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Celebrate Waffles!

National Waffle Day August 24, 2016

by Vaun Thygerson
Staff writer and mother of three

Celebrate waffles! Today, August 24, 2016 is National Waffles Day. It's a perfect time to celebrate this culinary specialty that can be both part of a healthy breakfast or a decadent dessert. Whether you prefer American, Belgian,Scandinavian waffles, or their Italian, cookie-like cousin, Pizelles, no matter how you stack them, waffles are delicious!

As a little boy, Jake Morris's mother, Patti, would make her homemade waffles for him as his special treat. Now a 19-year-old college student, Jake says one of the things he really misses about not living at home is his mom's waffles. He likes to eat them topped with peanut butter and syrup, and he says sometimes he goes all out by adding jam to his peanut butter and syrup. At Brigham Young University in Rexburg, Idaho, Jake doesn't even try to substitute his mom's waffles with a frozen variety. "I don't even eat Eggos, because compared to my mom's waffles, there is no comparison," Jake says. "No one can beat my momma's waffles."

Local mother of four, Rebecca Watson whips up waffles for her family anytime: breakfast, dinner, or dessert. She uses different recipes and toppings depending on the occasion. "We use a few recipes for waffles, from the simple waffle instructions on the back of the Krusteaz bag or a homemade recipe found in the "Joy of Cooking" cookbook to a homemade dessert waffle," she says, "depending on the mood and time we've used both."

When it comes to waffles, Rebecca says making the batter is simple, but you should not over-mix it. It should look a little lumpy. Over-mixing may result in a tougher texture of waffle. Using a good waffle iron and following its instructions is another key to golden brown perfection, and always make sure you spray the top and bottom of the waffle iron so they don't stick. "The waffles are usually done when a light goes off on a machine, but I like to use the steam method. When the steam stops evaporating from the seams of the waffle iron, it indicates that it is done," Rebecca says.

For toppings, the Watson family's favorite is traditional maple syrup, and sometimes, they add peanut butter with or without bananas. Sliced strawberries with whipped cream are another one of their yummy creations. Her tip: Just simply slice strawberries in a bowl and add about one to two table spoons of sugar. Let them soak overnight to make a nice saucy strawberry mixture.

During the holidays, Rebecca likes to make a warm butter cream sauce with pecans for her waffles. She also adds a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to the batter. Then, she tops the sauce with whipped cream. For more of a fun, fancy dessert waffle that can be made for breakfast or a dessert, she prepares chocolate waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream with chocolate shavings or sprinkles, vanilla ice cream with fudge sauce, any other fruit or fun topping, or plain powdered sugar.

A Scrumptious History of Waffles

Although many consider them a contemporary breakfast food, waffles have made their mark in history for thousands of years and can be traced back to ancient Greece. Athenians cooked obelios flat cakes between two metal plates over a burning fire. Eventually, decoratively engraved waffle irons were made to brand the baked treat with everything from coats of arms to religious symbols.

The Pilgrims brought waffles to America in 1620. In the 1700s, Thomas Jefferson was known for his "Waffle Frolics" in the White House where he used waffles for culinary entertainment. He offered guests waffles topped with both sweet and savory selections molasses, syrup, and even kidney stew.

The first U.S. waffle iron, introduced in 1869 by Cornelius Swarthout, consisted of two iron plates heated on top of a wood or gas stove. In 1911, General Electric rolled out the first fully electric waffle iron.

Over time, the waffle industry introduced products that made this tasty treat easier to make and commercially available to everyone. Entrepreneurs introduced ready-made mixes that only required milk to complete and frozen waffles. And, Americans first tasted Belgian waffles made from a heavy-leavened yeast batter at the 1964 World's Fair.

Today, waffles are a staple of the American diet. Waffle irons come engraved in all shapes and sizes: from hearts to Mickey Mouse. Batter comes in all kinds of flavors with toppings galore. Whether you make your own tried-and-true recipe or buy them frozen waffles truly are something to celebrate!

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