to making stuff.

You Gotta Cook (and Baked French Toast)

utensils

What do you do with those little pieces of leftover food? If I wanted to lecture you I’d say wasting food is not sustainable, bad for the environment, and wasteful of good resources (and the carbon energy it took to get you those resources). Sure this is an important topic to me, but it doesn’t necessarily keep me up at night. It doesn’t get me motivated to find a solution either. Is it OK if I admit to being an imperfect Earth-Lover? What makes me go crazy inside is when I have to throw away perfectly nutritious food that I spent money on. Perhaps it’s my resourceful nature, but I hate to see something that could be useful go to waste.

This is where your good cooking skills come into play (You don’t have them? Keep reading!). Over the years I have developed a lot of skills that help me in the kitchen, but to be honest that was fueled more by a love of cooking and making things rather than thinking about cost. At this period in my adulthood, I am learning every day how much of a valuable resource those skills have become.

Another thing that has been a boon to me is the fact that I hate recipes. Fine, so maybe that’s going a little too far. They’re resources like anything else, and I like resources. I even have a nicely stocked shelf of cookbooks that I peruse from time to time. However, the vast majority of my cooking is done on the fly. I love to read, but for some reason having to be stuck in a book while I cook feels so stifling.

Hey, I’m not suggesting you throw out your recipes! However, there comes a time when, for example, you have a bit of stale banana bread that you hate to throw away. You made that banana bread, with your kids no less! It was wonderfully tasty, but now there are about 3 slices worth that are dry and not so great.

The great thing about experimenting in the kitchen is that you don’t have to be a chef, or have a degree in culinary arts. It’s all about taking what you know, and stretching it a little. If it works, you learn something you can use again (and add to your knowledge pool!). If it doesn’t…well you won’t be doing it that way again.

This brings me to my most recent experiment. I took said banana bread that we had put off eating for a couple days, and my knowledge of cooking French toast. My thought was I could soak this bread in some egg, bake it in the oven, and it couldn’t be too bad right?

Cooking on the fly is all about improvising and problem solving. I didn’t have enough bread to make any worthwhile quantity of this baked French toast. However, I did have a large quantity of bagels in the freezer. Bagels are good. Banana nut bread is good. French toast is good. It couldn’t be too bad right? Well fortunately for me this time it was a success!

Baked French Toast

bakedfrenchtoast

Ingredients

  • 2-3 slices banana nut bread (or similar homemade bread)
  • 1 bagel (mine was sesame)
  • 4 eggs
  • Cinnamon and other preferred spices to taste
  • A small squirt of honey or agave nectar
  • Milk (see instructions)

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350F (176C). Crumble your bread and bagel into a casserole dish. Whisk the egg, spices, and sweetener into a bowl with a splash of milk. Pour it into the dish on top of the bread. Squish it down with a wooden spoon or other implement. Make sure everything is nice and soggy. Not soggy enough? Whisk up another egg, or splash a touch more milk onto the bread. Use your best judgement. You are the cook. Like more egg-y French toast? Add extra egg. Like drier French toast? Go easy on the liquids.

Now stick your creation in the oven for about 10 minutes. Frankly I didn’t time it perfectly. I checked on it at about 10 minutes, then gave it another few minutes after that. If you’re really unsure, scoop out a bit with a spoon and taste when cool enough. Stick it back in if you think it’s too gooey.

If you like, take notes so you can try again later with what you’ve learned. In time you will be a master in your kitchen (and nobody has to know when things go horribly wrong).

Written on August 14, 2013 by Kristin (Yankee Girl).

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