Right the First Time

Recently, I bought a waffle iron. I delight in a well-made Belgian waffle, thick and fluffy and full of carbohydrates. I love waffles even without the myriad accoutrement–butter, syrup, berries, powdered sugar. Whipped cream? Fried chicken? Ice Cream? Nutella? Good heavens. There’s a quote–paraphrased and misattributed–from Ben Franklin where he allegedly said something along the lines of, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I think waffles are on that same list.

On day one, a reality set in that I’d like to share here. For those who have tried it, you may know this truth. For those who have not, heed this warning: owning a waffle-iron does not make one a waffle chef. Waffles are not pancakes; any literate doofus with ten minutes can whip up a little fried Bisquick and call it breakfast. I mistakenly thought that a waffle would be the same principle, and that just changing the proportion of the ingredients would yield brilliant results. I could not possibly have been more wrong.

The first batch was thick as a brick. It was literally a biscuit made in a waffle iron.

The second batch tasted . . . like I had smashed four or five pancakes together. Still too dense.

The third one I tried something different: I used egg whites only, and cut down on the dry ingredients. The result tasted more like a waffle, but looked like Swiss cheese. It was a skeletal latticework of waffle batter. Interesting! But not really a waffle.

The thing is, before I had started trying to make these waffles, I already knew how to get good results. The genesis of my waffle project was a Youtube video by Andrew Rea where he mixed up a batch of Homer Simpson’s “Moon Waffles.” Having already watched the video, I knew ahead of time how he made his waffles light and fluffy and crisp.

It just seemed like hard work, and I didn’t want to do it.

If you watched the video, great. If not, I’ll summarize the key to fluffy, crisp waffles: quality ingredients, and air. The most difficult, time-consuming part of the ordeal is the process of whipping the egg-whites to stiff peaks. Doing so is boring, bland work. It takes a little practice to get right, and you can go too far if you don’t add the right amount of sugar to the whites to stabilize them. But it is the only way to get a proper waffle.

I wrote yesterday about how I had received most of my wisdom from my mother and paternal grandfather. It’s not that my father didn’t pass along any wisdom, it’s just that his teachings tend to be more background in my personality. He did teach me one thing that, while important, I sometimes eschew because of impatience: There is no shortcut–do it right the first time, or you will just have to do it again.

Do it right the first time. I know it sounds a little bent–it’s just breakfast, after all–but this waffle experience is a nice allegory for how I ought to approach life. My old friend Paul the Apostle hits on this in a couple of his letters. In Colossians, he says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Sometimes what we’re doing is working to support a family, or building a home to live in, or giving of ourselves to the community. Sometimes what we’re doing is making breakfast. Whatever it is, though, Paul says that we should commit to putting all of ourselves into it. In his first letter to Corinth, he says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

God–and God’s glory–can be present in the kitchen, as long as He is present in our hearts. And as long as God is in our hearts, shouldn’t we give every effort to completing every task the right way the first time, and with joy in our hearts?

Spoiler alert: my first batch with stiffly-whipped egg whites was pretty darned good.

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