By Kathryn McLean

February days can be like the idyllic winter scenes portrayed on calendars: lumpy snowmen on front yards, lightly falling snow out the window as you sit by a roaring fire, children sledding, families skiing, winter hikes and snowshoeing.

But it can also be terrible. Freezing rain, blowing winds, icy roads, dirty mounds of snow, slushy sidewalks.

With both Valentine’s Day and Family Day ahead this month, here’s a menu suggestion for a cozy morning indoors together with family.

Homemade pancakes are simple to make, without buying a mix. Kids can easily help, and depending on their age and comfort in the kitchen they can likely prepare most of this meal on their own.

All you need for a basic batch of pancakes are basic ingredients: flour, eggs and milk for the base, plus baking soda and baking powder to help them rise.

Add a pinch of salt, a spoon of sugar and a splash of vanilla to finish the batter before ladling your pancakes.

This recipe can be used to make waffles as well. Just scoop the mixed batter into your waffle iron and follow the machine’s guide to monitor the cooking time.

Serve these pancakes with whipped cream and maple syrup, a simple fruit salad and mugs of hot chocolate to fill out the menu.

A mix of fresh berries with a spoonful of apple or orange juice as a dressing makes a simple salad or topping for pancakes.

Most fruits can be cut into small pieces and combined to make a salad. Try any of these in winter: melon, pineapple, grapes, any type of berries, orange, mango and kiwi. Add banana, apple and pear just before serving, and add a couple splashes of apple, orange or tropical juice as a dressing.

Whether for breakfast or lunch (or dinner?!) on Valentine’s Day, Family Day or any ordinary day of the week, try this simple pancake menu.

This recipe makes a dozen 3-inch pancakes; double the recipe to make more. Extra batter can be stored in the fridge and used within 2 days, after stirring again.

Add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg for a slightly different taste.

Homemade Pancakes

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt

Combine the first six ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.

Add the flour and salt and mix again, stirring or beating well so there are no lumps of flour.Heat a large frying pan, griddle or electric frying pan to medium high. Add a light drizzle of vegetable oil or a teaspoon of butter and let it coat the pan.

Ladle ¼ cups of batter onto the pan. Let the pancakes cook until bubbles form and pop on the surface of each, then quickly flip them over. Cook each pancake another 1-2 minutes until cooked through, then remove to a pan in the closed oven to keep warm.