We are a military family. And that means a great many things. There are the things you think of instantly like sacrifice, deployments, pride, love of country, transience.
Without question these things all apply to my family. For sure we've had our share of trying times just like any other military family. Both of our sons have spent a long periods of time without their dad at home. That wasn't easy on the boys or their dad. And in the meantime I had to be both mom and dad for them and hope that they weren't missing too much. Nothing about that was simple or fun. And just when I thought that things were going to be normal and whole when my Navy man got home from long deployments we found that there was confusion about how we all fit back together. The boys didn't know their dad and he didn't know them. And how did I fit in the picture now that I was needed less than I had been the days, weeks and months before?
But the thing about that struggle is that in the end, it's what makes our family as strong as it is. It makes us appreciate each other and every day that we have together. What a blessing that is.
One of the least appealing aspects of being a Navy spouse is all that moving around. If I'm talking about the emotional side of things there is the loss of ever feeling rooted in a place; settled and home. It's a game of "new and old". My kids are the new ones in school, we have to make new friends, settle into a new house and neighborhood and start new jobs. Then there's the old- we miss our old friends, liked the old house better or could find our way around in the old place so much better than the new one. That's a lot to handle every few years. There's quite a bit of wear and tear on the hearts of our military families.
But it's not just our hearts and minds that take a beating. Our things go through just as much stress and strain with each move. Imagine taking apart your cabinets, beds, tables and shelves every three years, packing them up and shipping them to a new home across the country. Then there's the toys, clothes, pots and pans, TVs, books and dishware to wrap and pack into boxes. It's a difficult life being our "stuff". You know the saying "This is why we can't have nice things"? Well, that's certainly true of my family and many like mine.
When we moved to Germany last year a good deal of our most precious belongings were sent into long term storage. I just couldn't bear the idea of my mother in law's Limoge china set being shipped on a boat and handled time and time again before it got to me a continent and ocean later. Or my husband's beautiful wooden high chair from childhood being taken apart and the screws and bolts lost or legs broken. In the end there were only a couple of precious family heirlooms that made the trip with us- things I just couldn't imagine not being in our home.
One of those things is the china set that was hand painted by my mother for my husband and me. There are only a few pieces- a soup tureen and platter, maple syrup pitcher and powdered sugar shaker. But they are one of the last pieces Mom painted after a long run of painting and selling china out of our home as a side business. Not too many others in our family can say that they have a piece custom made just for them and I always look at them with pride and awe that they were made for us. They are precious to me. In fact I very rarely use them for fear of them breaking. The soup tureen has never seen a drop of soup!
Not long ago I was approached by the lovely folks over at Chairish to write a post featuring a family heirloom that I "chairish" and how I showcase it in my home. (Haven't heard of Chairish? It's a modern day consignment shop where you can buy and sell vintage home decor, furniture and jewelry along with like-minded stylish folks all over the US) I had to think about this one for a while not having too many of those precious items with me. But when my eyes landed in my mother's china pieces I knew it was time to break them free from their years of sitting on a shelf in my china cabinet.
So here they are in all of their glory, serving up what will likely be Christmas breakfast for the people who I cherish most in the world- my family. I can't think of a better reason to use the prettiest china in my cabinet.
Whole Wheat Cookie Butter Waffles
Serves 6 hungry folks or 8 regular ones.
For the printable recipe, click here.
My usual Christmas morning breakfast is gingerbread pancakes. Having discovered the beauty that is speculoos cookie butter, I thought I'd switch it up a bit this year. So these waffles were born. I tried to balance the sweet cookie butter with a healthier flour, so these waffles are half whole wheat and half all purpose. And to further bring out the buttery cookie-ness of the waffles I browned the butter that went into the batter. Otherwise these are fairly straightforward and very easy waffles to make. No yeast or whipping egg whites here, just mix, pour into the waffle maker and enjoy. And if you really feel like these aren't fit for breakfast I can see absolutely no reason why you couldn't crisp up a couple of waffles and sandwich them around a scoop of ice cream. What a treat!
5 tbs butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup speculoos cookie butter
1 tbs brown sugar
2 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup neutral flavored oil
Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Melt the butter and then continue cooking the butter until the milk solids begin to turn a light golden brown (3-4 minutes longer). Remove from heat and cool completely.
Heat your waffle maker according to manufacturer's directions.
In a large bowl stir together the cookie butter, brown sugar, eggs, milk and oil. Add the whole wheat and all purpose flour and stir until just combined. Stir in the cooled butter.
Spray your waffle maker with cooking spray or brush with butter. Pour 1/4-1/3 cup of the batter into each section of the waffle maker (this will, of course, depend on your particular waffle maker and the size and shape of the waffles it makes so you may have to adjust that amount to fit your situation). Cook according to manufacturer's instructions. I typically find that when you no longer see stream rising from the closed waffle maker, the waffles are finished. Keep the finished waffles on a warm platter.
Serve with warm maple syrup, butter and powdered sugar.
Leftover waffles can be wrapped in foil and placed in a zip top bag in the freezer. They warm up nicely in a 350 degree oven or toaster and will keep for three months in the freezer.
** This post contains links to other websites, but I was in no way compensated for my efforts. All opinions, photographs and recipes are my own.