I take the back roads now. I don’t meet many other people. I thought I passed a deer once, but it was my own headlights reflecting on a broken down tractor. I thought I heard an owl once, but it was my own heart beating in my ears when I was falling asleep last week. I mistake a lot of things these days. Promises for hope. Lies for truth. Curse words for pet names.
I thought a boy would love me if I kissed him on the first date. I spent my teen years trying to prove this. I thought death could only happen to the old and the dangerous. I spent a few Sundays dressed in black proving myself wrong time and again. I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong; but sometimes it’s not too good to be right either. When it hurts the most. When it feels too good to be true. When you start hoping. Start trusting. Start answering to the pet names that were spiked and jagged like wood nettles on my tongue.
I take the back roads now and think of how I road the same school but that I get stuck behind sometimes. Always at three o’clock sharp. How naïve I was with my gnawed colored pencils and freckles on my knuckles where hair grows now. I used to mistake the world for a lot of things, but good wasn’t one of them. We still don’t lock our doors in this old farmhouse of ours. We haven’t since I can remember. I’d run inside to stay naïve, to stay as oblivious as possible. I’d run inside and keep my shoes on. Two Labradors would jump on me and we’d share the hour before my mother came home, wrapped up in a blanket and staying young together. We’d share a snack and sometimes fall asleep. These waffles are for a time before things got too real. Before I grew up too fast. Before I started kissing boys and believing lies. When I’d dip a soggy broken piece of generic-brand graham cracker in milk we bought at a discount store. If I could have it all back, I’m not sure I would take it. But it’s fun to remember how life used to be once in a while.
Graham Crackers and Milk Waffles
Inspired by tres leches and my favorite childhood snack. Yields four 8-inch waffles.
· ½ cup heavy whipping cream
· 1 cup white sugar, separated
· 1 ½ TB vanilla extract
· 2 eggs, separated
· 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
· 1 cup graham flour (I used Bob's Red Mill's)
· 3 TB cornstarch
· 1 TB baking powder
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1/3 cup quality molasses
· 1 ½ cup whole milk
· ¼ cup vegetable oil
· ¼ cup honey
· ½ cup condensed milk
· ½ cup evaporated milk
· ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1. With a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites on high for 3-5 minutes until stiff peaks form. Spoon into a mixing bowl and set aside
2. Rinse bowl and attachment. Dry completely. Beat heavy whipping cream on high for 5 minutes until thick and peaks form. Add ½ tablesooon of vanilla and 1/4 cup of white sugar. Spoon into a bowl and set aside
3. In a separate mixing bowl, sift flour, graham flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and set aside
4. In a measuring cup, measure milk, oil, and honey Whisk to combine. Set aside.
5. Clean stand mixer bowl once more and fix mixer with paddle attachment. Beat egg yolks with remaining sugar on medium-high until pale ribbons form.
6. Add remaining vanilla and mix to incorporate.
7. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low. Alternate in thirds between milk mixture and flour mixture, taking pauses after each to allow to fully incorporate.
8. Turn mixer off and mix a couple times by hand with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom of the mixing bowl.
9. Take a small amount of the egg whites and mix directly into the batter. Take a little of the batter and fold back into the egg whites.
10. Now, fold egg whites directly into batter and, while turning the bowl, mix with a rubber spatula until fully combined. Batter should be slightly lighter, but with no egg white clumps.
11. Grease your waffle iron and make waffles to manufacturer specifications. This recipe yields four 8-inch waffles.
12. In a measuring cup, whisk together evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cinnamon. Pour over still-warmed waffles.
13. Top with whipped cream and serve immediately