Saturday, February 21, 2009

I cook. (Waffles)

I cook. When I'm happy, I cook. When I'm worried, I cook. When I'm celebrating, when I'm mourning, when I'm hurt, when I'm invigorated, I cook.

Why is that? I'm a single mom, so I'm the only grown-up at the table.  It's not that my kids are "foodies." In fact, I've had to insist to them that, as a matter of good manners, every meal should end with "Thank you for dinner. I especially enjoyed/loved (pick one) the chicken/roast/sausage ('cause let's face it, the protein is the best part of the meal for them). May I be excused?" (And, optionally, "May I clear your plate?")

And although I've always been driven by achievements and acknowledgements (report cards, GPAs, job reviews), no one is ever going to check my freezer and note approvingly that I always have four or five quarts of chili (stew beef, not ground, with beans), a few quarts of "real" chicken stock (not broth) and a couple of containers of pasta sauce (Italian sausage, not ground beef) on hand.

Let's face it, while I spend plenty of time watching Food Network, it's not as if it's reciprocal. Rachael and Giada and company are not watching me and wondering what I'm going to whip up in the 20 minutes between violin and baseball practices.

I just cook. I try to make it balanced. I try to make it nutritious. I try to make it fresh and tasty. But in the end, perhaps I just do it for me. Gratifyingly, now and again, people actually ask me to cook. The college-age daughter of a dear friend recently called, asking for my blue cheese dip recipe. Last fall, my sister "needed" my slow cooker pulled pork recipe. And my 11-year-old daughter said, just last weekend, that waking up to the smell of homemade waffles was the best part of her day. She says that, when she has friends sleep over, they count on me making waffles.

In this instance, the recipe isn't even my own. I got it from the Food Network and only modified it slightly. But trust me (and my kids and their friends) -- these are the best waffles around. Just look at what they're named!

Waffle Of Insane Greatness
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
First step, unless you're only serving one other person, go ahead and double the recipe. These waffles are that good.

Then, in a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients, mixing well. Add the buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and mix well.

Now here's the hard part. The batter has to rest for 30 minutes. Seriously. Use the time to set the table, chop up some strawberries, brew some coffee and get the paper. Now you're ready.

Preheat your waffle iron. Don't use a non-stick spray - you don't need it.

Follow the directions on your waffle iron and serve these insanely tender, crispy waffles with butter and syrup. Or, in our house -- confectioner's sugar and whipped cream.

Now sit back and wait for the compliments. For a 46-year-old mom, it's like getting straight As.
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