Nobody puts more pressure on me than myself. That old saying, “You’re your own worst enemy” rings true with me. I push, and push, and push, thinking that I am freaking superwoman or something. All I need is the red/blue get-up and a cape. Cue my frequent panic and anxiety attacks. You’d think after two years of highs and lows, and monthly appointments with a therapist, I’d finally LEARN my lesson.
But, alas, I am not quick on the uptake.
It’s hard to explain exactly how and when an attack comes up, but I can almost feel the beginnings of one a couple days in advance. my heart beats a little faster, I can’t focus, my concentration is on a short leash, and I suddenly become this scatter-brained, uptight freak. During these times, I should don a hat that says, “Caution when approaching!”
I wish I could say that the clean-up after these attacks was easy, but it’s more reminiscent of a 5 car pile-up then a minor fender bender. “Be easy on yourself. Re-connect with the inside, Amanda,” my therapist says. Ha! Easy for her to say! But after an hour sobbing on her couch, eyes swollen ad red, I left determined to take it easy. A mini vacation if you will.
Stress is a funny thing. It sneaks up on, quickening your breathe, forcing you to pick up the pace as your thoughts run circles in your mind. It’s hard to turn off the endless mind games, but that was my task at hand. No overanalyzing, no criticism, no pressure, NADA.
I decided that this weekend, I’d focus on doing anything I wanted, so long as I really wanted it. Baking all weekend? Sure. Eating dinner out every night? Of course. Watching my favorites (Sex and the City, Mad Men, Project Runway) instead of slaving away at the gym? Definitely.
While it was a rather gluttonous lazy weekend, I wouldn’t take it back. Sometimes it takes a couple slices of cake, numerous walks around downtown, hours with a friend as she packs her stuff for her new place, and countless minutes laying around to get rejuvenated.
I sat down Satuday morning with a slight cheesecake hangover (note to self, Tower Cafe has some DAMN good cake) determined to enjoy myself. This recipe for a decadent french toast from my King Arthur Whole Grain book called to me. With a title like “French Toast Fit for a King” I knew it had to be mine.
Slabs of peanut butter spread generously with slices of banana sandwiched together and fried up on my buttered pan.
Did you just groan in envy?
The key to the best french toast lies in the pan’s heat and how soaked the bread is. If one of these things are off, your french toast will not be the kind that rocks your pants off. If the pan is too hot, it will sear the bread on the outside, burning it slightly. If your bread doesn’t get enough face time in the egg/milk mixture, your toast will taste rather plain. I tend to like a more crispy exterior and ramp up the heat on my grill pan, but if that is not your forte then do as you please.
I used a rich and thick Challah bread for this other french toast I featured on the blog but this time around, I went with some very good sourdough wheat bread form Trader Joe’s. Sourdough in french toast might sound strange but sourdough is my favorite kind of bread. I often toast it up with peanut butter and jelly for my quickie breakfast so I knew that this bread wouldn’t let me down here.
This french toast is not for the faint of heart. The peanut butter oozes out with every bite and the sweet banana balances out the salty flavors. I unfortunately didn’t have any honey in my house but I think that the honey would’ve been a great addition here. An orgy of peanut butter, bananas, and honey sounds like heaven, right? If you are in need of some R&R like me, this is your cup of tea. Eat two slices and call me in the morning.
French Toast Fit for a King (or Queen)
from King Arthur’s Whole Grain Baking
1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) chunky peanut butter (I used smooth)
2 tablespoons honey
2 large (about 12 ounces) bananas
6 and 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 12 ounces) stale 100% whole wheat bread
4 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups (12 ounces) milk, or cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream the peanut butter with the honey and spread a thin layer on each slice of bread. Spread the peanut butter on the bread so that when the slices are closed in to a sandwich, they match perfectly with no overhanging edges.
Slice the banana thinly over the peanut butter and press the pieces of bread together to form half-sandwiches.
Beat the eggs with the milk (or cream), sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and pour the mixture into a shallow dish.
Heat your griddle 300 degrees Fahrenheit or pan to medium-low heat. If your surface isn’t nonstick, brush the pan with butter or oil. While the pan is heating drop the first half sandwich in the egg mixture. Let it sit on one side for about 5 seconds, then use a slotted spatula to slip it; soak the other side for 5 seconds. Lift the sandwich out of the egg and plunk it on the hot griddle. Let the sandwich saute on the first side until it’s golden brown and the filling begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the sandwich to finish baking on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Remove the sandwich to a plate for serving and keep warm while you bake the remaining sandwiches. Serve warm with maple syrup.
makes 6 servings.