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A Recipe for Success: One convertible, 10 pairs of shoes, and a batch of whole wheat pancakes

If you live in a van long enough, you’re bound to find yourself in some interesting situations. This one was a first:

Adam and I rolled into Coyote Corner the morning of a rest day to fill up water and cook a leisurely breakfast in the parking lot. It’s common to see vans, Sprinters, and small RVs, so we didn’t think twice when we saw a bus sized motor home taking up half the parking lot. As Adam brought the water jugs over to the spigot, I opened up the kitchen and got to work measuring out pancake mix. As I heated up some oil and poured the first batch of pancakes into the sizzling pot, a man walked over.

“Hey! Are you the caterer?” he asked eyeing the pancakes keenly.

“Uh, no, not a caterer. Just cooking breakfast,” I replied.

He quickly apologized and walked away with an air of disappointment. That’s weird, I thought to myself. I flipped my pancakes and continued cooking, only to notice another man sitting in a chair outside the motor home next to an elaborate collection of at least ten different pairs of shoes lined up on a small carpet square. He must have caught a whiff of my potent pancakes, because before I knew it he had crossed the parking lot.

“Hiya, you must be the caterer for the photoshoot?” he probed.

Oh, a photoshoot, I thought… the shoes, the motor home, a caterer… it was beginning to make sense.

“Hi, uh, nope. Not a caterer actually.” I replied.

“Ah, that’s too bad. Those pancakes look real good!” he responded as he licked his lips.

He made small talk, asking where we were from and how long we would be in town. The man explained that he was actually from Los Angeles and would be headed back there this afternoon, as it was the last day of the photoshoot he was directing. After a couple minutes a fancy white 60’s/70’s convertible (don’t expect me to know what kind… I’m a rock climber, not a car enthusiast) pulled in the lot and the man said goodbye. He directed the car into position and called a beautiful women from the motor home to take her seat behind the wheel while the photographer began snapping picture after picture. I’m not sure if the actual caterer ever showed up, as I never saw anyone eating, but I do know that the next time someone asks me if I’m a caterer, my answer will be, “Why yes, $5 for a plate of pancakes!”.

While our usual breakfast consists of foods that don’t require cooking, as it’s a faster start to the day, once in a while we indulge in the elaborate creation of a pancake or twenty. I will warn you, however, when it comes to stove fuel, cooking pancakes is about as inefficient as it gets. I also find that because I do not have measuring cups, extra bowls, and a need for left over flour while living in the van, it is much easier to make pancakes from a mix rather than from scratch. I use Wheat Montana’s Whole Grain Pancake Mix because it uses wholesome ingredients like whole wheat flour and flaxseed, and does not contain any unnecessary preservatives or additives.

Whole Wheat Flaxseed Pancakes

For 14-16 pancakes:

IMG_3183-02 cups whole grain pancake mix

2 cups milk (*In the van I use dry milk because it has a long shelf life, is easier to keep fresh, and doesn’t take up the limited space available in our fridge.)

2 eggs (*Eggs are difficult to store in the van because they are both fragile and should be refrigerated. Instead of eggs, I use flaxseed meal as an egg substitute. See recipe below.)

4 tbsp oil


Blend together pancake mix, milk, eggs, and oil. Pour batter onto a lightly oiled hot pan/pot/surface, and cook on each side 1-2 minutes. I find smaller pancakes are easier to flip when dealing with less than ideal pancakes utensils (i.e. sporks and knives instead of a spatula).

Flaxseed Meal Egg Substitute

1 tbsp flaxseed meal

3 tbsp water


Add water to flaxseed meal, stir well, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes (will thicken as the flaxseed meal absorbs the water).


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