It was the 90’s- when things like tamagotchis and Wet n’ Wild lip gloss were too cool for school. My Opa was a chef, and he and grandma owned a sit-down cafe in a small coastal town not far from where we lived. It was the darling of the town, which really isn’t saying much, I guess, but that’s only because of the town. Not a greasy-spoon kind of diner, but a quality-casual affair. Fresh squeezed OJ and locally sourced ingredients were a standard. There was no imitation maple syrup, and the breads were baked from scratch downstairs. It was a real family place: my mom worked there on and off while I was growing up, my uncles worked there in the kitchen. Lots of family drama in between Lobster Benedict and Crab Cakes, of course, but never something I lingered long over as a kid. Waffles with strawberries and cream was always on the menu, and (naturally) on my plate. Life was good.
When I was old enough I worked there, too. In the mornings pouring piping hot coffee every few minutes while helping locals with the NYT crossword puzzle. I was never much help except for the coffee. At dinner, I served multi-course meals, starting with bread dipped in a seasoned olive oil and ending with something like caramel custard. Lots of classic, Maine entrees in between. I always managed to dodge the bullet of opening a wine bottle in front of guests and, unknowingly, I started to learn what food should taste like. I learned that people prefer more crab meat in their crab cakes than breadcrumbs, and that the best foods are made simply with quality ingredients. I learned how to set a dinner table and a mood. I learned about hospitality. About beautiful plating. About creating a dining experience.
I often try to surprise my kids so they can come downstairs to the smell of waffles, but before I even get the batter into the waffle iron, they’ve usually heard my mixer whipping eggs whites and they know exactly what I’m up to. Then they rush in to set the table and watch me with childlike impatience. In June and July, when the strawberries are bursting from their patches we sit out on the patio and eat them slowly, scattered-a-plenty over fresh waffles. The ants are always foraging for leftovers and we usually offer them generous morsels. Sometimes the kids bicker between bites, and sometimes Fiona only eats the strawberries. It’s not perfect, but it also kind of is.
A Few Quick Tips for Making Waffles with Strawberries:
- Whipping the egg whites just right is of the utmost importance in this recipe. It’ll give your waffles that extra bit of light, fluffiness. Take great care not to over or under whip them. They should form stiff peaks.
- This recipe is all about waffles with strawberries, but if you can’t get (or don’t like…) strawberries then you can obviously substitute for another type of fruit or berry that you do like. Peeled sliced oranges, blueberries, raspberries, banana slices or kiwis are all delicious, too!
- I know that store-bought, canned whipped cream is easy and convenient, but I highly recommend you make your own from scratch! It makes such a huge difference in flavor and texture, and it only takes a few very simple ingredients!