French toast is frugal and fabulous

Waste not, want not.

Those words ring truer than ever in today’s uncertain economic times, and in another place as well: the kitchen.

Experts such as Timothy Jones, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona, Tuscon, says the average American family throws away $1,200 in food each year, which translates to about 500 pounds of food annually. That’s a shame on many levels, and you probably don’t need a Ph.D.  to point out that it’s costly on many levels, too.

Luckily, certain recipes can equal salvation for foodstuffs otherwise destined for a squanderous demise. Take bread, for instance. This pantry staple, especially the fresh-baked, preservative-free variety, can go south faster than the stock market in fall of 2008.

I used to find myself tossing the stuff all too often once it started to get dry and hard. Then I started purposely re-purposing it, giving those stale slices new life in French toast.

Bread that has lost its moisture is actually the perfect vehicle for French toast, because you want a certain amount of stiffness for it to stay together after it’s been dipped in an egg mixture and thrown in a frying pan or on a griddle.

Once plated, those luscious slabs of bread won’t be dry any longer. They will get plenty moist from the batter, not to mention the butter and syrup that are subsequently slathered on top. If you’ve never made French toast, here’s your chance. If you’re an old hand at it, try this version with a citrus twist. It’s so good — not to mention cheap and easy — you might find yourself buying an extra loaf of bread just to leave it out. Here’s how to make it happen.

Fabulous and Frugal French Toast

(Makes 2 servings)

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup milk (whole is preferred, but use what you like)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4-8 slices of bread, depending on size
  • Music to make it by: Junky Star by Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses

Step 1: After gathering your ingredients, crack the eggs into a deep dish, add everything else except the bread, and mix well.  You can do this in a bowl, but a dish is easier because we’ll be soaking the bread slices in it. The orange juice is my little twist, and will give the French toast a slight citrus tang.

Step 2: Examine the stale bread for any mold and toss those slices if you find it. You can use fresh bread, if that’s all you have. Soak the bread in the egg mixture for about a minute per side. Work in batches if only a few slices of bread fit in the dish.

Step 3: Heat over medium-high the biggest non-stick pan you have. Even better, if you have a large, flat griddle like the one above, now’s the time to break it out. Put a nice pat of butter in the pan and swirl it over the surface.

Step 4: When the butter sizzles, plop on the slices of bread, then soak the next batch of bread slices in the egg mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes or until the bottom is browned, then flip and do the same. Repeat for the next batch of slices.

Congratulations: You’ve just made French toast — and a meal from food that otherwise might have been wasted. All that’s left is to serve up a ramekin with syrup for dippin’, a big glass of milk for swiggin’, and some piping hot coffee for sippin. You’re about to enjoy one sweet breakfast.

Did you try this recipe? Share your results or any tips in the comments area below. Want to learn how to make this or something else in person? Click for info on a private cooking lesson.

1 Comment »

  1. Danny Siler said,

    December 30, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    I was given a gift of a loaf of Dudley’s date nut bread. My wife and I ate half of it right away and saved the other half another full week and made this French Toast with it on Christmas morning.

    The orange flavor seemed slight. Next time we’ll bump it up.

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