Waffles. I don’t make them often enough and I’m not sure why. Oh, wait: I am sure why. Because they always seem like kind of a slow, slumbery, Sunday thing to make and I rarely have those kind of mornings–even on Sundays. But I found a recipe I’ve fallen pretty hard for. It’s an old-fashioned waffle recipe and you make the yeasted batter in advance, put it in the fridge for 12-24 hours, and it’s ready to go in the morning. I’ve actually kept the batter in my fridge for a few days and just pull it out, put a scoop on the waffle iron, and have a warm waffle to take in the car on the way to work. Beats a granola bar or banana any day.
Or, I actually sit down and have a waffle. With warm, homemade pomegranate syrup. I’ve been trying to actually pull up a chair and have a seat at the table more often rather than just eating at my desk or standing up while chatting on the phone. This is something that, for some reason, I find hard to do by myself. It’s kind of weird sitting at the table alone–kind of quiet and ho-hum. I find myself eating quicker than I’d like to so I can get back to whatever I was previously doing. But I just finished this really beautiful memoir entitled Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee. It’s a book that deals with the importance of place and home and the search for both. Kim was adopted from Korea and spends her young adult life cooking and enjoying the finer side of life with Olivier, a lovely French man. She eventually realizes that in becoming immersed in the wealthy countryside that’s so pleasant yet so staid, she’s completely lost her sense of self. She doesn’t know where home is. She doesn’t know where she belongs. I don’t want to ruin the ending for you because I’d love for you to read it, but here’s a quote that resonated with me:
“All the times I’ve changed cities and countries, I’ve left a trail of things behind—clothes and worn shoes, crumbled maps with highlighted borders to tell me concretely where I am. I keep books and music, postcards. Over the years, I’ve also kept tasting notes, menus, jotted-down recipes, clues as as to what I crave that may help me know who I am, better understand how food has the power to ground and comfort in times of disarray” (61).
While Kim was talking about how food comforts in times of confusion and uncertainty, it also grounds us in times of relative stability–it lends us that. Routine, order, ritual. Even meditation perhaps. And that, my friends, is reason enough to pull up a seat at the table and take a moment to eat in peace and quiet and to give thanks. Give thanks for all of the above and give thanks for easy warm waffles with tart berries and sweet, fragrant syrup. Oh, and hot coffee helps. Pretty plates are nice, too. And I’ve been loving the Wailin Jennies in the mornings. Have you heard them? They’re good morning waffle music. And finally, the darn recipe.
If you’ve never had yeasted waffles, they’re lighter and fluffier than any waffles you’ve ever tasted. And not nearly as sweet. I’m not a scientist so I can’t tell you why, but they hold syrup better than other waffles and don’t get nearly as soggy. They make your kitchen smell like warm baking bread. They’ll make you happy. The lovely folks at POM Wonderful sent me some samples of their pomegranate juice a few weeks ago. I drank most of them straight (o.k., I mixed a few with vodka, too), but I thought I’d try cooking with them as well. So I made a simple syrup by adding sugar to the juice and cooking it down on the stove. It’s awesome. I have a little jar of it in the fridge and continually find good excuses to use it on other things (it’s great on ice cream). So there you have it. Enjoy. Many happy mornings to you (and check out that book!)
Please note that the waffle batter chills in the refrigerator overnight (not accounted for in the timing above), so plan accordingly. I used orange zest in this recipe, but lemon zest would be great, too. I think it’d also be interesting to experiment with the vanilla extract and use almond instead. You could also omit the extract altogether if you’d prefer.
Slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
For the pomegranate syrup:
For the waffles:
Make the pomegranate syrup: Combine juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until mixture is reduce to one cup. Stir frequently. Remove from heat and cool. Store in a tightly closed car. This will last in your refrigerator for up to two months!
Make the waffles: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla and salt. Add in the milk, eggs, and oil and beat with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Cover the batter loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel and chill overnight or up to 24 hours.
Stir the batter before using. Preheat and lightly grease your waffle maker. Pour about 3/4 cup batter onto waffle iron and close lid quickly; do not open until done. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular waffle iron. When done, use a fork to lift waffle off the grid. Repeat with remaining batter.
Something funny happens when you live with someone instead of dating them from afar. You learn little nuances about each other's behavior, see the bottom-of-the-barrel sweaters, take out the trash, and buy underwear and shampoo together. Sam calls my beloved furry slippers old lady slippers and, to be fair, they kind of are. And I've become well acquainted with his holey "sick sweater," his eagerness to retrieve the mail in the early afternoon, and his uncanny ability to drink more tea than anyone I've ever known. Also, I'm learning things about myself. Like the fact that, apparently, most people don't eat a whole grapefruit when they sit down for breakfast. According to Sam, they stop at a half.
Waffles. I don't make them often enough and I'm not sure why. Oh, wait: I am sure why. Because they always seem like kind of a slow, slumbery, Sunday thing to make and I rarely have those kind of mornings--even on Sundays. But I found a recipe I've fallen pretty hard for. It's an old-fashioned waffle recipe and you make the yeasted batter in advance, put it in the fridge for 12-24 hours, and it's ready to go in the morning. I've actually kept the batter in my fridge for a few days and just pull it out, put a scoop on the waffle iron, and have a warm waffle to take in the car on the way to work. Beats a granola bar or banana any day.
The early morning view from our hotel Hi from Shanghai! I'm sitting here stealing a bit of Internet on the 32nd floor of our hotel all too early in the morning. The sun's gleaming in through the curtains, horns are starting to honk below, and I'm clutching a steaming cup of strong coffee that Walter has so kindly prepared for me. Walter's the dining room attendant and, for the lone souls who can't seem to sleep much in Shanghai (I being one of them), he'll make you one mean cup of coffee at sunrise. I have so much to share with you: photos & stories. The World Expo was really incredible, the food's been amazing, the streets are lush with leafy trees and wide-open city parks. I've discovered dragon fruit and boiled peanuts, and learned that scooters and bicyclysits don't adhere to traffic laws. We've finally figured out how to say common phrases like "thank you" properly and are logging some serious miles in our Converse.
I am officially on maternity leave and it feels stranger than I'd imagined. I thought it'd be all about catching up on novels, leisurely baking and maybe sewing a little something for Sprout. Going on lots of walks with friends and out to lunch. The reality is that most people are working during the week and can't just sneak away for lunch dates, and sitting around the house aimlessly reading seems to make me antsy. Instead, I find myself deciding that certain tasks have immense and immediate purpose (when they never seemed to before): repotting our house plants, researching new insurance plans, and planning a new product line for Marge for 2016. In the midst of all of this though, I've found some time to catch up on Netflix movies (any recommendations?), went out to Lebanese food with Sam, and finally made it to a cafe on Capital Hill I've been wanting to try for quite some time. It's gotten a bit chilly in Seattle this week so I've been making lots of cider and chai in the afternoons for an energy boost, and there certainly doesn't seem to be a shortage of soup-making or baking -- which brings me to these not-too-sweet, protein-packed blondies that I've taken quite a liking to.
There are some things you don't question or plan for. They're the things that just happen, that unfold throughout the day or week or month. The things we don't always document or discuss because they don't really seem important enough, but that -- all the same -- so often bring us together in one way or another. Patterns or obsessions or phases. Late-night online shoe shopping. Permission to nap at odd hours. Spontaneous cell-phone photo exchanges. Maybe you can relate. Maybe lately you've been doing something similar. As you do. As we do.