Chicks and Waffles

Leftover ingredients are often my inspiration. Once I got started on the sourdough, I wanted to try something other than bread. I found a waffle recipe that reminded me of the yeast waffles my mother makes, which are delicious and light.

The sourdough waffle recipe is along the same lines. It requires making an overnight sponge, which needed 2 cups of buttermilk. Wegmans, my favorite store and was recently  named the most popular, doesn’t carry it in just 2 cup options. We’ve been very fortunate in that Wegmans has been in the community about 20 years, so I shop there often. Anyway, so I had a quart of buttermilk and only needed 2 cups.

Which led me to the fried chicken recipe. Buttermilk is the great tenderizer of chicken and helps deliver a ton of flavor as a marinade with other ingredients. The New York Times recipe needed a full quart, but I only made half because there it’s  just my daughter and I most of the time. I love leftover fried chicken, but not enough to make that much.

So, the two chicks had waffles and fried chicken for dinner. Girls need to splurge every now and again. Kale for the rest of the week.

Fried Chicken

Adapted from the New York Times


  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  •  3 pounds cut up chicken


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder or 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1 teaspoon smoked ancho chili powder or chipotle powder  
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper


  • Dutch oven, preferably a 5 to 6 quart
  • Enough oil to cover half of chicken, preferably something neutral such as peanut or canola


Put all ingredients for marinade except chicken in a large zip-top baggie and shake to combine. Add chicken and make sure all of the pieces are covered with the buttermilk mixture. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

To make coating, whisk together ingredients and place into 9-inch-by-13-inch  baking pan. Add chicken, one or two pieces at a time, and roll to completely cover. Remove on a paper towel or baking sheet. Do not discard coating.

Fill oil to about 1/3 of the way up the Dutch oven’s sides. Heat it reaches 350 degrees. Dredge chicken in flour one more time, shake it oven and place into the Dutch oven. You do not want to crowd your chicken, so this will be done in batches. The oil should be about halfway up the chicken pieces. Cover and cook for 6 minutes. Remove lid from pot, turn chicken over. Do not replace lid. Fry for another 6 minutes. Check this website for proper temperatures, but for chicken it is 165 degrees. A probe thermometer works best here.

Remove from oil. Allow to cool on a rack. Do not refrigerate. Best eaten within an hour. A little longer if it is cool in your home. Typical rule of thumb in my region, unless the temperature outside is 85 degrees or higher, is about 3 hours.


Sourdough Waffles

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Overnight Sponge

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup sourdough starter, unfed


  • All of the overnight sponge
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Make the sponge by combining 1 cup of starter, flours, sugar and buttermilk. Let sit at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel overnight. Make sure it stays damp or your sponge will get a crust and that’s not good.

The next day, beat together eggs, oil or butter, and add to the sponge. Add salt and baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Pour into heated waffle iron and cook according to directions. Serve immediately. Makes about 1 dozen waffles.

chicken and wafles


Marnie Mead is a freelance writer, blogger, travel writer and mom. She recently started her own business. You can reach her at

No-Knead Sourdough

I love bread. Simply love bread. I learned to bake bread from a neighbor in Warren, Mrs. Levinson, who also taught piano. She tried teaching me piano. But soon discovered I had neither the hands nor the tempo for the piano. I did have bread hands, she told my mother.

Over the years, they’ve also become pasta hands, pizza hands, typing hands, and knead-a-friend’s-sore-back hands. Basically, bread hands. But among my favorite breads to bake are the kind that don’t require tedious kneading (or the help of a bread machine). These are earthy, crusty loaves with lovely big holes inside. These are the kinds where the crust sounds like it is cracking when you break off a piece.

Jim Lahey started the no-knead bread revolution in New York. The ingredients are simple: flour, water, yeast, salt, a very hot oven, and a good cast-iron pot (I like a 2.5- to 3-quart size), preferably with an enamel coating. And you need time. Most of the time is passive.

Because we live in Erie, I also like to use a heating pad when I’m making this bread during the colder months because I don’t keep my home heated to 72 degrees 24/7/365. More on this in a minute.

Wegmans offers a great bread selection, but there’s nothing like pulling  a loaf out of the oven and slathering it with butter or dipping it into a bold extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned salt mixture while it is still warm.

Not everyone likes sourdough, but the beauty of making your own is you can control the flavor. The starter and the proofing temperature and time will determine how deep the flavor becomes.

You can buy a starter, often from websites offering some form of pedigree, or you can create your own. I’ve killed more than one heritage starter due to neglect (I’m not very good at friendship bread either), so I like to start my own. It’s simple. I use a large old yogurt container (4 cups). For a starter you will need flour, filtered water and either unsweetened apple juice or unsweetened pineapple juice and time. You can follow the instructions from the New York Times here. One you get it going – it will take about a week – you can stash it in your refrigerator. A portion will need to be used (or discarded) once a week and then it needs to be replenished (fed) with more water and flour. If should smell like it is fermenting – yeasty and somewhat vinegary. If it gets a gray layer of liquid on top or doesn’t smell good, it’s time to start over.

Once you have a starter, the time investment is about 18 to 24 hours to make a loaf of bread. I will start mine in the evening, around 6 p.m., which means I can bake anytime the following afternoon or evening.

This doesn’t require any special flour. Buy unbleached all-purpose flour from a trusted source. You don’t need bread flour for this to work. Once you get the hang of it, you can try mixing in some whole wheat flour (start with 1/2 cup and work with it until you get a texture and flavor you like). You can brush it with garlic olive oil during the second phase of baking (once you remove the lid from the pot) or herbed oil. Now the bread becomes your own.

Now the part about the heating pad. Once you have your flour, water and starter mixed together, it will need to rise in a warm place. I cover my bowl with a damp tea towel (not one with the loops on it) and a plate. Then I put it in box on an open shelf in my kitchen and cover it with the heating pad set on low. The temperature needs to be about 70 degrees consistently. If you like more tang in your sourdough, you will want temperatures averaging 75 to 80 degrees (or warmer, but no higher than 85). Make sure the tea towel doesn’t dry out or a crust will form on the top of your dough (BAD), so check it every 4-8 hours.

About an hour before you are ready to bake, crank up the oven to 475 degrees with your pot in it. Have some cornmeal on hand to sprinkle into the bottom of the pot when you are ready to bake – this will help prevent sticking. Now you are ready to bake.

No-Knead Sourdough

3 ½ cups unbleached flour (or 3 cups unbleached white and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup sourdough starter that has been fed
1 1/4 cups warm water
Coarse cornmeal (3 tablespoons, about)

Combine flour and salt in a bowl large enough to handle the dough doubling in size. In a small bowl, combine starter and warm water. Add to bowl with flour and mix until just combined. It will be shaggy. Cover with a damp tea towel and plastic wrap or a plate and set in warm place to rise, 12 to 24 hours.

Scoop dough out of bowl on a work surface covered with flour. Gently fold dough together to form a round loaf. Transfer the dough, seam side down, to a tea towel (no loops) that has been dusted with flour. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 475 to 500 degrees with a covered cast-iron enameled pot (about 2.5 to 3 quarts) in it about 1 hour to 30 minutes before baking. When you are ready to bake, take the pot out of the oven and remove the lid. Sprinkle bottom of pot with cornmeal. Carefully lift the dough and gently deposit it (seam side up) into the bottom of the pot. Cover pot. Return it to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. (I like 25 in my oven). Remove the lid from the pot. You can brush it with olive oil and herbs at this point. Return it to baking for another 20 to 25 minutes. It will be brown and crusty.

Remove the bread from the oven. Allow to cool slightly and then, carefully, extract the loaf from the pan. It should have pulled away from the sides. A metal flexible spatula can help, along with an oven mitt.

Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before slicing.

Adapted from






What’s Fermenting in My Kitchen

Growing up, we’d find what we’d refer to lovingly as science experiments in the family refrigerator. We had one upstairs and one downstairs.

Upstairs, anyone desperately hungry enough to root all the way to the back of the fridge might find something green and furry stashed there. With four kids, my mom liked to keep leftovers. The problem was none of the kids, or my Dad, were fond of leftovers.

The basement fridge was another matter. That my Dad’s territory. Home to duck legs in confit, cassoulet, borscht, it wasn’t a popular spot. This may explain why we had to have the Le Creuset pot blasted with the hoses used to clean the newspaper’s presses.

Ah, the Erie Times-News. That’s where I sort of grew up. My grandfather founded it in 1888 and it was in the family until January 2016. I worked there pretty much my whole life – minus 5 years in Peoria at the Journal-Star, which was owned by the Slane family. In the “this can’t be made up” category, both newspapers are now owned by the same media company. I don’t work at the Erie Times-News anymore, but I do freelance work.

At the age of 9, when we lived in Warren, Pennsylvania, I learned I loved to cook. I learned this from the woman who was trying to teach me piano. Turns out I had the hands of a baker, not a pianist.

Over the years, I’ve cooked and baked my way through apartments in Boston, Peoria and Erie – and ones in Paris and Florence. My current residence is a condo in Fairview, Pennsylvania, where I redid the kitchen. It’s not large, but it’s big enough to take on my projects.

Which brings me to my experiments, which are brewing on the counter and by a heat register. Gotta love Erie, it was 19 degrees today, April 5, 2016. I’m checking out a homemade ginger ale recipe and one for kombucha from I’ve also got a sourdough starter going on the counter as well.

Check back in a day or two, and we’ll see how well these are working out.

ginger ale