On Monday, news had trickled out that at 97 years of age, Joseph W. Rogers had passed away. Mr. Rogers was the successful restauranteur who founded a roadside eating establishment that would be open 24 hours, seven days a week and would serve the quick, comfortable foods that everyone loves. Among his most cherished recipes to be served at the restaurant would be his recipe for the waffle, which is why he named his restaurant Waffle House. That venture turned out to be quite successful and today, Waffle House has over 1,900 restaurants worldwide and over a billion dollars in annual sales. That’s quite a waffle. They say Mr. Rogers had passed away after having dinner with his wife earlier in the night. The romantic in me pictures him sitting in front of a stack of handmade waffles dripping in syrup – his last meal a small tribute to the food that changed his life. That’s when I realized it was a good time to celebrate waffles.
Now anybody that has been to a Waffle House probably doesn’t immediately think of waffles when they think about the restaurant. In fact, I’m not sure if I want to know what Waffle House makes you think of. A 24 hour restaurant is going to create an array of memories and based on some of the stories I have heard, maybe that’s best where we kept them. But you can’t deny that the name Waffle House is inviting. Who doesn’t want to live in a house of waffles? As I kept hearing about the news of Joe Rogers all week (I really pay attention to some odd news feeds), the thought of waffles were stuck in my mind. I went to the International House of Pancakes on Tuesday, but I was on a pancake mission that day. I was still waffle-less. That’s when I realized Saturday was going to be a day for waffles, and that gave me hope.
It wasn’t just a day for waffles, it was a day for oatmeal nut waffles. I had never heard of such a concoction, but I was game. I found a recipe online from a site called TasteofHome.com. I can’t say I did much research. I just googled oatmeal nut waffles and this was the first recipe to come up. The other recipes started drifting away from just being oatmeal nut. Some had bananas, some just had oatmeal, some just nuts. I thought it best if I stuck to the letter of the law, so the Taste of Home recipe would work just fine. I was going to make them for breakfast but by the time I was ready to make them, Lola had eaten a couple of the blueberry popovers from yesterday and she was full (those popovers are among Lola’s favorite on this whole quest). I then decided that it would be a breakfast for dinner kind of day which was kind of perfect for a very cold Saturday. When dinner time rolled around, Lola had a fire going in the fireplace, we had a movie rented and cued up to go, and I just had to make the waffles. And the bacon. I made bacon too.
Waffle and pancake batter is super simple to make and this one may have been a bit more involved, but still easy. I made a few changes while I was going too. First, it called for two cups of milk and I substituted buttermilk because I happened to have some. (Doesn’t everyone have buttermilk in their fridge?) Then, because Lola really likes flavor in her waffles, I added in some vanilla and cinnamon. You mix your wet ingredients with your dry and after it’s incorporated, you fold in your quick oats and your walnuts. Then you let the batter sit. That’s something I learned from Alton Brown: never over mix your batter and let it sit for a bit before using. When our waffle iron heated up and I was given the green light, I ladled some batter into the center of the iron and closed it shut. In a few minutes, a nice toasty waffle came out.
I was always a little intimidated by a waffle iron until of course they became a staple at the breakfast counter of every hotel that offers breakfast. At some point, the hotel owners realized if they gave us the perfect amount of batter, we, the average breakfast consumer, could handle pouring it onto a hot waffle iron and then taking it out when the ready light goes on. Because I have mastered that, I am no longer afraid of the waffle iron and have since made some great waffles at home. You wouldn’t think that a waffle iron is an appliance you need, but it does the job and there’s something satisfying about a fresh made waffle. When Katie was staying with us, a fresh waffle was one of the few foods that she would crave so it was always fun to make her one. We always tried to sneak one to her when the kids weren’t around so she could enjoy them in peace, but inevitably the kids would pop back in and Katie would end up with only a few bites for herself. Our waffle iron has gotten some use over the years. It was a wedding gift and has served us well over the last ten years. The last time I used it however, the handle snapped off. I thought that would be the end of the waffle iron, but I was able to jury-rig* a solution by sticking a skewer into the hole where the handle would go. It seemed to work fine, although I’m not sure if that is OSHA approved.
We topped them in butter and syrup like all waffles should be and enjoyed them by the fire. These are hardy waffles with the oats adding a little density to the batter. The nicest surprise were the walnuts which were mixed into the batter and would give each bit a nice nutty crunch. The flavor was spot on too, with some sweetness from the honey (and the syrup), but a nutty, robust flavor throughout. Just a good time. I’m not sure if we would make this our go-to waffle recipe, sometimes you just want that classic taste, but it’s nice to have it in the repertoire. Plus, knowing how good adding nuts into the batter is gives us the chance to do some taste testing in the future. Lucky for us too, we have a couple leftover in our freezer that we can heat up on another cold winter night.
Waffles at any time of day is always a treat, and as we enjoyed that today, we took a moment to thank Joseph Rogers for his contributions to giving us permission to have waffles at any time of day. No offense to Waffle House, but waffles at home are so much better. A nice cozy treat on cold days. They make the house smell so good as the steam from the waffle iron floats out into the kitchen and beyond filling the air with nothing but the smell of sweet batter crisping up. We’ll always get behind any day that celebrates the waffle and today was no exception. It was nice to have oats and nuts as part of that party too. I guess our only regret is that we didn’t serve any hash browns with them. Would you like those smothered, covered or chunked?
*Fun fact: I always thought this expression was jerry-rig, but it is actually jury-rig as one of the definitions of the word jury means intended or designated for temporary use. There is an adjective jerry-built which means built of bad materials. Thanks Grammarist.
Next Up: National Flour Month