Mack's Corner

This Week

Christmas Tree Jail

When P.K. and I were first married we lived a little 900 sq. ft. house. We didn't have any money and we never bought a Christmas Tree. We poached it. I spent weeks scouting, looking for possible Christmas trees in vacant lots and fields. Usually I would find some undeveloped property that had a bunch of cedar trees. Then the Saturday before Christmas 2 other broke friends and I would go out at 5:30 in the morning, while it was still dark, and cut cedar trees. I had an axe and a tree saw and some big cutters. As we walked out through the woods in the cold dark, vines would grab us, and sticker bushes would cut us, but we were on a mission. We always tried to stay quiet but laughed most of the way. They made good Christmas trees and if we didn't get caught, they were free. I don't think they would have put us in "Christmas Tree jail" even if we had been caught.  We always cut 3 trees for us and then five or six more. We loaded them in to the back of my van and ran like criminals. We were always long gone by 6:30am… Then we played Santa all morning. This was the funnest part. We drove around to other friend's houses who we knew could never afford a Christmas tree and gave them one. Their faces lit up like little kids. They weren't the best looking trees but the whole place smelled like Christmas when we brought it in. Sometimes there were bird nests and berries still in the tree. Everybody had a few lights and ornaments and by the time we left, it looked like Christmas. People got so excited they would giggle, clap their hands, hug me, giggle again, jump up and down, and the whole time, never stop looking at the tree… Then off to the next house … We got lot of hugs those mornings … lots.

God's Like that: He gives us Christmas every day. Sometimes it's not pretty and sometimes we don't have much to add. But there it is all the same and it fills your life.

I wonder what the statute of limitations is on Christmas tree poaching?  Don't tell on me .. ok?

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

I used to make this every Saturday morning for guests at "The Country Place" back in the 70's. I was the cook. 20 people or 300 people, no big deal.

You may be thinking that you don't like french toast, but you've never had my french toast. You don't need any syrup so it's lower cal. AND it so easy! There are a few tricks… This is great for Christmas morning. Guys, get up a little early and make this and your wives will love you for it … All your kids will like it too … OR even if you're by yourself, make it just for you. The recipe is for 2 people (get it? Romantic Christmas morning breakfast..). You can multiply this as big as you want, I'll show you.

Christmas Morning French Toast

2 eggs (4 people = 4 eggs, 8 people=8eggs..)

2 tbsp Sugar (4 people = 4 tbsp, 8 people = 8 tbsp..)

1/4 tsp Cinnamon (4 people = 1/2 tsp, 8 people = 1 tsp..)

1/8 tsp nutmeg (4 people = 1/4 tsp, 8 people = 1/2 tsp..)

1/4 tsp vanilla (4 people = 1/2 tsp, 8 people = 1 tsp ..)

4 slices of white bread (4 people = 8 slices, 8 people = 16 slices..) Any white bread will work (not sour dough). Even Wonder bread works fine. You can even slice up a loaf of french bread for cute french toast….

Butter & oil (veg oil, olive oil…any)

If you have a mixer, use it. If you don't, you can do this by hand. In a large bowl (big enough to put several pieces of bread in at once) mix the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla..

Trick #1: Wisk/mix until small bubbles form in the eggs. We want to get some air in the eggs. If you're doing this on a mixer, let it go for a while. This will make the toast fluff up….

At this point you are ready to cook, so if the kids are not up yet, stop here..

When you're ready to cook: Whisk the eggs one more time.

Trick #2: Put 1/2 tbsp butter and 1tsp of oil in a WARM skillet, KEEP THE FIRE LOW!!!. (The oil will keep the butter from burning. It may still burn if you turn it up too hot. If you burn the butter, you'll smell it and see it. Wash out the skillet and start over..)

Put 1 slice of bread in the egg mixture.  This is your test slice.

Trick #3: Let it soak a couple of minutes .. (Most people dip the bread in the eggs and immediately take it out. That's why their French toast is dry and tasteless). The bread will be soggy, try to keep it together. Use your hand, its ok. (KEEP ONE HAND DRY!) …

Put it in the skillet. You will see the egg mixture cook on the side. Look under the toast to see if it is brown. As soon as it starts to brown, flip it over. Keep checking under the toast, looking for it to brown. When it's brown take it out. Taste it!!! Is it done? Do you need to cook it a little more? That was your trial run.  Check your butter. Is it burnt? Pour it out if it is. Now you're ready!!! More butter & oil.  Soak the bread 2 at a time and cook 2 at a time. As soon as you move 2 slices out of the egg mixture in to the skillet, add 2 more slices into the eggs. You see how this goes: cook 2, move 2, add 2 …etc. You may NOT need to add more butter & oil after each batch.

You are now an official French Toast Short Order Cook. As long as you had enough eggs and bread you could make French Toast for 100… easy! 

To serve: Quickly!!! (no more than 30 seconds out of the skillet) dust the toast with powdered sugar or regular sugar and eat…. See what I mean, no syrup needed.




Posted by Mack Oates at 12:04 PM