Before a couple weeks ago I had never made waffles from scratch before. In fact I haven’t made waffles at all for about 10 years. I had always used a waffle mix before, but after deciding the mix was to expensive and REALLY time consuming for six people, I put the waffle iron up on the top shelf and forgot about it. Well I tried to forget about it, but the kids would ask every once in a while if we could make waffles and I would distract them with puff pancakes or baked pancakes. ANYTHING but waffles….I even played with the idea of throwing away the waffle iron so I had a good excuse not to make them. (I know, I’m awful!) My poor deprived girls wouldn’t even know what a waffle is if they hadn’t spent the night at grandma’s house 🙂 Anyway, in all my brain wracking trying to come up with healthy, easy breakfasts for those busy week day mornings, waffles came to mind. They aren’t exactly quick, but if I make a quadruple batch on the weekend and freeze them. Tadah!…I have a from scratch breakfast that we can enjoy on the weekdays and still make it out the door by 7:15.
While I said these are not quick for a weekday morning, they are not at all hard to make and the time consuming part is waiting for the waffle iron to do its job.
Start by separating the eggs. Mix together the egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and melted butter. In a separate bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir the dry ingredients into the milk mixture, do not over stir.
Now this is the part that makes these light and wonderful! Beat egg whites until they are stiff then fold them into the batter.
Let the batter sit for a few minutes while the waffle iron preheats. Cook the waffles until they are a golden brown.
I like how the women folk are always rambling on about how enchanting their little homestead is. Weather it’s half an acre in the burbs, or five hundred in cowboy country, its always the same. Pretty pictures of flowers, kids playing, home cookin’, and cute baby critters… Uhg! Where’s all the mud, dust, blood, sweat, and crappy weather. Anybody want to know what REALLY keeps a homestead steady? Attitude!
I’m not saying this to discourage anyone,… not at all; I’m just saying it’s not always peach fuzz and baby giggles… For example; the Queen and Little Chef are always experimenting with new meals prepared from scratch using all natural ingredients. These ladies know that there are few things finer than a full spread meal that’s been grown and raised on your own land, and most of the time their efforts result in something amazing! When it’s especially brilliant, I’m always amused by the girls grumblings while they have to wait for mom to take a few pics for the blog before they can eat it. I try to explain to them that excellence always comes at a cost, but the consolation is always met with a despondent glare that says “Yea,… whatever dad”. As for me; I’m proud of the accomplishments my ladies make in the kitchen (mostly because I get to eat their achievements!), but once in awhile however,… Well,… let’s just say that not every experiment is blog worthy. I would like to elaborate more on the specific details concerning some of the failed experiments in the kitchen (they always sound dramatic), but I rarely understand what they’re talking about.
Where the kitchen is Grace and Little Chef’s domain, Jo and I spend allot of time in the shop. I suppose I should say that Jo spends most of her time outside, and the shop is the next best thing when the weather turns lousy. When she’s not reading a book, (usually outdoors at the risk of moms’ admonishment) she’s out there building something. It’s like an addiction for her, and I can genuinely appreciate that. Since diapers she’s been manipulating whatever materials she can get her hands on into whatever her mind can conjure. For the most part I’ve always encouraged this ambition, but when she gets into the stocks of materials I need for work and drags them to all corners of the property to build a… a… well,… whatever it is she feels compelled to build right then, I have to reign her in.
The other day Jo came through the shop and left with one of my small hand saws. At the time I was a little distracted helping Uncle Chris put a new timing belt in his pickup. (By helping I mean leaning on the fender and sharing words of encouragement, like: “I think you’re insane for trying to attempt this on your own. You sure you know what you’re doing?” You know,… big brotherly advice. And by the way; thank you youtube!) Anyway,… as I watched Jo depart with my saw I thought, “wait a minute…” and followed her. I found her with several pieces of one inch pvc pipe I keep stockpiled in the barn. (She had in her possession many more short pieces than I’d remembered having) She was busy cutting a piece off when I asked her what she was doing. “I’m making an automatic dog food dispenser.” (Feeding the dogs is one of the chores she shares with Little Chef) She said this as she lifted the piece up to her eye to peer through it. “I’m not sure it’ll work tho’, it might be too small.” I kept my composure long enough to remind her that she needs to ask me before robbing materials from the barn. Yea,… It was a little disappointing for her, but this particular girls’ attitude is rarely defeated, so after returning the supplies as I’d asked she moved on to her next project full stride! Something about the “cat crusaders” (her club) needing a new, secret meeting place I think. (I didn’t want to know what that might entail, so I didn’t ask…)
I suspect Jo sets a better example in regards to attitude than most of us. Setbacks happen all the time, but are usually a minor thing we quickly move on from a little wiser. On occasion however, the good Lord seems compelled to remind us of what genuine humility is all about. A couple of years ago Grace decided she wanted her garden to be even bigger (Have you seen her garden?!). It was already put near 4,000 square feet, but I didn’t complain while I extended it another 20′ to the east, and full length north to south. This addition roughly added another 2,000. Now,… take a moment to consider just how big your house is. I remember way back when I was a little shaver what my Ma would say every time she’d finish with the vacuum cleaner,… “I’m so glad we can’t afford a bigger house!” She’d let out a tired sigh as she wiped sweat from her brow, (sorry Ma, I meant perspiration) and share her views on how silly it is for rich people to hire servants to maintain a ridiculously vast and expensive home. This concept kinda stuck with me all these years, and while I was tilling the ground far beyond the original footprint of our garden it was on my mind. I gave some thought to the countless hours we (Okay, mostly Grace) spent on hands and knees pulling weeds last year. Where few would care to vacuum 6,000 square feet of carpet, try to imagine weeding that much area! The point and purpose of all this extra space was to provide a greater surplus of vegetables for canning. I get that,… but since this expansion, the only thing Grace managed to can was green beans. ALLOT of green beans… Guess which vegetable of all the vegetables we could ever possibly grow in the garden do I care the least for? Yup! Green beans!!!
Oh well,… I really can’t say much. Once the irrigation is installed, Grace pretty much takes over maintenance of the garden. I do have to admit tho’; her diligence this year paid off. (that is to say, she worked her butt off!) That was until the late spring rains came… Right up until that point Grace had somehow managed to single-handedly conquer most of the weeds across this generous space, and just a few more days of battle would have enabled the “Queen” to declare ultimate supremacy over the land (well,… this bit of it anyway). I should share some things to consider right about now concerning the value such an arduous conquest would have ordinarily meant. We drip irrigate the rows on 4′ centers allowing us to easily measure and offset each row to ground that had rested the year before. It also gives us more room to weed and harvest, and it usually saves allot of water (we were plagued with irrigation failures this year). Another great advantage to this system is that MOST years, once the moisture comes out of the ground the weeds don’t come back between the rows. We typically just don’t see enough rain again until late fall. You can imagine her dismay when after nearly two weeks of unexpected showers her whole garden turned green with weed sprouts (making all that effort lost and pointless…) Grace bravely redoubled her commitment to purge this particular piece of land from the invasive onslaught of subversive flora as long as she could, but ultimately the allergies she always suffers this late in the season finally won out. (I’m thinking hydroponics may be the way to go, or better yet, aquaponics! Yea,… I like fish.)
To add insult to injury, the area I’d extended the garden into wound up primarily dedicated to melons, squash and gourds, but nothing grew! I don’t mean that the harvest was slight, I mean there was no harvest! The plants were lanky, yellow, and in most cases didn’t even grow beyond the noon shadow of a goat. By late July we knew something was very wrong, (even the weeds struggled) but it took a few more weeks for me to remember what I’d done… (Yup… My fault.) Oh c’mon! If the ground had looked any different from the rest of the garden when I tilled it, it might have occurred to me then; but it looked great! (it still had moisture) As I stood there thinking about what might possibly be the problem, I remembered the go-kart track (Picture a small light bulb briefly illuminating over my head, replaced shortly by a dark storm cloud as I realized what an idiot I am). Years ago I’d stripped the topsoil off this area with a dozer when I was building our first go-kart track. (For the boy’s,… of course.) I’d completely forgotten! Yea,… Ooops!
Things tend not to grow so well in subsoil even if it does look good. I’ve been cooking down a large pile of old hay bales into compost all summer, and I’ll till it into the new garden space next spring. That should help…
By chance the potato bin I built wound up on this same piece of ground as well. Given that the bin was filled with good soil mixed with red sand a few inches at a time over several weeks excludes the poor soil from the lousy ‘tater harvest in this case. Even our best soil is still pretty heavy with clay, so despite the liberal application of sand (well over 50%) the lower half of the bin stayed too wet. Another disappointment, but another lesson learned. Next year we’ll use straw with a bit of cured compost, and raise the bin off the ground enough to let it drain better. That should help. The ground we’ve expanded into (the old go-kart track) should improve greatly with liberal amounts of compost tilled in, and I’m also planning on a much improved irrigation system for the whole works.
Yea, we’ve had some setbacks over the years, but despite all the headaches our accomplishments far outweigh the disappointments. Too often the difference between lost time and effort vs. education is attitude. Personally, I’d rather spend a few days every year learning the wrong way to do a thing than spend the thousands it would take to have some professor tell me how to do it their way… How about you?
Over Christmas break I had time to do some long over due deep cleaning in the red double wide. I also did some purging and lots of STUFF went out the door, but when I came across my cast iron skillet I decided it was time to re-season it and put it to work. It was a lot dusty and a little rusty. Here are a couple before and after pics.
I had put this poor skillet in hiding shortly after my mom gave it to me….Why, you ask? Well I knew nothing about cast iron and the whole seasoning thing kind of intimidated me. Then, the first thing I attempted to cook was eggs……ya, they didn’t turn out so great!! By not so great, I mean a smoking, smelly, skillet with bits of crunchy black eggs. After that the top shelf in the laundry room seemed like a good home for the cast iron skillet. Recently I have come across some blogging posts about caring for your cast iron and some recipes that work well with it. They made it sound easy enough, so I thought I would give it a try. It made me feel a little better to read that though it’s not impossible, eggs are not the easiest thing to cook in cast iron. 🙂 I have decided to stay away from eggs until I am a more seasoned (haha) cast iron cook!
These biscuits are the first thing I made in my skillet. They turned out GREAT. They are light, flavorful, quick, and my favorite EASY!