Saturday, February 11, 2012

Easy Weekend Waffles

A few years ago, my brother Ethan and I attended the Seattle stop of Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain's speaking tour. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I doubled-over listening to them rag on McDonald's and the Food Network. I particularly loved Bourdain's commentary on Sandra Lee's jaw-dropping white-trash catastrophe, "Kwanzaa Cake." (Watch the video for a little self-esteem boost. I guarantee you've never made anything this horrifying.)

I won't lie to you. I love me a Mickey D's cheeseburger, but Bourdain's idea to wrap things like lutefisk and limburger cheese in a McDonald's wrapper to forever turn your kids off their food is pretty brilliant. And ever since the news erupted about pink-ammonia soft serve getting pumped into Mcdonald's beef to make it edible, I barely can stomach the thought of that yellow wrapper, which used to make me drool like Pavlov's dog.

Anyway, one of Bourdain and Batali's biggest issues with the Food Network is their hocking of sub-standard fare, passing it off as haute cuisine so people at home will watch and say, "I could totally make that if I wanted to ..." Problem is, a big percentage of viewers will continue eating their Cheetos, guzzling their Coke, and feeding their families frozen dinners.

While I don't feed my family a ton of prepared food (Lucas doesn't ever get any), I absolutely am guilty of watching the Food Network, reading countless food magazines, and not making most of the things I tuck away in the back of my mind. Since we've had a baby in our lives, my cooking really has gone out the window. I make all of Lucas' food from scratch, but Morgan and I eat far more ghetto "crispy chicken salads" topped with Foster Farms chicken nuggets than I care to admit.

The older Lucas gets, the longer he can play independently while I cook. So when I do find a little bit of time to pull together a semi-decent meal, it has to be fast. Like, 30 minutes maximum fast.

I woke up this morning and decided that we were going to have a real breakfast. I pulled out one of my super cool, but far-too seldomly used fun kitchen toys, found a quick and easy waffle recipe and had a respectable homemade breakfast in about 25 minutes that both my little guy and big guy gobbled up.

I ate mine with a handful of frozen berries. I normally would have used some butter, too, but this recipe made pretty moist waffles and I'm trying to lose a few final baby-weight pounds, so I skipped it. (Most people probably would thaw the berries first, but I have a weird thing for the texture of frozen berries.) Lucas ate his plain with a side of pureed sweet potatoes and pears — he's fancy like that — and Morgan drowned his in maple syrup.

If I can find time to make these and have a nice weekend breakfast with my family, anyone can!

Tip: Make a double batch of waffles and freeze your leftovers to heat later in the toaster. They work just like Eggos. I freeze two waffles each in individual sandwich bags with a piece of wax or parchment paper in between to avoid them sticking together.

20-Minute Waffles

Adapted from Allrecipes Waffles I

2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat waffle iron. Whisk eggs in large bowl until fluffy. Slowly whisk in flour, milk, vegetable oil, applesauce, sugar, baking powder, salt, spices and vanilla, just until smooth.

2. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Keep warm on a cookie sheet in the oven at 300F until all waffles are cooked. (I have a Cuisinart Traditional-Style 6-Slice Waffle Iron and find that a scant 1/4 cup of batter is perfect for each waffle, otherwise the batter overflows and your time spent cleaning up will ruin the whole point of these being fast and easy.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Nine Months, Lucas!

Happy nine months, sweet boy!

You actually turned nine-months-old 18 days ago, but I only am now just getting around to writing your letter. I was going to be so on top of it this month, but the past three weeks evaporated. Poof. Just. Like. That.

Your first Christmas was so fun. You had a great time opening gifts, i.e., eating wrapping paper and pounding on boxes. You sat on a lot of laps and got a ton of snuggles while we visited all of your grandparents, and your auntie and uncles. Daddy, you and I spent Christmas Eve morning celebrating together at our house, and later that day went to grandpa and farmor Omdal’s house for dinner. Since they’re Scandinavian, they do all of their celebrating on Christmas Eve. We then headed over on the ferry to grandpa and nana Smith’s house where we spent a couple days. Nana watched you while daddy and I went to church with grandpa and uncle Ethan on Christmas morning. We had a great Christmas dinner together and took a ridiculous amount of pictures. Daddy, you and I stay in the same room at their house, and thankfully, you slept much better during our Christmas visit than you did on Thanksgiving, when you were up every few hours wanting to play.   

You are getting so big! At your nine-month checkup, you weighed just under 20 pounds, and were 30 inches tall. That’s the 25th percentile for weight, and 75th–90th for height. You’re tall and skinny, just like your daddy. I’m surprised you’re not chunkier because you are eating us out of house and home. I looked in the freezer this weekend, and you were down to just a handful of food cubes. (I make all of your food and freeze it in ice cube trays.)

I had a marathon cooking session for you on Sunday, and hope our new stores will last for at least three weeks: 12 pears, six sweet potatoes, five avocados, one pound each of peas, green beans and broccoli, and a giant slow cooker full of chicken and dumplings. You’re eating more table food these days. I put the chicken and dumplings through the food processor, and also made a batch of beef stew for you a few weeks ago. Prior to you turning nine months, we were following the four-day wait rule of introducing new foods, looking for allergies, stomach upset, etc. The rule was lifted by your pediatrician this month, and it has been so much more fun to share some of our regular meals with you. It also is much easier to find new foods for you to try.

You love cheese. You really love cheese. This is how I know you are my son. You’ve had mozzarella and cheddar, and I have to ration it very carefully. Otherwise, you grab it in fistfuls from your tray and gobble it up all at once. We call you our little Cheese Squirrel, because you stash it away in your cheeks and gnaw on it for a disgustingly long time. I had to stick my finger in your mouth and scoop some out the other day, because I was afraid you would choke. Against my better judgment, I shared a Pillsbury biscuit with you this weekend, and you had a complete cow because I wasn’t handing over the pieces quickly enough.

Speaking of whining, you’re really starting to show a little temper. You do not like to have things taken away — this usually happens because you like to chew on everything. If we say “No,” and remove something from your hands, the lip immediately comes out and I’m certain that the slow bursts of your melodramatic cry can be heard by the neighbors. You’re extremely loud when you’re mad! You also still despise tummy time. You’re showing no interest in crawling, and pitch a huge fit every time we place you on your belly. They tell us that you don’t usually do this at daycare, but you obviously know that daddy and I will be quicker to pick you up when you meltdown. We’ve been “torturing” you with this a lot lately, letting you cry longer than we have during the past few months. I know it’s important for your development, but I still hate seeing you so upset.

You figured out how to move forward in your walker this past weekend, and immediately went straight for the kitchen cabinets and drawers. When we redirected you so you wouldn’t smash your fingers, you then tried to pull the bottom rack out of the dishwasher. Daddy went straight to Lowe’s and picked up some childproofing materials. You often buckle your knees when we try to sit you down because you like to stand so much, and you’ll walk across the room when we hold your hands. I think you might skip crawling all together and once you figure out how to pull yourself up, will go straight to walking.

This week also marks your move into the older/mobile infant classroom at daycare. I think they gave up on waiting for you to crawl, and just decided to move you anyway, since you were the oldest baby in the younger infants room. You seem perfectly content to sit and play with the other babies moving all around you. I think what finally may motivate your mobility is another child stealing your binky one time too many. You DO NOT like to be without your binky.

You babble nonstop when the pacifier isn’t in your mouth. I sometimes take it away for a little while just to hear you talk. I love listening to you and think you’re beginning to associate certain sounds with objects. Your binky is your “ba ba” and it’s by far your clearest “word.” You also say “mama” and “dada,” but I’m not quite sure that you’re associating those sounds with me and daddy.

You have all four of your bottom teeth and your upper-right lateral incisor. We can see your other three front teeth ready to pop through your gums any day now, and sometimes you wake up screaming in horrible teething pain. For the most part, though, you sleep a solid 12–13 hours a night, and it is awesome. We know how lucky we are that you’re such a great sleeper, and we are incredibly thankful.

We had the first snow of the season at our house this month, and also had the chance to spend a snowy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend with our friends, the Cudworths, at their cabin in Ronald, Wash. You seemed to really like the snow at our house when we first took you out, but after it turned into the Storm of the Century and we tried to get you to play in it a few more times, you very clearly let us know that you no longer were interested.

Right now I am spending between two and two-and-a-half hours a day commuting to and from work. That’s more than three working months per year wasted in traffic that I could be spending with you. It’s awful. Really, really awful. I’m frustrated when I get to work, and I’m frustrated when I come home. I do my best to not think about work and focus solely on you during our very limited time together in the evenings, but my commute is taking a serious toll on my happiness. It’s not fair to any of us. Hopefully it won’t have to be like this forever.

Daddy and I both had the opportunity to work from home last week due to the massive snowfall, and it was so blissful. We managed to take care of you, get all our work done, and spend extra time together as a family. I’m working hard to figure out a way to make this happen more often, but I unfortunately don’t work for the most flexible company. I really hope you’re never faced with this type of situation when you’re older. The saying that time is “the only thing you can’t get back” is so true. I’ll do my best to help you understand that and take it to heart.

I love you so much, little Boo. You are an awesome little boy and I’m so glad you’re mine.