Fridays as “fend nights” are not what they used to be.

It used to be that on a “fend night,” I’d come home and help everybody figure out which leftovers they wanted.  We’d heat things up, dish a little of this and that onto plates, and be done with it.  Gradually, that model has started to shift; and over time, we’ve gone from the no-cook model I intended…to the “low-cook” model of having to tweak those leftovers a bit (usually by making quesadillas or something like that)…to the current “creative subsistence” model, which involves me thinking carefully about what I can cook from the items left in the house to make a complete meal for my family.

What can I say?  These three guys I live with are eating me out of house and home.  🙂  Food just doesn’t seem to stretch as far as it used to; but then again, we’re also wasting less food, which is GREAT, and we’re probably buying less as well, if I’m truthful.  The stuff we’re eating is higher in quality than it was even a year ago, and it feels more abundant somehow, but we are no longer a household in which there’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of food choice.  So when Friday rolls around, and the cupboards are essentially bare (seriously, there are whole empty shelves in our refrigerator right now), I have to make a little magic to get a good dinner on the table without resorting to take-out.

Today was sort of a rocky day across the board.  Last night, right before bedtime, P. spontaneously walked into the bathroom and said, “I gonna go potty.”  Yes, my non-trained 2-year-old took matters into his own hands and decided it was high time to ditch the diapers.  He had a couple of quite successful potty adventures last evening, which sparked a harried trip out for toddler-sized race car underpants after he fell asleep.  (If anyone wondered why I didn’t post yesterday…this is why.  I was in line at the store, debating between “Cars” and “Diego.”)  Unfortunately, our little champ didn’t continue his big boy ways today, and decided to spend his first full morning as a potty-trainer pitching an epic tantrum at day care, having multiple accidents, and generally fraying my nerves before J. and I even made it to work this morning.

Towards the end of the day, I realized that I hadn’t given much thought to the question of our now erroneously named “fend” night.  A quick mental checklist proved that, yes, the food supply was pretty sparse…but there was nitrate-free uncured bacon; some flour; and, as always, frozen organic fruit.

Breakfast for dinner to the rescue.  It’s serendipitous, too, because somehow something like waffles always seems more appropriate on a Friday night than, say, a Tuesday.  I did want to do something different with our usual whole-wheat waffle batter, though; something more interesting, something a little more special.  Since lately the kids have apparently been in love with corn muffins, I thought it might be nice to make corn muffin waffles.

Corn Muffin Waffles

J. said he was game for the experiment, but seemed a bit skeptical.  The kids, predictably, reacted with enthusiasm to bacon, smoothies, and something called muffin waffles for dinner.  As it happens, the kids were right to be excited.  The texture of the cornmeal in the whole-wheat waffles was a welcome change from the ordinary, and the slightly sweet, slightly nutty flavor was perfect with a side of crispy bacon.  P. ate so much I actually feared he’d be sick.  As for J., L., and myself…there were definitely no complaints.

It’s amazing how right the world can seem after a good family dinner, no matter how humble.  L. was all smiles and chatter this evening, and P. went a few hours completely accident-free, with three successful visits to his new favorite room in the house.  I suddenly felt my shoulders drop about a mile as I played balloon volley with L. and read stories to P.  What started as a relatively stressful day — and, I might add, didn’t improve drastically for any single member of our family — turned rapidly with a plate of corn muffin waffles, and became a fun, even semi-relaxing, Friday evening.

Oh, I know, it was probably just the ritual of family dinner itself that did it for us.  It probably wasn’t really the waffles.  But you know, I don’t think they hurt anything.  As a matter of fact, I dare you to even SAY “corn muffin waffles” without smiling.  Go ahead, give it a try.  Then make them, and see if the magic works on your family, too.

Corn muffin waffles

 Corn Muffin Waffles
(Makes 6-8 waffles)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
pinch salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (for best texture)
2 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 – 1 1/2 cups milk

Heat waffle iron according to directions.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (wheat flour through sugar) until combined.  Add the honey and butter and stir thoroughly.  Add the eggs, mixing until just combined, and gradually whisk in the milk until the batter is thicker than a pancake batter, but not quite as thick as muffin batter.  (It shouldn’t be able to form a ribbon when poured, but should spread slightly on its own when scooped out onto the waffle iron.)  When the batter is ready, portion it by 1/2 cup measures onto the waffle iron, cooking according to your waffle iron’s directions.  Serve warm with honey or real maple syrup.