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When I was about 6 years old, I was enthralled by a book titled, “Danny and the Pancakes.” You see, young Danny was a major fan of pancakes and was itching to get into the kitchen and make 100 pancakes that he intended to eat all by himself.  Left alone one day, he decided he would do just that.

Danny ate and ate and ate the pancakes! He ate as many as he could until he could eat no more,  but then neighbors and friends and everyone around joined in. I was captivated by this book because it involved food, cooking, and portrayed a really nice communal experience. As a bonus, at the end of the book, the author provided a recipe for pancakes. I was in love.

This story comes to mind because my latest cookbook find (as an adult) features over 75 pancake recipes and boasts the charming title, “Pancakes Make People Happy.” This is a very true statement.


Especially when the recipes include the likes of Pistachio Pancakes with Pistachio Chevre, Cornmeal Cakes with Green Tomato Chutney or Indian Chai Spice Pancakes with Black Tea Poached Pear.

These recipes are formulated by pancake expert Sharon Collins, her daughter Charlotte Collins and their friend and neighbor Courtney Wade. Substitute ingredients are provided for those who are gluten-free, vegan or seeking more healthful alternatives.

The photographs in this cheerful book are gorgeous and I dare you to not want to rush to your kitchen and start heating up the griddle.

At a time when the world is uncertain, returning to the foods that provide warm memories of a simpler time is of great comfort.

Sharon Collins, proprietor of Buck Hill Farm in the Catskills, where you can purchase maple syrup, the bounty of their farm, is one of my guests on this Sunday’s Bagels and Broadway radio show and podcast.

Hear about the back story of this book, and why pancakes really do make people happy. The show airs on Sunday from 2-3 PM and is available on podcast after the broadcast. Listen in.


  • Five-time Billboard Award-winning media personality Valerie Smaldone is a theatre, food, lifestyle and entertainment enthusiast. She is a celebrity interviewer, accomplished voice-over artist and actress. Recent appearances on episodic tv include Law and Order, Criminal Intent, The Other Two (on HBO Max), Tommy, Manifest and Blue Bloods. She is an audiobook narrator and producer. A live event emcee, moderator, and "Voice of God" at events and award ceremonies, Valerie has joined The Story Plant Entertainment Company and is currently working on a film and Broadway play. Visit her website at

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