Rosa Parks, the famous civil rights activist, loved peanut butter in her pancakes. Her forthright thinking and no nonsense attitude changed the racial landscape of the 1950’s south, bit by bit. She was a complex woman, full of keen observations of her place and time. Many of these thoughts were recorded in hand written letters and notes scrawled on stationery, or scribbled on scraps of paper in pencil or pen. After some legal wrangling, her papers were purchased and are now on loan to the Library of Congress. As an archivist pours through the boxes of papers, a clearer picture of our country’s figurehead of integration has emerged. Her family walked a fine line between abject poverty and a more genteel down- at – the – heels lower middle class existence. Money was tight, ethics were paramount, and Rosa liked to cook.
On the back of a small brown envelope, the kind you would get cash in from a withdrawal at the back, is written a recipe in Rosa Park’s hand, for ” featherlight pancakes”. Here is it:
Featherweight Peanut Butter Pancakes, by Rosa Parks
Makes about 18, 4-inch pancakes
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons oil or melted butter
- In a small bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients and stir well: flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- In a separate small bowl, mix the egg and peanut butter until well combined. Whisk in the milk and oil until smooth. Fold and stir in to the dry ingredients.
- Bake on a warm (275° F) lightly greased griddle until golden, and flip, cook until firm. Serve warm, with maple syrup and more peanut butter, if you choose.
Finding a recipe like this amongst Rosa’s writings is of interest in so many ways. First, she had the inclination to cook, or by writing down and keeping the recipe, the desire to cook even when her activism was at a peak. The recipe seems so current, even though it was written in the late 1950’s, we just had to try them. Yum…their name “Featherlight”, became clear, light and delicate with a surprise of peanut butter within. Rosa was a visionary, understanding and working to change the racial make up of the south. And she seems to have been a visionary in the kitchen, mixing kitchen staples affordable to most anyone in the south,creating a special breakfast treat. February is Black History month, and February 4 was Rosa Park’s birthday. A fitting tribute, and celebration of both.