Tag Archives: french toast

Queen for 1.5 days

Living high off the hog

It’s good to be Queen, even for a day and a half. Here I am in “my” $1.8 million home in the luxurious planned community of Serenbe, just outside Atlanta. Please note that I have all the essentials of the good life. Wine, Vaseline, cigarettes and a bag of Char-Broil goodies. One of my roomies, Julie Reinhardt, snapped the photo.

“Our” pool and pool house

We are two of eight Char-Broil All-Star Bloggers invited to Serenbe to commune with the company executives, cook next to a picturesque lake, enjoy cocktails and fabulous dinners at the Inn at Serenbe and just basically have a good time. It’s a hard-knock life.

So this is one of those times when it’s good that “there’s no room at the inn.” After a long and arduous ride in a limousine fully equipped with a bar, which we took advantage of, we were regretfully forced to bivouac at a four-bedroom luxury home with pool, cabana, waterfall and our very own golf cart to toddle around the property on.

Serenbe is set up like a collection of English villages surrounded by lush forests, farmland and meadows. It is beyond beautiful. After we put away our meager belongings, we jump in the golf cart for a brisk ride down a country road to dinner at the Inn. Our other roomie, Danielle Dimovski, is the

Chicken with a red pepper jelly glaze

driver. Actually, brisk is an understatement. For the next day and a half Julie and I hold on for all we’re worth as Danielle lurches along the road at top golf cart speed. Thank goodness we’d been drinking.

Is it possible for anything to be too perfect? I think not. The Inn is a picturesque former farmhouse. Many of the menu items are grown on Serenbe’s organic farms. We have more cocktails. We feast on organic chicken glazed with Serenbe’s own pepper jelly, sitting jauntily on a cloud of mashed potatoes with green beans from the garden. I am immediately so so very happy that a year ago I picked up the phone to hear a stranger say, “We’d like you to blog for Char-Broil.” Barry Martin, I love you man.

Well, the whole 1.5 days is just a dream and a half. Breakfast at the Inn – French toast with strawberries from the farm and crispy bacon. Lunch? The Char-Broil folks present about 15 pounds of various cuts of chicken, steak, sausages and fish to us so we can play on the bevy of grills they’ve set up at the Lake Pavilion. We do not even have to dirty our dainty digits turning the grills on. They are already lit. Then a tour of the HGTV Dream Home at Serenbe, which is sponsored by Char-Broil, and more cocktails. Dinner? Oh, yes, we have not eaten nearly enough. The frogs chirp as we enjoy a late night glass of wine in the courtyard of our $1.8 million house overlooking the pool. We wonder if anyone would notice if we simply do not leave. Ever.

It is exactly one week later as I write this, sitting in my garage because we don’t smoke in the house anymore. I am back to being a serf. In about two hours I will be a day laborer at the Community Resource Center, unloading donations from a major retailer. Where is my golf cart? Where are the drinks by the pool? Where in the hell is my organic salad and steak with horseradish cream? It was good to be the Queen.


Filed under breakfast, Uncategorized

The best French toast

I got no respect on New Year’s morning. I have a tradition that I apparently maintain all on my own of having French toast and bacon on New Year’s morning. But this year, Noah slept until after noon and Mark wasn’t hungry,  completely ignoring tradition. So I crammed it down their throats tonight.

Not just any French toast. French toast made with Panettone. I know you’ve seen the box at the Publix. It’s a sweet red box with a little ribbon handle. How can you not want to bring that home? So I did one year and inside was this buttery, rich bread studded with raisins and just enough dried fruit to be appetizing without tasting like fruitcake. It’s made in Italy and I think the Italians know a thing or two about good food.

I don’t know what anyone else does with Panettone, but it is the perfect vehicle for French toast. It has loads of large air pockets that are just made for soaking up beaten eggs and the butter you fry the toast in. Ya’ll surely know how to make French toast. First you have to beat up a few eggs, preferably from the farmer’s market. If you’re not using Panettone, you have to add some cinnamon to the eggs. You could splash some cream in there, too, and that wouldn’t hurt a bit. Then you just fry it in butter until it’s a lovely, toasty brown.

You can add some more butter to the warm French toast, which would be guilding the lily in a really good way and then top with real maple syrup (look at the label – not Log Cabin or even Mrs. Butterworth). I fried some Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon to go with it.

I can’t believe these boys did not want this on New Year’s morning, but they scarfed it down tonight. And the Fiesta Bowl’s on right now. So it’s kind of like New Year’s morning. Only not. I have to work on the boys respecting tradition just a little bit more. Even if it’s only mine. After all,  I do feed them.


Filed under breakfast, sweets

Giving stuff away and French toast

It was a grind at the Community Resource Center today, but in a good way. Every month we hold free giveaways of basic household items. Right now, what our nonprofits need are really basic things: shampoo, laundry detergent, soap. You’d be amazed at all the people out there right now who cannot afford a bar of soap. We have about 70 partner agencies in 20 Middle Tennessee counties and my question of the day was: How are you doing?

The answers were pretty much ” not so hot.” I heard about budget cuts, I heard about a dramatic increase in people showing up at food pantries. I heard about the “grannies” in one senior program whose incomes are only $9,000 a year. I heard about people going from $18 to $20-an-hour jobs now drawing $275 a month in unemployment. I’m lucky. I’m not on the front lines of poverty. I get to stay in my relatively nice warehouse and give away stuff to people who then give it to the really needy. I never see the faces of desperation.

So the day was long but fun. Here’s how the giveaway works. My wonderful nonprofit partners arrive in vans or sometimes trucks. Sometimes they drive an hour or two to get here. Then they get to pick and chose from the stuff that I either buy through a liquidator or get as a donation. Everything in the place is new. Remember when the televangelist Jim Bakker, when asked about the solid gold fixtures in his bathroom, retorted that “God doesn’t like junk?” Well, poor people don’t like junk either. And they shouldn’t have to put up with it.

So after a long day of giving stuff away and hugging my wonderful partners and realizing that they are the true heroes of this stinky recession (Bill Maher thinks we should publicly execute a couple of sub-prime bankers like the Chinese are executing tainted milk producers and I am almost there), I came back to my relatively affluent suburb of Brentwood and tried to think of something really comforting to fix for supper.

I know you’re going to think it odd or elitist that I had a pannatone sitting on the counter in those beautiful boxes pannetone come in, but I did because it was on sale and I really like pannatone. So I made pannatone French toast with bacon. Here’s the tip on the bacon: Put it on a foil-covered sheet pan and bake it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until it’s done to your liking. Save the bacon grease in a jar for making cream gravy (with country fried steak).

Pannatone French Toast

1 loaf pannatone

5 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg


Slice the pannetone into 1/2 inch slices. Whisk eggs, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg in a shallow dish. Melt butter until it starts to sizzle. Dip bread slices into egg mixture. Fry until golden brown on both sides.

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