The house is quiet now—very, very quiet. I return in distracted moments to small things: the view of the bare branches of the trees against the sky from the chair I read in, the deep blue sky beginning to glow just before the sun rises as I drive my Sweet Boy to high school. It’s just the two of us now. I’m beginning to enjoy the good parts of that: dan dan noodles and wrinkled Szechuan green beans and a movie together; dancing in the kitchen; walks, mostly in silence, just the two of us; and time to talk after school and in the evening each day about everything that occupies the mind of a 17-year old boy. These things are gifts in my Dear Husband’s absence. I baked a homey apple cake this weekend and cleaned the house and slept for the first time since mid-August, and I feel a little more alive again. These things are gifts, too. My Sweet Boy and I are going to cook Thanksgiving dinner together this year, but we have a few days before we start dry brining a turkey and rolling out piecrust and tackling our list of sides. In the meantime, I’m going to recreate a crispy French toast we had years ago at a greasy spoon in St. Paul, when we were all together, laughing and mopping up syrup.
Crispy French Toast
Yield: 6 thick slices
An unsliced loaf of good white bread
3 c. corn flakes cereal
½ c. cream, or half and half, or whole milk
½ t. vanilla extract
Canola oil (or other neutral oil) for the pan
Pure maple syrup (See how it’s made here.)
- Slice the bread with a serrated bread knife into 1 ½” slices.
- In a plastic zip-top bag, crush the corn flakes with a rolling pin until they are small pieces and not yet dust. Place them in a shallow bowl large enough to dip a piece of bread, or on a plate.
- In a shallow bowl large enough to dip a slice of bread, beat together the eggs, milk, and vanilla.
- Heat a griddle or fry pan filled with ¼” of oil over medium heat until it is 312 degrees F, or a small piece of bread sizzles when dropped into the oil.
- Line up the bread, the egg mixture, and the corn flakes to the right of your griddle.
- Dip a slice of bread into the egg mixture, soak it, and turn it over to soak the other side.
- Dip both sides of the bread into the corn flakes and place it gently onto the griddle or frying pan.
- Repeat to fill the pan with slices. Do not overcrowd the pan, as your oil temperature will drop too much.
- Fry the French toast until it is golden brown and crisp, about three minutes. Then turn each slice gently and fry until golden brown and crisp.
- Serve with pure maple syrup.