Perhaps you’d love to throw a vegan waffle party, but you don’t have a waffle iron, and you’re not serious enough about waffles to invest in one just yet. Or maybe you want an iron, but the budget’s tight at the moment. As the waffle party is intended to be a fun catalyst for positive change that is accessible to anyone, I offer several options for making it happen.
Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative if you can borrow theirs, and tell them they can attend without having to bring a waffle topping. Many people have waffle makers that have been sitting around unused in a cupboard or closet, so lending them out is no big deal. For our party, a few friends and neighbors (including omnivorous ones) have offered to lend us theirs in case we needed an emergency backup–without me even asking. The offer was usually prefaced with, “It’s been sitting around in the closet.” If I had asked, a few of them may have even agreed to sell me their iron.
Just be sure to follow proper etiquette with borrowed irons. Upon borrowing an iron, if you suspect more traces of non-vegan ingredients than you or your guests may be comfortable with, a chopstick with a bit of moist paper towel wadded up on the end will do a reasonable cleaning job, or you may wish to treat the first waffle as the “cleaning waffle.” Of course, also make sure you clean the iron well before giving it back, and avoid using any harsh abrasive objects (like wire brushes) on the grills.
Check out Craig’s List or Freecycle if you have groups in your area, along with your local thrift shops. I got a dirt cheap ice cream maker ($10) on our local Craig’s List after discovering the Vice Cream vegan ice cream book. And the seller lived four blocks from us–how convenient! I’ve seen a number of waffle makers on there, too, at least in our area, for $5 or $10. Back in college, I picked up a microwave and toaster oven at the local thrift shop, both for under $10.
Yes, some of the more expensive models do offer advantages and some are more durable if you’re planning to make a lot of waffles over time, but I’ve also made decent vegan waffles on cheaper and older models. The basic technology of the waffle makers doesn’t vary that much. You can always upgrade later if you desire that extra little bit of crispiness, the adjustable heat setting, and so on.
Offset some of your other costs so you can buy an iron. If you do an event that caters to individuals who are new to vegan food, following VegFund’s guidelines, the food ingredients will take little or no cash out of your wallet, perhaps leaving you or a friend some cash to buy a waffle maker. And because waffles can be a breakfast, brunch, or dinner food, owning this appliance opens up many future vegan waffle event possibilities. Having guests bring some of the toppings will also reduce your costs somewhat.
Start with a small party so you need to purchase or borrow only one iron. If you have at least one iron for every 4-6 guests, you should be fine–especially if you break the waffles into quarters or halves as they come out, so more people can start eating sooner. By the time they’re ready for the next quarter or half, more will be out.
If all else fails, you can still host a vegan pancake party. While you’d be sacrificing some of the texture, toasted flavor, and character that is unique to the waffle, you can convert most vegan waffle recipes to vegan pancake recipes by thinning the batter slightly. Some batters may not need thinning, and it may take a bit of experimenting with the first pancake or two. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time of additional plant-based milk or water to your vegan waffle batter until it pours into a pancake at the desired thickness. You can also get away with reducing the oil for pancakes, as long as you’re still greasing the pan with oil or margarine. Keep in mind that the oil reduction will also impact the flavor somewhat.
If you go the vegan pancake route, I recommend a properly seasoned cast iron skillet or griddle. Cast iron skillets hold heat well and distribute it very evenly.
Happy vegan waffle partying!