Where I’m At + RECIPE: Bacon & Pecan Belgian Waffle

It’s been one hell of a week my friends. One hell of an emotional, exhausting kind of a week.

Arriving home in Wisconsin after a picture perfect vacation (much more on this later!) to forty-degree weather and what can only appear to be a spring thaw in mid-January, diving 100 miles per hour into work with a board meeting, holiday party and intern orientation all to manage, and then finally feeling like I could rest and give all that 2017 goal setting I’ve been putting off some serious thought only to realize it was Friday, January 20th. And it wasn’t all a nightmare. We have a new president and as hard as I try to be the most optimistic and hopeful person in every room, it’s already starting to weigh on me.

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I spent the better part of my first free morning post-vacay reading everything I could find online about what the future of agriculture, health care and our environment could look like only to find vague answers and things that made me feel unsettled. After several hours, my Carrot made me put down the computer and go for a walk. It was nice. I let the dogs run free and they chased geese across the frozen ice. I spotted my favorite eagle’s nest. The sun even poked out for thirty minutes.

But back inside you can bet that nagging feeling didn’t go away. The world needed help and I didn’t have a game plan. Shit, I didn’t even have my 2017 priorities sorted out yet.

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I breathed in deep. I thought back to our trip, to the calm that washed over me as we hiked along the Algarve coast in Portugal and walked along the black beaches in Iceland. I thought back to all the conversations with my husband. I talked about what I wanted for 2017 every day. I had a game plan all along and just because there’s some new guy in town it really doesn’t need change. It just needs to get a bit more serious.

Here’s where I’m at:

  1. More reading. Fiction, non-fiction, news, blogs, legal statutes. I don’t care what it is. This year I’m going to get better informed on everything I care about. 
  2. More shared meals with friends. Hope, inspiration and love comes from you all. Food is my language and it’s time for more good food with more good people so we can share all the beautiful ideas and strategize what comes next. Collective power and collective intelligence. It’s stronger.
  3. More hard conversations. In a strange way, I feel blessed to live in a state divided. It means more opportunities for more hard conversations with people who have different beliefs. This is the year I speak with compassion and kindness, and seek mutual understanding or at least a civil debate instead of arrogantly talking over the other side.
  4. More organizing. I’m starting to find my people when it comes to the happy place where food, farming, health and the environment all intersect so in 2017 I’m going to keep showing up. I’m going to attend more meetings. I’m going to meet more people. I might even apply for some grants. I’m definitely going to be calling my legislators. 
  5. More kicking ass on the farm. Our broken food system says so much to me about the things  that are broken in our society. Good sustainable farmers with good sustainable practices bridging the gap between rural and urban have never mattered more. 
  6. More focus. I tend to be very scattered. I have a bazillion interests and I try to keep them all up all the time. 2017 is the year I get more focused and I learn to let go of some things. Not forever, but for now. I bought a book about it. We’ll see what happens. This one is the hardest. 
  7. More waffles. Because come on man. All the shit can’t be serious.

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My Carrot got me a Belgian waffle iron for Christmas and it’s just exactly what our kitchen needed! A couple years ago I lost my first waffle maker, and then shortly after I broke my second so I really wasn’t sure anyone would ever trust me enough to buy me another and I’m not allowed to buy things for the kitchen (it could get out of hand in a damn hurry).

I plan to make a lot of waffles in the upcoming months. Normal ones on the very rare occasion. I want to make blueberry waffles and squaffles (butternut squash waffles) and these eggnog waffles (though I’ll probably have to wait until next December or it will be weird) and liege waffles and waffle breakfast sandwiches. I’m going to make cornbread in it and hash browns in it and cinnamon rolls in it. We’ll probably start using it as a panini press. It’s going to be great!

But for now, something simple: bacon and pecan Belgian waffles. Because who couldn’t use a little decadent comfort food right about now.

And how about you all? Where are your heads at? Let me know if I can help.

All my hopeful love,
Leek

BACON & PECAN BELGIAN WAFFLES

Makes 4 Belgian waffles
Serves 4-8
Takes 40 minutes

1 cup halved pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 pieces thick-cut bacon, fully cooked until crispy, diced

  1. Add pecans to a large skillet and toast over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and roughly chop.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir until combined.
  3. Add eggs, milk and oil and stir until smooth and even. Make sure you scrape down the sides with a spatula as you go.
  4. Add bacon and chopped pecans to waffle batter.
  5. Pour 1 cup of mixture into a Belgian waffle maker (likely less for a different style waffle maker) and cook for 4 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with lots of butter and maple syrup. (We love this bourbon-barrel aged stuff!)

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