Waffles and Memories
The son of a grocer and trained in the art of butchery, my Grandpa was a terrific cook. My Grandma was a great cook too, and together they seemed happiest when they were efficiently executing a meal for our family, his part usually being the meat component of the meal. Amazingly good food came from their kitchen, but one favorite memory is of Grandpa's waffles.
Occasionally we were invited to Grandpa and Grandma's for Sunday night supper. This was different than Sunday dinner, which was an elaborate meal served mid-day. Sunday supper was a relaxed and casual evening meal, and was often a pot of one of Grandpa's interesting soups from which he'd pull a cheesecloth wrapped bouquet garni before ladling into bowls. This fascinated me, how he magically infused the broth with intriguing combinations of flavors, and I learned by watching. But my favorite Sunday supper was his waffles.
Plain waffles, streaked through with fluffy bits of egg white, lightly glistening with maple syrup. Nothing fancy. Grandpa knew that after separating the eggs and whipping the whites, the lightest touch in folding the whites into the batter would make for the most tender, crispy waffle. If any error was to be made, it would be in undermixing the batter, leaving a few pure white streaks remaining; a much more preferable outcome than a tough, chewy waffle. I learned by watching him, too.
Pancakes are okay by me, but I'm crazy about waffles, when given the choice. I still use the fluffy egg white method of my Granddad, and still use my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook recipe from the splattered and stained page. I've made notes over the years, adjusting the quantities greater when there were three kids at home, and now lesser for two of us. I like how my own personal history lays over the top of something special my Grandpa didn't even know he was giving me.
Here's our latest waffle iteration. The batter is sprinkled with pecans and blueberries before baking and is topped with an Oregon triple berry sauce and a dollop of tangy Greek yogurt. Pretty terrific.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten egg yolks
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 stiffly beaten egg whites
Sift together dry ingredients.
Combine yolks, milk and oil; stir into dry ingredients.
Fold in whites, leaving a few fluffs. Bake in waffle iron until brown and crispy.
Triple Oregon Berry Sauce
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons corn starch, mixed in 1/4 cup cold water
I cup raspberries
1 cup strawberries, quartered
Place the blueberries, water and sugar in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until blueberries are soft and are beginning to give up their shape. Stir in cornstarch mixture and heat until beginning to bubble and thicken, about two minutes.
Stir in remaining berries and heat for one more minute. Serve over waffles, pancakes, ice cream, etc.
I hum very quietly when I cook, and it was recently pointed out to me that my Grandpa did too.