Looking at my blog, it might be easy to imagine what my life is like. During the week, I probably wake up, share a delicious breakfast with my family, head out to a productive day at work, come home to a brood of happy kids, and then whip up a homemade, balanced dinner before reading a few stories and tucking everyone in for the night. On the weekends, surely it's even better: days filled with heavenly baked goods and relaxing family activities, nights spent lingering with my husband over bowls of fresh pasta and glasses of wine by candlelight. Some people think this is a fairly accurate portrait of my life. "I don't know how you do it all," friends say to me. "You seem like you balance everything so well." Ummm... no. Uh-uh. Far from it. Not even close.
In reality, the life imagined above exists only in fleeting moments. Oh sure, the waking up, stories, and tucking in parts are pretty consistent. But the rest of my life? It's all over the map. I almost never sit down to breakfast during the week, unless eating at my desk counts. I almost never cook dinner on work days, because if I did, we probably wouldn't eat until after the kids' bedtime. As for the wine... well, other than an occasional beer or celebratory cocktail, I almost never drink.
I know what you're thinking: "C'mon, Dawn. What about the delicious food? The adorable kids? We've seen the photos." So yes, I will admit to some darn good baked goods, fun family outings with our very cute kids, and even the occasional homemade pasta. But I'll let you in on a little secret: I usually don't take pictures of the kitchen failures, the serious work stress, the Saturday afternoons spent vegging in front of a DVD with a bowl of popcorn, or the many, many meltdowns (kids' and mommy's) that take place at the Kitchen Travels house during any given week.
Monday morning was a good example of my blog life vs. my real life. Things started out pretty well. It was a holiday. The kids got up early but were content to amuse themselves while Mommy and Daddy "slept in" (ahem - until 7:30 - woot!). Randy made Egyptian Eyes for the kids, while I dug out our 16 year-old cast-iron waffle maker from its hiding place deep in a far corner of our little kitchen. Since the kids had already eaten, I figured Randy and I had a good shot at a nice, quiet breakfast together - something I sorely needed after a difficult week.
Fast forward 30 or 40 minutes, past three crying kids, one slightly burned waffle, a harried mom who may or may not have let a few choice swear words slip, and a very large, very sticky, very messy puddle of spilled maple syrup. By the time we finally sat down to breakfast, I was so flustered that I almost didn't want to eat. Luckily, a few things happened that brought me to my senses. My husband looked me in the eyes, and in that quiet way he has, told me everything was okay. One of my daughters paused mid-giggle to give me a sweet-smelling hug and kiss. And the waffles. The waffles! Despite having sat on their plates quite a bit longer than they rightly should have, they were warm and comforting, with a light crust that held the syrup rather than drinking it in, and a moist, airy interior that played nicely against the salty-sweet crunch of the pecans.
So, my friends, I'm sorry to tell you that mine is not nearly the well-balanced, well-choreographed life one might imagine from my blog. But you know what? Sometimes, it's pretty close. Most of the time, it's pretty great. And all the time, it's mine. Even with my foibles and failures, I wouldn't trade this life for all the world's riches.
These waffles seemed to take a reeeealllly long time to cook. Granted, we hadn't used our waffle iron in at least 8 years, so it's possible the temperature gauges were slightly off. In any event, it was worth the wait.
4 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, melted (plus additional for coating waffle iron)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup milk
Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions; coat with non-stick spray or brush with melted butter or shortening if needed (mine definitely needed).
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and beat until stiff. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until light. Add vanilla and butter. Combine flour and salt, then add to the egg yolk mixture along with the milk. Beat well. Fold egg whites into batter.
Pour approximately one cup of batter onto waffle iron. Close and bake according to manufacturer's instructions - my stove-top model suggests 30-45 seconds, flip iron, then bake 2-3 more minutes until steam stops or waffle is brown (mine took much longer than suggested). Gently remove waffle and hold in a warm oven until all waffles are done and pecans are ready. Best served promptly, with maple syrup.
Makes 4 large waffles.
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup pecan halves
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
generous pinch Kosher salt
Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pecans and stir to coat. Sprinkle with sugar and salt. Saute until sugar melts and coats the nuts. Serve over warm waffles.
* Apparently, Nordic Ware no longer makes the exact model that we have - pity. The model to which I've linked is the closest they now carry.