This year, Shrove Tuesday falls on 21 February in the UK. Shrove Tuesday is a traditional feast day in the Christian calendar. It always falls the day before Ash Wednesday – and the start of Lent. Traditionally, the 40 days leading up to Easter mark the time that Jesus spent in the desert, fasting. The time is marked with prayers, contemplation and abstaining from certain foods.
On a practical level, any fats and enticing foods that were in the house needed to be used up before the start of Lent to avoid wastage and temptation over the next 40 days. So, Shrove Tuesday became the day when eggs, butter and fats were used up, with pancakes being a popular option for doing so. This is the reason why Shrove Tuesday has also become known as Pancake Day and is not complete for many people without a good helping of pancakes with favourite toppings and accompaniments.
Cooking with your residents
Pancakes are best served fresh from the pan, having been cooked and flipped and delivered, sizzling hot to the plate. Cooking is a really good activity to do with care home residents as it helps stimulate the mind, keep people active and create a shared activity with delicious results at the end. You can buy ready-made pancake batter mixes or make your own with eggs, flour, milk and baking powder.
A good tip is to make smaller pancakes so there is plenty of batter to go around and they don’t take quite so long to cook. People can tuck into their pancakes more quickly and the cooking needn’t go on for ages. Have a selection of sweet and savoury toppings for people to choose from. Popular options include lemon and sugar, chocolate spread, strawberries and cream, jam and honey. Have the toppings on the table with spoons for serving, where they are easy to reach for people to help themselves.
Making a meal of it
Thanks to the ease and versatility of pancakes, they can be served as a savoury course or dessert – or both. Plan your residents’ lunchtime or evening meal around pancakes. Some delicious ideas for ingredients to add to savoury pancakes include grated cheese and ham, fish mornay, chilli con carne, Bolognese sauce and shredded chicken in a creamy sauce. Or add some diced peppers and onions while cooking the pancake and then fold it in half in the pan for a tasty vegetable-based alternative.
Flipping good fun
The more active residents at your care home may enjoy a gentle session of pancake flipping. This is a really good fun activity – especially if you don’t mind things getting a little messy from time to time. People can flip their pancakes sitting down, and you can leave them to cool down if you are concerned about anyone getting burned by a hot frying pan. Have a competition to see who can flip the most pancakes without dropping any, or who can make their pancake go the highest.
Sharing Shrove Tuesday
Take the opportunity to invite friends and relatives to a pancake lunch or supper. This is a tradition that also harks back to the early days of Christianity when people would gather to share food and companionship ahead of Ash Wednesday and the onset of Lent. You could also invite regular visitors and suppliers along to help swell numbers even more. Use your care management software to ensure that you have enough ingredients in for everyone, and that you know which staff members will be on duty that day as well.
Pancake crafting and chatter
While we don’t recommend using actual pancakes for an arts and crafts session, you could invite residents to decorate paper plates, cupcakes or place mats for the main Shrove Tuesday meal. Or print out a pancake recipe and give copies to everyone to embellish. Encourage residents to recall Shrove Tuesdays from the past – did they enjoy flipping pancakes as a child, or running in pancake races? Perhaps they took part in the church rituals that accompany Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. You might wish to write some of the stories down, or record them as a souvenir for the residents and their families.