Love, and waffles. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!
Red Velvet Waffles
I was given a waffle iron for Christmas and I can officially say I am obsessed. This particular recipe came together this past weekend and these have already become a new household favourite – which is exactly what you’ll be, if you can pull it together to make them tomorrow morning…
1 1/2c light spelt (or regular all-purpose) flour
1/4c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp coarse sea salt (I like the crunch of the sea salt here; if you don’t have any, I’d dial it back to about a half tsp regular salt)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2c buttermilk
1 small glob of red food colouring paste, or about a tbsp of liquid food colouring
1 tbsp vanilla
6 tbsp melted coconut oil (or unsalted butter)
1c chocolate chips
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a second bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, food colouring, vanilla, and oil (or butter).
Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions.
When waffle iron is ready, combine wet ingredients into dry, stirring gently until batter just comes together. It will lumpy. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
Using about a cup of batter per waffle, cook according to manufacturer’s instructions (mine took just shy of four minutes per waffle).
Makes four waffles.
So, so yummy.
I have attempted several times to write about our holidays thus far, and each time it’s been a struggle to express the balance of joy and relief and heart-filling happiness and exhaustion – and also the sense that memories are being made every second, and the need to document them while still being fully present in the moment – that is Christmas time with young children.
It’s been wonderful, and zany, and at points overwhelmingly emotional.
We have missed family, and shed tears for lost loved ones. We have ached for friends who are enveloped in grief.
We have celebrated our good health and our good life and our great good fortune, to have all that we do.
And today – blessed first of January! – we cracked into a brand new year.
I got out first thing, before it started to rain, and when I got home we drank the last of the bubbly and said a fond farewell to our Christmas tree.
And we ate an enormous breakfast, which we all enjoyed…
And then there was dancing.
Giant Baked Blueberry Pancake for Auspicious Beginnings
3/4c whole milk
3/4c light spelt (or all purpose) flour
1 tbsp plus 1/4c granulated sugar
1/4c (packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4c soft unsalted butter
scant 3/4c frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and milk together, then add flour and 1 tbsp granulated sugar. Whisk to combine (batter will be slightly lumpy). In a small bowl, stir together remaining granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Pour batter into pan and scatter blueberries over top.
Bake 8-10 minutes, until edges of pancake are puffed and golden but centre is still slightly runny. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Dot with remaining 2 tbsp butter, and carefully turn the pancake over in the pan. Return pan to oven and cook a further 3-5 minutes, until pancake is risen and golden and sugar has turned to syrup.
Remove from oven and invert pancake onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
I can scarcely believe that, in effect, an entire season has just passed without my contributing a thing around here.
I have been trying to figure out how to address this last epic silence from my end; as these things go, the longer I thought about it, the more ambivalent I was about addressing it at all, and then the silence itself started to feel so insurmountable that I nearly gave up on the idea of blogging altogether.
But then, December arrived, and my husband returned home after months of (more and less) lengthy absences.
And, just like that, the festive season began around here.
My children woke up this morning to the first real snow of the season, and I woke up to the promise of a long bath, a new magazine, and coffee drunk while it is still hot.
Friends, we have so much to catch up on!
Even while single-parenting, I can’t resist the outlook-changing lure of a fresh-baked breakfast. I have been using spelt or light spelt flour of late, but for these I tried a combination of light spelt, coconut, and whole wheat flours, because that is all I had on hand!
1c large flake oats
1 1/2c flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick (1/2c) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4c brown sugar
1 large ripe banana, mashed
1/4c chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Combine oats and buttermilk in a glass measuring cup, stir well, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and a pinch of salt, if desired. Cut in butter and brown sugar until mixture is fairly uniform and resembles small peas.
Add oat mixture, banana, chocolate chips and craisins to bowl and stir just to combine into a sloppy dough. Turn out onto a well-floured piece of parchment and knead 3-4 times to help the dough come together a bit.
Roll (using a well-floured rolling pin) or pat dough into a round about an inch thick. Cut out shapes using an approximately 3″ cookie or biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet; re-roll or pat the dough and cut out more shapes, until you’ve filled the baking sheet – I usually get somewhere in the neighbourhood of 16-18 biscuits.
Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool a few minutes on pan, then transfer to a rack and serve very warm, while the chocolate is still gooey.
Of course, there are exceptions – when my mom comes to town and bakes us a pie, for example – but generally speaking, the sweet-treat-after-dinner thing is just not our thing.
This is partly because my children, who are very early risers, are usually bundled off to bed mere moments after putting down their forks, so feeding them sugar just prior to that seems a little counter-intuitive (if not slightly masochistic, from the parents’ perspective).
It’s also partly because I love desserts so much that I’d prefer to have them be the main event, rather than relegate them to the end of the meal, when everyone is already drowsy from the wine and a little full.
There is nothing I like more than having a cupcake or leftover piece of pie first thing in the morning, preferably with coffee (and cake in the afternoon is the perfect way to push through the glassy-eyed no-man’s-land that constitutes the hours between three and five o’clock).
The only trouble is, because I avoid making that kind of thing unless it is a special occasion, there is rarely a leftover slice of something yummy to be had in my house in the mornings.
And that, friends, is why I am such an avid fan of the breakfast cake. It is treaty enough that you can fool yourself into thinking that it’s an indulgence, and healthy enough that you can fool yourself into thinking you’re starting your day with something nutritious.
This particular one came together so simply and quickly this morning that it’s going to be on heavy rotation around here until we run out of peaches (and by “we” I mean every fruit stand within a 10-block radius of our house).
Peachy Breakfast Cake
1 1/2c light spelt flour (you could use all-purpose too, or – better still – whole wheat. I am just really enamoured of this spelt flour I discovered recently, so I am using it in everything)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2c frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2c melted butter or coconut oil
1 heaping cup diced peaches (I used 3 medium)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a bundt or other tube-shaped pan.
Sift together flour, baking powder and cardamom in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk together apple juice concentrate, butter or coconut oil, buttermilk and eggs in a large measuring cup with a spout.
Gently stir liquids into dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in peaches until evenly distributed through the batter.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes, until cake is slightly golden on top and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool in pan on rack 10-15 minutes, then run a knife or spatula around the outside of the pan and invert cake onto a plate.
I have been managing to cobble together some decent – even inspired – dinners, which isn’t hard to do given the bounty of seasonal produce; and I have banished the cereal supper for the time being, which makes me disproportionately pleased with myself.
But on full, full days like the ones I’ve been having (and will continue to have for the next couple of weeks, I expect), the evening meal isn’t what keeps me going.
Most of my good times in the kitchen have been happening in the earliest part of the day, before it gets too hot and muggy and while what is required of me for the next twelve or so hours seems almost reasonable.
I have been using the fact that my baby is still nursing as an excuse for waking and baking relentlessly, and I have also been getting a lot of mileage out of these pancakes – wonderful for breakfast, a decent mid-morning snack, and not bad slathered with peanut butter for lunch or late at night, either.
adapted from Orangette
You must start these the night before, which I find more thrilling than onerous, but I recognize that not everyone may feel that way…
1 1/2c whole oats
2 1/4c buttermilk
1/2c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2c butter OR coconut oil, melted and cooled
Combine oats and buttermilk in a mixing bowl; stir well, so that all of the oatmeal is submerged in the buttermilk, then cover and refrigerate over night.
The next day, sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl.
Whisk together brown sugar, eggs, and melted butter (or coconut oil) in a small bowl. Add egg mixture to buttermilk mixture, and stir well to combine.
Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients – do this gently, but make sure everything is well combined.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brush lightly with a little oil, and then, when the pan is hot enough, add the batter by 1/4 cupsful (I get two pancakes per batch in my pan). Flip pancakes when they are looking dry around the edges, after 3 minutes or so. Cook a further few minutes, until golden, then transfer to a plate and place in the warm oven while you get on with the rest.
Makes 14 pancakes.
The passing mention of this new habit in a recent post did nothing to reveal how momentous a difference ordering food online, and its subsequent delivery, has wrought; so let me just say, unequivocally and on the record:
It has changed my life.
I have always loved shopping for food (and most other things, too), but lately it had been starting to feel like a bit of a chore.
We have several big household expenditures coming up, so we have been making an effort to be more frugal – which has meant less shopping at the pretty little jewel box-like shops along our strip in favour of trips to the vast, faceless and uninspiring (but ultimately more economical) supermarket at the outer fringe of our neighbourhood.
Because I find going to that store the worst kind of drudgery, my husband has been doing the grocery shopping of late – and although his is an errand of mercy and I should be grateful that he does it at all (and I am grateful, really!), I am not always pleased with what he comes home with.
It’s not that he’s a bad shopper – I’d just prefer to do it myself.
(For a while there, because of my control issues, we were making our trips to said giant grocery store en famille, and that was the worst kind of gong show:
Picture the four of us, largely disgruntled and at least one of us hungry, hurtling through the aisles in an attempt to make good choices and buy everything on our list before someone had a major meltdown and we were forced to leave without anything.)
Enter the life-altering on-line supermarket, where the aisles are empty, there is never a line at the checkout, and you don’t have to pay in cash or bag your own groceries.
Yesterday, I ordered everything on my list while nursing my baby and watching my daughter do a 300-piece puzzle.
And then this morning, before I had even finished making my coffee, there was a man at the door with four boxes of fresh food for my family and me.
I was so delighted by the whole thing, I made us a cake for breakfast to celebrate.
Spiced Carrot Breakfast Cake
The disadvantage of this over, say, muffins, is that it takes considerably more time to cook. That said, it also seems to go a lot further (don’t ask me why, since the ingredients are virtually the same), and the presentation is awfully pleasing. Besides, who can resist the notion of cake for breakfast?
1c wheat germ
1/2c applesauce (unsweetened)
1/3c oil (once again, I use coconut, but any vegetable oil will do)
1/2c agave nectar OR thawed apple juice concentrate
1 2/3c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
about 2c grated carrots (I grate 2 fairly big carrots – not enormous, but not medium-sized either)
1/2c chopped pitted dates
1/2c chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a tube pan.
Place wheat germ in a large mixing bowl.
Combine buttermilk, eggs, apple sauce, oil, and agave nectar in a large glass measuring cup and whisk until smooth. Pour over wheat germ in bowl and stir to combine.
In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Stir in carrots, dates, almonds, and craisins.
Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture and stir until just combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake about 40 minutes (check after 35), or until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Cool 10-15 minutes in pan, then run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake and invert it onto a wire rack.
Serve immediately, or let it cool a little longer before serving.
Makes at least a dozen slices.