30 might be creeping into view, but there are still a lot of things that make me look guiltily over the shoulder in case my mother is standing there with a glare on her face and a dire warning on her lips. Leaving the house, even down the stairs to get my newspaper, without wearing a bra or brushing my hair (Things Nice Girls Don’t Do); staying up late enough to spend the next day yawning (I’m a night owl, so that’s really late – you might call it morning, actually); skipping a meal or substituting ice cream for one (whatchu lookin’ at?); refusing to attend a family function because My Magic Headache made an appearance (happens all the time), etc.
Most of my guilt, however, comes from food. The heart wants what it wants, even if the stomach can’t really take it. Right now, for instance, I’m battling a suspicion that I’ve become allergic to dairy but I refuse to get tested or lay off it long enough to tell the difference – because dairy is right up there in The Good Stuff category. We’ll talk when you’ve found a way to make cheese and rasgullas out of soy milk. Tasty cheese and rasgullas.
Of all my meals, however, breakfast is the one with which I struggle the most. As a child, I needed to be out of the house by seven / half-past seven to catch the school bus and we found out early on that feeding me things at that hour of the day is enough to make me throw up all over the place. It’s probably psychological but I need it to be at least past eight before I can think about eating food. And it has to be vegetarian – I can’t face flesh first thing in the morning. Preferably savory, not sweet. Hot is a plus.
At home, this is easy. Ma makes the best South Indian breakfasts ever and I’m all good. On my own, I don’t like the ready made mixes (they taste funny) and it never comes out properly if I grind things up in a blender or food processor. For picky purists like me, you need a wet grinder – either human or machine. Which is a headache unto itself for various reasons. So…
Granola, pancakes and oatmeal with fruits is the ticket. I’d so much rather just skip it and go straight to lunch! But some days that’s just asking for trouble. So I have pudding instead. Technically, it’s french toast. Make it the way I do however…
Amrita’s French Toast Pudding
2 slices thickly cut bread (3 or 4 if thinly cut), preferably a couple of days old. If you’re in a position to get your hands on some challah, then there’s nothing like it.
1 egg (for upto 4 slices of thickly cut bread)
1 tsp sugar, heaped, per slice of bread (adjust to liking)
1/3 cup milk per slice of bread
Vanilla extract or other flavor to taste
Butter / ghee as needed (honestly, you’re eating custard for breakfast, substituting oil at this point is not just pointless, it’s ridiculous)
Nonstick pan (to save on both butter and washing up. Use a stove top grill if you’d rather)
In a wide bowl, whip together the egg and sugar until frothy and combined. Add milk and whip some more. Use a blender if you’re too lazy to break out the whisk in the morning. Stir in vanilla extract. Dip in slices of bread and soak thoroughly, coating either side before laying them aside. Reserve leftover eggy milk.
Heat pan and smear a little butter so it melts. Arrange slices(s) of bread so the pan isn’t too crowded to flip. Spoon some of the eggy mixture all over the bread. One to three tablespoons depending on the thickness and size of the slices. Lower heat and allow the bread to cook.
When the bread has caramelized to your satisfaction on one side (never more than a nice brown), pour another few tablespoons of the milk mixture on the bread and sprinkle some butter on top and immediately flip the slice. Be gentle when you do this because sometimes the bread becomes super soft as it absorbs the mix and starts to crumble.
The bread at this point will puff up like a balloon and you wonder if it’s going to splatter all over you. Relax. It’s just bursting with the weight of its deliciousness. This side will take approximately half the time the first side took to cook. Toast is done when both sides are golden brown.
Eat cold or warm and melty, with fruit or with a light dusting of sugar or maple syrup if you’re researching ways to get diabetes. Dee-lish! It’s not like you were going to live forever anyway.