Orange you glad, I didn’t say banana

One of the lessons I have learned in the kitchen is that there are no mistakes. Some of the most amazing dishes I have learned to make have come because I “made a mistake.” While someone else might say it was a mistake, I have come to realize everything I do is a part of the journey to a greater level of awareness, understanding, and creativity. The day that I accidentally bought curry paste thinking it might be a good substitute for the curry leaves I could not find anywhere, opened up a whole myriad of opportunities for me. Once I realized they were not substitutable, I began thinking about ways I could use this jar of paste because I certainly did not want to throw it away. 

I guess one could look at this situation and say I was seeking solutions to a problem. However, I saw it as a gift, which was going to allow me to experience a wealth of possibilities. As I thought about this, I was reminded of two quotes. One is from Soren Kierkegaard who wrote, “Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.” The other was a quote my homiletics professor Dr. Gail Ricciuti who as her email signature line had. “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW -- What a Ride!"”

Creating culinary offerings in the kitchen can leave one feeling as if one has just done the latter. It is that feeling, that rush, that high that you can sense when you see chefs and other culinary artists push their creative boundaries in the kitchen. You can sense when they have played it safe and when they have given it all they had.  Everybody’s boundaries are at different places, so what may be playing it safe for one, may be skidding in broadside for another.  A friend of mine who is just learning how to cook got excited the other day because she made a dish that had more then five ingredients to it. I got excited a few months ago, when I thought I was adding some salsa to some left over butternut squash macaroni and cheese and it turned out to be curry paste. The things I have created when I have tried to do something without my contact lenses in. The funny thing is that I loved this new healthier macaroni and cheese with the curry paste more then I did without it. Who would have ever thought? Since then I have begun adding curry paste to a wide diversity of things. The other day, I mixed some with some cream cheese and grated soy cheddar, stuffed them in a jalapeno (I know it sounds strange) and then zapped them for a few seconds for the cheese to melt. Strange as it sounds, they were soooo good.

Really experiencing the ingredients can mean that you take something and then recreate it and have fun and play. Like a week or so ago, I was zesting an orange and some of the zest got into some softened butter that I had out for something else. I looked at it, tried it, and thought it needed just a bit of sugar, so I added a packet of Splenda and voila, I had orange butter. I would never have thought about combining orange zest and butter. Once I realized I could do it with orange, I began to think I could also do this with lemon or lime or even grapefruit. I have not done them yet, but the orange butter was so good that I began thinking about how or where I could use the orange butter. So then, I wondered if I could not combine orange juice into my pancake syrup and give that a bit of orangey goodness. So good. Ok, so if you are going to have orange butter and orange syrup then why not serve it on orange waffles. Keeping it whole wheat and diabetic friendly I added some orange juice and zest to my waffle mix and served up orange whole-wheat Belgian waffles with orange butter and orange syrup. Next time, I might have to add some of the sugar free orange marmalade on it as well. There was just enough orange in each bite for you to taste the orange, but not so much that it was overly orange. Hmm. maybe I should do this with bananas. I can easily see the banana waffles. Hmm – banana syrup? Banana butter? I just might try those the next time I have bananas in the house.

At the suggestion of a friend of mine, she suggested I include my recipes and pictures.  Unfortunately, by the time I went to get my wife’s digital camera they already had bites taken out of them. So I guess you will have to imagine how they look until you make them for yourself.

Orange Butter

8 oz softened butter or margarine

1 tablespoon Splenda

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon orange juice

Mix until creamy. That simple. So good you just want to sit there and eat it out of the bowlJ.

Orange Syrup

3/4 cup maple or pancake syrup (I used sugar free syrup)

1/4 cup orange juice

Mix and heat slowly to blend. We definitely cannot have cold syrup on a hot waffle.

Orange Waffles

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl. Combine all the wet ingredients in a bowl. Slowly combine wet into dry. Ladle onto waffle pan and cook to desired crispness.