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October in the City

Green afternoon serene and bright, along my street you sail away
Sun-dappled like a ship of light that glints upon a rippled bay …
And all those afternoons once danced and sparkled in the sapphire light
An iris shade as you have glanced, green afternoon, in vibrant flight …

From ‘A City Afternoon,’ by Edith Wyatt

This quotation makes me think of October — the imminent waning of daylight, its crisp, brilliant blue skies (the kind that made a woman in Golden Gate Park exclaim the other day “That sky!” while looking upward, and I silently agreed with her as I ran past, a sort of golden light that holds on just a bit longer to Indian summer while foreshadowing November’s chill all at the same time.

October is my favorite month — not least of all because it is my birthday month — for it eases me into true fall and almost (almost!) makes me feel prepared for the coming winter. It makes me dig out my warmer sweaters and think about roasting vegetables; it makes me think of baking and the holiday gift boxes I’ll put together in a few months; it also makes me appreciate the occasional 70-degree day ever more so because I know how precious and ephemeral it is.


[Sunday afternoon, October 2007]

That blue! It’s intense and clear and endless all at once. This weekend I was lucky enough to be outside for most of it, either running, or listening to Gillian Welch in the park, or walking home from yoga class, or finishing up a few books on the roof as the Blue Angels buzzed about. It was probably the last really warm weekend for awhile, and I tried to soak it up as much as possible (a good thing, too, for today is again grey and chilly).

So, to celebrate these gorgeous early-autumn days, I did what, really, one can only be expected to do: I made waffles.

[Waffles, with peaches and strawberries]

Years ago, when I lived in DC, we were on a regular brunch circuit with our group of friends. No matter how late the night before had gone, if we’d planned a brunch, then by god a brunch we’d have. Some mornings I’d be verysleepily stirring eggs for an asparagus and mushroom fritatta and sipping on my first cup of coffee while waiting for the guests to arrive. Another time I made waffles from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe touted as The Best waffle recipe ever created. It was pretty darn good.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of sweet breakfast foods. It’s usually oatmeal or peanut butter on toast; sometimes a lone egg gets fried up in a bit of butter, paired with a slice of cheddar, and presented lovingly on a crisp piece of sourdough. I’ve often thought I’d do better with eating soup or savories for my first meal, but mostly I go along with my basic standbys. But then sometimes I go against even my healthiest instincts and make something so full of butter it might make one nervous where one really to think about it.

[So I suggest you do not.]

After some Internet digging, I came up with a good approximation of that long-lost recipe and set to work. This recipe requires some forethought, because it uses yeast, and needs a good 8 hours — overnight or longer — to rise in the fridge. But it uses just a few ingredients, and can be put together so quickly it’s not really extra effort but rather doing in advance to make the next morning’s fry-up go seamlessly (really, it’s true).

Probably because these are yeasted waffles — and perhaps also because of the butter — they are very crisp and light, never soggy. With some fruit and a generous (inappropriate?) pour of maple syrup, they satisfy even a picky breakfaster like me. Smear some peanut butter onto leftovers and roll up into a pre-run snack, or flaunt convention by topping with ice cream for a post-dinner dessert — either way, you won’t be disappointed.

Waffles, adapted from Marion Cunningham’s “Lost Recipes”

1/2 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Choose a large mixing bowl because the batter will
double in bulk as it rises. Put the water in the
mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand to
dissolve for 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk, butter,
salt, sugar and flour and beat until smooth. Cover the
bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Preheat the waffle iron. Just before cooking the
waffles, beat the eggs and baking soda into the
batter. (The batter will be thin.) Pour ½ to ¾ cup
batter into the waffle iron. Bake until waffles are
crisp and golden brown. Extra batter will keep for
several days in the refrigerator.

Makes about 8.

Serve with fruit, maple syrup, and faux (or real?) sausage. Post-dinner, serve warm topped with chocolate or vanilla ice cream, with chocolate sauce if you’re so decadently inclined.

[View from the roof, October 2007]

One Comment

  1. I love that photo of the waffles and fruit on the blue and white stripe–so summery lovely.

    Yes, the weather has been gorgeous. Soaking it all in before it’s gone…

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