***we interrupt your regular programming on what I learned in Reggio Emilia to bring you some much-needed food relief***
I know exactly when we bought our waffle maker – it was the autumn of 2009. We had just moved out to the East Coast so I could go to grad school; I moved first and Alvin waited until I was gone to buy himself a new car (we weren’t yet married). He paid $1,000 to have it shipped cross-country and I threatened that if the car got there before he did I was going to send it back. He didn’t have a job yet (or a plan to make his car payments), and he was pining for waffles – so I told him I’d buy a waffle maker when he got a job. We thought he’d end up working in New York but we got lucky and he found something in the town where we lived; he used to like to complain that his new car didn’t get warmed up in winter by the time he finished the five minute drive to work, while my wet hair would freeze on the two-minute walk to the train station, and then I had 50 minutes on the train and a 20 minute walk at the other end…
Anyway, he got a job and we got a waffle maker. Given the hundreds and hundreds of waffles it’s churned out since then, and the fact that a waffle in a restaurant can easily cost $8 when the ingredients are worth about 50 cents, I’d say this is one of the highest return on investments I’ve ever made. We prepare waffles on the weekend every couple of weeks or so, and Carys has loved eating then pretty much since she’s been eating solid food. When we started introducing her to cooking we made egg-free recipes first until we understood her propensity to put uncooked mixtures in her mouth; I wouldn’t leave her unattended with the mixture but I’ve never seen her try to put any in her mouth. Adjust your plans based on your knowledge of your child.
Basic Waffles Recipe
Adapted from Joy of Cooking (*affiliate link)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (as discussed before, this is a less gritty alternative to regular WW flour)
1/4 cup wheat or oat bran (or just use 1/4 cup more flour if you prefer)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground flax seeds (apparently the whole seeds pass through your stomach undigested, so you don’t get any of the benefits)
3 large eggs, well beaten
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk
Add-ins (pick one of):
1 mashed over-ripe banana (the mankier the better) + 3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 mashed over-ripe banana + 1/2 cup chocolate chips
finely grated rind of 1 orange + 1/2 cup sliced dried cranberries
1 cup frozen blueberries (be warned; the blueberries might stick to your waffle maker so coat it with non-stick spray between each waffle)
- Get all ingredients out of the fridge so you don’t need to leave your toddler unattended. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and set aside. Measure 1 1/2 cups milk. Plug in the waffle iron to preheat, on the other side of the kitchen from where your toddler will be set up. Invite your toddler into the kitchen.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. (Your toddler will likely enjoy helping with the measurements.)
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the milk and then the eggs (not the other way around, or the hot butter will cook the eggs).
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together. Fold in any desired add-ins – don’t over-mix, or the waffles will be tough.
- Spoon 1/2 cup batter into the hot waffle iron. Spread it about a bit, but don’t worry about getting it all the way to the edges. Close the lid and bake until golden brown and crispy (my iron beeps every time the temperature cycles and I let it go two cycles for crispy waffles).
- Serve immediately or keep warm in a single layer on a rack in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest of the waffles.
- Serve with maple syrup (preferably Grade B; much better flavor than the more common Grade A!) and fresh berries, or a fruit compote (defrosted frozen fruit) if it’s winter.