Back in the late sixties there were not many times that I had exclusive access to my mom’s kitchen. Let’s face it, at that point in time, no one had access to my mom’s tiny kitchen. I would not have had any access if she had been present. I would hazard a guess to say it was 1969 and I was nine-years old, and the attempt at french toast that was turned out that day was quite an interesting conglomeration! I suppose it was a work in progress.
This particular french toast day was during the time of year when that big, colorful, school-bus-turned-driving-hotel from Michigan came to West Virginia and parked at the top of the hill by the main road for a week, maybe two. I can’t really remember the length of the visits. In a child’s mind, it seemed like forever, yet it never seemed long enough.
An old school bus had been converted into a sort of camper/RV for a family of seven! When the doors of that bus burst open at the top of that hill, out spilled two adults, four children and from time to time one teenager; with the children ranging from around six years old to about twelve, give or take a year or two. Their ages matched up perfectly with ages of kids in the neighborhood though. The two youngest being girls that were around my age. Margaret and Adela. Oh my goodness the fun that we had and the excitement we felt when they were coming for a visit. Oh, and by the way, it always had to be, “Margaret and Adela.” It could never be just Margaret, or just Adela. When it came out, it always seemed to come out as Margaret and Adela.
Margaret was closer to my age and Adela the younger. Margaret was a hoot! (Actually, she still is a hoot and I so wish that we lived closer to each other!) Adela was a little quieter and not as prone to the silliness that Margaret and I would sometimes get going. Before I get into the french toast story, I have to tell about the silly trigger memory that hits first when my mind goes to thoughts of Margaret and Adela.
My baby brother had one of those Fisher Price popper toys; you know, the kind with the colorful balls under a clear dome that you push around and it pops them to the top of the dome with a popcorn sound. Once, for no apparent reason (other than I was excited that they were finally there,) when they came into the house on an annual visit, I picked up the popper and started chasing them through the house with it and yelling, “Stay off my clean floors! Stay off my clean floors!” We started in the living room through the kitchen and then through the bedrooms. Every one was jumping chairs and couches and tables, anything to get away from the crazy kid wielding the popper. It became a thing. Yea, probably only funny to me! But it is such a fun, vivid memory and it always makes me smile, even today.
Every time I start to make french toast, I think of Margaret and Adela. I must say, “That first attempt was pretty funny and I am probably the only person in the world that remembers…even though I did have an audience!” I was making french toast a while back and had a flash-back to that first attempt. We had some rolls left over and I figured I’d give it a try. It ended up as a squishy mess. Let’s just leave it at, “We moved quickly to the frozen waffles in the freezer! ”
The first time that this then-nine-year old tried to make french toast was a hoot. I had absolutely no clue how to make french toast and I do not know why it was something that I was even trying to do. I was not a cook. I never even had any desire to cook. My mom was the cook of the house. (period) What I did know, or thought I knew, was that french toast included both bread and eggs. That was the sum of my knowledge. How hard could it be?
So, with my audience of visiting Michiganders, and probably my playmate from next door in tow, eagerly anticipating how this adventure was going to turn out, I got a fry pan and placed it on the stove. I fetched eggs from the refrigerator and a few slices of bread. We all had to eat, after all so I had to make enough. It was at that point that I found myself at a loss as to what the next step should be. I don’t know that I had ever actually watched the process of french toast being made before.
I sort of knew that the egg needed to coat the bread; so that meant it had to cover it some how. I turned on the burner with the pan sitting on it, probably on high heat. I placed a slice of bread in the pan. I did, at least, have the forthwith to mix up the eggs, somewhat, before pouring them over the piece of bread that was laying in the dry pan.
That did not look right for some reason. Hey I got it! It was cinnamon that was missing. I located the bottle that read cinnamon on it. I opened it and generously sprinkled it over the ingredients in the pan. Whoops! Looks like that was more than cinnamon. It was cinnamon and sugar that mom used to make cinnamon toast. Oh well, guess this would be sweet, cinnamon french toast.
But still, it definitely did not look the way it did when my mom made it. At this point, I figured what it needed was to be turned over. Then maybe it would coat the other side of the bread and possibly even out. (I know! That makes absolutely no sense!) So I grabbed the spatula and attempted to scrape the already browning egg mixture and the bread and flip them over.
Why was this not working right? The egg would not cooperate and coat the bread. At this point, the egg that had flowed around the bread was stuck firmly to the pan the cinnamon and sugar coated bread had soaked up the egg on top and was a mishy, mushy mess. It did not exactly flip over. The small amount of non-slimy bread that remained on the spatula was able to be “turned” over into the unattractive, quickly firming mass that was already stuck to the pan.
Yea, that did not work. nothing worked! Let’s just say that the mess that was made — which in no size, shape or form resembled french toast — got me into quite a bit of hot water! Have I mentioned that you didn’t cook in my mom’s kitchen, especially if you were an unsupervised nine-year old?
I have worked at getting french toast right over the years. I have gotten it down pretty good. The little golden brown bites of scrumptiousness have probably not been perfected, but they are pretty darned good! I would love to be able to spend a weekend or a week with Margaret and Adela to show them how I have improved!
I have found, as I walk through my Christian life, that I have made multiple french toast-like blunders and find myself having to clean up a mess from time to time. That is the thing though, I am on a journey. I am attempting to perfect, as much as humanly possible, this thing called life. I will continue to need improvement and I will continue to work at it. There is One, though, that has already completed the course, with perfection. As our pastor reminded us this morning, this is the One we need to look toward, this Jesus Christ — the One who has completed life to perfection.
…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)