On Pancakes and More Food


Here’s something about me. I love to cook.

In case you do, too, I’ve decided to share some recipes of food I especially like to eat.

And maybe I’ll sneak in a recipe or two of food I mention in my books.


Many people make their pancakes from a pancake mix. I prefer to cook mine from scratch. It’s not much harder at all, and I always have the ingredients on hand. Here’s my favorite recipe.


2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
butter for cooking

Using a hand mixer (or whisk if you don’t have a hand mixer), beat the eggs until fluffy. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and beat all ingredients just until they become smooth. Let stand 5 minutes.

If the mixture seems thick, stir in a little more milk, one tablespoon at a time.

Turn stovetop onto a medium setting. Heat enough butter in frying pan or griddle to cover the bottom. Pour several tablespoons of the batter into the griddle. Fill with as many pancakes as will fit (know that the batter will spread a bit). When the pancakes have puffed up and begin to turn brown around the edge, flip them over and cook the other side. When they look done, remove them to a plate, butter pan once again, and repeat with remaining batter.

Eat the pancakes plain or with your topping of choice. I like maple syrup the best, but I know other people who prefer sugar or jelly. Experiment!

I’d tell you how many pancakes this makes, but I don’t know how big you plan to make them. Some people like giant-sized pancakes; some like silver-dollar sized pancakes; others like them in between. No matter what size, this should be enough to fill up 4-6 people. If you have any leftovers, freeze them in a plastic storage bag and have some another day!

“Moon” Cookies

If you read The Seventh Level, you know Travis loves his grandmother’s “moon” cookies. (They actually don’t have anything to do with the moon, but “moon” sounds like the Yiddish word for “poppy seeds”.) Travis’s grandmother, however, isn’t around to make them, and no matter what recipe his parents use to try and replicate them, the cookies don’t taste quite right. This comes directly from my life. I loved my grandmother’s poppy seed cookies, but never did find her exact recipe. The one below is from a great-aunt of mine, and they’re the closest I’ve come. Maybe the ones I remembered tasted better simply because I knew my grandmother made them.

P.S. These aren’t the easiest cookies to make, but if you follow directions and take your time, you can do it!


1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 TB water
1 TB orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup poppy seeds
2 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 – 4 1/2 cups flour
extra sugar for sprinkling

Using a mixer, cream together the oil, sugar, and eggs. Add the water, orange juice, vanilla, and poppy seeds. In a separate bowl, stir together the baking powder, salt, and flour; stir into oil mixture until well combined. Divide dough into two balls.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheets with Pam or other cookie spray.

Sprinkle some flour onto a large board or other flat surface. Place a disk of dough on it, flatten it evenly with your hands and sprinkle a little more flour on top of that. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter (traditional-shape) or other cookie cutter of your choice (you may need to dip that into flour as well), cut out cookies, and place on baking sheets. Leave one inch of space between each cookie. Gather up scraps of dough and repeat rolling-out process with that disk and the second disk until all dough has been cut.

Before baking, sprinkle cookies with extra sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown around the edges. Remove to wire racks to cool. Unlike most other cookies, these taste better once they have been fully cooled.


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