February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the past and present achievements of African Americans. Today, I want to celebrate the memory of a woman who courageously helped to change our nation and make it a better, more equal place– Rosa Parks.
On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus. Her refusal was the spark that lit a firestorm of change. It resulted in the Montgomery bus boycott, a controversial protest which lasted a year and ended when segregation on buses was deemed unconstitutional. The civil rights movement rapidly became a subject of national attention, and Rosa became a central figure in the struggle for equality in America.
From Rosa’s autobiography, “Rosa Parks – My Story”:
People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (ca. 1955)
Last year, a cache of personal papers, photographs and memorabilia was discovered in the Detroit house where Rosa spent the last years of her life. A New York auction house called Guernsey’s was selected to represent the archive and find it a permanent home. Here is a description of some of the items they found:
The Rosa Parks Archive consists of thousands of items of virtually every description. Her countless awards range from the most significant to the most charming, the latter presented to Mrs. Parks by many of our nation’s school children. One section of her library contains volumes inscribed to her by such noteworthy figures as Dr. Martin Luther King and President Clinton while another section contains somewhat worn text books with Rosa Parks’ own name written in pencil from her childhood days at the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery. The archive reflects Mrs. Park’s day-to-day life with personal items ranging from her wardrobe, her eyeglasses, her driver’s license, her address book, and her Bible. The archive contains a well-traveled suitcase filled with assorted fabrics from Rosa’s days in Montgomery as a seamstress.
Among her personal papers a recipe was found, scribbled on the back of an envelope, for “Featherlite Pancakes.” While we can’t be 100% sure that Rosa used this recipe, it seems quite probable that she did, given that it was found within her personal items and written in her own handwriting.
Rosa’s handwritten recipe for Featherlite Pancakes. Photo: Guernseys
Here is the recipe as it appears on the envelope:
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon shortening, melted, or oil
Combine with dry ingredients
Cook at 275 degrees F on griddle
The recipe is fairly self explanatory as written; I have provided a few detailed cooking instructions for clarity below. I made the assumption that smooth peanut butter should be used, because of the fact that Rosa called these pancakes “featherlite”– I’m guessing a pancake that is “light as a feather” isn’t supposed to crunch. I used smooth peanut butter, and the pancakes turned out very light indeed. They are truly delightful, with a wonderful texture and a mouth-watering peanut butter flavor. In fact, my stepdaughter has decided that this is now her favorite pancake recipe– and she’s a picky eater! They’re really tasty.
One quick reminder– if serving guests that you don’t know very well, make sure you let them know in advance that these pancakes contain peanut butter. Some people have peanut allergies (which can be lethal), so hidden peanut butter can be dangerous. Cook with care!
February 4 is Rosa Parks’ birthday. Cook these pancakes as a way to honor Rosa’s memory… may her courage be an inspiration to us all.
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- 1 cup flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening to grease pan (or more if needed)
You will also need
- Griddle, skillet, or electric griddle
- Sift together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
- Mix together wet ingredients (minus the oil) with a fork till smooth: egg, milk, peanut butter.
- Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing lightly-- do not overmix, or pancakes will turn out heavy and dense. A few lumps are okay.
- Grease your skillet or griddle with oil or shortening (I use peanut oil). Heat skillet over medium (or heat electric griddle to 275 degrees F). Test heat by flinging a droplet of water onto the surface of the skillet-- it should sizzle and evaporate, but not pop or crackle.
- Pour the batter by scant 1/4 cupfuls to form pancakes on the hot skillet.
- Let the pancakes cook for 1-2 minutes till bubbles rise to the surface of the batter and burst.
- When the pancakes turn golden brown on the bottom, flip them. Let the pancakes continue to cook for 1-2 minutes longer till golden brown on both sides and cooked all the way through. Re-grease the skillet periodically between batches, if needed.
- Serve pancakes immediately. To keep the pancakes warm while you're cooking, place them on a plate covered by a towel in a 175 degree oven. Use an oven mitt when removing the plate from the oven, it will be hot!
- Serve warm with butter and maple syrup. Delish!