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waffle fail & the return to normalcy

March 22, 2011

Starting on Friday, and continuing on throughout the weekend, things have started to feel a little more normal around here. Not the old normal that we used to have, but something closer to it than the strange surreal post-disaster atmosphere of the previous week. There are still delays in the train system, and power conservation is a very much a part of daily life here now, but sometime after we hit the one week mark there was some kind of a shift back towards life as usual. Like a rubber band straining to snap back into place.

Eric and I stayed at home most of the day on Saturday taking care of projects around the house and relaxing. That mostly meant blog catch up for me, and random computer catch-up for Eric. The weather was fantastic and I considered going out for a run at a few points to take advantage of it, but I was feeling bit drained and never quite got around to actually doing so. I did take some time in the afternoon to pull out my copy of Rachel Cosgrove’s book and reread a few sections in preparation for starting up Phase 2 on Monday, though.

It was nice to relax, but something about it felt almost.. too normal. It felt almost like it could have been any other Saturday, and something about that made part of me antsy; as though it shouldn’t feel that way quite yet. I think at least part of this was because it was actually the first full day I’d spent without leaving home since the earthquake. I know many people, including Eric and several friends, who remained at home for days on end because of the disruptions to the trains and life in general, but I was not one of them.

Eric used his time away from the office to work on cultivating his facial hair..

On Sunday morning I woke up and, as usual, set about making breakfast. We started a Pancake Sunday tradition several years ago in honor of the Sunday Crepes tradition I had with my grandparents when I was younger, and I’ve stuck with it almost every Sunday morning since sometime in the of summer of 2008, barring vacation or special plans. Last spring Pancake Sunday turned into Pancake or Waffle Sunday when I finally got my hands my long-sought after waffle iron, but I’m sure I’ll eventually dedicate an entire post to my beloved waffle iron at some point, so I won’t get into it here.

Last week we skipped out on our usual Sunday morning breakfast and had a quick meal of egg toast while watching NHK instead.

We usually alternate between pancakes and waffles arbitrarily based on our moods that day, but since I’d run out of spelt flour (my current pancake flour of choice) I decided it would be a good day to have waffles. Buckwheat Flax Waffles, specifically. Unfortunately, I think I overestimated my return to a normal head space just a little, because I ended up having a pretty epic waffle fail.

It might not look it, but this was a pretty big waffle fail..

Don’t ask me why or how, my only excuse is that my brain must have been far off thinking about our bizarre situation when I put the waffle iron on the stove, because without even thinking about what I was doing I sprayed the inside with rice bran oil and then walked away to let it heat up. Yeah. Whoops. As can probably be guessed, the oil heated up much to high and burned to the inside of my iron. But I didn’t notice that until after I started making my first waffle.

It stuck like crazy. Seriously, it was like glue holding both sides of the waffle iron shut. I’ve made waffles a billion times before in that same waffle iron with absolutely no sticking before at all, and it just figures that the one time I wanted to make them for the normalcy of it all is the one time I manage to make a careless mistake.

It took me about 5 minutes to scrape out the first waffle, and then at least 15-20 minutes of hard scrubbing to get enough of the burnt oil off the waffle iron and render it useable again. I dried it off, put it back on the burner, careful this time to not oil it prematurely.. and then came fail 2: I didn’t let the iron heat up enough before pouring in the batter for waffle #2. So off course, that one also stuck to the iron and had to be scraped out. Yes, that makes two waffle fails in as many tries. Sad, I know.

Eric suggested I just give up make the last of the batter into pancakes, but I was pretty determined to prove to myself that the problems were caused by my stupid mistakes and not some total waffle iron malfunction, so I persevered. Waffles #3 and #4 clung to the iron a little harder than usual, but eventually released just fine and intact. So, I think I can safely chalk this fail up to Massive User Error. I served myself the salvaged waffle mess, and let Eric have one of two remaining intact waffles.

Later on in the afternoon Eric and I decided to head out to Shinjuku for some shopping and to see how it compared to the scene from the week before. We walked through our local neighborhood park on the way to the station, and I somehow I was surprised to see actual signs of spring out.

It seems that while we were holed up being shaken by constant aftershocks and images of destruction the ume and even some early sakura had started to blossom.

I think I’d forgotten that Spring was not cancelled due to the earthquake.

Our random errands took us to various parts of Shinjuku, and I’m happy to report that things around that area are seeming more and more normal each time I go. The streets and stores were filled with the typical crowds of weekend shoppers and dinners and, unlike the last time I’d been there during the week, there was plenty of bread to be seen at the bakeries we passed along our way. In fact, the only obvious shortage was for milk, which we could not find anywhere.

Since I raise kefir and make my own yogurt on a regular basis milk is pretty essential to me. I’d managed to bring home a single carton on Friday night after finding a stash at Daimaru Peacock (limit 1 per person), but had already set about turning it into yogurt and needed more to feed the kefir. As a last ditch effort I decided to check our local grocery store T-mart after we got home from Shinjuku, and to my surprise they actually had some in stock for the first time in a week. Crisis averted.

Peacock brand low-fat milk, which was promptly heated and turned into yogurt.

Monday was a holiday here, Shunbun no Hi, or Vernal Equinox Day to be exact, which meant no work. I woke up early anyway and went to the gym to get in my first day of Rachel Cosgrove Phase 2, Workout A (aka the ACK CHINUPS routine) before meeting my friend Keiko for lunch at an awesome organic/natural foods buffet in the Lumine 1 building. It was the first time we’d seen each other in a while, and also the first time I’d gone out socially since before the earthquake.

Other than our conversation being dominated by what would have previously been totally unbelievable topics and events, it all continued with the theme of earlier in weekend. It felt almost too normal. Familiar, but at the same time like everything had changed. I don’t want to over-dramaticize things here- we are really very lucky to have any kind of normalcy in our lives at all considering what others are going through in Tohoku right now- but there really is an almost disconcerting disconnect between the sheer normalcy of life in Tokyo set against the earthquake related issues we are still facing, like blackouts, radiation, and climbing death tolls.

In a lot of ways it seems like it would be so easy to just ignore all those and pretend that everything is as it always was, but in reality the knowledge of it all still hangs over everything like a cloud, or at least a faint mist.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 11:52 am

    I have a dyer friend who just did some fiber and yarn over the weekend and is calling the colorway Sakura. It is so pretty! I bought some of the fiber and plan to spin it up and make a stole called Hanami. Anyways, KnittedWit the dyer is giving a % of the proceeds to Mercy Corp. The other pattern I might use is by WendyKnits. She just designed a pattern called Japanese Garden. I hadn’t thought about it until just now. Our sakura are starting to just bud, not bloom yet. Though the ume are blooming a lot here, they are just beautiful!

    • March 24, 2011 8:42 pm

      Most of the trees here still have bare branches, but there are a few here and there trying to stand out and beat the rush, it seems! In about a week or 2 we should hit the peak. I’ll be sure to post lots of pictures. The view along the river near my apartment is absolutely breathtaking!

      Dedicating a colorway to Japan is a wonderful idea! Thank your dyer friend for me, if you get a chance. I remember the Hanami Stole pattern from a while back, and I think it would be a great pattern for it. It’s really nice and unique! I haven’t seen the Japanese Garden one, though.

      You’re making me want to knit lace.. I haven’t in a looong time. (Unless you count lacy hats, which I totally don’t ^_~)

      • March 26, 2011 12:46 pm

        I will let her know. I got the spinning fiber today and it is beautiful!!

        Here’s the link to the Japanese Garden. She has already raised over $3000 to go directly to Mercy Corp. It has been really cool!!

        This next week is supposed to be mostly nice and I am sure that all of our budded trees are going to pop.

        • March 26, 2011 10:08 pm

          Wow! $3000 is a huge amount to raise for Japan! Thank her so much.. it’s going to help a lot of people. :D Beautiful pattern, too!

          What is the fiber, wool? I’d like to see how it comes out when you are finished with it!

          • March 27, 2011 4:16 am

            It is really cool. She apparently has it set so that Paypal takes only a minimum amount so all of the proceeds are going. Amazing I think!

            The fiber is a 50% merino/50% silk. I will definitely share pictures once it is spun and when I do the project. :)

          • March 27, 2011 2:30 pm

            That is so awesome of her. And merino/silk sounds perfect for a shawl to me! I look forward to the pictures. :D

  2. March 24, 2011 9:11 am

    Nice to see things (at least near you) are starting to get back to normal. I also see what you meant when you tweeted me about your waffle mishap. Haha. They did not seem too bad though. Actually the way you covered them with berries and whatever else that was on top of them, they looked quite tempting. I am sure this Sunday when you make them again they will turn out how they apparently always have.

    • March 24, 2011 8:46 pm

      The waffle recipe is a winner, and thankfully the parts I managed to scrape out of the iron were just as tasty as usual. I did lose about half of each of those first two waffles to the sink, though. They were just too stuck on to salvage.

      To me things like waffles, pancakes, and oatmeal are just vessels for toppings. These waffles were topped with mascarpone, maple syrup, a dollop of mayer lemon curd, blueberries, a few chopped walnuts & almonds, and shredded coconut. I like to use greek yogurt on my waffles to up the protein content, but I was out on that day.

      • March 27, 2011 4:20 am

        Have you access to any other nut butters besides peanut butter? We’ve started using other butters because none of us can have peanuts (intolerant, not allergic). I’ve been stirring nut butter into my oatmeal with flax and whatever dried fruit we have. Yummy! I’d love to hear what kind of things you add to your oatmeal since I am eating it every day in hopes it will help me get my cholesterol down.

        • March 27, 2011 2:35 pm

          Nut butters are fairly expensive here, even peanut butter, so I started making my own a while back. I keep various kinds on hand and like to experiment. Favorites I’ve done are honey almond butter, cashew butter, maple sunflower seed butter, raw walnut butter, and just regular salted peanut butter. I’ve also tried hazelnut butter and sone fun ones like chocolate chip almond butter from time to time.

          I actually wrote a post about oatmeal a few months ago, when fall was just starting up. You can check it out here. I like to vary my toppings depending on my mood, but usually there’s some kind of a nut butter (or coconut butter!), nuts, fruit, and something for protein like yogurt or milk. My favorite this week has been molasses oatmeal topped with almond butter, berries, greek yogurt, walnuts, almonds, and cacao nibs. :D

          • March 28, 2011 3:09 am

            I vaguely remembered that post so went back and read it again. Yum!! Those look like desserts. :) But that’s similar to what I do with mine. This morning it’s dried mango chopped up, coconut butter, ground flax and I decided to try ground hemp with it. And topped with vanilla coconut milk yogurt. It’s helping to warm me up thinking of tropical places.

          • March 29, 2011 2:40 am

            Yum! That combination sounds fantastic. Coconut butter and dried mango are two of my favorite things, and I happen to have both on hand.. perhaps an nice tropical oatmeal would be a good idea for me too, this week. :D

            ..if I can stop myself from making molasses oats, that is! I’ve been mixing in blackstrap molasses into everything lately to help with my iron intake. 1/2 tbsp with cinnamon and fresh grated ginger stirred in while cooking adds so much depth and flavor to oatmeal.

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