On a Facebook post yesterday, I was basically begging people for advice, to tell me what they do when they are sad, when they feel like they’ve failed. So many people poured out their advice, this beautiful act of generosity and kindness that renewed my faith in people and good.
On Thursdays, I usually write a quippy, sort-of-satiric Cooking With a Writer recipe. It’s always vegetarian because I’m trying to convince the meat eaters in my life to eat less meat. I then share the results.
Spoiler alert: I haven’t convinced them.
Visual aid: This is them.
Anyway, on my post one of my friends said, “We don’t have anything to prove-just live, cook good food and be nice.”
And that really resonated with me.
Cook good food.
Last Tuesday, we went to Open Table MDI at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church and all three of these things happened. The weekly community supper was something we’d never been to, but I braved myself up to go and I’m so glad I did.
It was all vegetarian food. Seriously. So much vegetarian food. It was brilliant. The dogs didn’t go, but the meat-loving man in my life was so impressed that he wanted to go back to the volunteers in the kitchen.
He said to our friend, Z, “Do you think it’s okay if I go back and tell them how good it is?”
Z said, “Yeah. Oh definitely. When I’ve volunteered we loved that.”
So, the man went back to the kitchen and thanked the cooks, shaking their hands and saying things like, “This food was amazing. This … I could eat like this all the time.”
He could eat like this all the time.
In one half hour, these amazing volunteers made way more progress in the conversion of the man than I ever could. I think it’s because the food was super good, yes, but I also think it’s because these people are making all this good food for the community. Why?
Because they are kind.
Because they are nice.
Because they are motivated to do good.
Open Table MDI is this beautiful, free, weekly supper and according to its website, “was born out of the desire to inspire a strong and inclusive community through sharing a meal and connecting people to real food. Our community dinner program provides healthy and delicious meals produced from organic and local sources when possible. This program is FREE and OPEN TO ALL.”
That’s pretty beautiful. That’s full of hope. And it reminded me of one of my grandmothers and how she would comfort me when I was small and sad. She would make me this.
I hope you find comfort when you are feeling small and sad and even when you don’t.
My avó used to make these rabanadas, which is basically Portuguese French Toast, but not French, because… Portuguese.
Also, the calorie count might be a bit off.
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 TBSP Cinnamon
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 cups milk – 2% (You can actually use red wine for this or port. )
- 1 loaf bread (better if it's stale – make 16 slices)
- some oil – to fry it in
Mix the sugar and cinnamon until blended. Smell it. It smells like home. Start writing a poem about home. Spill the sugar on the counter. Resist the urge to lick it. You are not a dog. You are a writer. But wow… yeah… sugar.
So, in something shallow like a pie plate, whisk the eggs and milk together. Realize you have no desire to lick this. Wonder why you didn’t use wine instead. Hemingway would be so disappointed in you. Damn it, so would your avó. Wonder if you should start over. Realize that would be wasting milk and eggs. You have not sold enough books to waste milk and eggs. Why can’t you actually be Hemingway? He would not mess up like this.
Dip the bread in the milk (or port or wine) and egg mixture. Soak it lightly.
Find a skillet. Heat an inch of oil. Yes, an inch. I know! I know! Get it to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take bread slice out of wet mixture. Shake off the extra liquid.
Fry bread about 2 minutes on each side, maybe 3. It should be golden brown. Now dip it in the sugar/cinnamon. Be careful, the bread will be super hot. USE UTENSILS LIKE TONGS! Do not try to be stupid-tough like a nature writer or a Hemingway. Writers burn.
Repeat with all your slices.
There are variations here.
You can have the milk/wine/port and egg mixtures as separate dips and not mixed together. People in my family are just sort of lazy, honestly. If you do it this way, then soak it in milk and then dip in the egg. Again, try to get rid of the excess back in the bowl.
You can make a sugar-syrup type mix and drizzle or coat the toast with that. To do this take honey or maple syrup and the same amount of water. Heat it up. Then dip the bread into the hot syrup.
There are variations to this recipe. Probably as many variations as there are grandmothers. So, please don’t get all angry if this is the one you didn’t grow up with. I only know my own family. BUT I would love to hear about yours, and their variations!
Carrie’s super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.
This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.
An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal
“Sticks the landing . . . The world building is engaging . . . between the decidedly wonderful residents and the terrifying monsters who plague them.” – BCCB
“Amid the magic, spells, adventure, and weirdness of this fantasy are embedded not-so-subtle life lessons about kindness, friendship, and cooperation.” – Booklist
“A wild and fresh take on fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Dangerous and scary and fun all rolled into one. In the words of Eva the dwarf, I freaking loved it!” – Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds series
“Effervescent, funny, and genuine.” – Kirkus Reviews
It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂
For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.
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