Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sweet, Sticky Memories

Whenever I have waffles, whether for breakfast or for dinner, I am swamped by family memories; we Hylands have eaten waffles for as long as I can remember.

As children, our Dad would take us to church on Sundays and Mom would stay home and make waffles. It was her quiet time during the week when she was relieved of four lively children and had only the fairly simple chore of making waffle batter. Her recipe came from the Joy of Cooking - she even beat the egg whites separately to make sure the waffles were crisp and light.

We came home from church roaring hungry (in those days, one did not eat before Mass) and Dad would pour the batter into the preheated waffle iron while Mom warmed the syrup. When I was a kid, the syrup came in a small metal can shaped and colored like a log cabin.

My younger brother was a picky eater, something that simply baffled the rest of us eager trenchermen. For many years, he refused vociferously to eat almost anything except Gerber baby pears in a jar, thinly sliced peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly!), the tops of broccoli (no stems!), thin asparagus, shrimp cocktail and waffles. Since we couldn't afford shrimp cocktail very often, waffles were my mother's secret for getting some protein into the kid in the form of eggs.

Later in life, when I was a guest at my friend Wenirs' house, she would make sour cream waffles. If you've never tried sour cream waffles, you are missing one of life's true pleasures. Spread with unsalted butter and drenched in syrup, they are all I plan to eat when I get to Heaven.

All my working life, waffles have been my fallback dinner when I couldn't face cooking anything complicated after a long day at the florist shop. I'd mix up some waffle batter, fry a little bacon or sausage and voilĂ , you've got dinner. First Husband wasn't too sure about that but he was careful not to ruffle my feathers when I'd been on my feet for 14 hours at a clip.

These days, I'm a lazy waffle maker - I use the stuff in the bright yellow box. Poured into my recycled waffle iron, the batter changes miraculously and emerges
crisp and light in just a few minutes. For Christmas this year we received a bottle of pure maple syrup from My Beloved's brother who lives in New England, the origin of the very best maple syrup. Light amber and runnier than other syrups, this is literally the food of the gods - nothing beats real maple syrup.

When I lived in western New York, each spring we would drive down to the Southern Tier of New York state to visit our favorite maple syrup farmer. We would stand in the thin sunshine of the early spring chill discussing the state of the sugar bush, the yield from the trees and the cost of the jugs of syrup we always bought for gifts as well as for ourselves. One year, when my older brother was the Naval Attaché at the American embassy in Paris, we bought many small jugs and shipped them to my brother's wife in France who sold them at a charity sale and raised a record amount of money for their good works. Our farmer friend still talks about the time his syrup was shipped all the way to France.

Whenever I bite into buttery, syrupy waffles, I am flooded with these sweet, sticky memories. They are a big part of the reason I love waffles.



Blogger Chilebrown said...

I think your waffle memories are kool. I have sourdough pancakes memories.

I can get you tamales if you would like. I would like to suggest going to "la Estrellitas" in Oakland for the whole experience. Maybe our friends from the Yuppie side of the Bay would go like to go.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Chilebrown: You talkin' to me?

Zoomie: I don't have much of a sweet tooth but savory waffles!!! No syrup. Top them with something like gravy or Hollandaise sauce. Bacon or ham. Cheese, even. You still get that delightful, airy crunch (and thanks for such a sweet set of waffle nostalgias, dear).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Chilebrown, let's go to Estrellitas - good idea! Those Marin folks might be too busy with their puppy yet, but Buzz and I would enjoy going if you're up for it.

Cookiecrumb, yep, he was talkin' to you.

I have to admit that I can't get my head around savory waffles, although we do have them with bacon or ham from time to time. But gravy? Or Hollandaise? Doesn't seem appealing somehow. Glad you liked the stories.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Pink Granite said...

Beautifully written.
Thank you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Pink Granite, you warm an amateur's heart with your words.

Thursday, December 31, 2009  
Blogger namastenancy said...

Oh LORD give me strength to resist the waffles. I was drooling all over my keyboard but I'm with Cookie. I like savory - waffles with my grandmother's milk gravy kicked up with a bit of chili pepper - to die for. Or just slathered with really good butter. In fact, I was so inspired by your post that I went looking for waffle irons yesterday and didn't see a darn thing that I liked. Everything was either too big or too expensive or just felt cheap (except for the price tag).

Thursday, December 31, 2009  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Nancy: Salvation Army, like that? I dunno. We got ours almost 30 years ago, and it was $20 then. Small, cheapo, still works.

Thursday, December 31, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, I got mine from a second hand store about 20 years ago and it's the berries! It makes light, crisp waffles in about a minute. Cookie has a good idea.

Thursday, December 31, 2009  

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