In the mind of an eight-year-old kid, the eight-hour trip from Hudson, Iowa to Herbster, Wisconsin had three divisions. First lap, one hour north to Aunt Hattie’s at New Hampton. Second stop, Spooner, Wisconsin, where rolling farm fields yielded to the flat north woods. Third, that agonizing last stretch to grand Lake Superior—at last.
As adults, we can spot the flaws in a kid’s logic. The potential for frustrating hours of anticipation is apparent. While in my young mind, Aunt Hattie’s ought to mean ⅓ of the way there, it only clicked off one of the eight hours of driving time. The lapse in logic invited endless, “Mom, are we there yet?” “Dad, how much longer?”
But that first stop on the farm outside New Hampton, Iowa did have its reward—Aunt Hattie’s apple pancakes! Eggs, milk, flour and butter—no baking powder for lift. A cast-iron skillet on the stove, sizzling with a generous layer of shortening. And a generous number of apple slices in each ladle of batter. Can’t you hear it sizzling in the hot fry pan? Smell it as the edges turn brown and crispy?
Delivered one at a time fresh from the fry pan to the plate, topped with butter and Karo syrup. The tension of three hungry boys waiting their turn. Aunt Hattie couldn’t possibly keep up with empty plates and eager pleas for “one more.”
My mouth is watering today, 63 years later.
Excuse me. I need to go fix breakfast. Enjoy your day!
Aunt Hattie’s Apple Pancakes
1-½ c. Milk
1 t. Salt
1 T. Sugar
1 c. Flour
Mix all ingredients down to apples. Slice apples and add. (A few lumps will not hurt.)
Using a heavy fry pan (cast iron) with a lid, melt 1 T. shortening and a mixing spoonful of batter. Cover (helps keep moist and tender.) Flip once and serve hot with generous portions of butter and Karo syrup. (Recipe calls for light. I prefer dark.)
Note: I prefer to leave uncovered, which makes the pancakes crispy on the edges.
Getting the heat in the pan just right takes a pancake or two. I usually burn the first one and toss it. You do need to have the pan and the oil hot. But not burning black scorching hot.
Last note, it helps to have three hungry boys sitting at table, waiting for their pancake (or two or three).