Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I’m Quitting Toast.
Yeah that’s right. I am quitting toast. You know, toast, bread, toasted. Quitting making it. I know it sounds odd, to quit making something as simple as toast.
In our house though toast isn’t simple, in fact it’s way too complicated. It’s just too much pressure.
When I first started dating the mister I generally made breakfast for the fami.ly. I had 2 kids already and since I was making it for them, it seemed simple to throw something on for him.
I learned almost immediately that my sweetheart didn’t own a traditional pop-up toaster. He owned a toaster oven and as a bachelor this was quite the serviceable appliance for making one-person meals. And he liked toast made one-sided. Since I was also a one-sided toast lover, in my early head-over-heels-in-blind love days it was just another clue that we were indeed meant to be. That and a love for Stan Rogers. Silly love.
Over the years it’s become a bit more complicated though. It all started when our(his) old Black and Decker toaster-oven bit the dust. We bought a new, stainless-steel jobbie that looked beautiful and matched our kitchen nicely as well.
The problem was it just didn’t work. Well it worked but not for someone who doesn’t have time to stand and wait for the toast to be brown, constantly peering in into the little window for signs of perfect golden toastiness.
It also had a dial that you turned and that wound itself down until done. The first two slices would be perfect, the second two would be, well, um, toast. It would come out burnt black like charcoal and not fit for human or livestock consumption.
Finally, after a particularly frustrating morning making breakfast for 4 kids and two adults and things not going well, the toaster oven once again started the fire alarm shrieking and my nerves gave out utterly and completely. I took the damn thing and tossed it into the garage, raised my hands and with Scarlett O’Hara-like drama, promised myself and my deity that I’d never toast with it again!
After all, if I have to stand there and watch it why not just toast it over the open flame of the gas range. Might as well, at least until I could find a toaster-oven that “popped” like a traditional toaster. I could actually see the romance in it. We were like toast pioneers. The stories we could tell about our toast on the stove. I was positively giddy with it all.
Then the inlaws came to visit. Yes, I have a (gulp) mother–in-law. She who is a critic of one-sided toast and gives her son a certain look when he says he prefers it.
You know the look. The “got those low-class genes from your father” look and then she follows that with a nose in the air “I like my toast toasted” as though any other manner of toast is less than what people of proper breeding would eat.
I hadn’t given her reaction any thought since mother-in-law, from the time I have known her has always had a regular breakfast consisting of a glass of orange juice, shredded wheat, sliced banana, 1% milk and coffee. Every. Single. Day.
Toast is, of course reserved for fine and rare occasions.
I never counted on the tragedy, indeed the horror, faced by my mother-in-law when she realised that there was no toast option for her anymore at our home. Horrors! She wouldn’t be eating “campfire toast” Shudder.
A few days later (at a department store I intensely dislike) I was pressured by the same mother-in-law into buying a regular pop-up toaster. Once again stainless steel. Not a toaster oven. Not what the mister and I had discussed we would buy eventually when we had enough money and time to shop around. But I consoled myself that it, at least had a bagel option which meant we wouldn’t have to do without one-sided toast.
The damn thing cost more than I would have spent but hell, that woman wouldn’t shut up. We had to have a toaster. You can’t not have a toaster. She had to have toast. She couldn’t go the week without toast. She couldn’t eat campfire toast. A better woman would have resisted. A lesser woman would have concussed her with a blender in the aisle of Walmart.
But me, being generally Zen and somewhat mindful, took a deep cleansing breath, swallowed my true feelings and bought the damned toaster.
Yep. Toast is complicated. And always in the back of my mind was the little thought that my mister would probably prefer the flexibility of the toaster oven. But he’d understand and he did. I thought.
Until a few weeks ago when, while making breakfast my dear Mister wanted poached eggs. And says he “when I have poached eggs I like my bread toasted on both sides”
So after I came to and put some ice on my head,I made him poached eggs on two-sided toast and medicated, um, I mean, meditated my way through. As I said I am nothing if not Zen.
And now my friends we come to this morning. Once again I am making breakfast for my dear mister. He wants poached eggs. I had already made the toast. “If I knew you wanted your eggs poached I would have made two-sided toast for you” while I set about poaching his eggs.
“Well actually, if you are making them in the toaster might as well always make them two-sided”
I was floored.
I somehow said in a very calm voice (you know-Zen) “you mean that you think there is a difference between one-sided toast in a toaster oven and a regular toaster?’
“Oh, yeah” he answers.
And that, my dear friends is when I quit making toast. It’s just too complicated. One-sided or two sided. The nut didn't fall far from the mother-in-law tree it appears.
Maybe I was being a tad sensitive. Maybe you think I acted a bit rash. Maybe I did. But when toast becomes subject to IS9000 specifications and quality control it gets a bit difficult to carry on.
I also feel the need to explain that in addition to the toaster/toaster-oven requirements there are further toast specifications.
For example with regard to butter or margarine, he’s fine with either but don’t put margarine on some and butter on others because that’s a transition he finds difficult.
It’s a real dilemma if you are suddenly out of one or the other. Do I leave it blank? Do I not tell him and cross my fingers? Do I use two plates? Maybe put the buttered toast on one and margarined toast on the other. (The latter being what I chose to do when that rare occasion occurs) I have taken to stalking the grocery store flyers for sales on Parkay so that we always have matching toast.
Margarine or butter (not both of course) must cover every square inch of bread. Spots must not be missed.
Furthermore you have to butter fast. While it’s still hot. Unmelted butter is not acceptable under the toast specifications.
Now I consider myself a diverse and nuanced thinker. I see the grey area,lots of shades of grey in all things.
And I like for people to have things to their taste. The steak should be well-done if that’s what you like even if your chef cringes at doing that to a fine piece of beef.
Red wine, must be served in red wine glasses,a little fussy maybe, but not a big deal if that's what you prefer, a glass is a glass when washing them. I go out of my way to provide that people’s preferences are met.
But toast has defeated me. I cannot tell the difference between a one-sided piece of toast in a toaster oven and a pop up toaster. I can’t see it. The difference is not apparent to me. Is it a texture thing? Is it a taste thing? It can’t be a toast thing, because the fire that makes the toaster oven go is the same as that which makes pop up toaster go as far as I can see.
Of course my mister is the engineer dude so maybe there is some design difference in the heating elements that I am unaware of that changes the toasting of the toast somehow.
It’s all just too complicated. So I have quit toast. Well except for the kind where you get to drink wine after.
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe that’s why I don’t seem to have these types of issues with mashed potatoes or steamed veggies. Because I generally prepare them while happily sipping a glass of a red wine.
Maybe I’m too sober in the morning to make toast. Maybe I should be imbibing Mimosas and let the toast pop where it may!
Nah, I’m quitting toast, but I may still give the Mimosas a try, just in case I start getting fried egg specs.