Virginia Waffles

I found this recipe in a cookbook that makes me uncomfortable. The Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Dixie Recipes was published in 1935 by Lillie S. Lustig, S. Claire Sondheim and Sarah Rensel. Chances are good that I would have enjoyed meeting these ladies and tasting some of the dishes they cooked from recipes in this little book.

If our meeting had occurred in the 1930’s I doubt that I would have thought the authors were prejudiced against blacks or that the drawings and snippets of poetry that accompany the recipes were racist. However, when I read

“There was a little Alabamy coon
An’ he ain’t been born very long:”

illustrated by a sketch of a black baby held by his mother, I think that most Americans today would agree that calling a human being a coon is disgusting.

I have met and interacted with people in states formerly part of the Confederacy who were racists, but I also know southerners who sent their children to public schools rather than Segregation Academies. We have elected Presidents who fought for civil rights for all citizens and used their bully pulpit to denounce racism. Four of them were from states that fought to preserve slavery—Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Arkansas.

Our country is a better place today than it was eighty years ago because thousands of brave people have risked their lives to fight racial injustice. I have known one of them personally. Ed Ketcham, a former minister at our church in New Richmond, was one of the freedom riders in Alabama. Before our evenings of duplicate bridge in Woodbury, Ed shared some of his memories of that summer in 1965.

There are people like Ed still fighting to make our country even better. They are women like Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. They are young athletes like fifteen-year-old Anthony Borges who was shot five times while blocking the door to a classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They are the thousands of students demonstrating to make our schools and country safer in spite of the insults and threats from people who disagree with them. Fifty years from now, our great grandchildren will shake their heads when they learn about the things we think are important today.

We are all part of the times we live in. Understanding this, I can appreciate the genius of the founders of our country, even though many of them owned slaves; the courage of the pioneers who settled the wilderness, though they stole the land from its native inhabitants; and the poetry of T.S. Eliot in spite of his anti-Semitism.

Thus, I think that we need to recognize the contributions of all Americans, even those from people whose prejudices we find objectionable. Blacks, whites, reds, browns and people of every shade between have enriched our country and our lives, and that includes the ladies who compiled the Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Dixie Recipes. Here is a tasty variation on waffles from their book.


2 1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup white corn meal
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 T sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
4 T melted butter


Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and stir the corn meal in gradually. Cook it for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

Bring the eggs and milk to room temperature while the corn meal is cooking, and melt the butter. Preheat the waffle iron.

Transfer the cooked corn meal to a mixing bowl and stir in the milk. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the liquid ingredients by thirds, stirring well between each addition. You can add a little extra milk if the batter is too thick.

Separate the eggs. Stir the yolks and butter into the batter and beat the whites to stiff peaks in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter.

Bake the batter in your waffle iron until each waffle is puffed and golden brown.

Serve with butter and maple syrup.

NOTE: If you are looking for a waffle recipe that doesn’t include corn meal, here is one for Mennonite Waffles.

Mennonite Waffles

Making waffles is a pretty straightforward business, assuming that you have a waffle iron and follow the recipe below. However, you should observe two common-sense rules when you make them.

RULE #1: Don’t put your hand into a hot waffle iron. Pam, my youngest sister, learned this the hard way when she was a little girl. “I also remember getting a bad burn when the top closed on my hand. Little fingers in the wrong spot. Mom told me it was hot but did I listen? NO.”

RULE #2: When beating the egg whites with an electric mixer, make sure that it is turned off before lifting the beater out of the bowl. The splotches on the pages of waffle recipes in our copy of the Mennonite Community Cookbook are mute but eloquent testimony to my once ignoring this rule.

A couple of years after we moved out to the country, we got a waffle iron. It was a round chrome machine with a thick cord and I think there was a thermometer in the middle of the lid that told you when it was hot enough to make waffles. Mom was probably the person who bought it, as she loved kitchen equipment from apple corers to lemon zesters. Dad was happy with Mom’s pancakes.

My sisters Barb and Patsy agree that we didn’t have waffles very often, but I think that my enjoyment of waffles and sausage for Sunday supper may stem from good memories of waffle suppers when I was a kid. I do remember that the waffles sometime stuck if you didn’t grease the iron properly and especially if you tried to take them out before they were done.

Today, of course, most waffle irons have non-stick coatings which virtually eliminate the sticking problem, and improvements in waffle iron design by 1969 when Jerri’s mother bought us our waffle iron made even the the metal grid machines like ours pretty trouble free. I miss the thermometer, but the “idiot light” that goes out when the waffle is done does mean fewer overcooked waffles.

Here is the recipe we use for waffles.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 T sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
6 T butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk


The eggs and milk should be at room temperature. You can warm the eggs in a small bowl of warm water for a few minutes and heat the milk for a few seconds in a microwave. Melt the butter.

Turn on your waffle iron and follow any instructions for use that came with it. Start warming the maple syrup.

Sift the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Separate the eggs into two bowls. Beat the yolks until lemon colored and then beat them into the milk. Stir the milk and egg mixture into the flour until you have a smooth batter. Stir the butter into the batter.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. When you turn off the mixer and lift the beaters from the egg whites, you should see peaks with just a tiny curl on the top. Fold the egg whites into the batter with a spatula. Use the spatula to lift the batter over the egg whites, using a figure-eight motion until you have a light fluffy batter.

Bake the waffles and serve each one as it comes off the iron with butter, warm maple syrup. Bacon and breakfast sausage are delicious with waffles.

NOTES: You need butter to make waffles that taste like real waffles. If you merely want waffles that look like the real thing, you can buy them in the freezer section of your neighborhood market.