Tag Archives: recipes

Waffles: An Invitation to Dinner

When I mentioned on line that I followed my mother’s tradition of making a main course of apple dumplings  (with or without a side dish of cold cuts and cheese slices), friends on social media wanted to come to my house for dinner.  So how would you like an Invitation to dinner with a main course of waffles?

waffles for dinner

Waffles for dinner with knockwurst and syrup

After talking about Waffle Iron Cookies, it occurred to me that I have never talked about making waffles–a mainstay on most of my grandmother’s tables and mine.  If you think of waffles only as a breakfast food, you’re missing a base for an easy meal that is good any time and highly flexible.

A Bit of History

The history of waffles on the Mental Floss website reveals some things you might not have known and some tools you may never have seen. From Belgian waffles to frozen Eggos, waffles kept growing in popularity. Thomas Jefferson, a real conoisseur of good food, brought not one but four waffle irons home from Holland. And if you’re daring, follow the link from the waffle history article to a book that includes a description of a “wafle-frolic” in Colonial New York state.

Mental Floss tells us that the first waffle mix was marketed in 1889, and the first electric waffle iron was marketed by General Electric in 1918. By the 1950s and 60s when my mother bought this little waffle iron, waffles were taken for granted.

Toastmaster Waffle Iron

Toastmaster Waffle Iron

Make Your Own Waffles

Although there are simple one-egg recipes that do not call for separating the eggs and beating the egg whites, I have tried many waffle recipes and am convinced that separated eggs make a big difference in light and crispy waffles.  I also like to use buttermilk, but for those who don’t like buttermilk (here’s looking at my sister, Paula) I have included two recipes here–one with plain milk.

The plain milk recipe comes from an interesting little cookbook I picked up second hand. I love hand written recipes. I also love notes found in old books. So this book brings the best of both those quirky loves. It is called Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller’s Collection of Curous and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages. The title says it all.  He reproduces the handwritten recipes and transcribes them with a few notes.  He also shows us what book the handwritten and forgotten recipe was stuck inside.

Waffle Iron and Recipe Book

Waffle iron and recipe book.

Just as some old recipe books start with things like “First catch a rabbit,”  the first step in a waffle recipe might need to be


This is mine, a mid-century Toastmaster brand 8″ round waffle iron inherited from my mother. It has a chrome finish, a non-stick interior and bakelite handles and dial.

waffle iron and recipe

Waffle iron open and recipe

Although I have never greased it before use, waffles never stick and the non-stick finish has not peeled or cracked.

The Waffle Recipes and a Helpful Hint

The anonymous person who wrote the recipe in the “Handwritten Recipes” book, included on her recipe note, instructions on keeping the waffle iron clean. and a “formula.”


2 tablespoons baking soda

1 teaspoon water

Brush iron grids. Do not do this often. Never wash grid after cooking as it sticks.

These two recipes–with plain milk or with buttermilk–use basically the same ingredients. However, please note the difference in amounts of baking powder and the addition of baking soda in the buttermilk recipe. When baking with buttermilk, it is necessary to substitute baking soda for at least part of the baking powder.

Why did Mrs. Anonymous call her waffles “Universal Waffles?” Probably because it is the recipe that came with her waffle maker, a Universal brand.

Universal Waffles

Serves 4
From book Handwritten Recipes by Michael Popek
A hand written recipe found by the author of Handwritten Recipes in a 1940-era cookbook, makes a waffle that is hard to improve on.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter (Melted)


1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl
3. Beat yolks of eggs well into milk [beat in melted butter]. Add a little at a time [to dry ingredients] stirring until perfectly smooth.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.


This recipe comes from a book called Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller's Collection of Curioius and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages.

Although the recipe's author says it feeds four, the book's author questions that, and I tend to agree.  As a side dish with a lot of other things on the table, maybe.  In my small round waffle iron, this recipe made five 7-inch waffles.

The person who wrote the recipe suggested adding the butter into the batter after adding the milk and egg.  I have changed it to adding melted butter into the milk and egg mixture because I think the butter blends better that way. [brackets in the instructions indicate my additions to the written recipe.]

The handwritten recipe card also contains a valuable hint on cleaning the waffle iron.

Do not clean with soap and water.  Instead, just brush off the crumbs.  Every few uses, you may clean with a paste made of 2 tablespoons baking powder and one teaspoon of water, which is rubbed on and brushed off.

My favorite buttermilk waffle recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking.

Buttermilk Waffles

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 3/4 cup buttermilk


1. Heat oven to 250, if you are going to keep waffles warm before serving. Heat waffle iron. Melt butter.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl
3. Separate eggs, and put egg yolks in small bowl
4. Whisk buttermilk into eggs
5. Slowly pour melted butter into buttermilk/egg mixture.
6. Add the liquid ingredients to flour mixture and stir as short a time as possible--just until dry ingredients are blended in.
7. In separate, clean bowl, beat egg whites until firm but not dry and fold into the other ingredients.
8. Spoon batter (which will be thick) into hot waffle iron, not filling to edges. When you close lid, it will smooth out to full layer. Follow manufacturer directions for length of cooking time. (The 7" round waffle iron I use takes 5-6 minutes per waffle.)
9. You can keep waffles on a rack in a 250 degree oven until all are baked. If you have leftovers, see notes below.


If you have never made waffles before, you need to learn how much batter to put in the waffle iron.  It probably takes less than you think it will need, so go easy with the first one until you figure it out.  Your waffle iron may come with instructions about amount of batter to use, and how long to bake the waffle.

You can add many ingredients to waffles to make the sweet or savory.  I like to add grated cheese or grated apples or blueberries.

Serve with butter to melt into the hot waffles, and syrup or applesauce to fill up the indentations.

Bacon or sausage or eggs go well with waffles.

This has been my response to the challenge of the week from 52 Ancestors  “Invitation to Dinner.”

Grandma’s World War II Garden: Family Letters

Vera Anderson, August 1944

Vera Anderson, August 1944

Throughout the letters that my grandmother, Vera Anderson, wrote from Killbuck Ohio to my mother in Ames Iowa in 1943, she included many reference to her World War II garden.

Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens were just one of the many ways that everyday citizens on the homefront were enlisted to help the war effort.  The government helped people learn how to grow gardens, gave them brochures and recipe books to take advantage of the vegetables they grew and exhorted them to save the produce grown by farmers for the troops. And of course–Posters!

World War II Garden Poster

Patriotic gardening poster during World War Two

I’m pretty sure, however, that Grandma never thought of her World War II garden as a Victory Garden–let alone a Munition Plant. She planted gardens every year. She was still doing so more than ten years after the war when my family lived in Killbuck and my father also planted a garden.  People in small rural communities like Killbuck did not need the government to tell them that growing gardens could save money and provide healthy eating.  They always planted in the spring and harvested everything before the first hard frost.

Grandma grew flowers as enthusiastically as she grew vegetables–possibly more so, because flowers caused a lot less work, as you can see below.  An apple tree in her back yard provided small, misshapen but delicious apples as long as I could remember.

In her letters she is as obsessed with the effect of weather on the crops as any farmer would be.

Grandma Writes about Her World War II Garden

Undated letter, probably October 4th :

I gathered in my green tom. & mangoes [ bell peppers] also flowers tonight as they will surely go tonight. The frost hasn’t hurt anything yet.  The trees are beautiful.

Letter written October 12, 1943

Well we are having lovely weather –awful dry. I hear farmers say they are afraid the wheat will not get started for winter. (Coshocton Tribune front page article on October 11 reports the area has had only .77 inch of rain in six weeks, and none in 25 days.)

Later in the letter, she says,

I made 16 pts. of green tom and mango [bell pepper] relish last week and also 7 more pts of tom juice and 3 cans of Kraut like you said.

Salted Green Tomatoes for Relish

Green Tomatoes and Red Peppers, salted. (These look like tomatillos, but the seller at the farmer’s market said they were small tomatoes.

Unfortunately, Grandma did not leave recipe cards for these items. If you would like to make something like her green tomato and mango relish, check out this recipe that I found for “green tomato pickle” in a Mennonite cookbook. Or you might want to try grandma’s recipe for red pepper jam”.  I wrote about her canning in general and in a later article related my experience in following her recipe for “red pepper jam.” When you read these articles you will see that it would take A LOT of “mangoes” to make 16 pts of relish!

Making Canned Food--Re Peppers

Red Peppers for Ready to Make Grandma’s Red Pepper Jam

In an undated letter probably written in soon after the one above, Oct 13? she wrote:

I made some more catsup today. That is the last of tom. Only green ones now. Frost hasn’t hurt anything here.

Another undated October letter remarks on the weather, “No killing frost yet.” then later says:

We haven’t had any frost that harmed anything. My flowers are beautiful yet.

Oct. 16

It is raining here and cold. Glen Orr said it hailed a little.


But she is starting work at her GoodYear “Rosie the Riveter” job, so she would have no time for her World War II garden, even if the weather were favorable. Another letter in October says that Irene, my father’s sister, is busy canning.  Irene was a prize-winning gardener. November letters have remarks about rain and December it is ice and cold weather. But Grandma and Daddy Guy would have vegetables galore all winter.

While other vegetables had been harvested earlier in the summer–beans, peas, cucumbers, and most had been canned, at the end of the year, we hear that she is canning tomato catsup, tomato juice, green tomato relish and sauerkraut.  Her basement shelves were full of those jewel-tones in glass jars (like these from a farmer’s market) created from Grandma’s World War II garden.

Preserves at farmer's Market

St. Phillips’ Farmers’ Market in Tucson, Grammy’s canned foods

Top Ten Posts of 2015

You may be excused if this gets too geeky for you. On the other hand, you might discover a post among the top ten posts that you missed along the way, and this gives you a second chance to read it.

Ancestors in Aprons launched in April 2013.  Since then, I have published 331 posts. In 2013, I wrote 31 posts telling stories about ancestors–some about more than one, and sometimes writing about one person more than once. In 2014 and 2015 I participated in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, which ensured that I would write about at least 104 ancestors and I actually sneaked in a few extra people.

Top Ten Posts on People: THE MOST POPULAR KIDS ON THE BLOCK in 2015

According to Google Analytics, based on the number of people who looked at each post this year, the Top Ten posts–10 most popular ancestors were:

Joseph Kaser's carpentry

Great Grandfather Joseph Kaser made this handkerchief chest.

Harriette Anderson, coach

Harriette Andrson (on the right) coach of Killbuck Women’s Basketball Team 1928

Helen Stucky

Great-Grandma Helen Kohler with Mike, Kenneth Paul, and Brent, in Ohio, 1966

Irene Kaser Bucklew quilt

Irene Bucklew Wedding Ring pattern Baby Quilt 1939. Crib sized gift for me when I was born.

  • Henry Butts wrote home from the Civil War (Dear Wif) and I published all the letters we have. The first one made the top ten list, but I think all of them deserve a look as they tell the story of the war from the point of view of an apolitical, farmer soldier who is patriotic, but more concerned about his family than national affairs. (January 2015)

A slightly different popularity list comes up if we look at who people searched for on the site. There we find Revolutionary War solider Jerusha Howe, Pilgrims William Bassett and Sarah Bassett and Peregrine White are the subjects of curiosity.


(Same criteria as above applied to the food pages–top ten posts about food.)

The first year of Ancestors turned out some lasting favorites.








And then you skipped right over 2014 and chose five recipes from 2015:





Probably more significant in the food category is what foods people searched, because you tend to spend more than twenty minutes on the site when you search for a food story or a recipe. That is a really significant amount of time on a blog, where people average 20 seconds or so.

Searchers landed on:

  • Food books
  • Tomato soup
  • Food grinder
  • Amish Buttermilk Cookies
  • Big Boy Barbecue Cookbook
  • Cornbread
  • Civil War Food
  • Scalloped Corn

Interested in any of those topics?  Just type it into the search box over on the right hand side of the page, and  you’ll find stories and recipes.

So that is YOUR top ten posts. What about my favorites– those things that I thought deserved a few more readers?  I would recommend:

The Civil War Letters of Henry Allen Butts, particularly the one where he loses his temper.

Love Letters and the Course of True Love, My parents love story. I love letters and love stories.

Avoiding the Storm, the story of many German Immigrants. I learned so much while writing this.

Ann Barbara Müller Lost Half Her Children. A sad, and sadly not untypical story.

Paul Kaser, Hydrologist. A family historian’s dream is to have a relative or ancestor who kept lots of records. My father left a fat personnel file that reveals how he went from day jobs to a career.

Where There’s a Will. There were three parts to this, each fascinating as I learned new things about people and how they lived through their last bequests.

Adam Limback loved Women, Married Five. Sure, it was common for men to remarry when their wives died, but Adam Limback Jr. carries it to extremes, wouldn’t you say?

As for food–I have so much fun researching old and foreign recipes that I wouldn’t dare start picking favorites.

What would YOU like to recommend? Or see more of in 2016??