Waffling for My Kitchen Year

Having been a fan of Ruth Reichl for quite a few years, I'm only surprised it took me this long to read her latest memoir/cookbook, Ruth Reichl, My Kitchen Year, 130 Recipes that Saved My Life.   Most cookbooks, I find at least, you don't really read from cover to cover.  This is one of those that you should.  I suppose it's the memoir aspect.  And, okay, so the title is a bit dramatic, but no one gets into the positions she has over the years without being something of a drama queen.

Her book was written in a depressive aftermath following the rather abrupt shutdown of Gourmet magazine, where Reichl had been editor in chief for 10 years. Most of us have gone through stuff equally horrid, say the death of someone close, relationship traumas, divorce, children gone off the deep end, job loss, etc., but for a writer like Reichl, it becomes material for a new book.  Taking lemons and making lemonade.  Which is good.  I just wrote a few desperate poems.  Though Jesus was and is my main support.

She is consistently a fine writer, even the tweets, dividing her notes and recipes, haiku like, are so descriptive, sense evocative and full of Ruth's wonder at and love of the surrounding world.  i.e.:

     "Sun coming up. Hawks hovering outside.  Dancing in the kitchen with gnocchi and the blues.  Good way to start a Sunday."

I was hard pressed to narrow down an inspired recipe for this post.  There is much to tempt one in the book, especially if you enjoy trying vibrant new flavor combinations - and experimentation!  I've bookmarked a bunch of things, made the Ma Po Tofu (her recipe) which is not at all subtle.  Definitely knocks your socks off.  Though it took some searching to find Szechuan peppercorns, which at least I did at last manage to locate here, and not have to order online. Always fun, trying a strange spice.

Some things were just spur of the moment, thrown together meals, I mean do we really need a recipe for a bacon and marmalade sandwich.  At least it was on pumpernickel bread, or for Matzo Brei?  Excusable, as comfort food, during a time when that was greatly needed, and admittedly, all a part of the storytelling, which she does so well.

But, while she was recovering from a foot injury (which I recently had to do, and can totally relate) Ruth asked her husband to throw together this classic Fannie Farmer waffle batter.  It's yeast raised and sits in the fridge overnight (mine did anyway).  Next morning you add the eggs and a bit of baking soda.  But what I really liked - after making the waffles, you stick the remaining batter back in your fridge - and next morning, and the next, you have more waffles.  I do this with scones too.  Make a batch which lasts most of the week.  From the book:

     "'All you have to do is mix up the batter tonight', I pleaded.  'Leave it on the counter to rise.  Then in the morning, you just stir in a couple of eggs and heat up the waffle iron.'
     'I think I can manage that.'  Michael went off to the kitchen, and the cats, sensing an opportunity, jumped off the bed and followed him hopefully down the hall."

That was so funny, to me anyway.  My husband would balk as well.  In fact, he saw the waffle iron sitting out later, when he came home from work and asked about it.  I told him, all you have to do is pour some batter into the hot iron, it's easy.  Not at all believing he would actually do it, but next morning, by the time I was up, he'd eaten one and gone.   Got to be a first.  Bob, baking his own waffle!

These are splendid, so light, crisp and a little yeasty.  I added part whole wheat flour, as I do when baking most things.

"Leave it on the counter to rise", that's of course, if your room temperature is pretty darn cold.  Here, the batter went right into the fridge, and as you can see, rose up to the plastic wrap even in there.

Highly recommended with or without fruit.  I had mine with lovely fresh mango and pineapple. So nice to know there will be more tomorrow morning.  Will share the goodness with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, and with Heather at the July Foodies Read Challenge.  Check out some excellent book recommendations, and good recipe ideas.


Camilla Mann said...

I recently had the chance to see Ruth speak. She was a kick!

Tina said...

That's a good cookbook, I love Ruth. Nice job on the waffles.

Judee@gluten Free A-Z Blog said...

I can't wait to get this book/cookbook. sounds very interesting.. Love reading cookbooks and memoirs..

bermudaonion said...

I love memoirs so would like to read the book. I love homemade waffles as well so may try that recipe.

Carole said...

I liked this book too. Cheers from carole's Chatter

rhapsodyinbooks said...

You've definitely got me intrigued about the Ma Po Tofu! I really like Ruth Reichl, I like spicy, I like waffles, and I like food memoirs so this sounds like a great acquisition for me! Thanks for sharing!

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

That waffle recipe sounds great, I can't believe I've never heard of it.

Debra Eliotseats said...

I totally agree this is a cookbook that needs read from cover to cover. Great review, Claudia. (And, I guess the title is a bit dramatic...) :)

Beth F said...

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I haven't yet read this. I love waffles and I think the idea of making the batter once to have all week is genius!

Claudia said...

It is, and this week I mixed up a batch of yeast-raised pancakes, encouraged by some milk that had soured to add that in. They turned out lovely as well.

Dragonfly Our Familiarium said...

I haven;t eaten waffles in so looong. Your post made me craving so badly :) and a Bacon and marmalade sandwich! :)

Wendy Klik said...

I enjoyed Reichle's book when it was assigned to ctb. I will have to look for this latest of hers.