(French) Toasting the New Year

Happy New Years French Toast

This morning, as many of my friends posted to Facebook about their hangovers (sorry, everybody) or about the ways they intended to begin the new year (with all manner of hair of the dog, breakfast, good intentions, and a lot of cleaning), I fired up my iPhone’s AllRecipes.com Recipe Spinner and looked for a recipe for French toast.

French toast is stuff you can make as a kid. Along with grilled cheese, toast, and cereal, it’s one of those foods where parents can trust their kids, of a certain age, to make it without lighting the house on fire or burning themselves (we hope). I grew up eating French toast only occasionally, usually made from French bread (appropriately enough) and doused with syrup and a coating of powdered sugar. Each bite was a risky brush with death as the slightest haphazard inhale could send me into a paroxysm of coughing after breathing in powdered sugar. I liked French toast just fine, but it wasn’t as high on my breakfast foods list as, say, chocolate chip pancakes or bacon or monkey bread. Or pigs in a blanket. Or cinnamon rolls. (The list goes on; I really like breakfast.)

So why look up a recipe for French toast? It’s pretty easy and foolproof. Egg, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon. Easy.

My mom pokes a little bit of fun at me because I always have to call and ask her how to hard boil eggs. For whatever reason, I just can’t keep it in my head. Leave the pot on the heat or off? Covered or not? Put the eggs in after the boiling starts, or let them come sit in the water as it comes to a boil? There are a lot of different ways to boil eggs, it seems, and I assume my mom, fount of knowledge that she is, has the best one. No, I don’t write down her instructions. And my infrequent boiling of eggs means that I haven’t memorized it. I could probably do it without her help, but why?

Same with French toast. I like looking at recipes. I like seeing all the ways I can try something. I read reviews on recipes because somebody has probably tried it enough times that they have an improvement, or modification. And sometimes, even after I read it, I don’t follow the recipe. But I have to consider them first.

As it turned out, I winged it this morning. I used leftover Italian bread that I used earlier this week for the White Bean Soup with Rosemary Croutons. I didn’t measure, but rather did everything by the trusty “eyeball it” method. And it was delicious.

Today, I’ve declared a day of relaxation. I’ve donned sweat pants and eaten what I wanted and am drinking a beer in the middle of the afternoon. I also sat down and listed my goals for the year. I usually make these lists in terms of goals (things I can work towards with reasonable certainty of achieving some part of it), hopes (things that I would love to make happen, and might be able to, but if they don’t, it’s okay), and intentions (more abstract ways I want to live my life rather than individual tasks I want to execute). And one of the things I came back to was the way that I eat. And cook.

The fall was the semester of take-out. Between the Ten Top and Chinese and pizza, we definitely supported our local economy. But since I’ve been on vacation, I’ve cooked more of my own food. (Or eaten food cooked by others, like the chicken tortilla soup my girlfriend is making.) And I enjoy that. I was so happy and satisfied eating French toast this morning with a side of bacon and a cup of coffee. It was made just the way I like it; so often, in restaurants, I’m disappointed by big, soggy pieces of bread that don’t taste much like anything besides grilled eggy bread. Ew. But this, this had vanilla, and cinnamon, and was cooked in butter. I added sugar to the egg mixture, which made all the difference. I drizzled the toast with maple syrup and added no powdered sugar because I want to live! And I finished my breakfast feeling so satisfied. I also finished it feeling that it was a good way to start off my new year.

Starting last week (and year – ha!), I began a cooking journal. My brother gave me a lovely, soft leather journal for Christmas, and in it, I’m putting all the recipes I cook this year, ones I get from books, magazines, the Interwebs, or ones I just sort of throw together. I’m keeping notes of what I change, leave out, add in, and what does or does not work. It’s a way for me to see the things I’ve tried, the foods I’ve liked, the ones that succeeded, the ones I’ll never try again. And it’s a way for me to be conscious of my culinary life, the one I write about so often, the one that needs a little bit of back up sometimes. The next time I feel compelled to make hard boiled eggs, I’ll write it down in the journal, for the first time ever. But who am I kidding? I’ll probably still bug my mom and make her tell me how to boil those eggs. One more time.

Dana’s New Years Morning French Toast:  A Draft

3 slices of Italian bread (or French, or whatever)

2 eggs, beaten

About a teaspoon milk (I used vanilla soy milk)

Dash of vanilla extract

About a teaspoon of sugar (I used the spoon I picked up to add sugar to my coffee)

Cinnamon (shake it in till it looks like you’ll be in love with it)

Heat skillet over medium heat. Melt some butter (not quite a tablespoon) into the skillet and let it bubble just a little bit. Dip the bread, first one side, then the other, into the egg mixture before setting it in the frying pan. Let toast up for about five minutes, or until golden brown and toasty (no leftover sogginess). Flip slices and repeat process.

Serve with a drizzle of your favorite syrup, a side of fruit or protein, and enjoy!

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