The last real waffle iron I owned was in 1980, back when you didn’t have to get lucky at a yard sale to find one. True, they cost more than four dollars new, but I’m getting ahead of myself. By 2017, I’d been trying for years to find a waffle iron that made real waffles. Not those stuck-up, hoity-toity, can’t stand the sight of ’em Belgian waffles that seem to have taken over the waffle market as surely as a greedy government will pick your pocket. The search was so frustrating. One website did promise to deliver, and their product photo showed the old school version, but when the much anticipated waffle iron arrived…yep, Belgian all the way.
However, giving up after an exhaustive search is often the way to achieve one’s dreams at a moment most unexpected. Not every time; some of our dreams apparently don’t fit the mold. But often enough. I’d finished looking over the Deer Lodge, Montana, Territorial Days and Classic Car Show. Looped around a few blocks to circle past the designated downtown display area, and there was the yard sale sign. Well, why not? I parked, ambled through the gate–in this town a fair number of yards do have real fences with real gates–and almost immediately spotted the waffle iron. Mine, I thought. Hoisting the prize, I asked the homeowner, “How much?”
“I’m just a shopper like you,” he said. “Try that guy up there on the porch.”
“Oh. Okay. How much?”
He even provided a bit of crucial information. “You have to turn it up all the way and then just get the waffles out of there when they’re ready. I tried lower settings and they came out uncooked in the middle.”
“Appreciate the tip.” I grinned, reaching for my billfold. “I’ve been looking for one of these for years. Looks like new! Why are you selling it?”
He shrugged. “I like ’em, but my wife doesn’t, so….”
That made total sense. Pam was tickled when I got home and showed her my trophy. Toastmaster brand, what looks like a fifties power cord in perfect condition, gleaming chrome exterior, not a scratch on the Teflon griddle surfaces. (Which, by the way, measure a full, beautiful nine inches across.) The appliance took up permanent residence on the kitchen counter between the range (which needs to be replaced, another story) and the refrigerator.
Thinking back to 1980, those waffles–cooked during a brief hiatus as a single man between wife #2 and wife #3–were hardcore, made from scratch, whole buckwheat flour with home canned choke cherry syrup. Unbelievably good. But forget that; who has the time as a married dude to duplicate what he did when he was single?
This morning, the waffle iron was plugged in to preheat, the Hungry Jack buttermilk waffle mix came out of the cupboard to play, and a mixing bowl got put to work. Following the recipe exactly required two cups of waffle mix, two eggs, 1 1/4 cup of milk, and 1/4 cup of Crisco oil, whisk to perfection and let set a few minutes before making waffles.
Okay, so it had been 27 years since I cooked a waffle. That’s my only excuse for forgetting to oil the iron, leaving the waffle to stick to both top and bottom surfaces. On the other hand, I’ve been an expert “waffle scraper” since the age of ten. No harm, no foul, and half of the undersized, split-open first effort was still enough to satisfy Pam’s appetite (her being anorexic does help).
With the stuck waffle unstuck and consumed, and the four dollar yard sale waffle iron unplugged to cool a bit, it was time to oil the iron…but how? We needed a brush to do it right; never mind Pam’s lament that she didn’t have a can of Pam in stock. The spray can Pam, that is. Which was fine by me; I prefer brush application. Unfortunately, there was no brush in the kitchen…ah! A trip to the garage produced an artist’s paint brush that had never felt the kiss of paint. Brand new.
As a youngster, I took pride in making sure the entire grid was filled when pouring waffle batter. Not so today; the appetite that once consumed four Sloppy Joe sandwiches in a row during lunch hour at the school cafeteria is no more. A single scoop of batter is adequate. Besides, the smaller, more rounded waffle fits our paper plates nicely, and we’ve yet to figure out which box contains our stoneware plates.
Staying power? You betcha; I ran a solid eight hours on this real waffle before tackling my next meal. Belgium, take back your irons!