As we close the book on September, I'm reminded of the year we were lucky enough to spend more than two weeks in France, watching summer turn into fall in the Midi Pyrenees and in Paris.
Our previous trips to France had been in the spring. A few years previous, we had spent a week at a lovely little house in the vineyards, where the air was perfumed with the scent of lilac and juniper and filled with the song of cuckoo and rooster.
We wanted to return, this time in a different season. And so we did, and it was like coming home. The little house, which bears the patina of age so gracefully - it is nearly 300 years old - and still smells of must and lavender, seemed to welcome us back.
Nights were long and clear and cold and each night before bed I would open the north-facing window before sleep so that I could listen to the silence. We woke to the proud cacophony of roosters and the sweet murmur of doves and the aroma of the rich African coffee my husband likes to sample when we are in France.
There is too much frugality in me not to find a use for day-old bread, and so every morning, I made some new version of French toast. Honey and walnuts, creme fraiche and cherries, orange and pecan, and blueberry are my favorites. In Paris once, I found a bottle of cassis syrup in our hostess's cupboard. That was an excellent addition.
To make basic French toast for two, you will need:
- 2-3 eggs
- 1/2 cup cream or 2 percent milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- dash sea salt
- splash of Calvados or Cognac
- 6-8 slices of day-old baguette
- 1-2 Tablespoons butter
Blend eggs, cream, vanilla, sugar, salt and Calvados in a wide bowl or baking dish. Soak the dry bread slices until thoroughly drenched. Add more cream if necessary.
Melt butter in a frying pan or skillet under medium heat. Using a large spatula, carefully removed the soaked bread and brown both sides in the pan, turning frequently. Serve with more butter, nuts, fruit and maple syrup.
Cost: I have made this for breakfast in France for under $1.75 for two servings. The cost is comparable here. This is truly a frugal breakfast, and it's a great way to use leftover bread, as well as eggs close to their "use by" date.