"These waffles are crap!"
How do you convey pure embarrassment to your best friend for your child's snobbishness toward her toaster waffles? We never expected our son to outwardly express what we joke about in the privacy of our own kitchen. I know if I had been there, I would have shushed him into silence before the word "waffle" was out of his mouth.
There's nothing routine about my family, with one exception: Waffle Sunday. It's now a feature in our kids' biorhythms. There's no need for calendars - 7 a.m. Sunday morning arrives with at least one child by our bedside reminding us of waffles.
The kitchen is my space, but this is one meal I don't cook. My husband, Matt, started this tradition. While I make coffee with our 3-year-old, Matt makes up his batter. Clark, the 6-year-old waffle critic, calls "shotgun" on the first waffle. His secondary chore is to retrieve the maple syrup and cream from the refrigerator.
A simple meal of waffles ties our entire week together. In the midst of chaos, it makes us feel normal. My kitchen table is a rejected Sub-Zero stainless steel door held in an oak frame. None of our wooden chairs match, nor do any of the dishes. It's not a choice in style, but a solid Midwestern practicality. I'm a farm kid.
We had our own culinary traditions on the farm, and breakfast featured pancakes, not waffles. My sister and I used to wonder how it was our mom generated as much smoke as she did making pancakes. "A need for speed" was always her answer.
With seven children, a farmhand and a husband, there were a lot of cakes to make. Needless to say, we always ate them with the windows open, 12 months a year. I have to say, she has a great recipe for pancakes, and they turn out thin, large and just a tiny bit sour. We didn't use real maple syrup, but we did pour on the elderberry sauce, while it lasted.
Elderberries don't have much pectin, so the jars from jamming that didn't firm up became our syrup. Every year, my mom and I still try to harvest the elderberries before the birds. We still use the same old juicer.
My brother now operates the farm we all grew up on. Before he remodeled the kitchen a year ago, any one of us could go out, open a cupboard door, and refer to the pancake recipe written on the inside. So at the Rockwell house, we have our waffle recipe taped to the inside of our cupboard door as well. However, I'm glad to say I haven't yet passed on the smokier aspects of Mom's pancake breakfasts.
While recipes are meant to be tweaked and tuned, there's one vital component to making good waffles: You have to use butter. Just throw away the other forms of solid fat. Real maple syrup is also a must, and do your diners a favor by whipping some heavy cream to top it all off. This meal will create conversation and happiness around the kitchen table.
Those close to us know of our Sundays, and sometimes we have extra company. Those are the mornings my son surrenders his first-waffle privilege to be polite to guests.
Secretly, I'm glad for the fact that he knows the difference between homemade and box waffles, but we have had a little chat about voicing our opinions and keeping them to ourselves. After all, we're all Wisconsinites. We pride ourselves on being humble, working hard and really enjoying our comfort food.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs, yolks separated
- 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Whip the egg whites. Combine the dry ingredients. Combine the yolks, milk, vanilla and butter and add to the dry ingredients. Fold in the whipped egg whites lightly and then cook in a preheated waffle iron. Serves 4.
BB's Special Pancakes
- 3 eggs
- 3-1/2 cups flour
- 3-1/2 cups milk
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 6 tablespoons oil
- 3 tablespoons vinegar
Mix and fry! Serves 8.
Ingrid Rockwell's food cart, "Ingrid's Lunch Box," was named one of the top 10 street-food sites in the U.S. by Bon Appetit magazine in 2008. She lives in Madison.