Buckwheat pancakes are not found on every Shrove Tuesday menu.
But at Zion United Methodist, the yeasty cakes are a mainstay.
"We had a couple requests for it," said Barbara Bollinger, as she mixed flour and sugar in preparation for the annual feast last week. "Pastor Rick [Shamer, since retired] was the first to ask. You have to keep your pastor happy."
Bollinger, who will add the yeast and eggs to the mixture on Tuesday, estimates she and a kitchen crew of seven others make more than 500 pancakes for the annual Tuesday meal, which also offers scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, sausage, gravy, stewed apples, pudding and hominy.
Everything is made from scratch. "When we first started, they all thought it was going to be out of a box," Bollinger said, shaking her head. "No, no, no, no. It's a special recipe. It's my recipe. This is homemade."
Always held the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, Shrove Tuesday is a time for Christians to empty their pantries in preparation for the Lenten season, the 40 days before Easter, according to Steve Hildenbrand, a member of the men's group at Deer Park United Methodist Church in Westminster.
"Christians were to traditionally give up something during Lent," Hildenbrand said. "They were encouraged to use up the rich foods; sugar, eggs, and milk. You can use these up in a hurry and make pancakes."
Deer Park's men's club and the community's Lions Club have been hosting the Shrove Tuesday dinner together for approximately 10 years, Hildenbrand said.
"Our group helps set up, serve and clean up," Hildenbrand said. "The Lions Club runs the kitchen."
Thelma Carr has been in charge of making both the sausage gravy and the stewed apples at Zion's dinner.
She peels and chops about a bushel and a half of apples.
"I don't like to have them sit long," Carr said of the apples. "People like them hot, not mushy.
As for the gravy, Carr said she likes to make it thick. "I can always thin it later," she said.
All the burners on the kitchen's two big stoves will have a job, with Carr watching over her apples and sausage gravy on one side, while potatoes are cooked in the middle and the scrambled eggs on the other side all closely monitored by other volunteers.
"It's a lot of work to get one on but it's not hard," Bollinger said of the supper. "We got this down to a science."
At Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Eldersburg, the cooking for a Shrove Tuesday supper is done by teenagers.
"It started off kind of as a youth outreach to the community and church," said Bob Jacoby, youth pastor, of the dinner that is in its 20th year. "The youth club runs the show. Everything is cooked and served by teenagers supervised by adults."
The menu includes pancakes, sausage and ice cream.
"It's just something we added in just for fun," Jacoby said, of the ice cream. "We have a lot of families come. Seniors, too."
Wesley also serves gluten-free pancakes and sugar-free syrup.
"We do everything we can to please everyone," Jacoby said.
Church of the Ascension in Westminster has been hosting a Shrove Tuesday dinner "forever" according to Donna Bair, a volunteer for the last 43 years.
"It's a wonderful get together," Bair said, of the supper. "It's a nice way to get together before Lent. It's a church activity, but we do see many people from the community come and it is very heartwarming to see."
Where to find a pancake supper on March 4
The Church of the Ascension, 23 N. Court St., Westminster, 5:30–7 p.m. Menu: pancakes, sausage, applesauce and beverage Cost is $6; $3 for ages 4 to 11; free for children 3 and under. Proceeds benefit church members engaged in religious studies as well as community groups like the Salvation Army and Food Sunday, 410-848-3251.
Deer Park United Methodist Church, 2205 Sykesville Road, Westminster, 4-7 p.m. Menu: pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, apple cobbler. Adults $6; Ages 4 to 12, $3. Proceeds benefit ministries of the church and community projects of the Lions Club. 410-848-2313.
Ebenezer United Methodist Church, 4901 Woodbine Road, Winfield, 5-7 p.m. Menu: pancakes, sausage, applesauce and beverage. Free will offering to benefit Camp Hope's Youth Mission team. 410-795-7528
Jerusalem Lutheran Church, 1372 Bachman Valley Road, Westminster, 6-8 p.m. Menu: pancakes, sausage, applesauce and beverages. Free-will offering. 410-848-4290.
Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church, 961 Johnsville Road, Sykesville, 5-6:30 p.m. Menu: pancakes, gluten-free pancakes, sausage, ice cream. Cost is $6 for ages 13 and older; $4 for ages 4 to 12. Proceeds benefit youth missions. 410-795-2777
Zion United Methodist Church, 2716 Old Washington Road, Westminster, 4-7 p.m. Menu: buttermilk and buckwheat pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, fried potatoes, sausage gravy, stewed apples, pudding and hominy. Coffee, tea and orange juice. Cost is $7; $3 for ages 6 to 12; under 6, free. All proceeds benefit the church. 410-848-2988.