Julian turned 4 on Sunday. I try to make birthdays special for my children from the time they wake up in the morning to when they go to bed at night. Special does not mean a pile of presents, they are doing far too well with being materialistic without that. Obviously food is a large part of what I think makes a special day. Breakfast can be hard, we regularly have waffles, pancakes, crepes, homemade scones, french toast... So what would make this breakfast special? First I bought a whole mess of out of season fruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, raspberries and blackberries. I think that alone would have done the trick. Both boys fell on the platter of fruit with glee, eating until it was gone.
The other thing I did to make it special was make a new waffle recipe. To be completely honest I have been itching to try this recipe all week. I found it while skimming through Marion Cunningham's Breakfast Book looking for muffin inspiration. This recipe is for sour milk waffles or pancakes but it was the waffle idea that I really wanted to try. This recipe calls for separating eggs, whipping egg whites, etc so it needed to wait until a Sunday, and a slower pace.
I made a few changes to the recipe to suit our tastes and we all loved the results. One of the changes I made was adding some butternut squash puree. Before my CSA I used to add canned pumpkin puree to waffles. They make them moister and if you don't use pumpkin pie spice they even appeal to avowed pumpkin haters (like my husband). You can use either here. The waffles were light and flavorful, a little crispy on the outside with a soft and tender inside. The sour milk added a really mild background tang that was delicious and hard to place. I highly recommend them. The fresh fruit was a really nice complement, as of course was the butter and real maple syrup we poured on top.
While we were eating breakfast there was snow falling outside. My boys tried to order mother nature to stop snowing, shortly after it began to snow harder. Lewis and I told the boys they insulted mother nature. By the afternoon the snow stopped and we went to Shelburne Farms to check out the maple sugaring and visit the animals. The day was warm enough for sugaring (close to 40°) but it was windy and felt cold. Already my body is getting used to warmer temperatures and I cannot handle the cold in the same way. The sap was running, but slowly and we got to pour some in to a collection bucket and really explore the process. Then we went and saw the chickens and the new baby lambs. It was a beautiful visit, one I think the boys will remember for a long time.
This is the farm barn at Shelburne farms in the distance with a maple tree and a sap bucket in the foreground.
Another view of the farm barn at Shelburne farms, this time you can see Sebastian on the left and Julian on the right running of to visit the animals.
The rooster and a chicken coming down the ramp to free range. We are planning on getting some hens this spring so we were all very interested in the chickens. I even picked one up, which was a big step for someone originally from New York City.
This is one of the lambs that is being bottle fed because it's mother abandoned it. Julian was enthralled with how soft they are.
Butternut Squash Sour Milk Pancakes or Waffles
Sour the milk by adding 1 Tbsp white vinegar to every cup of milk, stirring and then letting it stand for 10 minutes. To make butternut squash puree I cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and strings and then brush the cut halves with olive oil. I then roast them cut side down at 350°, or whatever temperature I have the oven at for another dish, until the squash is tender and soft. Next I either scoop out the pulp or peel of the skin and puree with an immersion blender (a food processor or regular blender would also work well). I then like to return the puree to the oven to cook off some of the liquid. This usually takes about 15 minutes to half and hour. I freeze any excess in 2/3 cup portions for waffles, and other baked goods.
3 eggs, separated (medium or large)
2 cups sour milk (directions above)
2/3 of a cup pumpkin or butternut squash puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached al purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Beat the egg yolks well in a mixing bowl. Mix in the sour milk, squash puree and vanilla extract. Add the sugar, salt and baking soda to the egg yolk and milk mixture and mix well. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and set aside.
Add the flours to the yolk mixture and beat until smooth. Add the melted butter and mix until well blended. gently fold the egg whites in to the batter.
To cook as waffles add batter to a hot greased waffle iron, I used a belgium waffle iron. After adding the batter gently spread it in the waffle iron so it is even.
To make pancakes cook on a hot greased griddle or skillet.