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TODAY

Wednesday, August 12

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Airbags

Any department store or cooking store is a wonderland of kitchen appliances, each uniquely designed to offer you an easier time of making dinner or offer some exotic new culinary experience. I've met people who cook more with their George Foreman Grill than with a barbeque grill, nevermind actually turning on the stove.

As someone who recently acquired a microwave, I've been a bit of a skeptic about culinary appliances. I saw the milkshake maker my parents purchased acquire dust for years, and have seen acres of countertop wither under bread machines that were used for a month or two and then forgotten.

So I was a bit of a skeptic when my girlfriend came home with a waffle iron after a recent Target trip. I expected it to join the appliance gulag with the McFlurry machine and the ice cream maker. But it's turning out to be quite the thing, considering it was only $10.

The waffle iron is a nice tool to keep in the kitchen toolbox. It's pretty easy to make some simple waffle batter to pop onto the waffle iron. Any of the variations on pancakes you've had in the past will easily work on waffles too: chocolate chip, buckwheat, or your standard buttermilk are good.

To make it one step easier, pick up a bag of instant batter at the grocery store. So long as you have an egg and some milk or soy milk, you can have your waffle batter ready to cook before your waffle iron has finished heating. We like the organic Arrowhead Mills Buttermilk mix, but Aunt Jemima is fine too. Once you have that and the ingredients listed on the back, you're ready to stir it up with some new and inviting waffles.

It might seem like cheating to use instant batter. It is. But if you're interested in cooking at home instead of getting take-out again, this is a meal that's warm and ready in 15 minutes, start to finish. When you've come home from work starving (or wake up hungover), that's hard to beat.

Here's some simple variations on waffles we've tried and enjoyed lately.

Blueberry and Oatmeal

A simple variation that will add a bit of a healthy touch to your waffle. We add a bunch (1/2 cup?) of frozen blueberries. A 1/4 c. of oatmeal will add some crunchiness. Stir thoroughly, cook, and enjoy.

Cheddar and Chives

Savory waffles are a nice change of pace. These are perfect for dinner with a decent salad (think balsamic). If you have some leftover waffles, dry them out in the oven and use them as croutons.

To make these, add a 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar (less if you don't want cheesy waffles, more if you're thinking pizza). Shred a fresh handful of chives and add to the batter. Stir and cook.

Lemon, Ginger and Almond

Add ginger however you find it - powdered is most common, but a hint of freshly ground will work fine too. Some shredded almonds add protein, and the juice of one lemon along with the zest of a lemon rounds out this funky waffle.

Neat tip: most recipes make more waffles than one or two people can reasonably eat for dinner. Instead of tossing them, just put them in a freezer bag after they've cooled and freeze them. You now have some instant homemade Eggos!

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