I woke up this morning happy. I saw the sun dancing through the leaves (despite the fact that it is fall and they are turning to yellows, oranges, reds, and browns); the chill outside of the blankets was not totally intolerable. I was thinking about the blessings of the lovely people who are braided into the tapestry of my life and I decided that nothing could stop me. Nothing could kill my happiness, not even my nemesis. The unspeakable would not thwart me today. I stood strong and spoke my intention firmly, you shall not succeed, you will not beat me.
I was going to make another attempt at waffles.
No, this may not sound like anything to you, but that is because you are normal. The way that I make waffles is nothing short of being considered some sort of minor life event near worthy of marking it down in an online diary (ahem, like this). As you can imagine, I am certainly not going to open some box of waffle mix and throw that onto some poison non-stick Teflon plug-in waffle maker. That would be way too easy.
When I make waffles, it has to be a well-thought out, conscious decision. The challenge that I am about to take on could quite possibly flip my switch from happy to irate in under an hour. It is with this in mind that I summon sisu, pull up my big girl panties, throw on my Wonderwoman tank top, and get after it.
I want to eat as real as possible - it just tastes better, and you get a lot more nutrition. This may seem slightly more complicated, but that's not where the challenge lies. Grabbing eggs from the chicken coop and using a grain mill to make my favorite blend of flour brings a level of satisfaction that I don't consider a bother at all. Instead, the challenge comes from the tools that I have decided to use, and the resulting mess that is nothing short of legendary.
Let me introduce you to the very impossible cast iron, stove top waffle maker. It's small, maybe 8" in diameter. The very useless and poorly thought out handle is about 4" long, which is just the right size for you to burn your hand even with an oven mitt on. I bought it online, which is great for a better price, but is a bummer because it was not seasoned. (The rest of my cast iron collection was purchased at antique stores - that is the way to go.) This is where things get complicated. Impossibly hot cast iron short handled waffle makers over fire combined with unseasoned insides and sticky batter makes for an interesting form of frustration.
It is with this in mind that you must use a bit of science (yay, science!) to have at least one successful waffle out of your gallon of batter. The first waffle on this waffle maker is a bust; quite frankly I don't even pretend to hope anymore, although it has been so long since I have made waffles (due to this frustration) that a dim hope dared to spring up inside - fear not, it was quashed the moment I opened the waffle maker to check its progress.
The science is simply this: use a crap ton of coconut oil all over the inside of the waffle maker (even though the recipe has ONE FREAKING CUP of butter and you would think that perhaps just by that fact, it may not utterly fail - but you would be mistaken) - so much coconut oil that every person in the house comes up to you individually and asks you if you are also making popcorn (no).
My family knows the history of these waffle challenges and they used to have quite a pile of negative responses when the waffles weren't working.
Kid 1: Mom, are these burnt? I don't want any burnt stuff on my waffle.
Kid 2: This one is kind of falling apart, Mom.
Husband: Maybe you should just get a waffle maker like your mom.
Hey, I have an idea! Maybe you all should just shut up.
But now because I have shut down all waffle making for at least a year (no soup for you!), upon the announcement of "I am making waffles today", I received nothing short of accolades and positive reinforcement.
Kid 1: Wow, Mom, that sounds great! I am so hungry!
Kid 2: I bet these will taste great, even if they are falling apart!
Husband: You're making waffles? (pause - was it in fear? I'm not sure.) Oh, I was hoping you would!
I pulled out my mom's recipe that requires separation of eggs and the folding in of stiff-peaked just-layed-this-morning egg whites (because go big or go home, right?), milled a perfect blend of oat, spelt, and winter wheat flour, melted a cup of butter in the cast iron pan, and crossed my fingers.
First waffle: Seriously. What even the heck is this. No really, what is this? Gooey mess conformed to every freaking crack on both sides of this burning hot cast iron mess. Separate the two sides, scrub down over the sink with a brush. Start over. I had a feeling you would be a fail, but this is of epic proportion.
Waffle #2: Add coconut oil to the top and bottom of the waffle maker, watch the oil ooze out onto the stove when you flip it over. Add batter. Set timer. Holy crapola, man. No. It's bad, but not as bad. Re-scrape. Kid #2 enters and remarks, oh, that's okay, Mom! I know it looks crumbly, but I'll eat it. I bet it tastes really good. God bless you, child. Take this from my sight and never speak of it again.
Waffle #3: Add even more coconut oil to the top and bottom of the waffle maker. Scrape the waffly bits from the cracks and crevices. Cross fingers. Pour batter, set timer, flip. Burn hand only slightly. Watch as the melted coconut oil mingles with the rebellious crumbles of what was supposed to be a waffle around the gas flame on the stove. Pray that you do not burn down the kitchen. Waffle 3 is a better success than the first two, and I am gaining hope.
Waffle #4: Add so much coconut oil that you think that just by standing here in front of this, you're absorbing it into your skin. Imagine showering with a Brillo pad. Watch the stream of melted coconut oil pour all over the stove when you flip the waffle and burn your hand (yes, even with the oven mitt). Watch how the oven mitt seems to catch fire while you're wearing it, if only for a second. Muse to yourself that cooking is an adventure. Have the first successful looking waffle peel from the sides of the ridiculous waffle maker, start thanking Jesus aloud for this unexpected mercy.
Waffle #5: Look into the Costco-sized vat of coconut oil and be impressed with just how much you've used, and then use a lot more. Pour batter, set timer, watch as the simmering crumbles of ex-waffle dance in the puddles of coconut oil beneath the waffle maker, surrounding the gas flame. Make a mental note of where the fire extinguisher is. Begin thinking through the step-by-step plan of how on earth this is ever going to be cleaned up. Waffle #5 peels off without a challenge and children are coming up to cheer me on. You did it, Mom! Look at that! I'm too happy about it to be bothered with what must be (on some level) patronizing comments.
Waffle #6-10: Use even more coconut oil because this is the only thing making these stupid things not glue themselves to the side of the pan, give up on the thought of ever not having the kitchen looking like some weird tropical hurricane sped through here on its way directly from a waffle factory. Amuse yourself with the steady cheers of the peanut gallery who are singing the praises of your waffle-making skills like you just simultaneously painted the Mona Lisa and won the Olympics and the lottery. Decide that maybe this isn't so bad...
Until you finish and start cleaning it up. Good thing I have Norwex.
It was a heck of a fight, and it was a close one, but I'm sure I won this one (like a good kick set).
Peace, love, and pass the butter,