Gary Lowenthal is the coordinator of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, a project of the non-profit organization Compassion for Animals. It has also included projects such as a series of vegan bake sales (spearheaded by Isa Chandra Moskowitz) to raise relief funds for Haiti. We try to help each other get the word out about the events we coordinate, which reach people in different ways. A few weeks ago, he threw a small vegan waffle party, and sent me an impressively detailed report, so I include it as a full post here.
Location: Falls Church, Virginia
My wife and I hadn’t entertained much lately, and we consider ourselves to still be waffle novices, so we kept our first waffle party small. We invited over a few friends for an informal winter gathering.
In the weeks leading up to the party, we experimented with several candidate waffle recipes – which was fun. We decided on two recipes, from two giants in the vegan cookbook world: Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. We chose Isa’s apple-cinnamon waffles from her blog and Colleen’s mysteriously-named Waffles II from the epic Joy of Vegan Baking. The former has finely chopped Granny Smith apples; the latter has oats, cornmeal, and crushed walnuts.
We fired up the trusty Belgian waffle maker well in advance and starting making waffles. Maybe it was luck, maybe we’re getting better at this than we thought, or maybe it’s difficult to mess up waffles, but each one came out looking perfect. We stored the lovely creations in the oven.
For toppings we had classic maple syrup as well as imported apple syrup that I got as a present from some Dutch clients. As you may know, waffles were invented in Holland. At least that’s what it says in The Joy of Vegan Baking. At the last minute, we decided to cook up some vegan bacon, also. In addition, I had a bowl of fresh cut-up fruit that people could have on the side or as a topping. We featured “Healthy Haiti” coffee from Dean’s Beans; a portion of sales from that coffee goes to medical care for Haitian residents.
Our non-vegan but vegan-friendly friends loved everything. So did my wife and I. Now that we’ve had a success at the small level, maybe next year we’ll ramp it up a notch, and see where it goes…
But there’s more to it than that.
The Rest of the Story
I bought the waffle iron mentioned above about 25 years ago, long before we ever heard of the word “vegan,” much less became vegan. We used it once, then put it away and forgot about it. It was reading the WaffleParty.com web site that got me interested in waffles again. I wondered, “Do we still have that old waffle iron?” Some months went by before I did anything about it. Eventually, I went looking for the waffle iron in the closet – we had moved since we originally bought it – and I found it. It was still in mint condition.
Well, things were all different this time around. For instance, there are a zillion recipes on the Net. We started off with Naked Vegan Waffles, from the vegan waffle party web site, to sort of establish a baseline. They were terrific. We were onto something. I’m not exaggerating when I say we both realized we had discovered a whole new dimension for weekend breakfasts. From that point on, almost every weekend we’d try a new waffle recipe.
We used to occasionally buy frozen waffles and use them as a quick grab-and-go breakfast. Once we started on the homemade waffles, we just could not bring ourselves to buy those things anymore. They used to taste fine to us. But the difference between frozen out of a box and homemade is so great, we barely considered the frozen waffles to be waffles. They were now some sort of crude imitation.
Does everyone go through this: We realized that waffles weren’t just differently-shaped pancakes. There’s something about the raised batter, or the grid, or the Panini-like cooking…they’re in a class by themselves.
We’ve barely scratched the surface. There are so many vegan waffle recipes to try. Each weekend is like an adventure—“What will this one taste like? Does it have a separate topping recipe? Will it be a new favorite?” Breakfast will never be the same. And we have WaffleParty.com to thank.
I found out that my new cell phone takes absolutely wretched photos. Most were so out of focus, they’re not worth sending. I know I’m not a great photographer, but I’m not that bad. Anyway, I’ve attached a few photos of the food in process; better than nothing, I suppose.
We just polished off some banana-walnut waffles from Veganomicon.