If you are a pet lover like me, you know that we won’t stop at anything to show love unto our furry or feathery or slithery type friends. Personally, I like to stick with the first two groups of pets, whereas things that are slithery (or leathery or prickly or… ) are best left to the fondness of someone else. Nonetheless, all of our little (or big) friends are worthy of the same kind of unconditional love that they slather onto us; probably one of the main reasons that we pet people stay pet people.
For nearly seventeen years, I had a shepherd cross pup named Duke, aka Dukie. He was my bestest furry friend and he followed me everywhere. I’ve written about him a lot. I even wrote and dedicated a book in his memory; a book which rests atop our fireplace to this very day. One of my fondest memories of him involves the cooking up of pancakes on the occasional Sunday morning. My favourite cakes were banana with white chocolate chips back then, but I would also happily cook up plain ones that I could dole my mom’s raspberry jam on—syrup was never really my thing. Whenever I got the skillet ready for pancakes, Duke would watch intently since food of any kind was always of interest to him. While he didn’t get table scraps from me all that often, he knew how to work his eyebrows and infamous head tilt in his favour. And so it became that whenever I cooked up some pancakes, I always did up a special little one at the end just for Duke, sans chocolate of course.
My husband was raised on a different kind of pancake that his mom referred to as, Potato Cakes. While they ate regular pancakes as well, the Potato Cakes were a family recipe which used a combination of leftover roast beef (ground up) and potatoes mixed with an egg, some onion, and a bit of salt and butter. Once formed into patties, the cakes would get cooked similarly to regular pancakes in a buttered or oiled skillet until browned and the eggs were cooked through. Undoubtedly, Potato Cakes were a quick, hearty, economical leftover solution.
I will admit that I wasn’t too keen on my husband’s family cake recipe when I first heard of it. Beef isn’t super appealing to me to begin with, let alone mushed together with other things; obviously an affliction I’ve carried forward from childhood. BUT, after giving them a try, I instantly became a fan especially when eaten with a bit of ketchup on the side which ironically is a no-no in my husband’s book. I say ironic because at this point in his life, my husband should have a gazillion shares in Heinz simply by proxy or by means of consumption. Ketchup is his go-to condiment for pretty much everything—except for Potato Cakes and fast food fries—about the only two things I use it for other than on hamburgers maybe. To each their own right?! Chacon son goût, as they say in French.
Anyway, a few days ago, after slow-cooking a beef roast which actually was very tender and tasty even in my books, my husband made up some of his family’s cakes. As is usually the case, he happily served up the first few portions for me as I anxiously awaited the finished product, plate in hand. After eating my first two Potato Cakes, an extra little cake was saved for me in honour of Duke and our well-known pancake tradition. Not only was it extra sweet of my husband to do (and not his first time doing so), it was remarkable how quickly that simple, yet thoughtful gesture took me back to the many years spent with my Dukie cooking up pancakes on a Sunday morning and it’s been 7 1/2 years since his passing. It was a welcome memory. Apparently, it’s not just ground up beef and potatoes stuck together through the years which continue to make a great combination. Fond memories of loved ones passed also stick with us, especially so in our hearts and when combined with thoughtfulness like that of my husband, they simply can’t be beat. Cheers to Duke and a special kind of pancake that he would have loved even more so than the original ones!