Last Call for Lone Star Writing Competition

The deadline is June 5, less than a week away for the Lone Star Writing Competition, one of the most prestigious contests available to authors -- unpublished and published.

Last year's Lone Star Writing Competition resulted in 32 requests from editors and/or agents for manuscripts.

That is amazing, and it happens because agents and editors are final judges.

So even if you don't win the category you enter, you may get a request from a publishing professional for your full manuscript.

That's what makes Lone Star Writing Competition one of the best contests available to unpublished and published authors.


  • Sponsor Northwest Houston RWA # 27
  • Fee $25.00
  • Deadline: June 5, 2016 at midnight CDT
  • Eligibility: Published and Unpublished
  • Entry: 1st 5,000 words of manuscript. Electronic entries only
  • Giving away two $50.00 Amazon gift cards
  • 1st drawing from the entries that did not make the finals
  • 2nd drawing from the entries who made finals
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Historical/Regency Romance
  • Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance
  • Inspirational Romance
  • Romantic Suspense/Intrigue
  • Young Adult-New Adult
  • Single Title
  • Novella length is allowed in all categories except Single Title.
For More Information

Visit Northwest Houston Chapter #27 of Romance Writers of America or email Ruth Kenjura: nwh.lonestarcontest at

Takeaway Truth

Be brave. Enter your manuscript today. Someone will win, and it just may be you.

Freedom Is Not Free

Freedom Is Not Free

Thank you to the men and women who serve and who have served our country.

You and your families sacrifice much, and too often you in the military sacrifice everything to pay the price for freedom.

First Responders

First responders also serve. These men and women who comprise police, fire departments, and ambulance crews also serve--often placing themselves in danger in order to protect and save those at risk. Thank you. Your service is greatly appreciated.

Takeaway Truth

Others serve and sometimes give their very lives for us. Remember to thank them on Memorial Day.

Know Why Patience Is A Virtue?

It's easy to understand why patience is a virtue. It's because, like virtue, very few people possess it.

I always said that having children taught me patience. You either develop patience or you explode.

It's been a rough year for our youngest daughter.
She and we are patiently waiting for her to overcome her health challenges.

All I can say is if good things come to those who wait, whatever is coming her way--our way--better be the most awesome, fabulously good thing that ever happened to anyone in the history of the world!

Takeaway Truth

Patience isn't the ability to wait, but the ability to maintain a good attitude while waiting. Lord, help me there.

Chocolate Cake in a Cup

Recipe-Share Saturday: Chocolate Cake in a Cup

I love chocolate cake, but I rarely have time to make a beautiful layer cake. So when I want to satisfy my craving for cake, I make my 5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Cup.

I was mixing it up and thought I'd share it with readers again. I posted the recipe on the blog a while back, but some of you may not have seen it.

This cute and delicious chocolate cake can go from thinking about cake to actually eating cake in 5 minutes. Does it make your mouth water just thinking about that gooey warm chocolate?

5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Cup

You’ll need microwave-safe mugs or cups or small Pyrex baking dishes. You can make this recipe in 2 or 4 cups depending on how large a cake you want. I actually use 4 cups and serve them on their matching saucers. Cute little small cakes to serve. To make it extra special, just add a dollop of me whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top of the cakes for a really yummy dessert.

  • 4 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 4 tablespoons any kind of sugar (white, raw, brown)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil (canola, safflower, sunflower, or generic vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Into a small mixing bowl, place flour, sugar, and cocoa. Mix together. Add the egg and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Place mugs in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts power. The cakes will rise beautifully. Remove from microwave and allow to cool a little. You can tip it out onto a plate or serve the cup with its saucer and a spoon.

If you want to get fancy, you can mix up a batch of chocolate frosting. Here's my recipe for that. It makes a bunch, but you can actually divide it up into small freeze bags and defrost a bit when you need it.

Best Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter and stir in cocoa. Add powdered sugar alternating with the milk. Beat on medium speed until mixture is spreading consistency. Add more milk, teaspoon by teaspoon, until consistency is perfect. Beat vanilla in last. Makes about 2 cups of the most delicious frosting.

Takeaway Truth

Let me know if you try this delicious, fast and easy way to get a chocolate fix.

True Facts Vs. Emotional Truth

Readers, do you know the first advice aspiring writers are given? Write what you know.

That's the most basic rule a writer is given because it's supposed to inject authenticity into a story.

Write what you know applies whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, whether it’s a book or an article or a blog post.

Some may think "write what you know" applies only to nonfiction because fiction writers just "make it up." Right?

2 Kinds of Truth

Wrong. In fiction, writing what you know means showing 2 kinds of truth: (1) getting facts correct in your information plot and (2) presenting the underlying universal truth that is as real for an American as it is for an Italian or a Japanese.

Universal truth is the honesty and recognizable truth that makes fiction come to life. It’s what will make an editor offer you a book publishing contract or a reader buy every book or ebook you write.

One might even say that writing what you know – the emotions you feel when hurt, scared, angry, or happy – is even more important in fiction because without that truth, your fiction will never succeed because readers won’t emotionally invest in the story.

Facts: Research For Credibility

If you’ve read some of my writing how-to articles or taken a class or seen me giving a presentation at a conference, you’ve probably heard me say it this way: Write what you know or want to know.

For the most part, researching and writing about a subject is a form of self-education. I truly think if writers are interested enough in a subject to do the necessary research AND if they have the ability to articulately express ideas then they can write on a variety of subjects without necessarily being an expert.

Writers should never be intimidated because they’re not experts in whatever subject they wish to use as background or as an information plot. As long as the subject interests a writer, then research deeply and learn. Writers owe that to readers.


When I wrote The Trouble With Love, I knew nothing about how a small county Sheriff’s department would work. How many deputies would there be? What jobs would the deputies do? How autocratic could small town mayors be? I only knew that my heroine would be a small county deputy who always followed the rules.

So I read some books written about small town law enforcement departments. I talked to my nephew who was a Sheriff’s Deputy. I looked up crime stats and also read about politics in rural areas and small towns. In other words, before I wrote a word of The Trouble With Love, Book 1 of Texas One Night Stands, I did my research to see if my heroine and my premise were credible.

Emotional or Universal Truth

The other kind of truth is the underlying emotional truth. This universal, or emotional, truth is recognizable all over the world. As I said before, this truth is as real for me as it is for a woman in the Middle East or Asia. This is what will make readers the world over want to read your work. This is the element that breathes life into fiction.

In The Trouble With Love, the heroine Susannah is damaged emotionally because her father walked out on her and her mother when she was a child. She felt that rejection in her soul, and it formed her opinion about men. Yet, as an adult, she keeps trying to make a connection with her father, a man who remains emotionally inaccessible to her.

Who hasn’t felt the sting of rejection? Who hasn’t felt bereft by the loss of love for one reason or another? That’s a universal truth. You might be able to fake expert knowledge some of the time, but you can’t ever fake emotional truth and get away with it.

The ebook edition of The Trouble With Love is available at: Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords and the audio edition can be found at Audible.


What emotion resonates with you? Leave a comment with your email to be entered to win an audio edition of The Trouble With Love

(1) Winner selected by random draw.
(2) Audible coupon good for any country.
(3) Giveaway closes midnight June 5, 2016.

Takeaway Truth

Emotional truth is something we all know. Yes, it’s hard to tap into some emotions, but the rewards are tremendous for readers.

Readers, sign up for my Mailing List/Free NL and connect Online with me: Blog * Website * Facebook * Google+ * Pinterest * Twitter * YouTube

(Note: This post was previously published, in part, at The Authors of Main Street.)

Cleaning A Smelly Book

Do you still shop for print books? I do. I like to find bargain books, but sometimes, these bargains can smell a bit funky.

I love shopping at used book stores because I always find some great bargains. I primarily look for reference books now since most of my novel reading is done on my Kindle.

One of my favorite bargain book shops has a motley assortment from old category paperbacks of every genre to current bestsellers and hardbacks along with thousands of esoteric nonfiction along with pop culture nonfiction books.

Downside of Bargain Books

Unfortunately, bargain books can sometimes be, well, smelly. If they smell like stale cigarette smoke, I pass them by. Nothing gets that smell out of a book. However, if the book has the common stale musty odor, I know the trick to eradicating that nasty smell. It’s simple and economical too.

How To Remove The Smell From Books

1. Use baking soda or cornstarch.
2. Sprinkle either cornstarch or baking soda on the pages of the book.
3. Place the book in a Ziplok bag and seal it.
4. Leave it sealed up in the plastic bag for a week.
5. Remove it from the bag, shake the powder out, and the book should smell normal.

One Warning

Do NOT use baking soda on antique books because it might harm old paper. Also, do NOT use this treatment on damp books. They must be completely dry.

Takeaway Truth

A bargain book is only a bargain if it pleases all the senses. Happy bargain book hunting!

Readers, sign up for my Mailing List/Free NL and connect Online with me: Blog * Website * Facebook * Google+ * Pinterest * Twitter * YouTube

Sassy Women: Wise and Witty

Funny, sexy, cougar-licious romance!
Smart women sass and utter statements that are often as amusing as they are profound.

I write romantic comedy and feature a lot of smart-mouth dialogue. Readers often tell me that they laugh out loud at some of the conversations between characters—especially my women characters because they have smart, sassy mouths.

Dialogue Rules

I like writing dialogue, and I work hard to make it humorous. Sometimes it’s witty; sometimes it’s snarky. Sometimes it’s downright funny, and I find myself laughing like a loon as I type away.

My husband just shakes his head if he happens to be passing my office door at that moment.

A lot of the dialogue in my books is stuff I’d love to say, but never do. I was full of sass when I was a child, and my mother scolded me constantly until I learned to put a filter between my mouth and my brain.

Now I smart-off in writing which is more socially acceptable I suppose—and more profitable.

Smart Women Sass

I suppose it’s understandable that I like to collect witty quotations that are amusing. I often write a Sunday “Written Wisdom” post on SlingWords using a quotation as inspiration. More often than not, the quotation I select was uttered by some smart—or smartass—woman.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite such quotations with you today. (I used some of these to preface each chapter in my older woman-young man romantic comedy Old Enough To Know Better. Available at Amazon and other ebook sellers. Also in audio at Audible.)

Favorite Sassy Quotes

Perhaps you’ll find some of these inspire you or motivate you to succeed. Or maybe they’ll just put a smile on your face. Here are a baker’s dozen of some favorite sassy words from smart women.

“If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them.” Sue Grafton

“I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb … and I also know that I’m not blonde.” Dolly Parton

“You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.” Erica Jong

“I think I alternate between optimism and anxiety. I realize that should either of these get out of hand I would probably need a clever doctor.” Elizabeth Jolley

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself.” Katherine Mansfield

“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.” Jane Austen

“I think; therefore, I’m single.” Lizz Winstead

“When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.” Elayne Boosler

“Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.” Maryon Pearson

“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” Lucille Ball

“I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.” Zsa Zsa Gabor

“Love is like the measles. The older you get, the worse the attack.” Mary Roberts Rinehart in The Man in Lower Ten.

Last, but not least, a wooden sign hanging on a hook by my desk: “Put your big girl panties on and deal with it!”

That’s right, face your challenges head on and deal with them rather than procrastinate, run, or hide (which I admit I sometimes prefer!).

Takeaway Truth

Wishing you a very good day filled with lots of laughter—and sass!

Note: This post previously appeared on The Author's Billboard.

Backyard Gardening: Natural Pest Control

This year I vowed to get tomatoes and herbs planted--something I've missed doing for the last 3 years.

Gardening Predicament

I have no backyard to speak of since I live in a townhouse. I had my gardener plant a row of knock out roses against the brick wall when we moved in 3 years ago.

Wood decking covers the area from the house to the roses. All that is left is a small patch of yard at the far end next to the gate. So I decided to try container gardening. The results have been pleasing.

How My Garden Grows

I bought some giant pots. In one I have 3 tomato plants with cages over them to support the growing plants. So far, I've got 16 tomatoes that are getting larger every day with many blooms on all 3 plants.

In others, I planted yellow squash, leaf lettuce, and herbs--rosemary, basil, cilantro, and others. I've got many more herbs I want to plant, mostly for insect control--especially mosquito control. I'll list them below.

Another huge pot holds my free plants. Free plants are what you get when you buy beautiful blooming plants for indoors and then plant them outside when the blooms fade. I've got Easter Lilies from last year that produced 4 new plants this year with huge blooms on all four plants. Gorgeous!

This year's Easter Lily and a pot of daffodils have also been potted up.

I mix things together--chrysanthemums growing with the lilies, herbs growing with the tomatoes, etc. Companion planting is a good way to natural pest control.

Ever since I can remember, I've bought a pot of chrysanthemums at least once a month for my coffee table. When the blooms fade, I plant them in the yard. This habit has resulted in a beautiful bed of multi-color mums at my house in the country.

Natural Pest Control

A rule of thumb is if a plant has a pungent aroma--as lantana does--it's usually good for some kind of insect control. The aroma comes from the oils in the plant. Most herbs are great as natural pest control plants. Here are a few that I currently grow or plan to add to my garden over the next few months.

The oils in basil repels thrips, flies and mosquitoes. I've got some with my tomatoes.

From what I've read, catnip repels just about everything except for cats. They love their catnip. Repels aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, weevils, and mosquitoes.

Love my mums!  The natural insecticide pyrethrum is made from chrysanthemums. Mums control roaches, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and ants.

You know those citronella candles you can buy for mosquito control? This plant is the source. My local Home Depot has several pots of this which is great at mosquito control.

In the South, garlic has always been planted in rose beds because it repels aphids, some moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, and snails. Plus, you can use it in your cooking.

I adore lantana which is excellent at mosquito control. I have 3 different varieties growing at our country house and a pot of lantana by my back door at our townhouse. Lantana blooms constantly until winter. It's drought tolerant and does well with just a little water. Water a lot, and it will take over the earth! The berries produced in the winter may be toxic to people. All parts may be toxic to animals so don't let your dog chew on it.

Lemon Balm
This herb repels mosquitoes, but I haven't found it in my local nursery. If you're interested in this, just do an online search for mail order herbs with the zip code of your local area.

Lemon Thyme
This herb, a variety of thyme, also repels mosquitoes. I've grown this in the past.

Lime Basil
This variety of basil also repels mosquitoes.

This is another flower that I really like. I've grown just about every variety. It may be the best know for repelling insects like whiteflies and nematodes in the soil. Only the scented variety work to repel insects. Although it drives away many "bad" insects, it dies attract spider mites and snails.

My grandmother grew nasturtiums in her garden. They're great planted with tomatoes and cucumbers to repel wooly aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow varieties, trap aphids.

Simply a beautiful display in the garden and in pots. They also repel leafhoppers, many different aphids, tomato worms, and other pests.

Takeaway Truth

Gardening is relaxing and rewarding in so many ways. Try it. You might like it.

Holy Menudo, Batman!

Here in Texas, we all speak a smattering of Spanish.

There's a sign in town that I drive by quite often. The first time I noticed it from the corner of my eye as I sped by, I read: "Holy menudo."

I knew that menudo was a Mexican stew made with tripe, a cow's stomach lining.

The phrase tickled my funny bone. I thought it was a great-sounding epithet so I started saying, "Holy menudo!"

I figured that was less obnoxious than something else I could say.

Then, one day I was driving slower, and I noticed that the sign did not say, "Holy menudo."

It actually reads, "Hoy menudo," which is Spanish for, "Today, menudo."

Takeaway Truth

I still say, "Holy menudo." Sometimes I add, "Batman."

Still Time to Enter Lone Star Writing Competition

The deadline is less than a month away for the Lone Star Writing Competition, one of the most prestigious contests available to authors -- unpublished and published.

Last year's Lone Star Writing Competition resulted in 32 requests from editors and/or agents for manuscripts.

That's right. Final judges or agents and editors. So even if you don't win the category you enter, you may get a request from a publishing professional for your full manuscript. Now that's a great writing contest.

  • Sponsor Northwest Houston RWA # 27
  • Fee $25.00
  • Deadline: June 5, 2016 at midnight CDT
  • Eligibility: Published and Unpublished
  • Entry: 1st 5,000 words of manuscript. Electronic entries only
  • Giving away two $50.00 Amazon gift cards
  • 1st drawing from the entries that did not make the finals
  • 2nd drawing from the entries who made finals
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Historical/Regency Romance
  • Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance
  • Inspirational Romance
  • Romantic Suspense/Intrigue
  • Young Adult-New Adult
  • Single Title
  • Novella length is allowed in all categories except Single Title.
For More Information

Visit Northwest Houston Chapter #27 of Romance Writers of America or email Ruth Kenjura: nwh.lonestarcontest at

Takeaway Truth

Be brave. Enter your manuscript today. Someone will win, and it just may be you.

5 EZ Ways to Improve Your Blog

In polls and studies about likes and dislikes,  Internet users list the things they hate most about websites and blogs.

These 5 things can usually be found on these lists.

1. Remove music. This seemed to be one of the biggest pet peeves. I don't see it much any more, but some websites still have it.

2. Dark backgrounds with light colored text. These still proliferate, and they're so hard on the eyes. When I spend all day at the computer, it really hurts my eyes to read light text on dark backgrounds. Apparently, I'm not alone in feeling this way since this is one of the most frequent complaints from web users.

3. Websites that are huge blocks of text--side to side and really long. Who reads that? Not me. My eyes just glaze over when I see that, and I'm motivated to read! Instead, I skim looking for salient points.

4. Non-standard fonts. These may look cute or elegant or whatever when you look at them in a sample, but they are not pleasing when used for paragraphs. Many of them are just hard to read. Even an italic font takes 30% longer to read than a normal font face. Change your font to an Internet standard.

5. Posts that are big blocks of text not formatted for Internet reading. The eye scans vertically when reading from the Internet. Big blocks of text get skimmed, not read. First use at least 1 image to illustrate the subject matter of your text. Then format with sub-headings so the eye quickly grasps what's in each passage.

Takeaway Truth

If you have these elements on your blog, you might want to rethink them.

Laptop Is Dead. Longlive the New Laptop

My laptop died Tuesday night. It was old and couldn't keep up with all the humongous memory-hogging software so it gave up and gave me the blue screen of death.

Wednesday I went to Fry's and bought a Lenovo laptop. I hope it will be as great as my Lenovo Desktop that I rarely use anymore since I'm away from home more than at home with my BICHOK.

I turned it on a bit ago. Now it's doing upgrades. I will try to get it set up Thursday morning.

Takeaway Truth

Technology has mastered the skill of planned obsolescence where you want it or not.

Rocky Road Gets Longer

Recovery finally happening--I hope.
As I started this post, I told my daughter I was going to entitle it Rocky Roads and Dumbasses.

I see Dumbasses. They're everywhere, and they don't even know they're dumbasses.

Yeah, they're all over the freeways in the morning rush hour. By evening rush hour, they seem to have grown even dumber. But I'll leave that bitching complaint for another day.

What's Happening Here

I had hoped to be back to full-time writing, but the rocky road I've been traveling got rockier. My daughter had to have a second back surgery only 6 weeks after the first.

Bless her heart, her recovery clock was reset so this is the second "second week after surgery." She's alternately angry, depressed, resigned, and just about full-time bored.

How We Spend the Days

My stint as caregiver/companion/shoulder to cry on/cheerleader etc. continues. I'm there to keep her from doing something like bending from the waist for anything. I spend Monday through Friday each day with her until her darling hubby comes home from the office.

My time is so fractured that I haven't had the focus to work on the novel I was writing or on plotting the Christmas Novella I'll be writing next.

Adina and I have had some good times watching Netflix and Amazon Prime as well as DVDs of our favorite movies. I usually work on social media or plot notes during this.

We've talked books, movies, family, crafts, and anything else that takes her mind off her slow recovery.

Talent Runs in the Family

I've watched Adina knit, crochet, design purses, and sew. She's an artist who is talented in anything artistic. I think she got that from both grandmothers. Her paternal grandmother was an artist who worked in oils. Her maternal grandmother was a superb artist in fiber arts.

On the left is a photo of the small bags she has made. (Oops. The photo is upside down I just realized.) I think they're really pretty. They can be for travel toiletries (even for men), purse cosmetic bags, pencil cases, etc. They're 7.5" by 9.5" and have zipper openings. They're made of vintage silk neckties. She sells them, but she hasn't put them on her shop site yet since she can't sit at the computer.

Today, we decided to put together a crock pot cookbook since we've used those handy appliances so much. I try to set up dinner in the crock each morning so dinner will be kicked when I get home in the evening. Then I set up the same at my daughter's house so she and her hubby will have a dinner also.

Takeaway Truth

Recovery is tough. I regret the things falling through the cracks of my writing life, but I'm looking at this as a chance to spend quality time with my daughter which is a joy in itself.

Thursday3Some: 3 Posts Authors Should Read

I'm reading many of the posts I've saved to Pocket. If you're a writer, be sure and read these 3 posts.

Author Despair: What to Do When You Feel All is Lost by Kristen Lamb

Honest to God unvarnished truth! I'll fess up that I often say, "I'm tired" when what I really mean is, "I'm despairing. I'm stuck. I'm...everything Kristen says." For the last year, my refrain of "I'm tired" has more to do with the medical crises our loved ones have been going through, but the "I'm tired" works there too when someone asks how I'm coping.

Kristen Lamb has a companion post to the one above: Writing Career Stuck? How to Get Your Mojo Back. Read it, and you'll realize you're not alone. It really is tough out there. Answer some hard questions, and you might have an idea of what to do to improve your situation.

For you who are interested in marketing, this post is nearly 18 months old, but Free Ebook Promotion Sites still warrants a look. Just click any links that are new to you to see if they're still offering free ebook promotion.

Takeaway Truth

If you have any good articles to share, just post the link in Comments.

One Novel Beginning To Avoid

I often judge writing contests for unpublished writers. Many times, especially when it's a Romance Writers of America contest, the writing is so good that I'm in awe. I've got to admit that RWA leads the pack in teaching the narrative techniques.

Unfortunately, there are the other contest entries where the writers haven't quite made the leap to writing publishable fiction. You can see that in the novel beginning.

Here's a tip, based on what I see in many contest entries, on one thing to avoid in your novel beginning.

Novel Beginning To Avoid

Opening with a dream sequence where all the action is in the character's head.

Novices think that opening with a highly dramatic scene in which the dreaming character faces her own specific horror, fraught with emotion and action, draws the reader in.

No. That's usually not the case. Here's why.

Upon opening a book, the reader does not know the character so the character's suffering does not move the reader. In fact, it can be a rather ho-hum experience for the reader who will more than likely skip ahead to find out where the real story begins. That's right, the real story--not a dream sequence which is just mood setting.

More About Why

As a writer, you must realize what you are striving for immediately is reader identification. You want the reader to say: "yeah, I understand that guy/girl. I like him/her. I'll follow the story for 400 pages to see what happens along the way."

The reader must "bond" with the character and care about the character. This is done by seeing how the character acts and reacts, by seeing the character's goals and efforts to achieve them, by getting acquainted with the character. You can't get acquainted with a dreaming character.

Save that nightmare or dream scene that explains the character's deepest motivation for later in the book--after the reader is already acquainted with the character and is willing to follow on the character's goal quest.

Takeaway Truth

Your number one priority in writing is to make the reader identity and like--or at least be intensely interested in--the main character.

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!