Chef Bryson’s World Famous Hot Cakes

One of the few childhood memories I have of my granddaddy was his legendary pancakes on Sunday morning. He was the pancake man, my grandmother was the butter lady, and my cousin Jordan and I would fight over who got to be syrup boy when I would visit East Texas.

When I got to be about 10, I remember he let me help; a monumental accomplishment for a 10 year old. For what ever reason, I meticulously remember every detail about how he made these pancakes… Not necessarily the recipe, but all of the tricks on how to make the perfect pancakes.  Yet 20 years later, I hadn’t ever made them without him since.

At our missional community, we were doing breakfast for dinner and I volunteered to make the pancakes; partially because the ingredients are pretty cheap when making them from scratch, but also because I was secretly hoping to recruit my pastor’s 10 yr old son (Bryson) to help so that I could teach him the way my grandfather taught me. Although a little hesitant at first, he agreed to help, and by the end of it, he was foregoing both watching football and playing with the other kids so he could cook and help serve others. Pretty proud of this kid.

Chef Bryson’s World Famous Buttermilk Pancakes (from scratch!)

Recipe from

Time: 30 minutes-ish

Feeds: A small army (12 people or so, roughly 2 pancakes each)


3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons white sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups butter milk

1/2 cup milk

3 eggs

1/3 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry, powdered ingredients first, sifting the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together to prevent clumping (sifting optional).

In a second large bowl, add the wet ingredients (although let the butter cool for a moment before adding it to the mix).

Pre-heat your griddle (we used 300-350).

Slowly mix the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon*, breaking up any chunks while gently stirring.  As the batter thickens, do not over stir, but rather attempt a folding motion to finish mixing.  This will help keep the pancakes fluffy.

Flick a bit of water on to the surface of the griddle, and if it sizzles, it’s ready.

Scoop the batter on the griddle with the wooden spoon and gently break up any clumps that you may see in the batter as it spreads on the griddle.  Make good use of the griddle surface space, however do not over pack it, as it may get difficult to flip the pancakes if they are too close together.  Note that the batter will continue to spread out slightly after you put it on the griddle.

Watch for bubbles to form on the top of the pancakes (on the batter side).  This generally denotes that they are ready to flip!  Peek under the corner and flip if ready.  This is more of an art than a science being that different sizes of pancakes and their position on the griddle can impact how quickly they cook, so there’s a little bit of finesse involved.

When both sides have perfectly browned, serve to the salivating hordes of onlookers.

*When people asked my grandfather his secret to hot cakes, he would sarcastically tell them “Okay, are you ready?  Write this down, so you don’t forget.  First off, and this is important, I use a metal bowl.  Then, (are you writing this down?), I use a wooden spoon to mix it”.  Although logically these things make no difference, I still attempt to adhere to this when able.

One of the older gentlemen of our missional community was ease dropping on the pancake tutorial while making his egg casserole and commented, “I should be taking notes.  I don’t think I’ve heard most of those tips since boy scouts.”  Perhaps these pancake tips originated in the boyscouts, perhaps they are universal pancake truths, or perhaps my granddaddy pioneered pancake technology that has been passed down through word-of-mouth tradition.

Whatever the case may be, the end product is fluffy, picturesque, and delicious buttermilk hot cakes from scratch.  I wish I had more pictures of the finished product to share, however they moved too quickly.


Book Review: “Tribes” by Seth Godin

After reading “Trust Me, I’m Lying” and “Growth Hacker Marketing” by Ryan Holiday, I subscribed to his newsletter… which is primarily just his reading recommendations.

I’ve picked up quite a few of these books, among them, Seth Godin’s “Tribes”.    It’s a relatively quick read, roughly 150 pages, written in short segments (most likely entries lifted from his leadership blog).   I don’t think I’ve dog-eared and highlighted any non-academic book as much as I did with “Tribes”.  While reading this book, I’ve already purchased two separate copies for people I’m working on projects with and encouraged them to pass them on when they are done… and will likely send it to others.  I genuinely cannot say enough positive things about this book.

I will give fair warning: this is the kind of book that can get you in trouble.  It inspires you to step up and take the lead on whatever you are passionate about.  Challenging the status quo isn’t always favorable, however it seems that growth is almost always dependent on change.


A few of the (many) quotes that stood out to me are:


“The one path that never works is the most common one: doing nothing at all.  Nothing at all feels safe and it takes very little effort.  It involves a lot of rationalization and a bit of hiding as well… Leadership is a choice.  It’s a choice to not do nothing.”

I’ve been in positions before (even recently) where I identified a problem, but I also identified it as “not my problem”.  I’m too busy and it will work itself out if it’s supposed to… right?  I’m reminded of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.  He who accepts evil without protecting against it is really cooperating with it.”  Replace the word “evil” with “being uninspired”, “boring”, or any number of other verbs and it effectively works out the same.


“Almost all the growth that’s available to you exists when you aren’t like most people and when you work hard to appeal to folks who aren’t most people.” 

Stop trying desperately to appeal other people’s audiences.  It’s ingenuine.  Develop your own.  They’ll be more loyal, anyway.


“Leaders who set out to give are more productive than leaders who seek to get… The benefits to these leaders aren’t monetary or based on status… instead, they get their compensation from watching the tribe thrive.”

Leadership by service is a theme that has always rung true with me, although this isn’t the first place I’ve read about it.  There was that other guy who kind of wrote about it too… what was his name?  He was, like, pretty famous.  Oh yeah!  Jesus.


“Leadership comes when your hope and your optimism are matched with a concrete vision of the future and a way to get there.”

Seems like a pretty solid formula for leadership to me.  I’d add “and the willingness to do something about it.”  Although that’s added pretty frequently throughout the book, so I assume it just goes without saying in context.


“Find leaders (those who are doing things differently and making change), and then amplify their work, give them a platform, and help them find followers – and things get better.”

I’m pretty sure this whole idea is really a central theme in public relations.  Everything you read about “opinion leaders” or “power users” or “brand ambassadors”?  They’re basically all just fancy ways to mobilize the aforementioned idea.


This is a good book.  You should own this book.  I’d advise picking up this book.  And then reading this book.  And then re-reading it.  Perhaps annually.

You Do You, Boo Pt. 2 

I had a weird series of dreams last night. I can only image that recent conversations with my friend Eddie about his upcoming Europe has reawakened the part of my brain that misses the freedom of traveling.

In the dream, I was never really traveling, I just happened to be at a bunch of different places around the world. Right before I woke up from the dream, I was living on a large estate in Mexico and one of my friends from the UK was staying with me. I was on my way home from class (I’m stuck in school even in my dreams!) and decided to give him a phone call to see what he was up to. He didn’t answer.

I got back to the estate and he was casually mowing the lawn with a push mower while wearing a Manchester United jersey and said to me:
“Please don’t ever do that again. Don’t try to make your plans with me; we’ll both just feely awkwardly obligated to chit chat and ultimately be disappointed. Instead, perhaps say ‘Hey, I’m having going to have tea here’ and maybe I’ll join. Or maybe I won’t. But have tea because you want to have tea, and simply appreciate the company of another if it happens. You can better appreciate unforced moments that way.”

I’m not quite sure why I remembered this little diatribe so well, but it’s kind of stuck with me this morning.

You Do You, Boo

When I was in high school, the XBox had recently come out and everyone was obsessed with Halo. Some of my friends were phenomenal at the game, and on the occasions that I would play with them, I would frequently get pretty harshly dominated. This would be pretty frustrating, until I would go and play with someone else… and it turns out I was pretty decent.

Practice makes perfect, however surrounding yourself with people who are better than you certainly helps expedite the process. It can be humbling (and disheartening, at times), but setting aside ego and being willing to actively listen to criticism, absorb from observation, or evolve from competition can assist in more readily accomplishing one’s goals.

I’ve been very fortunate over the years to be able to surround myself with mentors who impart their unassuming wisdom upon me, often redirecting me to focus on what is genuinely important. Once, when discouraged by the inefficiently of others, the advice was thus:

“You have to run you. If your personal satisfaction is dependent on how others do things, you’ll always be frustrated. And it might sound selfish, but I much rather be excited than frustrated, so I focus on what I can do to always be improving in what I do, no matter how small it may seem to someone else.”

The idea is staggeringly simple, but really helps put things in perspective. When you’re feeling dispirited, undervalued, unmotivated, or underappreciated, you’re letting someone else dictate how you feel about yourself.

Inspire yourself. Impress yourself. Motivate yourself. Lead yourself. You might find that others follow.

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” – William Faulkner

New for 2016

I’ve seen a handful of these 365/52/12 going around this last year and figured I’d try something new for 2016 (and hopefully stick with it). The premise is simple: make daily, weekly, and/or monthly goals throughout the year to work towards something.
Here’s what I am initially thinking:

Daily (365) – Work out at least 15 minutes a day. It may not seem like much, but it’s a start! Between a desk job and school, I’m not nearly as active as I would like. I’ve dropped about 50 lbs since August through being mindful of my food, but I think getting in healthy routines will help me continue to drop and to keep it off.  (For day 1, I went to an arcade and played laser tag, Dance Dance Revolution, and basketball.   Gotta mix it up!)

Weekly (52) – As super lame as it may sound, I think I’m going to try to start a weekly blog (yes, the one that you are reading right now). Between writing term papers and advertising copy, I feel like I’ve somewhat lost “my voice” in my writing and perhaps creating something on the regular will help combat that. It may be a consortium of recipes, reactions to something learned in grad school, book reviews, comments on business articles, random stories I’ve always meant to write down and haven’t… who knows what else. More for me than anyone else, but it will be publicly available.

Monthly (12) – Text books and scholarly articles have dominated my reading for the last few years, but I want to do more recreational reading. Time is somewhat limited through the end of grad school (should graduate at the end of Summer), so the books I select will probably be quicker reads, at least initially. They may be books on leadership, fiction, history, business success, biographies, or whatever else I can get my hands on that looks good. I have a bookshelf of things I’ve been meaning to read, however suggestions are welcome!

Other Goals for 2016:

Chip away at some debt. It’s not a monumental amount, but it’s enough that it feels inhibiting and burdensome. Although student loans will continue to loom, if I can at least get out of credit card debt, I’ll be have less financial anxiety. Currently I’m paying for grad school classes as they come, so the budget can be a little tight, but if I allocate the extra income freelance work and the budget overages from months with 3 pay periods, it might be feasible. Also, I might leverage my tax return to buy a cash car and then sell mine back to the dealership. This would get me out from under another piece of debt and also free up a little money to apply towards credit cards.

Get down to 190 lbs. When my girlfriend and I first signed up for Slim4Life, I set my goal at 220. They insisted that I was selling myself short if I let myself stop there, but the idea of loosing 50 lbs just to get to 220 seemed impossible. Now that I’ve hit the 220 mark, I’m the fittest I’ve been in my adult life, however I want to get to 190… if nothing else, just to see what it would look like. Weight loss has slowed because I’ve started seeing results, so it’s harder to keep focused and not justify resuming some previous eating habits, but I need to buckle down and follow through.

Prepare my house to be ready for sale. This was a goal for last year that fell by the way side with everything else that happened. I probably wouldn’t be something I can fully accomplish in 2016 (particularly if I’m not dedicating large chunks of money to it), but I want to at least start fixing minor projects, purging storage, and creating an inventory of what needs to be done. I love my house and have been there for nearly a decade, however I also want to position myself to be available for change as opportunities present themselves.

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