Breakfast is a good choice, no matter what time you are eating.

It was something that happened now and again. We would sometimes use normal breakfast fare for supper. Mom would now and again make chicken and waffles.

Waffles, usually considered a breakfast dish, when paired with tender chicken and gravy doesn’t seem so breakfast-like. It was a quick meal if mom had cooked the chicken in a pressure cooker first before putting shredding it with a fork and putting it in a sauce pan in which she had made gravy from the drippings.

The shredded chicken and flavorful gravy poured over a warm, golden waffle is a mouthwatering sight. While hot waffles straight off the waffle maker with melting butter and real maple syrup can start a morning off on the right food, that same waffle with chicken and gravy can end a day on a comforting note.

But the old waffle maker bit the dust long ago and to tell the truth I was always more partial to pancakes than waffles growing up. And, yes, we would also have pancakes for supper but no chicken with them. Instead it was straight breakfast fare when panacakes were the main dish. Eggs and bacon on the side would complete those dinners.

Recently, however, Dad suggested another breakfast favorite for supper – French toast. It is something that is tasty yet takes next to no time to make.

So I grabbed a couple of large eggs out of the refrigerator and some milk and a glass bowl. I broke the two eggs – in a separate dish as I had been taught to do. That way if there is a speck of blood in the egg or it doesn’t look right, it won’t be in your other ingredients. I even do them one egg at a time. Crack the egg, put into bowl, check for any bits of eggshell, and while most would then put the egg into the mixing bowl I will do one more step. I know it’s likely an old wife’s tale but I do it because Mom always did. Doing things as she used to when I cook, makes me feel closer to her. So instead of putting the first egg into the mixing bowl, I took a spoon and carefully removed any trails of white that came from the yolk. Mom said she was told to do this as a girl learning to cook because those bits of white were what turned into a rooster. Why that made a difference in the egg when it was to be mixed with other ingredients I don’t have a clue. But I still find myself doing it each time a crack open an egg and each time I think of that reason and Mom.

But back to the eggs. I place the first in the mixing bowl and repeat the egg cracking/white removing process for the seond egg before adding that one to the bowl as well. A large splash of milk and I’m soon whisking the ingredients together. But sometimes I like to change it up some, like the chefs on TV do. So when I took the milk from the refrigerator I then opened a cupboad and took out my large bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. After mixing the milk and eggs, I added some vanilla.

Of course as soon as I did, I thought it might be too much as the mixture didn’t look as thick as I thought it should be. I pressed on regardless and taking a piece of oatmeal bread I placed it into the mixture and carefully flipped it over so both sides were well covered.

I had already begun to heat up a cast iron griddle on the stove top. I placed a piece of bacon on it which started to sizzle as soon as it hit the service. This lone piece of bacon would provide the little bit of shortening needed to season the griddle. The rest of the bacon was in the cast iron frying pan with a press on top to keep the bacon from curling up.

The first piece of bread, coated in the egg mixture, soon was on the griddle but watching it cook –more really watching the bread fall apart because it was too soggy gave me a pretty good idea that the mixture might have too much liquid. My solution was to add another egg to it. The next piece of bread seemed to hold up much better than the first.

As the pieces of French toast turned golden brown I set out the plates and soon had a couple of pieces of the bread with bacon ready for Dad to try. Some butter and real Vermont maple syrup set the dish off. I continued to cook – as Mom often did when she made pancakes – until Dad had his fill and then I made a plate for me.

We both agreed that the taste was delicious. I’m thinking the addition of vanilla was a good choice. It didn’t compete with the maple syrup but it did enhance the flavor. I’d recommend it to anyone making a French toast batter or even making pancakes or waffles. A little dash of good vanilla in the batter will bring these common breakfast dishes to another level.

I don’t go crazy with experimenting with food because I’m often trying to just recreate the wholesome, comfort food I remember as a child. But now and again, I like to take a little risk – and I do mean little – like a splash of vanilla in a batter. This time the risk paid off.

How do I know?

Not a piece of French toast was left when the meal was over. Always a good indication to a cook that the meal met with the diners approval.

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