Secret Recipe: Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes

Breakfast on weekends is a feast for us. With the kids grown and gone, I only cook breakfast on weekends--or if the kids and families are home for a visit.

Something my family (and I also) love are the Buttermilk Pancakes I make. Everyone loves them.

As I mixed the batter today, I thought I'd share this old recipe with you. They're really easy to make. Trust me, it's not rocket science.

However, there are a few secrets to making perfect pancakes. I'll share those with you.

Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes

Ingredients for the Batter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I use sunflower oil but any light oil will work. No olive oil because it's too heavy.)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (yes, it must be buttermilk)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup self-rising flour (yes, it must be self-rising)
The Process

(1) Turn on your griddle to the desired temperature. (See secrets below.)

(2) Crack the egg into a very large measuring cup or mixing bowl. With a whisk, beat the egg until it is lemony in color. (This introduces air into the egg.)

(3) To the egg, add the sugar, oil, and buttermilk. Blend well.

(4) Add the baking soda. Make sure it's fine, not lumpy. I put the half teaspoon of baking soda into my palm and "pinch" it with my fingertips to make sure it's fine. Blend well.

(5) Immediately beat in the flour. When the batter is smooth, it's ready to pour. Do not set it aside. The buttermilk and baking soda (along with the baking powder that is in self-rising flour) create a chemical reaction in which carbon dioxide is produced and this "raises" the batter much as yeast does. If you set it aside for any length of time, the batter will lose this, and you won't have fluffy pancakes.

Now, you're ready to pour the batter, but, first, read these secrets.

Secrets to Perfect Pancakes
  • Griddle. Yes, for perfect pancakes, you need an electric griddle. This allows you to pour several pancakes at once. The electrically-heated griddle maintains constant even heat so that the pancakes cook evenly. Electric griddles come in several sizes and several price points. An inexpensive one that cooks about 6 pancakes that are 4 inches in diameter. These usually can be had for under $30.00.
  • Temperature. Usually 250-300 degrees is where you'll bake your pancakes. Griddles vary, but that temperature range yields good results. After using your griddle, you'll know the exact temperature that produces the best pancakes. You'll always pre-heat the griddle before pouring the batter in approximately 4 inch diameters. You can make tiny pancakes. I made what I called silver dollar pancakes when the kids were little. Sometimes I make big 6-8 inch diameter pancakes--what my grandfather called flapjacks--for my husband.
  • Turning the pancakes. Turning too soon is the most common mistake. When you pour the pancakes, watch as they cook. You'll see tiny bubbles forming. From the edge inwards, you'll see as the edges "dry" and bubbles "mature" or disappear. This is when the pancake is ready to turn. Flip them over. The side that cooked should be a beautiful golden brown.
  • The same amount of time is required to cook the second side. If you're cooking for a crowd, remove the pancakes from the griddle and place on a heated platter. Brush the top lightly with melted butter. Return the platter to the oven which is set at its lowest heat setting. When all pancakes are cooked, it's time to serve them.
  • Syrup. They're already buttered so the only thing you need is a good, pure maple syrup to make them perfect. Sure, you can eat them with fruit. In fact, they're delicious eaten alone. Heat the syrup before serving in a small pitcher next to the platter of pancakes. Be prepared for rave reviews.
If you have any questions, just post them in Comments. Please let me know if you make these pancakes and how they turned out.

Takeaway Truth

Enjoy these pancakes and have a wonderful Sunday!

5 Blogging Mistakes & How To Fix Them

Do you hate blogging because it's (1) hard, (2) an onerous chore, or (3) no visible results or feedback from readers?

Blogging should be fun for you and the reader. Maybe you're making these 5 blogging mistakes without realizing it. No problem. These mistakes can be easily fixed.

5 Blogging Mistakes and How to Fix Them

1. Posting blogs infrequently.

The Fix: Consistent blogging is what builds an audience. Your audience wants to know that you'll blog every day or every third day or once a week. Whatever you do, set a schedule, tell your audience, and honor that commitment.

2. Posting blogs that amount to "buy me" infomercials.

The Fix: Even if your blog is devoted to writing and/or reading, no one wants to read content that screams "buy my book." When you have a new release, it's okay to promote that. Just be careful not to overdo it. Make your content something informative, entertaining, or whatever suits your voice.

The best case scenario is to tie the entertaining and compelling content to your book if possible. For instance, if the setting of your book is a winery, then discuss your favorite wines. If you can't tie the post to the book you want to promote, just show the cover at the end of the post with a, "For Your Consideration" paragraph about the book with a buy link.

3. Posting blogs that do not meet your target audience's expectations.

The Fix: Who is your target audience? Are they people wanting to know how to write a book? Are they readers wanting to know about your books? Or about you as an author? Are they general web visitors who want to see who you are and what you're about? Identify your target audience and write content that appeals to them.

4. Posting blogs that are really long.

The Fix: It's a fact that most web visitors will not read extremely long posts. You lose them once they get way past the fold. The eye just sees this huge long article, and they decide they don't have the time to read that so they leave. Keep your content interesting, relevant, and succinct. Shorter is always better.

5. Posting blogs not formatted for internet reading.

The Fix: Some novice bloggers don't realize online content should be formatted differently from print articles. Content should be broken into easily-read sections with each section having a sub-heading. These smaller chunks make it easier to read online. The eye skims to the sub-heading--preferably in bold to stand out--and easily assimilates the content.

Takeaway Truth

If you've been making these 5 blogging mistakes, stop it, and fix the problem as detailed above.

11 Ways to Prepare for a Disaster

The Tax Day Houston Flood, as the deluge last week is being called, is ever present in most of us in this corner of Texas.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to post about how to prepare for a disaster. No, I'm not going to tell you to arm yourselves like you'll be fighting zombie hordes. There are many emergency preparedness things you can do. The ones that follow are the main ones that will get you through a short crisis.

Preparation Is Everything

When Mother Nature throws a hissy fit, you better have an emergency kit already in place that will help you get through the situation.

Many natural disasters also feature power outages that can continue days after the event causing the disaster is over. How do you entertain kids and spouses who are accustomed to whiling away the hours with electronic devices and digital entertainment?

How do you feed a hungry family when you have only an electric stove and microwave--and a rapidly-defrosting freezer and refrigerator?

How do you keep a sense of safety when all the lights are out and the security alarm is off?

Entertainment

1. You better have board games and decks of cards so you can introduce them to the old-fashioned way of having fun.

2. Stacks of books geared to their taste. After all, a Kindle will hold a charge only so long.

3. Get a couple of jigsaw puzzles the whole family can piece together and drawing paper, coloring books, activity books, crayons, and such for the younger kids. Heck, get some adult coloring books while you're at it.

Food and Water

1. Get in the habit of always keeping a couple of cases of bottled water for emergency use. A gallon of water for drinking per person is a rule of thumb. If your water supply is interrupted, you'll also need water for brushing teeth, cooking, and sanitation.

2. Get a camp stove. Even frozen dinners can be scooped out and heated in a pan on a camp stove. Water can be boiled for coffee.

3. Get an old fashioned coffee maker like a coffee press or my personal favorite, a drip coffee pot where boiling water is poured into the top compartment and it drips through the middle section filled with coffee grounds and comes out in the bottom section as coffee.

4. Keep a supply of canned goods in case the power is out a long time. Once after a hurricane, we didn't have power for almost 2 weeks. With that long a period of time, the stuff in the freezer will defrost and rot before you can use it all. That's why so many people have block party barbecues when there's no power.

Safety and Security

1. Have a flashlight in every room and check them every month to make sure the batteries are strong.

2. Keep a supply of batteries for those flashlights and anything else you might need that's battery operated. Store them in a cool, dry place. Lithium disposable batteries last the longest.

3. Kids who grow up in cities with the false security of alarm systems and well-lit nights may feel extremely anxious when the lights go out. Plan in advance how you'll make a game of it to get them intellectually invested rather than emotionally. One way might be to look at the stars and discuss the constellations. Or, if you grew up in a rural area, use this opportunity to tell them about your childhood.

4. Teach your children about the dangers of walking in flooded streets and what to watch out for in case they must. Talk to them about safe practices like not driving into flooded areas. Communication makes anything better.

Takeaway Truth

If you have a tip, post it in a reply.

3 Documentaries To Interest Writers

On the Home Front: Things are almost back to normal in Houston except every time it clouds up, everyone gets anxious. The most expansive flood waters that remain are in the reservoirs and rivers. 

There was an interesting article in the Houston Chronicle this past Sunday about the reasons for all these floods in areas that have never flooded before. It all has to do with developers and builders not building required rainwater retention ponds because of "grandfathering" and using legal loopholes.

Is it okay that these developers and builders do this just because they can? No!! While it may be legal, it is morally wrong and irresponsible.

But I digress. I came to tell you about 3 documentaries I saw on Netflix that are great research material for writers. You can find them on Amazon are other websites where you can stream videos.

American Experience: The Poisoner's Handbook

Fascinating documentary about the 2 men who developed the field of forensics. If you write historical mysteries, this is a must see. This was so interesting that I watched it twice.

Some stories this film are heartbreaking. In today's world, it's hard to believe that radium was once touted as a health tonic. People drank it to be healthy. So was it any wonder that young women who worked in a watch factory, painting the numbers on watch dials for glow-in-the-dark watches, would also paint their fingernails with it?

Meet the Patels: A Real Life Romantic Comedy

This is a wonderful film that should interest anyone who believes that love conquers all. "With his 30th birthday just around the corner, Ravi Patel finds himself in a love triangle with the woman of his dreams and his parents." Of course, Ravi's parents want--insist--that he marry a nice Indian girl. There's only one problem. I'll let you watch this affectionate portrait of a son who wants to please his parents. You'll figure out his problem as you watch the film. I loved this film because it affirms my belief that there really is someone for everyone even if that someone isn't what you wanted or expected. Great for those who write romance.

Unsung Heroes: The Story of America's Female Patriots

Everyone needs to see this, but it's particularly of interest to those interested in recent history as a background for novels. This portrait of the women who served the United States from Revolutionary War to present day should be seen by all. It will stir your imagination and your emotions. I found it of particular interest because my mom worked in a "shell" plant during WWII. The shell referred to the cannon shells the plant made for the war effort.

Takeaway Truth

Documentaries offer an easy way to learn information that may serve you as a writer or as a human being.

Flood in Houston: How We Spent Monday

Cypress Creek: usually a trickle of water.
As I said in a post I wrote for Gems in the Attic yesterday, I certainly prefer a nice April shower than a "world is coming to an end" rain like we had in Houston yesterday!

Monday, April 18, was an unhappy experience that began at 1am for us when the power went off.

Through the long night, we listened to rain and hail pound the roof--and wind so loud that I wondered if a tornado had passed overhead. I've heard that kind of sound before when I was a kid, and it's so distinctive that you never forget it. I did see some trees snapped off in the boulevard about a mile away so who knows?

Yesterday, we went out in our pickup just to drive and try to charge the cell phones. Crossed over Cypress Creek about 1.5 miles from home. Water just beneath the bottom of the bridge there. Up ahead barricades were in place going west on Cypresswood. We kept going straight, through the intersection and saw on the right a shopping center (designed in a low place with the stores built up so you climb about 3 feet of steps to reach store level) had water up to the stores.

On the left, a large vacant field looked like an ocean as far as you could see. People were kayaking there. We drove on in hopes of grabbing a Little Caesar's Hot and Ready Pizza. Unfortunately, everyone else who could get out and drive had the same idea. So we decided to go to Whataburger which was inundated with hungry people trying to charge devices and get a hot meal.

We passed the post office where throngs of really unhappy people were circling the post office in an effort to mail their tax returns.

We turned in at Kroger's where white car is
We kept driving and turned on Champion Forest Drive and headed south, thinking we'd just make a big square from where we started, go to Jason's Deli, and then back home. We were dismayed to see water in parts of the northbound side of the street.

We got as far as the Kroger's where Cypresswood crosses Champion Forest, which backs up to where we live. Across the intersection, Champion Forest Drive was under water.

So we turned left. That end of Cypresswood was also under water. We drove through the Kroger's parking lot as far as we could go, and came out on the end where the flood water was just starting to fill the northbound lane.

At this point, our cells had enough charge that we just came home because every bridge we had crossed had water level with the roadway. We spent the afternoon visiting with all the neighbors who were exchanging stories of what they'd seen while out and about. We were all stunned at the flooding.

We've lived in Houston more than 30 years. We've been through hurricanes, tropical storms, and spring thunderstorms. We've never seen anything like this.

Takeaway Truth

Since 2013, there's been a Houston flood every year. One can only conclude that the weather patterns have changed for the worse.

Funny Floater: Life Reflections 2016

My good friend Frank sent this Internet Floater to me. I asked him the source, and, of course, it was something he got from a friend, who got it from a friend, etc.

I really hate not to know the source so I can give credit where credit is due. So I tried to track down the source. I found it posted on several Facebook pages and blogs--all with no attribution.

If you know who wrote this, let me know so I can credit with a bio and web links.

Life Reflections, 2016

• My goal for 2016 was to lose just 10 pounds. Only 15 to go.

• Ate salad for dinner! Mostly croutons and tomatoes. Really just one big round crouton covered with tomato sauce. And cheese. Fine! It was a pizza.

• I learned how to prepare Tofu: (1) Throw it in the trash. (2) Grill some Meat.

• I just did a week's worth of cardio after walking into a spider web.

• I don't mean to brag but I finished my 14-day diet in 3 hours and 20 minutes.

• A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.

• Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

• I may not be that funny or athletic or good looking or smart or talented--where was I going with this?

• A thief broke into my house last night. He started searching for money so I woke up and searched with him.

• I think I'll just put an Out of Order sticker on my forehead and call it a day

Takeaway Truth

Life is easier to take when you laugh every day.

New Book Alert: Special Agent Kandice by Mimi Barbour

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mimi Barbour has done it again: a new book--Special Agent Kandice--in her Undercover FBI Romantic Suspense Series.

About Special Agent Kandice

Powerful, thrilling and character-driven, this romantic suspense is a real page-turner.

Special Agent indeed, Kandice Warner is everyone’s best friend. Talk about a Barbie doll! This female might have the same pretty-girl looks but even though she has a tender heart, she also has the resilience needed for a very successful FBI Hostage Negotiator. Feelings of inadequacy constantly force her to prove that she’s tough, and she demonstrates her courage when dealing with a murderous bank robber, a desperate jumper, being stalked, kidnapped and beaten. But her tender heart can get her in trouble and she needs to grow a thicker skin. Almost impossible when her obstinate new boss, for reasons of his own, interferes in everything she does.

Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division in Washington, Dan Black is as hard as they come. With the grit of a street youth stiffening his resolve, he’s worked his way up through the ranks, his personal space shields as strong as ever. Until he sees the sweetest things on two legs! A girl from his past. The one he’s never been able to forget. Working undercover in the Seattle bureau, he tries to protect his childhood fantasy but she refuses to stay put or take orders. Faced with a woman like that, what’s a mere man to do?


Enter the Giveaway on Goodreads.

Add Special Agent Kandice to Your Library from Amazon Kindle.

Takeaway Truth

Saturday is here. Why not select Special Agent Kandice for your weekend reading entertainment?