Waffles. Bliss. Waffles. Bliss.
Interchangeable terms. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar, or they’ve never had a good waffle on a nippy spring day while sipping tar-black coffee before a ride. Or during a ride. Or after a ride. Crispy exterior, fluffy interior, slightly-sweet dough…Anyway, we’re neck-deep in Belgian Classics season, and there’s no better way to enjoy a magical time of the year than with the Battlefield of Europe‘s greatest export.
My kitchen is the Belgian Expeditionary North American Waffle Laboratory (BENAWL). The team of experts in the BENAWL has experimented with making waffles out of anything carbohydrate-based (and sometimes not, see the disastrous “Atkins Waffle”). I’m not a gluten apologist by any means (note: I’ve never met any gluten-paranoid hypochondriacs outside of the US), but variety is the spice of life. And waffles. Wheat flour, rice flour, cooked rice, corn flour, sourdough starter, tapioca starch, rye flour, yucca flour, gummy bears, xantham gum, corn, Froot Loops, bacon, bread, carrots, basil, potatoes, pumpkin, vegetable pulp…all hot-cast into a nook-pocked leavened quick bread ready for a bevy of toppings.
However, the BENAWL has a new apparatus allowing for an even more terrifying degree of experimentation. That apparatus is the BlendTec, capable of turning virtually anything into flour, paste, butter, or liquid ready for incorporation into a waffle dough. Dried broccoli flour? Is that a thing?
I’ll start with the basics of Alternative Waffle (henceforth known as AltWaffle) creation with a BlendTec. No BlendTec? A food processor should work, but I take no responsibility for disaster. Welcome to AltWaffle 101: The Oat Waffle. More exciting than a standard flour waffle, I prefer the oat version for a quick waffle as it gives the dough a little more texture and flavor.
A quick explanation on the following recipe – I prefer using honey as a sweetener and butter as my fat. Lower glycemic index, better browning. You can sub for standard sugar and oil if you want less miraculously-awesome results.
Note: This recipe ALSO works for the lesser quick bread known as “pancakes”. Just pour the batter onto a hot, greased pan. Duh.
The first of three parts on an oft-neglected topic of pieces on Colombia: Food.
Food. The cyclist’s greatest nemesis, and greatest friend. It’s no secret it’s a subject of great interest for much of the pro peloton – often, the saying is muttered “Eat to ride, ride to eat”. Why do I take such a big interest in food, cooking, and the techniques that follow? Bike racing is hard. Humans aren’t designed for intensive aerobic output for 24 hours-plus a week. It will suck the life out of your withering carcass without proper care. Before I started racing, I had creative outlets – photography, writing, design, et al. I found crushing myself on two wheels, and those fell by the wayside (see: lifesucking). Something functional to my newfound passion – but still stimulating – took their place. Cooking. Discovering others’ cooking. So, without further adieu, an initial introduction to la comida of my temporary (and beloved) home – Colombia.
Eating habits differ substantially from Americans. Like many Latin and European countries, priority is on lunch, typically the largest meal of the day. Many nutritionists say the American fondness for skipping lunch with a heavy supper is a source of our waistline woes. Following lunch, breakfast (Desayuno), tends to take some form of precedence. amongst racing cyclists in Colombia, a substantial waking meal seems to be standard.
Recently, there was an engagement. Yes, one of THOSE engagements. My engagement, even – hell hath frozen over. Not only that, but I’m buying into three step-children. Boys. Mostly teenage boys (sidenote: my total aversion to having children is legendary, making this all the more amusing). Allow me to shoot the proverbial elephant in the room now – I’m 26, she’s 37. This has led to numerous hilarious encounters, especially given that the oldest, at 15, looks approximately 22.
I write this the day before my wedding, so things are a little hectic. When a pair of bike racers decide to get married, two crucial elements in the cyclist psyche engage: Impatience, and “Is this going to interrupt the race calendar?”. So, Kemi (note: part-owner, all-around badass racer on elite women’s squad DNA/K4) and I looked at the calendar, and the magic timing dartboard said “Two Months From Now”. February 8th, followed by a two-month-long training-adventure-honeymoon in Latin America (Colombia and El Salvador, if we’re being accurate).