Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Semmelschmaarn & All things Mother's Day

The Toast: To Moms 
Happy Mother's Day, especially to moms with "spirited" kids. 

When my mom and I started talking about my Mother's Day post, we both agreed that it should feature my mother's Oma — my Uhr Oma, Babette. Babette had a kind heart and a mischievous son, what Germans would call a real schlingel.  Albert wasn't trying to be bad. He just was a little ... uh ... spirited. He threw a tomahawk at his sister's (my Oma) head and let her loose on an ice flow, but he loved her dearly. He also loved his mother.

So one Mother's Day, or Muttertag, in the late '20s or early '30s in Bavaria, Albert decided to show his affection with a bouquet of wild flowers. But, the flowers he picked weren't exactly wild.  He returned home with his arms full of a beautiful, professional caliber, arrangement.  Albert had picked the fenced in, manicured flowers in the city park.

Babette admired her grand bouquet, but had to scold her son. Because her job as a mother was to teach Albert right from wrong. But when she scolded, she showed love. Because, even when Albert was bad, he meant well. And that's the thing about moms with spirited kids, and actually all moms, it's hard to find that perfect balance between letting your kid be creative and discipline.  This is a line that I think my mother walked with grace. And for that, I would like to thank her.

My mom and me (the fattest preemie ever), November 1989.

Dear Mom, Thank you for letting Julie, my spirited sister, make a water slide in the living room. But also for having her help clean it up after.  Thank you for making the bed with me, and then messing it up again for a pillow fight. Thank you for the sand artwork we made in the kitchen and for laying down newspaper so I can spill. Thanks for eating when I played chef — actually, thank you for that now too! Thank you for telling me what a spleen looked like and showing me in the encyclopedia when I decided to make a play-doh person with organs, you never said "ew" or asked "why." Thank you, for being you! Love Always, CC 

The Toast: Semmelschmaarn 
It's like German French Toast ... or Bavarian Bread Pudding. My mom's Oma made it for her, and my Oma for me. My Dad also remembers his family making it in New Orleans and calling it "Lost Bread."

-       Ingredients:
-       1 ½ cups milk
-       3 eggs
-       ½   teaspoon salt
-       8 slices of slightly stale bread (My mom suggests French bread, but I used regular white)
-       3 to 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Traditional toppings:
-       ½ ground cinnamon/ ½ sugar blend (optional)
-       Ground nutmeg (optional)
-       Fresh apples sautéed in butter (optional)
*I used only the cinnamon sugar blend and nutmeg.

Cut bread slices into 1” wide strips. The shapes will be irregular. 
In a deep dish or bowl, beat milk, eggs, and salt together. 
Place bread slices in the egg mixture, and allow bread to soak for 2 minutes. Then turn over. Sit until all liquid absorbed
In a large frying pan, melt butter. Fry slices, turning them until golden brown on both sides. Do not overfill pan — break into 2 batches if needed.
Serve this hot! This dish is usually dusted with cinnamon and sugar, a touch of nutmeg and hot sautéed apples. A favorite compote can be substituted: blueberries and peaches work just as well as apples.

My kitchen experience: Two Dishes, One Recipe!

My mom explained that this dish can turn out two different ways, depending on how you fry it.

1.  German French Toast

To make it more of a french toast dish, carefully move intact bread strips from bowl of egg mixture to frying pan. Very little egg will be with it on frying pan and make sure bread keeps it shape.

2.  Bavarian Bread Pudding

For Bavarian Bread Pudding, let the bread fall into pieces in the egg mixture. Scoop out these plops of combined bread and mixture into the frying pan and prepare together. 

Bonus! The third thing to do with the recipe? If you have any extra egg mixture, fry it up for the dog. 

Rasco lounging after our delicious breakfast.

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