Menu: Challah French Toast, Simply Potatoes ® Southwest Style Hash Browns
Multitasking: talked to Mom, looked for last night's Daily Show online, talked to sick employee, talked to sister. Not that dinner took this long to prepare - everyone psychically knew that I was firing up the stove for the first time in awhile and they wanted to psyche me out, distract me, make me do something story-worthy while cooking. So, they all called at the same time. I smell collusion!
The Story Behind the Food: Sunday was Baking Day here at la maison de BPDubs. Several years ago, I used to spend many Sundays baking bread or challenging myself with multiple recipes all going at the same time. I've been too busy/lazy/hungover to do this in the last few years. But Sunday I got my apron on and whipped up (if one can "whip up" recipes over the course of several hours) a couple of recipes for my sister's birthday: The Pioneer Woman's Rum Cake and Margarita Cookies from Smitten Kitchen. My sister is turning 21 and can't have booze in her dorm, so I baked it in...like she's in prison! Instead of a file or other escape tool, she got delicious tequila! It's an escape from reality.
I didn't want to spend all day baking just to send all my goods 1,200 miles away, so I found a recipe for me that I had been craving since August 2000: challah.
Challah is yeast-risen egg bread that is traditionally eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and special holidays. I'm not Jewish, but ten years ago I worked at a summer camp in which all of the campers were Jewish girls from Chicago. At Friday night dinners at camp, I met challah and it quickly became one of the highlights of my week. I'm a fan of bread in general, but the eggy goodness of challah earned its own special category - it was not merely, "hmm, I'm hungry, I need something to take up space in my stomach... Ah, bread!"-bread. No, challah was "take my night off on challah night? No thank you; I will gladly sit through an hour of campsongs at the dinner table instead of leave property and booze it up so that I can get my bread"-bread. That's right: I gave up a few nights of underaged drinking just to get challah...and you know how important alcohol is to those who can't buy it legally. I loved challah.
Then, at the end of the summer, I went back to Montana, where there was nary a braided loaf of the good stuff to be found. No challah for me until five days ago.
I didn't set out looking for a challah recipe. I knew I wanted to bake a loaf of bread, so I sifted through the index of Smitten Kitchen (truly, a fine blog), and there at the top of the bread section, a glowing beacon: Best Challah (Egg Bread). Oh yeah, no need to go further.
I haven't made a ton from Smitten Kitchen, but I find Deb's recipes incredibly easy to follow - even the braiding part of the bread made total sense and I am terrible at following written directions (please don't ask me to figure out a new board game without playing it once). One of my favorite things about Smitten Kitchen is that the author takes time to respond to questions in the comments, which is incredibly helpful. I don't feel like such a helpless tool.
My bread turned out pretty well, considering that my oven runs really hot and I haven't figured out how to calibrate cooking time to make up for it. I've been chowing on slices at lunch and tonight I tackled French toast. I think this is the first time I've ever made French toast as an adult! I certainly didn't make any during my gluten-free years. Want to make a bread-lover lose her mind? Tell her she can't eat bread! I was good for awhile. However, I fell off the wagon and into a pile of bread. I don't care how much it makes my stomach hurt; it makes my soul feel good.
And, occasionally, bloated.
So, the French toast: so easy, I can't believe I've never made it before. Since it was just me eating, I used:
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 3/4"-slices of challah
a skosh of butter
I mixed the first four ingredients and soaked my bread in it while the butter melted in the pan. Browned the bread on both sides and DONE. For whatever reason, I had maple syrup in the fridge (seriously, where did the syrup come from?). With a side of hashbrowns, this made the most filling meal I have had in a month. Although, I'm concerned about the sodium and other weird stuff I may have ingested from the bagged potatoes; I've never had them before and they were totally an impulse buy at the store (some people impulse buy chocolate; I impulse buy starch). No matter - they tasted good and that's all that matters to me. Today.
Would I Eat It Again: This meal was easy and there's something comforting about having breakfast for dinner. I definitely would not have this meal for breakfast - too heavy to start the day and too heavy to have very often. Maybe I'll get fancy with the French toast part - Boozy Baked French Toast, perhaps? We shall see.