Sunday, February 23, 2014

French Toast from Generation to Generation

Of all the comfort foods in the world, French toast has to rank among the best. Not so much for its taste, though I do like it, but because it's a food often made on weekends by dads and granddads.

A last minute visit by Dan, Allison, Finley and Dagny gave me the opportunity to exhibit the culinary skill passed down by my father. He rarely made an appearance in my mother’s kitchen in Brooklyn. He never cleaned the dishes or the pots and pans, though he did don jeans instead of his usual dress pants to lie on the floor to fix the dishwasher when it went on the fritz.

Other than French toast, his cooking—better to call it, food preparation—was confined to peeling an apple or slicing a pear for his three children. But he did make good French toast. Challah French toast, made from leftover Friday night sectional challah.

Cooking French toast has made its way down to another generation. Dan cooks it for his family, and after seeing his dad and grandpa do it I hope we are planting the seed of continuity inside Finley.

Finley already has experience with generational continuity. Gilda and I saved many of our children's toys including lots of Legos and construction trucks, one of which is a giant crane. For more than a year we made it a point to show Finley a picture hanging on our family room wall, a picture of young Dan playing with the crane just as Finley now does. Soon, Gilda will hang next to it a picture of Finley playing with the crane.

The Legos, of course, are as much fun for Dan to play with again as they are for Finley to explore. But it's the books we kept that really choke Gilda and me up. Seeing and hearing Dan read to Finley books he loved, like “There's No Such Thing as a Dragon” or “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,” is beyond priceless.

To assure there will be enough bread for French toast on Saturday or Sunday morning I always buy two challahs when I know the kids are staying the weekend. I can't say I include any secret ingredient in the batter. Just eggs, milk and vanilla extract. My dad didn't include vanilla extract and neither did I until Ellie made it that way during a recent family get-together at Dan’s house.

Finley and Dagny like to dip their French toast pieces into maple syrup sitting in a monkey dish. I drip sugar-free syrup onto my slices. Dan only uses real maple syrup.