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Category Archives: Things Legible

Stuff to read.

Wafflemania

My standard process with recipes looks something like this: see fun recipe online or in magazine/book/back of package. Look up other similar recipes and compare ingredients/technique. Make recipe with minor modifications. Continue to modify recipe(s) 1-5 times until perfection is established.

Another process involves taking two recipes, making them both exactly as written, and comparing the features of both. This usually creates an overflow of finished product that we cannot devour before a)we get sick of whatever it is we’re eating, or b)it goes bad.  This leads us to the waffle situation: last time we tried using our wafflemaker we had waffles coming out our ears and after three days of eating waffles we put the thing away for a good long time.

Well, since I want to reduce carbs a bit next month, I figured this weekend would be a good time to get the waffle iron out and have a little last hurrah before I buckle down. I had collected a couple of awesome recipes over the past few weeks from my blog perusing, and thought we could try one out. But which to choose? And what would we do with all those waffles? This is where Jer came in with the stroke of genious: call the Pedersons.

The Pedersons are a couple of extreme genius and generosity who regularly host brunch at their home. We have been the partakers of many a plate of eggs, bacon, and fried potatoes thanks to their hopitality. Who better to come investigate the waffle recipes than the masters of the brunch invitation?

The call was made, the invite accepted, and this morning they arrived. I had started both batters the night before and was ready to whip up some deliciousness. And boy was it delicious. An hour later the batters were polished off, two couples and a baby in the womb (Pederson, not Anderson) were full of waffly goodness, and both recipes were declared tasty and worthy of future consumption. Success!

You can always count on those Pedersons.

A Tale of Two Waffles

The first waffle was a whole wheat sourdough version. Having a sourdough starter already active made this the simplest recipe ever: feed starter the night before so you will have 2 cups to work with in the morning. Add all the other ingredients except for the baking soda. Right before you are ready to start cooking, mix in the baking soda and watch the chemical reaction commence. The resulting waffle is hearty yet light, with a complex flavor that marries beautifully with either syrup or nutella (our waffle topping of choice).

The second came from Molly at Orangette: she hosted her own waffle-tasting a few weeks back and I chose the yeasted waffle recipe she made, originally written by Marion Cunningham. It involves beating together most of the ingredients and allowing the batter to proof overnight, before mixing eggs and baking soda in just before cooking. I briefly considered the second recipe from Molly, but it called for cornstarch and vegetable oil, two ingredients not common to my kitchen. This recipe was one of white flour and commercial yeast, unlike the whole wheat waffle with its unrefined sugar and naturally developed leavening. It had a crispy exterior with an as-promised custardy interior, and tasted amazing when topped with a little butter and some of my mother-in-law’s homemade blackberry jelly. A wildly different experience from the sourdough waffle, and yet just as excellent in its own right.

The verdict? Both were incredible. Each delivered the delicious result promised by the bloggers who posted them. They were so dissimilar that it was impossible to choose which we would prefer, although the first definitely would work better in a savory application, whereas if you are looking for something to put berries on, I would go for the second. But hey, if you want to decide for yourself, go fetch your wafflemaker and call up some friends and host a tasting. Your friends will not be upset, I am sure.

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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Things Edible, Things Legible

 

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What I’m Reading

Time for my inaugural post on the family blog! Since Jer posted on computer stuff, it makes sense that I would post on literary things, since usually if he is on his computer I am somewhere in the house reading and/or cooking.

I have a habit of reading multiple books at once. It might seem like a form of literary ADD, but really it is because I have varying tastes, and different types of books need to be read differently, with accommodations made for their genre. A good work of contemporary fiction needs to be devoured in large chunks over a short period of time, preferably no more than a week, in order to stay in the story. A classic can also be read in this manner, but usually needs a bit more time to savor, or work through the language barrier. A collection of essays can be taken piecemeal, picked up one day and then forgotten, only to be happily rediscovered under the pile of junk mail two weeks later. A deep introspective theology work needs to be read daily in small doses as one chews over the challenging statements and researches Scripture passages with which to disprove the author’s conclusions. So while working slowly through one work, I might find myself supplementing with additional books as the mood or opportunity strikes.
 
While I will read all these types of books and more, there are two genres that top my list of preferences. My absolute favorite in recent years has been the memoir. I love the simple reality of a person’s life, and how time and a little exaggeration dress up everyday events into moments of introspective brilliance. Close behind the memoir is the short story, and its cousin, the personal essay. A well-written short story always astounds me with the writer’s ability to capture the depth of a plot or character in a single moment. Short stories are to novels what photographs are to movies.
 
My current read, A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg, is a memoir told in a series of short vignettes, so it is the perfect book for me. Reading each one is like studying facets of a precious stone-you see an image, and then turn the page to find a new perspective. The best thing about this book though is that since Molly is a food writer (check out her blog Orangette), each story resolves with a recipe for whatever food was featured in that chapter. Whether it is something as simple as encouraging you to make pain au chocolat by stuffing a chunk of fresh bread with a piece of dark chocolate or a more ambitious recipe like Fresh Ginger Cake with Caramelized Pears her stories are poignant and her recipes are delicious. I recently made her Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake for Christmas with the in-laws and both my husband and his father were quite pleased.
 
Underneath this on my bedside table is a marriage book, Sacred Sex: A Spiritual Celebration of Oneness in Marriage. Jer actually ordered this one right before the wedding but somehow on the honeymoon it ended up in my stack. It’s one for slow, thoughtful reading; as the title suggests, the author doesn’t waste time with sex tips but instead looks at what it means to be truly one with your spouse, on both a physical and spiritual level, and the ways marriage reflects the relationship of Christ and the church. I definitely recommend it (at least so far!)
 
Recently placed on the finished pile is Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach.  This is another entry in the memoir genre, but a bit lighter, as it is a tale of her travels in Europe during a year-long sabbatical. The “woman-finding-herself-by-traveling” is a popular book theme these days, especially with another favorite of mine, eat, pray, love, which has garnered quite a bit of success and an upcoming movie. I don’t easily tire of the genre, and Steinbach’s book is quite enjoyable, although it didn’t have the spiritual significance for me that Gilbert’s book did. Both authors have sequels, however, which I am looking forward to digging in to.
 
Steinbach mentions several authors and books in her work, and so I recently raided the library for some old gems, including a collection of E.B. White’s writings from The New Yorker. Most people know E.B. White as the author of children’s books like Charlotte’s Web, but he was a prolific essayist and co-writer of The Elements of Style, which used to be required reading for any student of writing. I picked up White’s Here Is New York a few years back and I am again enjoying his wit.
 
I’ve got a stack of books to dive into, so my only question is, what next? Perhaps a bit of novel action? I’ve got The Time Traveler’s Wife and Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning sitting on my shelf staring at me accusatorily. Or maybe I should continue on my memoir kick and read Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty (if you haven’t read Bel Canto, you haven’t lived.) But hey, with my reading habit, I’m sure I will get to them all eventually!

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2010 in Things Legible

 

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