Saturdays are better – Stuffed French Toast

I dunno about you, but I like starting my saturday mornings off with a special breakfast. We just had a mason jar of Chèvre sitting in the fridge thanks to Morgan’s trading acumen at a food swap, and delicious homemade jams gracing the counter. To me, these things mean stuffed french toast!

Finished French Toast

Stuffed French Toast

  • 4, one-inch-thick slices of bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • sweet and/or creamy spreads for filling (Jam, Jelly, Chèvre, Creme Fraiche, etc)
Sliced thick so you can stuff it.

Sliced thick so you can stuff it.

Step One. Cut 4 slices of one-inch-thick bread. Challah and Brioche are divine, and stale bread is better than fresh bread, but we had neither and weren’t deterred. Take each piece and slice horizontally, stop 1-half-inch before end, creating a bread pocket.

Aren't my knife skills pretty amazing? Cutting the pocket for the stuffing.

Aren’t my knife skills pretty amazing? Cutting the pocket for the stuffing.

Step Two. Take your filling, ideally something creamy, sweet or delicious. Goat cheese, icings, Creme Fraiche, jam, jelly, marmalade, compote, the list can go on and on. Spread your filling into the pocket and press shut. Resist stuffing it too full, as you don’t want filling leaking out in the pan.

Loaded with Peach Ginger Jam and Chèvre Cheese.

Loaded with Peach Ginger Jam and Chèvre Cheese.

Step Three. Beat together 2 eggs, 1 cup of milk, a tbsp of sugar, and a dash of vanilla. Place stuffed slices in a shallow baking dish and pour custard mixture over top. Soak for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Soaking the stuffed bread in custard.

Soaking the stuffed bread in custard.

Step Four. Add a tbsp of Coconut Oil, Ghee or Vegetable Oil to a nonstick pan. Heat until you see ripples/waves in the oil. Fry french toast until brown on each side. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar and serve with Maple syrup or whatever other syrup you’ve got.

After soaking, fry it up!

After soaking, fry it up!

 

Homemade Jam by my wonderful wife.

Homemade Jam by my wonderful wife.

Chèvre from Morgan's food swap.

Chèvre from Morgan’s food swap.

Rather than Maple Syrup, we topped our French toast with this buttermilk syrup.

Rather than Maple Syrup, we topped our French toast with this buttermilk syrup.

I always have an audience when cooking.

I always have an audience when cooking.

Lesson learned: Stuffed French toast doesn't last long.

Lesson learned: Stuffed French toast doesn’t last long.

Competing views of medieval knights

The Mountain that Rides

Gregor Clegane is hungry for blood.

Game of Throne fans will fully appreciate the impact and terror that is House Clegane, the brutal brothers that serve the Lannister family. Both the Mountain that Rides and the Hound thoroughly exemplify our modern take on medieval knights – a dim view of chivalric code as mere window dressing for killing, rape and banditry.

The romantic ideal of knighthood started in the late Medieval period with stories of King Arthur and culminated in the Spanish tale of Don Quixote. A second wave of interest surfaced in the 1800’s after Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe was published. Some suggest that the nobility and chivalry of Scott’s book helped create the culture of antebellum south that in part led to the Civil War. Chivalry, as the popular understanding goes, was a code of conduct that set the professional soldiers of medieval society above the mercenaries and common foot soldiers that made up the majority of armies at the time. Chivalry dictated that the life of a knight revolve around honor, loyalty, courage and bravery.

Or so they say. Modern historical scholars seem to lean away from this overly rosy view of knighthood. Modern cynicism has difficulty swallowing the pill of such ideal rules of engagement and conduct in a period where might made right and governing authority scarcely extended beyond geographic strongholds of power. Knights, modern thinking goes, were the local strongmen of their regions, muscle following the local gang leader. It is an easy leap to imagine the raping and pillaging that surely resulted from such a power structure.

I must admit that I lean towards the harsher view of medieval knighthood. After all, the crusades were started in large part to mitigate the constant feuding and warring that broke out among the knights of Europe. Perhaps, the Pope thought, those energies could be directed against someone else, someone with treasure and wealth, who was also conveniently not christian. Along these lines, Gregory and Sandor Clegane certainly fit the bill, doing a proper job of giving flesh to this realistic knighthood, one that enjoys killing, and only restrains violence along party loyalties.

Hit send and publish. That was my first instinct, but after I went trolling for evidence to back up my opinion, I actually stumbled across some contradictory findings. According to an article in ScienceNordic, Knights may have used Chivalry as method to mitigate and manage their PTSD.

Knight

Was reality more gallant or brutal?

Previously, medieval texts were read as worshipping heroes and glorifying violence. But in the light of modern military psychology we can see the mental cost to the knights of their participation in the gruesome and extremely violent wars of the Middle Ages.

Geoffroi de Charny, one of the most respected knights of his age. The book, about the life of this knight, included the psychological consequences of being a knight – and they strongly resemble the symptoms of PTSD.

I must admit the idea of Chivalry as a coping mechanism is a fascinating one. It vibes with notions of anti-fragility, that cultures everywhere create systems that work, even if they have no scientific means to explain them. Perhaps knights in the early years were falling apart, becoming useless and unable to fight. In a bid for self preservation, a system was cobbled together that helped them make sense of their world, providing order and reasoning for their behavior. Systems are critical for individuals to externalize their chaotic realities and continue on without falling apart.

I imagine the truth was somewhere in between. Perhaps a little Clegane lurked behind every deed of Chivalry. Was that damsel really in distress, or was she kidnapped?

We’ll never know.