The more time I spend at home with Oliver, juggling a quesadilla and baby sunscreen on our way out the door, the more I think about the way we all really eat throughout the day — and what it is we actually want to be eating. With all of the beautifully photographed food blogs and glossy monthly publications, you’d think we were all waking up in the morning and eating black sesame waffles with tahini yogurt and macha dust. Now I don’t know about you, but that is decidedly not what we’re waking up to around here. I’m not sure if it’s because time is stretched thin now that we have a baby or perhaps it’s that warmer weather is on its way — the ultimate encouragement in fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-cooking — but preparing a full meal in the kitchen feels like a luxury more than it ever has, and I find myself craving simplicity. Good, honest recipes.
Sam recently sent me a Slate article about the huge gap between the food we see in magazines (and, perhaps, even love to talk about) and the food we’re actually cooking at home. It seems you can’t turn a corner without hearing about cauliflower fried rice or poke bowls (for the record I’ve not tried either but am most curious about the former). On a similar note, Tim recently wrote a post about lemon zest, questioning why the heck we all feel the impetus to add it to virtually everything. We claim that it “brightens” up every baked good and salad dressing that comes our way, when really, the result is that the baked good or salad just … tastes more like lemon zest. I have to admit I might be a little guilty of this. But the point is that there’s this constant search for the new trend, the new thing, the next Big way to make a waffle. When really, the old way to make a waffle worked pretty great.
This whole wheat waffle I’m sharing with you today began with a cut-out of a 2012 recipe from Whole Living (RIP!) that used a bit of wheat germ in the mix, giving them a warm, almost nutty flavor. The waffles were great but I don’t particularly love using canola oil and I had a few other tweaks in mind so I started using warmed coconut oil instead, but when the oil joined with the cold milk, it seized into clumps. Onward: warm the milk first before you add the coconut oil and now we’re in business! So I’ve made many waffles using this formula but then I started to become curious about making them even more accessible for people, selfishly thinking about our trip to my mom’s cabin in upstate New York this summer and wondering how we could make a batch in the country where there’s a definite lack of coconut oil. So I regrouped. If you follow The Faux Martha on Instagram (or read her lovely blog), you know she’s quite a waffle guru, and she uses butter in most of her waffle recipes so I opted for that instead of the coconut oil and the results are, to me, spot on.
This is a great basic waffle that doesn’t feel basic. A reliable traveling companion if you’ve got trips coming up this summer where you’ll be cooking breakfast for a crowd, and special enough for Mother’s Day this Sunday. The Blueberry Sauce recipe is from my cookbook and is an added bonus — an easy way to dress up a perfectly simple waffle if you’re so inclined. If you’re not, a bit of butter and good maple syrup is all you really need. I realize fresh blueberries aren’t in season yet, so I dipped into last year’s frozen farmers market haul. The sauce stained the back of one of my favorite wooden spoons — now a constant reminder about the warm season ahead, everyday waffles, more and more baby sunscreen, and a most probable lack of macha dust.
This is my go-to whole grain waffle recipe and I’d wager that anyone you make these for wouldn’t guess they’re 100% whole wheat. The batter is light; the edges are crisp; and they have an ever-so-slight fragrance from the vanilla. I love topping them with this fresh blueberry sauce and a big dollop of Greek yogurt, but of course any seasonal fruit is a great stand-in as is whipped cream. See my instructions below for freezing the waffles, if you’d like, for a quick weekday morning solution.
For the Waffles:
For the Blueberry Sauce:
For the Waffles: Preheat your waffle iron. Spray with cooking spray if need be.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, egg and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir well until thoroughly combined.
When waffle iron is ready, add batter. The amount varies depending on your machine – for our round model, 1/2 cup of batter makes a perfect waffle, but always err on the side of too little to begin with to avoid a big mess. Cook until golden brown. Avoid stacking waffles on top of each other as they’ll become soggy; instead place in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.
For the Blueberry Sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to slowly bubble and boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Serve warm or at room temperature, or let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To freeze waffles: If you’d like to bake off a big batch of waffles and freeze them for later, prepare according to instructions above. Then lay waffles out on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Next place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay a single row of waffles down. Lay a sheet of parchment on top of that layer and repeat, until you’ve stacked all your waffles on the sheet tray. Freeze completely, at least 3 hours. Remove from freezer and wrap individually in plastic wrap or small freezer bags. Store up to 3 months. To reheat / serve: we just use our toaster oven, but if making for a crowd, you could easily place on a baking sheet at 350 F and warm, about 8 minutes.
Glimpses of Spring
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
It turns out shopping for wedding dresses is nothing like they make it appear in the movies. Or at least it hasn't been for me. Angels don't sing. Stars don't explode. Relatives don't cry. There isn't a sudden heart-stopping moment that this is, in fact, "the one." To be honest, I always knew that I wasn't the kind of gal for whom angels would sing or stars would explode but I did think I'd have some kind of moment where I could tell I'd found the best dress. Instead, my mom flew into town and we spent three (yes, three!!) days shopping for dresses, and since then I've been back to the stores we visited -- and I'm more undecided than ever. Tomorrow morning I'll return with my friend Keena to try and tie this business up once and for all. Cross your fingers.
When I was single and living alone in the Bay Area, I made virtually the same thing for dinner each night. I ate meals quickly while in front of the computer. Or even worse: the television. This most often included what I call "Mexican Pizzas" which were basically glorified quesadillas baked in the oven until crispy. Sometimes, if I was really feeling like cooking, I'd whip up a quick stir-fry with frozen vegetables from Trader Joe's or a mushroom frittata using pre-sliced mushrooms. Mostly, though, it was Mexican Pizzas -- a good four or five nights a week. Today, thankfully, dinner looks a lot different. Meals in general look a lot different. How would I explain that difference? I think that ultimately how we feel about our life colors how we choose to feed ourselves and the importance that we place on preparing our own meals.
Today was 75 degrees in Seattle and it seemed the whole city was out and about drinking iced coffee in tank tops and perhaps not working all that hard. When we have a hit of sunshine like this in April (or, really, any time of the year), we're all really good at making excuses to leave the office early -- or, simply, to "work from home." I just got back from LA last night, unpacked in a whirlwind this morning, and took Oliver to meet up with three friends from our parents group at the zoo. The only other time I'd been to the Seattle zoo was once with Sam a few years ago when we arrived thirty minutes before closing and ended up doing a whirlwind tour -- sprinting from the giraffes to the massive brown bear to the meerkat. The visit today was much different: we strolled slowly trying to avoid the spring break crowds and beating sun. I managed to only get one of Oliver's cheeks sunburned, and he even got in a decent nap. A success of an afternoon, I'd say. Coming home I realized we didn't have much in the fridge for lunch -- but thankfully there was a respectable stash of Le Croix (Le Croix season is back!) and a small bowl of this whole grain salad I made right before I left town. It's the kind of salad that's meant for this time of year: it pulls off colorful and fresh despite the fact that much of the true spring and summer produce isn't yet available. And for that reason, I make a few versions of it in early spring, often doubling the recipe so there's always the possibility of having a small bowl at 1 p.m. while the baby naps in the car seat, one cheek sunburned, windows and back door open -- a warm breeze creeping into the kitchen.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.