Redbone Pancakes with Dad

This Apron Strings guest post was written by Randy Whittaker. Randy is G.M. of Ontario Natural Food Co-op (ONFC), one of Canada’s leading distributors of natural and organic foods.”

I often tell my friends and associates that there’s nothing like raising kids. It’s been a great highlight in my life and despite being grown up now, I love being with them and hanging out with them. Robin is 20 today…Happy Birthday young man!…and Sonya is 23. I remember when I was in my twenties, the possibilities were endless and the energy to pursue those possibilities seemed boundless.

We had many magical moments when the kids were in their early years and quite often it was around food. We loved to take the kids on walks in the surrounding area of Guelph where we live. One of our favourite hikes was on a trail that bypassed a dam that could be crossed by a simple footbridge. The water rushed from a large holding pond into the Eramosa River.

One chilly winter’s day, when we were all together by the bridge, I knelt down in the snow close to the rushing water’s edge and proclaimed to the kids in an excited voice; “Look! Baby turtles!“ Who could resist seeing little baby turtles despite the improbability of such an occurrence in the dead of winter.  My wife, Michele, the biologist, must have suspected something was up, but the kids scurried over to see as I clutched my hand around something that I had apparently pulled from the water’s edge. I slowly opened my hand to reveal  four chocolate “Turtles” that I had brought for the trip. I suppose that was both a disappointment and delight, but the kids were good sports and willingly took their treat.

I fondly remember our Saturday morning ritual when the kids were little: the pancake breakfast. Both kids were still in bed when good ol’ Dad was already up and about. I would turn to our favourite recipe* of Cheese Corn Pancakes from The Harrowsmith Cookbook (volume two).

Part of the preparation of the pancake breakfast tradition included the tunes of one of Canada’s fine crooners, Leon Redbone. I usually would turn up the nasal sounds of Redbone’s reclining rendition of ‘Lazy Bones’, as the kids woke from their night’s slumber.

“Lazy bones, sleepin’ in the shade, how you ‘spect to get your cornmeal made; you’ll never get your cornmeal made, sleepin’ in the evening shade”.

Sonya tells me that even now, almost twenty years later, when she hears that song she can smell pancakes cooking.

When the kids were a bit older they would help me make the pancakes from scratch while I told them stories about my own youth and the kind of meal patterns that we had in our household; pancake Mondays, spaghetti Tuesdays, casserole Wednesdays, etc. Looking back, it now seems so important to have had some patterns and traditions in our lives; it’s grounding in a way. For our family the Cheese Corn Pancake breakfast has served up lasting memories. That might just be a great Father’s Day breakfast.

Cheese Corn Pancakes (made all the better with organic ingredients)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 cups milk (or soymilk)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ¼ cup of oil
  • 2 cups corn
  • Small cubes cheddar cheese


  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl, combine milk, eggs, oil and corn. Pour liquid ingredients over flour mixture and combine with a few strokes – batter should be lumpy.
  • Pour ¼ cup of batter onto greased griddle.  While first side is cooking, top with 5 or 6 cheese cubes. Flip to cheese side and cook until golden brown.
  • Makes 8 to 10 pancakes.
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