Finally: Buckwheat Blueberry Waffles + Giveaway

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

-Celebratory waffles are the best kind of waffles.-

"I've read your draft. Nice job with your expanded analysis and examples--it helps to clarify your argument. I will leave it in a bag hanging over my office door, so you can pick it up at any time this evening before they lock the building at around 9pm. I am ready to sign off on your thesis! E-mail me very soon to set up an appointment to sign. Yay. Well done."

And there it was. I was done. Four years of work. Twenty classes. Thousands of pages of reading. Hundreds of pages written. Stress, break downs, hysteria. New friends for life. Many mentors who guided me. At the end, a thesis that took three years to write, came out 164-pages long, and 2-inches thick. With this e-mail all the hard work was done.

My thesis has been approved.

I have officially completed graduate school with a degree in English Composition. I can now teach college classes. I am now Garrett McCord, M.A.

Took long enough.

After reading the e-mail I actually spent the first ten minutes crying on my couch with BF congratulating me and holding me as I completely broke down in some of the most exhilarating joy I have ever felt. It was like I had been shot in the chest, but rather than feeling pain I simply exploded with a near existential, completely tear-bearing happiness.

-Bullets. Made of happy. Or something.-

The next day I spent ill. My system had spent the last few weeks addicted to stress. It coursed through my veins pumping adrenaline and fear through my organs and shot a constant flow of electricity searing through my brain. Once my body let it all go it began the process of violently readjusting; heartburn, vertigo, and nausea ensued and left me reeling as if I had just walked off a ship from rough seas. I forced it off with a round of sauce slathered barbecue and far too many beers with friends, followed by a good night's sleep. With that my body finally began to relax and readjust to life post-academia.

My brain and hands however, have not. Independent of the rest of me they still twitch for fervent bouts of stressful activity. I suddenly have 20+ hours of time that I used to spend every week on my thesis all freed up. I'm not sure what to do with myself. I feel like a parolee being released after twenty years, unsure of the world or my place in it anymore.

What does a creature of habit do when the habit is forcibly broken? What do you do when a massive part of your life no longer is? What's left is a void of time and space in your life. In your mind it's a psychic vacuum waiting to be filled.

I called friends. I read a book for fun, though I found myself compelled to highlight and annotate passages here and there. (Old habits and all...) I even spent an afternoon doing sitting on the patio doing absolutely nothing but enjoying myself.

Honestly, I'm not sure how much longer I can stand it.

Stillness, is for other people. Addiction to activity is both a vice and a blessing. It can tucker you out, weather your body, and strain the mind, but it can also produce amazing results. Relaxation is just too crazy-stupid boring.

So, I cooked. My go-to activity whenever I feel out of place.

I whipped up a yeasted buckwheat waffle batter and let it burble and grow overnight in the darkness of the oven. The next day, now doubled in size, the flavors of the flours has intensified and the room smelled yeasty and warm like recently threshed grain. We stirred in a few blueberries for bit of pizzazz in color and flavor.

BF broke out his family's old wafflemaker, an ancient device older than us both and that bears the grizzled appearance to prove it. We scooped cupfuls of the batter in between crusty jaws of the wafflemaker's maw and closed the press to the sound of the creature's steamy hiss.

-I'm not sure how, but it may predate the discovery of electricity and the English language.-

Minutes later and no longer steaming - the classic sign that your waffle is done - the waffles emerged light and crispy. The flavor? Earthy, like birch wood and dry grass. The blueberries, slightly smashed, had released their juices that were cooked into a winey, jammy sauce within each waffle. This fruity filling made the bread of the waffles all the sweeter in comparison.

Smearing them with a bit of strawberry jam I ate in gratitude. Lounging on the couch, my feet propped up on the coffee table, I sighed. It was a bit bittersweet. A huge chapter of life now closed.

"What on earth am I going to do now?" I asked aloud.

-"Examining the Exclusionary Rhetoric of the Slow Food Movement's Recipes and Literature"-


My bound copy of the thesis is sitting on my bookshelf jammed between the various texts I used in my research. Looking back I can say there were a few fun times to all this. There was some diligent eating I got to do in the name of research. A bit of travel. Some interviews with truly engaging and knowledgeable people. Plus, not all of the books I used in my research were dull and academic (though, God, some were so dry they left you parched). A few were thought-provoking and challenged my beliefs about food and culture, and the ways we define ourselves by these things. Written with humorous, sage, and assuring voices these are texts that will be valued tools in writing to come.

(NOTE: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED) I believe in sharing knowledge, so I'm offering up some of my favorite pieces of research as a giveaway. These aren't boring pieces, either. These are books any food lover can read and appreciate. I'm offering a bundle of the following books to one lucky reader:

Oxford Companion to Food: This book made waves a few years ago when it won a James Beard award. Author Alan Davidson wrote about 80 percent of the 2,600-plus entries, with other authors and subject specialists contributing the rest. The entries, which range from Jewish Dietary Laws to Umeboshi, are deftly written to be clear, engaging, and even a bit witty. Excessive cross-referencing aside (it's easy to start on Offal and end up somewhere on Kangaroo twenty minutes later) the Oxford Companion to Food is one of those books that can answer most food questions reliably and succinctly in a way that the Internet sometimes still can't. You may not read it cover to cover, but you will find yourself referencing it again and again.

Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair: Written by Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, this book one of the three central texts analyzed in my thesis. The copy I'm sending is one that doesn't have my scribbles and highlights on every single page. Yes, it can be a bit overzealous, long on rhetoric, short on data, and a bit winded; but, then again, I think the same of Pollan's books, too. This book is like Pollan's most pure thoughts crystallized in a more concise manner and with more enthusiasm. It's certainly inspriational, idealistic, carefully crafted, and salient to today's modern food crisises. As much as I knock it in my thesis, I believe everyone should read this book.

Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture: It's hard to express how much I truly love this book. Anthropologist E.N. Anderson presents an anthropological study of food that is both fascinating and informative. While it is an educational text, I imagine most casual readers will still keep this on the nightstand as casual, though highly addictive, reading. Anderson demonstrates how the simple act of eating is anything but simple and explains how food becomes a focus in religion, culture, and identity, and how food functions as a defining agent in a complex society. Every time I pick it up, I seem to spend my next few meals wondering about the meanings behind my the food in front of me. A must read for any avid food literature enthusiast.

-Apologies, but no waffles are included for the winner as waffles are not books.-

To enter the contest, just leave a comment on this post by the end of May 15th. The comment can be about waffles, research, whatever you want. Please, no anonymous comments. You must leave a name or I will be unable to announce you as the winner. You can also get another entry by going to the Vanilla Garlic fan page on Facebook. Just like the fan page and then comment on the Giveaway Thread for another chance to enter. Super easy!

The winner will be announced on my next post, which will go up on May 17th. The winner will then need to e-mail me their address so I know where to ship the swag. Unfortunately, now that I have student loans, I can't afford to send these anywhere outside the United States.

Lastly, I want to say that should you want to read the thesis I am happy to email it to anyone interested. It's boring and academic, so it may not be your thing. If you fancy yourself a foodie, amateur sociologist, Slow Food member, or just someone with a thing for Marxist critiques on cheesecake recipes then it might be right up your alley. Just shoot me an email and I'll send a PDF of the thesis right along. (Leaving a comment does not actually provide me an email address. You will need to actually email me.) If you are a student and you want to read it for your own research I am thrilled to help, but please remember to cite it properly.


Yeasted Blueberry Buckwheat Waffles
Makes about 16-20 waffles
Adapted from Epicurious

2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons canola oil or butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup blueberries

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and stir in the sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Place the warm milk and salt in a large bowl, and then add the yeast mixture and whisk in the flours. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in your stove overnight.

The next morning, add the sugar, oil, eggs, soda, and blueberries. Cook according to your waffle iron's instructions. When the steam stops it's a good indication that your waffles are done.

85 comments:

  1. I'm a law student...I feel your pain. Despite the fact that I spend hours a day reading for classes all I want to do when I have free time is cozy up with a cookbook. Thanks for offering this giveaway - I'm also a SF member and would love reading these books!

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  2. CONGRATS!!

    It's going to be a slow release of stress. At first, you won't know what to do with yourself when you don't have a deadline hanging over you. I can honestly say it took me a solid year post-thesis to regain my life back. I found myself with too much time on my hands, so I started a blog :)

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  3. I'd be more than happy to read such a Great Collection of Books! Even I can't make to finish my M.A. thesis for 2 years now. You know, it is just law. Boooooring. Since the time I found a real foodie and food journalist in me.
    And I'm so happy that you DID. Finished. Basta. That's it. (I probably shouldn't mention that I'm really really jealous :)

    Believe me, these books could change my life. And I swear I'll finish my M.A. Promise.

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  4. Congratulations Garrett :) Its so relaxing to finally be done studying! And the illness thing happened to me too. On the day of my last university exam. Its just the way it goes I guess. the freedom after was so worth it. I'd love to win your giveaway so fingers crossed!

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  5. Congrats on finishing your thesis! Hard work does pay off. (And this post has left me craving waffles.)

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  6. I never win anything, but I would absolutely love to win these books. Congrats on finally finished your thesis. Can't imagine what that would be like.

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  7. That's amazing news, but I can understand why it would be a jolt none the less. I think there is this huge release once something is over, but also a very strong "Now what?" feeling. I know that after coming out of undergrad (not that this is the same) it took me a long time to get into the lack of rhythm of non-academic life. And given that I love structure and rhythm, this was hard for me, but I think through creating my own sense of order I'm slowly finding my way.

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  8. Good for you! Can't wait to see what happens next for you.

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  9. I worked in the food and agriculture movement for several years and would love to read your thesis. Can you email me a copy? My address should come through with the comment.

    Congratulations and best of luck with whatever comes next!

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  10. Congratulations! You will probably hear that a zillion times, but I don't think it will ever get old because you earned it! I know that moment when you break down and cry, I did it in front of my thesis committee when they shook my hands to congratulate me. Embarrassing, but awesome moment!

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  11. P.S. I am far from a waffle expert here, but I had never heard of a yeasted waffle! I'm pretty excited about it. Thanks for sharing :)

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  12. Congrats Garrett! Those books sound really interesting. Thanks for doing the giveaway. :)

    Shannon

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  13. Congratulations! Best what-do-I-do-now suggestion I have? Find a new webcomic, something with an extensive archive, and read it all the way through. It certainly helps me transition out of school and into break better.

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  14. I think it's so important to know about where are food is coming! I was shocked about the additives in most ground beef after reading Fast Food Nation. Organic Manifesto is also currently on my to Read List.

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  15. I'd love to read your thesis, too. So, so happy for you!

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  16. Hi Garrett--

    Your post made me feel like I was punched in the stomach. I am two years into an MS degree in Forest Resources, and the idea of writing and defending my thesis is TERRIFYING to me. Add that to the fact that I loathe my research and I spend my days dreaming about food, and you can understand why I ate up every word you wrote today. Congratulations on finishing your degree, and thanks for the motivation to help me finish mine!

    -Brianne

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  17. Wow congratulations! Finishing your thesis is really monumental and I wish you lots of luck. And thanks for writing such and entertaining and tasty blog!

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  18. Congrats!

    It must feel incredible to see the product of your sweat and tears printed and bound.

    These waffles look to-die! I recently made your buckwheat chocolate chip cookies -- LOVE!

    I'd love these books, I am getting into foodie reading big time. And I'd love to read your thesis too... I'll shoot ya an e-mail.

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  19. Hurray! I've been checking your blog often for news of your thesis. Congratulations. I just finished a masters degree in epidemiology and I've taken to cooking the same thing over and over and over again to try and perfect a recipe. This month it's been falafel. BF and my own version of Eat Beast (a tiny, ravenous budgie named Jack) are ready to stage a bloody revolt. If you figure out how to be a normal person post-grad school, let me know.

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  20. EEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! *Massive FanGirl Squeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!*

    Oh, God, do I ever remember this feeling. At least you didn't do what I did (so excited when I picked up my tome that I got a speeding ticket on the way home with a dour cop who was NOT AMUSED nor mollified by my showing him my bound copies of my thesis).

    Heartfelt congratulations, Garrett. I am so excited for and proud of you.

    DessertForTwo said it first and just perfectly. I think we all go through that phase and then find some new change/interest/passion to fill the new found hours. I look forward to discovering your next step with you as I have for the past 5? (Wow, has it been that long? Longer?) years reading your blog.

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  21. Congratulations on completing your thesis! (And since you're still alive, it gives me hope that I may live through writing my thesis as well. Thanks for that.)

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  22. Congratulations! Your tales of the thesis have really reinforced my desire to not go to graduate school. Way to go getting it done!

    (And my grandma's solution to post-dissertation stress? Work in the administration of a suffering urban school district.)

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  23. Well done sir! I've been looking for some good food reading lately, so it's great to have titles to start looking for. Or possibly winning!

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  24. First I want to say CONGRATULATIONS!!!! That's a huge accomplishment. Second, I want to say thank you for writing this blog. It helped me get through my own academic struggles. It was nice to know I wasn't the only one tearing my hair out over exams and assignments. Also it made me realize that I should take the time to cook and think about the food I eat, no matter how crazy my schedule gets.

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  25. congratulations! i have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and am excited for you to have finished this chapter...i will need to look up those books! sounds very interesting.

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  26. Congratulations Garrett! I love waffles, I love reading your blogs and trying out your recipes and I am following you from Iowa. I am a fan of the SF movement and would love to read your books! Thank you for your postings

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  27. Congrats Garrett! I changed my undergrad major years ago because the thought of writing a thesis was just too much for me so I changed to a major that didn't require one. Kudos to you!

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  28. Congrats! Thanks for offering this giveaway. I would enjoy reading those books.

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  29. Garrett - CONGRATULATIONS! What a huge accomplishment. I own a waffle maker that looks just like your - yucky crud and all. But it makes the BEST waffles and that's what matters,right?

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  30. Congratulations on your thesis! Read your blog every week and love your writing. Hope to keep reading for a long time to come. And I will be making these waffles!

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  31. Congratulations! That's a huge accomplishment. Take a second for yourself before jumping into another huge project. You deserve to bask in the post-thesis, post-classwork glory for a while!

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  32. Congratulations! Your even the title of your dissertation sounds fascinating (but I am a grad student in sociology). I'm forwarding this blog post on to one of my classmates who is studying the Sociology of Food.

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  33. How exciting! Some of my friends are finishing their Masters degrees and it is truly an amazing time in life. Such a wonderful feeling... enjoy it to the fullest!

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  34. Good Job, Garret. Congrats on making it to the finish line. It sounds strange to say that I am proud of you, since I don't actually know you, but I am. Congratulations.

    ps. Don't put me in line for the give away. I live in too small quarters for the additional books. I just wanted to say, job well done.

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  35. congratulations!!! i remember when i turned in my thesis- i still have bound copies under my bed that i have never touched. your research certainly sounds more interesting than mine- so neat that you could incorporate food into your thesis.

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  36. Congratulations on completing your thesis! It's a huge accomplishment, and something that you should be very proud of.

    I've read your blog for several years, and absolutely love how it has evolved from quick write-ups and recipes to the well written, elegant stories with each weekly recipe. And, your recipes rock!

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  37. It is so exciting that your Thesis got approved! I hope your transition into non-student life isn't too difficult.

    I graduated last week with a B.S. in biology, and it still doesn't seem real that I am not going back to school in the fall. We decided to celebrate by taking a short vacation, but it will be interesting to see how I keep myself busy other than job-hunting.

    One thing I will do is make these waffles, as I will have more time!

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  38. Congratulations!! As for what you do now, I would suggest making the single most labor intensive pastry or dessert that you can think of and then making an appointment for a massage. Works for me every time!

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  39. Wow, reading this was so strange today. I have been lurking in the shadows of the site, finding recipes to aid in the relaxing and ritualistic act of cooking that has gotten me through my thesis writing process.

    I also just defended my thesis (last week). My experiences was so similar, down to getting physically sick the day after. It was amazing, as if my body was rejecting those three years of negative energy.

    As people around me ask me if I am elated, I am constantly stuck thinking, its more complicated than that...This post was particularly useful as it helped me more fully understand the complex emotions associated with completing this milestone.

    Congratulations and best of luck!

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  41. Congratulations on completing your Masters!

    Your accounts of graduate school hopefully will steel me for my stint when I apply in the next year or so.

    And to answer to your post on Potato bugs....THEY ARE HERE!!!

    Photo Evidence: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=44947819&l=899aeaf383&id=3219768

    Found two years ago in Woodland @ Pioneer H.S. parking lot.

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  42. Congratulations on finishing your thesis!

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  43. Congrats on finishing your fancy degree! Undergrad is hard enough for me :)

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  44. congrats, and big hugs! may the next stage of your life be filled with waffles...

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  45. I suggest this site to my friends so it could be useful & informative for them also. Great effort. Have A Beautiful Day!
    order online

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  46. I love reading, and food, and reading about food- this sounds like a great giveaway!

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  47. I can't wait to finish undergrad, but know that I'll also reach some sort of existential crisis when I won't have structured days (and won't have excuses not to go out on certain Friday nights because I have to "study" haha). Anyway, congrats!

    (Hannah, ennuigotme at gmail dot com)

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  48. Having just a year left of undergraduate work I'm both excited in scared. Like, what good is the real world when what I do now is pretty real? haha. Anyway, congrats!

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  49. Congratulations! I'm so happy for you! And thanks for the waffle recipe. I shall be making those in the near future.

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  50. This makes me really, really, really want a waffle. I think I might go make pancakes since I don't have a waffle maker.

    Congratulations on finishing your thesis!

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  51. Congrats on finishing your thesis! Enjoy the illusion of having more time and energy. Life rushes in to fill any vacuum in 3,2,...
    I love waffles, and I have buckwheat in my freezer. And blueberries. And house guests. I think I will have opportunity to try them.

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  52. Congrats!! I love food, I love sociology, sounds like a fantastic thesis =)

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  53. Congrats on the thesis!

    Now, do I show this recipe to my boyfriend and risk being coerced into making it during this heatwave, or wait for a cooler string of days?

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  54. Congratulations to you and thanks for this and all the other wonderful recipes you share here!

    Those books sound fascinating and I'd love to get my hands on them.

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  55. Congrats on finishing your thesis!

    Those waffles look amazing. I think it's time for me to buy a waffle maker.

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  56. Congratulations on finishing! I just found your blog a couple weeks ago, and it's one of my new favorites. I've already bookmarked so many things I want to make!

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  57. I think this giveaway is wonderful. I love to read and reading about food and health is probably the best combination when you are passionate about both!

    xo - Marie
    Chocolate & Wine

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  58. First, a heartfelt congratulations! I to am in graduate school (for a basic science) and it really is all so consuming. I feel the same of sort of relief/confusion at this point. I usually take classes all three semesters a year (fall,/spring/summer) and for the first time in 4 years, I am unable to take summer classes (nothing I need was scheduled! boo) I am wandering around, a bit lost, wondering what to do this summer. And I think I will spend it making edible chemistry - recipe testing.

    Second, kudos to trying to 'de-clutter' the library. Something my husband says I need to do. But, I have a hard time parting with almost any book - especially a cookbook.

    Again, congratulations. Well done!

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  59. Congrats! A friend of mine is actually revising his dissertation and is in the stress mode you described!
    I want waffles now!

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  60. Having started back to school after a LONG absence and starting to write papers again, i certainly can feel the sheer weight lifting off your shoulders! Congratulations, Garrett!

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  61. I've been reading your blog for a while now and have never commented, but those books sounds like an excellent way to start bulking up my book collection after the US postal service decided to deliver a completely destroyed (and empty, of course) box that used to contain half of my humble book collection to my new post-college address (aka mom and dad's). Especially the Oxford Companion to Food! I love dictionary-type things. Congratulations on the thesis!

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  62. Congrats on finishing your thesis!

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  63. Congratulations! My Brother has an MFA and I remember what he went through to complete it and how he felt after completion. He got use to the time on his hands...you will eventually. In the mean time pat yourself on the back! It's well deserved my friend!

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  64. Congratulations! Having written a Master's thesis of my own, I know exactly how much work this can be.

    Lurking here has whiled away many a dull day in the course of my graduate studies - mine was Computer Science, so no need to write quite so engagingly.

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  65. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Man oh man... I got my Master's a year ago...just...so many of your posts remind me of those days. It was exhausting and frustrating, but sometimes...so much fun. <3 Congratulations!

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  66. Makes me dread becoming a grad student next year, but I look forward to the possibility of those happiness bullets. Looks like I'll have to be more determined than ever to not give in to the "just drop out and go to culinary school instead of teaching" urges. Congrats on your thesis!

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  67. Congratulations! Good job.

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  68. Garrett! It's DONE! I feel like I've gone through the pain with you!! I'm thrilled for you & hope you find many amazing things to do with your new-found time! I think I may try these waffles for Sunday dinner tomorrow! Bests to you!

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  69. My husband just finished his MS this past week, and after he got that final e-mail he just sat on the couch shaking. He wouldn't eat (this man married me for my cooking, so I was more than a little concerned.) He says he feels like something is terribly wrong, like he's forgetting to panic about something and that in itself is making him panic. I'm trying to help him through the transition, finding work with his newfound credentials and convincing him that he has indeed accomplished something, but so far he's just shell-shocked. Neither of us really expected this moment to be what it is, so we're working through it. I hope the people around you are holding you up; I'm sure you need it. Congratulations on your degree, you've definitely earned it!

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  70. Congratulations! I can tell from your posts that you are an amazing writer

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  71. Congratulations! Completing your thesis is quite an accomplishment. You should be very proud. :)

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  72. Congratulations!! I, too, have been cooking a ton since finishing my MA exams and not knowing what in the world to do with myself. Today's experiment: leavened rhubarb bread, and maybe the jam for the wedding cake I'm baking in a couple of weeks. I fear nobody will want to read any of my research materials when I'm done with the dissertation: Law under the Swastika, anyone? Anyone??
    Congratulations again, Master Garrett!! What a joyous accomplishment.

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  73. Awesome Job!!!! On the thesis and the blog. Even though you have twenty plus free hours a week, I believe that you will find something challenging and engaging to fill those hours! You remind me of myself.....too much to do and not enough hours! I figure if my plate is full....I can always get another plate! I love to read and can never get enough reading about food!!!! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  74. Congrats on your thesis! Enjoy the thrill of being done. I have been enjoying your website for about a year! I just started making my own jam. Thanks for all the recipes.

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  75. congratulations on being done!

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  76. Congrats on the thesis!

    I've been diving into more and more research this year on food, from educational pieces to fun reads, and these look awesome!

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  77. Congratulations! I'm currently finishing up my first year as a graduate student in American Studies, so I can understand (to an extent).

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  78. I thoroughly enjoyed Everyone Eats as well, which I have been using as I've researched my own English MA thesis on food (but mine is on cookbooks as autobiography...). Congratulations on reaching the end! I still have a ways to go...

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  79. congrats!
    i am a long time reader, but first time poster.
    thought i'd inaugurate myself on this auspicious occasion.

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  80. The picture of the ancient wafflemaker just made my day. That was the same exact one my family had, and it makes me think of saturdays where my dad would make a berry compote on the stove while my siblings and i fought over who got to man the waffle maker. My favorite part is the highly specific settings of "light, medium, dark".

    Lovely post.

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  81. congrats on the finishing of the thesis. i found your blog while looking for a blackberry jam recipe - 4 - 1/2 pints cooling now :) I was floored when I saw your pic of the Toastmaster - LOVE IT!!!! I keep threating my mom to take hers one day, caked with past waffle making grease and all! lol! I'll eventually post your recipe (with slight modifications of my own) on my own blog (with trackbacks of course). Thanks for the recipe and the enjoyable reading!

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  82. Very value able post, it keep me onto reading your whole story.

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Hey, you're leaving a comment! That's pretty darn cool, so thanks. If you have any questions or have found an error on the site or with a recipe, please e-mail me and I will reply as soon as possible.
~Garrett

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