It was the second day of second grade. Gosh, I can’t believe I’m going to admit the year: 1966! I loved kindergarten and first grade, so of course I was happy to be back in school. Our grandmotherly-looking teacher, Mrs. McN. distributed the first week’s list of spelling words and instructed us to use all of the words in sentences of our own. Well, I got right to work. I still remember a lot of those words…. although I probably didn’t notice it at the time, they all had a double consonant in the middle of the word: puppy, kitten, mitten, bottle, waffle….huh? Why would anyone think “waffle” was a priority word for seven-year-olds to learn to spell?
Anyway, I believe the reason I remember so many words from that list is because of the sentences I wrote. I don’t know what on earth possessed me, but all of the sentences I wrote were analogies, sometimes even using two of the spelling words in the same sentence: Puppy is to dog as kitten is to cat. Trust me, I have no idea how I came to be such a little nerd! I didn’t know that what I was writing was called an analogy, and I don’t know when I ever heard or read one before that, but I was an avid reader and guess I must have come across some analogies somewhere.
After a while, Mrs. McN. collected our work and sat at her desk. Before long, she told me to come to the front of the room. Now, I didn’t know anything about abstract thinking back then, but I must have somehow sensed that I had done something unusual with my sentences, because I remember halfway expecting the teacher to say “What a smart little girl you are” or something like that. But noooooooo, that’s not how it went down. Mrs. McN. started reading my sentences aloud, growing more agitated and screechy with each one. By the time she got to “Waffle is to syrup as meatloaf is to catsup,” the woman was practically apoplectic (even though I’m pretty sure I spelled syrup and catsup correctly), and she repeated the waffle analogy over and over. “What kind of NON-SENSE sentence is this? You stay inside at recess and write some proper sentences!”
Naturally I was mortified, but I did what I was told. When I related that story to a fellow educator many years later, she immediately asked what my mother said, and I realized it never even crossed my mind to tell mom about it at the time. However, the memory stayed with me, and because of that incident I always thought of Mrs McN. as a mean old lady and second grade just wasn’t a great year. The other thing I’ve always remembered, though, is that waffles and syrup go together like meatloaf and catsup.
So…. I was home alone for dinner the other night, and I felt like eating waffles.
I’ve seen this basic buttermilk syrup recipe in many blogs and websites over the years* and I decided to give it a try. At the same time, I always like to experiment with my own twist on things and had the idea to try substituting plain yogurt and comparing the results.
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup plain yogurt (substitute buttermilk if desired)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
Put the butter, yogurt or buttermilk, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil while stirring occasionally. Pull the pan off the heat and add the soda and vanilla. The syrup will foam up (with yogurt even more so than buttermilk), so keep that in mind if you double the recipe and be sure to use a big enough saucepan. Yield: about 1½ cups.
Notes: After trying the recipe, I still prefer real maple syrup on waffles, but this is a good inexpensive alternative. It does have a nice buttery vanilla flavor and I think it would be really good as a topping for a rustic unfrosted cake, especially if the cake is on the less-sweet side.
I definitely like the yogurt version better than the buttermilk syrup. The yogurt syrup is still sweet, but not quite as sweet as the buttermilk version, and you could cut the sweetness even more by stirring in a little more yogurt after the syrup is done (or use extra yogurt to start with). If you’ve ever tried the buttermilk syrup recipe and liked it, you will probably enjoy the yogurt syrup even more.
The buttermilk syrup separated into a thinner syrup with a layer of foam almost right away, but the yogurt syrup stayed thicker and foamy all the way through (don’t know if that is an advantage, just a difference).
If you have to avoid eggs, the yogurt syrup with a little extra yogurt added would be an acceptable substitute for vanilla custard sauce. It doesn’t taste exactly the same, but it would certainly work and would be good on a fruit crisp or that wonderful German favorite, the Dampfnudel.
I think this syrup will keep in the fridge for at least a week past the sell-by date on the buttermilk or yogurt. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
*Because the basic buttermilk recipe is out there all over the place, I don’t know whom to credit as the source. If anyone knows for sure where it originated, I’d be glad to add that information. Since we started this blog, I’ve come up with a few “original” ideas for new recipes only to find with a little searching that someone else already thought of them first. However, I haven’t found any other yogurt syrup recipes, so I think that part really is my own innovation.
By the way, my second-grade analogy experience came to mind this week because I’m reading a great book by Rick Wormeli called Metaphors and Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject. Recently I was visiting a seventh grade class while students were reviewing physical geography processes, and the teacher had the students describe pound cake, contrasted it with a lighter cake, and compared pound cake’s solid heaviness to the density of the earth’s core. I commented afterward that it was clear that the kids really got the example, and the teacher told me she was thinking of bringing in boiled eggs with the shells lightly cracked all over to help them grasp the idea of earth’s tectonic plates. If you have school-age kids, I hope they have teachers like this one instead of Mrs. McN.
Metaphors be with you!