On Wednesday morning I woke up to a day full of springtime happenings. One email from a fellow author greeted me. He described his travels on a train in the countryside of England. At first, the green-eyed monster paid me a visit. But I tossed out envy and enjoyed the day on the South Shore, our resort town that tourists pay to visit.
During the long dog walk, bright yellow wildflowers, pink blossoms on trees with vibrant green leaves, the calm blue lake and warm sunshine were part of the comforting trek. Once home, it was off to the pool and hot tub. That is where I got a flashback of me on the road back in the '70s. Down and out, I hitched and hiked (with my beloved Lhasa apso) across America. In Vermont, one night we were tired, cold and hungry. A waitress at a roadside cafe took us home to her mom's for the night. In the morning, I was grateful for the hospitality but ... I recall breakfast. The caring waitress' mother didn't approve of me, the "hippie hitchhiker," so it was corn flakes and milk. It was doable, but I didn't feel welcome, nor was my small dog with a big heart.
Back home in the 21st century at Callie's cabin, during the afternoon, I whipped up hot French toast - a universal homey food around the globe. I recalled the cold cereal event. I thought, "A few years ago, I served a home-cooked meal to a person without a home. I made the 20-something man golden French toast and gave his pup a pricey doggie bone." And, in England, French toast is called "eggy bread" and "gypsy toast" - so this tale of a mediocre breakfast and coldness to a hearty one with empathy brings me full circle.
Today, I feel the strong presence of the haves and have-nots as I struggle somewhere in between. French toast is a poorman's food but it can be made with a sophisticated flair. Back during my road days and now as an author dealing with ongoing industry changes, I feel a sense of going back in time and traveling into unknown territory. While on an adventure of writing new books, I deal with money matters, like perhaps you, too, but eating healthy can be done on a shoestring budget.
Cinnamon-raisin French Toast
3 organic brown eggs
1 1/2 cup organic 2 percent low-fat milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 slices cinnamon-raisin bread (generic or premium)
2 tablespoons European-style butter
1/2-3/4 firm banana, thin slices
Honey (or pure maple syrup)
Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and spices in a large bowl. Set aside and turn a stove burner on medium heat. Place butter in a large frying pan. Dip slices of bread into egg mixture. Place in pan and cook for about 5 minutes, turn over till golden brown. Remove. Place on dishes, slice bread in half. Top each serving with bananas and honey. Dust with sugar. Serves 2.
Ah, this French toast is buttery, sweet, spicy and filling. Using wildflower honey (I melted it in the microwave) gave it a perfect touch for the season in full bloom. Plated, it is easy on the eyes. Paired with a cup of English Breakfast tea and home-squeezed orange juice, it's fit for a princess or health-nut author off the road. (I also tried Texas toast. It has a thicker texture but isn't as flavorful or elegant-looking.) So, if I bring home a traveler and their dog (again), this is the meal that would be served. And I'd make sure the canine would get premium pooch food (teamed with a doggy bag to go).
Motto: History has a way of repeating itself. But note, people can learn to survive during tough times and appreciate life's inexpensive gifts of good food and good dogs.
- Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. "The Healing Powers of Coffee" and "Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails" will be released this summer. Her website is www.calorey.com.