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I Said I'd Never Make Waffles

When we first started living together, breakfast on Saturday was a discussion. What should we make, what do we have in the house? I always wanted something with eggs; Dan always wanted waffles. I almost always got my way and Dan would make a potato-egg dish that we now call Potatoes Brazelton. These days he doesn’t even bother to ask, he just starts the potatoes when he gets up to make the coffee.

I got my way because: 1) Dan has a hard time saying no to me, 2) I told him I’d never make him waffles because, 3) we didn’t have a waffle iron.

That last fact was my savior, until he told my mother that I wouldn’t make him waffles because we didn’t have a waffle iron. My mother likes to spoil Dan, especially if it tortures me in some small way. So that Christmas, he got a waffle iron and I no longer had an excuse, except that I didn’t want to. And while I’m quite stubborn, I’m not mean, and Dan really wanted me to make him waffles.

Besides being stubborn, I’m also a perfectionist. So if I was going to make waffles, I was going to make damn good waffles. I looked through a few of our classic cookbooks and settled on a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything. First I tried his Quick and Easy waffles, and while they lived up to the name, they were a little cakier than either of us wanted. However, the Rich Buttermilk Waffles, while a little more work, were both crisp and light. The trick is to separate the eggs and fold in the whipped whites as the last step. I opted to not do this step once and we were back to the heavy, cakey waffles.

Dan is thankful that I am more of a perfectionist than I am stubborn. Next up will be yeasted waffles, I hear they are absolutely the best.

Rich, Buttermilk Waffles
From How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Canola or other neutral oil for brushing on waffle iron
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
1¾ cups buttermilk (see Note), or 1½ cups sour cream or plain yogurt thinned with ¼ cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) butter, melted and cooled
½ tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat it.

Combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix together the liquid ingredients, except for the egg whites. Mix wet and dry ingredients together into a smooth batter.

Beat the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. Fold them gently into the batter.

Spread ⅓ cup batter onto the hot waffle iron and bake until done, usually 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

Note:

For the buttermilk, you can substitute 1 3/4 cups milk, at room temperature, mixed with 2 tablespoons white vinegar and left to clabber for 10 minutes.

I’ve used both buttermilk and the yogurt milk combo and didn’t notice a difference.

Cottage Food Law

Last weekend I attended a panel discussion on the recently passed California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616) that went into effect this January. While I was crossing my fingers that it would allow me to legally produce and sell my bitters from my home kitchen instead of a commercial kitchen, I didn’t have much hope. Liquor is a tricky and highly regulated thing. Unfortunately I was right, I’m not covered by the new legislation. However, many small food businesses are and it’s a great step in the direction of building a more sustainable local food economy. I’m very happy it exists.

Basically the law is there to allow certain approved food businesses to function out of a home kitchen while they are getting started. This cuts down on overhead costs and allows for more recipe and market testing in the beginning. The function of the law is to have a record of these businesses so that if anything does go wrong, like someone gets sick, there’s a way to track it back to the individual and make it right. The law does not provide any protection and still expects you to uphold safe production processes.  And unfortunately the list of approved foods is still quite limited. Pickles, ferments, and all meat products still need to be produced in commercial kitchens.

The amount of people that showed up to hear how this law would affect them was quite inspiring. It was a standing room only crowd and there were tons of questions from folks ready to start selling their wares. If you’re going to take advantage of the new legislation, you still need register your business and liability insurance is highly recommended, but if you follow the health department rules about production and labeling you can produce in your home and sell to the public without fear that you’re breaking any laws.

The discussion was lead by Frederick Smith of ForageKitchen and Christina Oatfield of The Sustainable Economies Law Center at the Food Craft Institute in Oakland, all fabulous resources for those of you considering a food based business. The food community in the Bay Area is strong, organized and changing the way people think about and relate to food. 

Calendars For All Your Planting and Canning Desires

As part of planning for the New Year, Dan and I decided to create a calendar that showed what months were best for planting certain vegetables and what was in season at the farmer’s market. Last year we missed a lot of things because we weren’t paying attention. We didn’t get enough cherries before they were gone to have a year’s supply of brandied cherries and we were too wrapped up in holiday prep to get to the market when peppers were exploding so we have no pepper jelly in the house. It’s so sad. This year we’ll attempt to be more on top of it.

We tried a paper calendar on the fridge last year and that failed, so this year we're hoping modern technology will help us be more proactive. Once I started putting everything into a Google calendar it occurred to me that this could be useful for others too. Neither calendar is completely exhaustive, some things seemed too obscure to include. I also omitted all veggies you could find year round. The planting guide is for the sunnier parts of the city. If you live in foggier areas, the Sunset or Richmond, you might want to consider planting a few weeks later. Even given my edits each calendar is a pretty solid reference for top crops in the San Francisco area.

You can find all this information online, but the Google calendar will allow you to copy whatever crops or harvests you’re interested in directly to your own calendar and set reminders. Since I created them as all day events that last months at a time I would suggest copying them to a calendar separate from the one you use every day, so as not to crowd things out, and then edit from there. However, you’re also welcome to just subscribe to the calendars as is. 

For the planting calendar I used Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Peirce as my reference and the seasonal harvest calendar was created from Om Organics exhaustive listing.

These are very much a work in progress so if you have ideas on how to make them more useful or other ways to incorporate the calendars please share.

I hope we all have bursting gardens and fully stocked pantries this year. 

Farmer's Market Seasonal Calendar - San Francisco

Planting Calendar - San Francisco

Shaping The New Year

Welcome to 2013! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season full of family, friends and play. 

I love the fresh feeling a New Year brings, the sense of possibility, of starting over. However, I also find the New Year laden with expectation, too much weight put on resolutions and change. I believe that you can’t achieve the things you want without stating them and making a plan, but I also feel that most of us put too much pressure on ourselves to make multiple big changes all at once, setting ourselves up for disappointment.

In the last few years I’ve made the gradual shift from resolutions to goals. It may just be semantics, but to me goals seem to be something you work toward slowly in steps whereas resolutions are something you promise to do right now. So I took some time last week and listed goals for Bitter Housewife along with some of the key tasks needed to reach those goals. Dan and I also made some personal goals for this year, things we both keep saying we wan to do, but never seem to find the time for.

Overall I see this as a year full of change. I will be going back to the workforce in some manner. Dan and I will be tackling The Bitter Housewife together to see if we can really make it go. I also want to regain control of a few areas of my life that have been neglected in this first year and a half of marriage.

Now comes the hard part, actually making them happen. To help with that Dan and I put a planning day on the calendar for each week, where after dinner we’ll check in with each other about what we want to accomplish both for the week and the month and help each other to make a plan to make it happen. We’ve also set aside one night a week where we won’t watch any TV. We don’t necessarily need to be tackling a project or goal but we’ll be spending time doing some of the things that we never seem to have time for, like reading, writing, or even game playing.

One of the other things I do to help me keep moving forward is post my goals in a visible spot so that I see them almost every day. I write out a note card for the year’s goals and then I set smaller goals for each month, list projects I want to focus on, and even break out smaller tasks to tackle. Then I tape these note cards above my desk where I’ll see them every time I sit down to work. Because of where my office is I also see these note cards every time I enter or leave the house. This gentle reminder of all that I want to do keeps me on track.

Here are a few of the things I hope to accomplish this year:

Personal

1)    Get healthy

2)    Take control of finances

3)    3-4 big knitting projects

4)    3 big sewing projects

5)    Complete a writing/photo project

6)    Do 2 public readings

7)    Put together a literary dinner

8)    Improve my photography

9)    Learn about graphic design

10) Learn about typography

Bitter Housewife

1)    Move blog to Squarespace 6

2)    Secure commercial kitchen

3)    Build influencer campaign

4)    Build launch strategy

5)    Launch company

6)    Launch product

7)    Secure 5 retail accounts

8)    Teach classes

9)    Begin book proposal

10) Write business plan

Happy Holidays!

Here's a toast to a great holiday season and a happy New Year.

I'm taking the next two weeks to spend with family and enjoy a little down time before the New Year kicks in and demands my time.

Best wishes to all! 

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