal pancakes.
Note from VMB: To the best of the three sibling’s recollection, Dad used Aunt Jemima pancake mix. In the 1950s, it never occurred to us that there was anything wrong with the use of a stereotypical big black “Mammy” with a bandanna on her head as an advertising image. Dad liked other kinds of pancakes too, including buckwheat and corn. Here’s a recipe for my favorite cornmeal pancake, adapted from The Joy of Cooking. 4th printing, 1976.