Monday, February 18, 2008

How to make toast when you don't have a toaster

(if the text is too small, you can always enlarge it. Try it! strike "control - plus sign" as many times as you need then "control - minus sign" to go back.)

I love bread. I guess you would have to say, I am a bit of a bread snob. You would have to thank my mother for this leavened snobbery. When I was a little girl, I remember making the trek to the western side of our small city to find the Orowheat store. They didn't sell it at Buddies (pre-Winn-Dixie days) and she was really quite a hippy with her natural foods, although she wouldn't admit it now. Ask her about growing alfalfa sprouts at home...... (hmm sounds like another topic for a future blog)
So, I was raised not to settle for just any bread.

At the store yesterday, I carefully read the packages and choose what I thought would be the tastiest, and the healthiest bread of the batch.
This is what I settled on at the Kroger [that's Smith's -- for all you Westerners ;-) -- same thing.]
It has the American Heart Association seal of approval on it. A good sign. Them doctors is smart.

However, in college, I practically lived on toast. Especially after I moved out from home to the small west Texas town of Canyon. I was so poor in those Canyon days, that I actually would save coins to buy myself a grape soda from the generic machine at the Affiliated Food Store. That was my Saturday reward for myself. Being a substitute teacher in my spare time, didn't pay much in the Amarillo suburbia and although the efficiency apartment only had a $250.00 rent in 1995 the student loans still had to stretch. But I digress....

I bought the cheapest bread in those days, and used my toaster daily. Toast was my staple nourishment. A warm, sweet, buttery comfort food that always tasted good and I never tired of it. When I felt fancy, I added cheap Affiliated Food Store jam. Usually strawberry or grape.

Well, after I moved back to the big city and became a teacher, I am afraid my love of toast didn't fade. Toast makes the best after-school snack, the best mid-afternoon snack, the best quick dinner when you are in a hurry, and the best late night snack. I snacked too much toast.

My young thin, healthy mother had a heart attack in 1997. Her mother died of a heart attack in 1976 at a very young age for today's standards. Then her younger brothers also have had heart disease after her -- her baby brother had actually three heart attacks and is just now recovering from his last one this past month. Our gigantic Czech-German family was on high alert and no one ate unhealthy foods. Strangely, no one did in the first place either. We were all raised healthy and our origins were poor Czech share croppers-- with homemade everything.

In about 1999 I joined the masses in fighting the good fight against carbs. I was an Atkins girl and lost about 20 pounds in only a few months. The Atkins diet works. But you have to eat the fiber, fiber without carbs; like lettuce, spinach, and broccoli. Toast went out the window.

It's hard living a life without carbs, so Atkins grew old and less popular, but my hatred of carbs did not. I banished my toaster from sight into the recesses of my cupboard and stopped buying bread. I was on a reduced carb diet for about 7 years. I bought low-carb tortillas, and that was the only bread I had at home.

In my fourth year of the good fight against carbohydrates, I formally got rid of my toaster. I was married then, and hadn't had toast at home in about three years. I sold my toaster in a garage sale. I didn't miss it.

In my pre-divorce depression I packed on the pounds. After my divorce, I started jogging and lifting weights in the convenient fitness room at my apartment. I started the South Beach diet this time, and it worked. I was very careful and was very good about not cheating. I didn't have fast food for almost 8 months. I shed pounds, inches and two dress sizes.

After becoming a single divorced home-owner, I had less and less time to do anything. I started eating at fast food places again, buying convenience food at the grocery store and eating at odd times of the day. A whopping 25 pounds later is where I am today.

So this lent I cut out the fast food. No more stops on the way home from work at 4:30. I just have to go to the grocery store and buy real food. So I started buying bread again. It was a strange feeling.
I had almost demonized bread. I missed it. I realized that I hadn't bought bread for myself in about 6 years. All sandwiches made at home were roll-ups with low-carb tortillas. But the fast food habit made up for the bread deficit.

I reasoned that without fast food, I could have bread again.

And that puts me back to the beginning of this blog where I was at the Kroger, buying bread.

Problem is, I didn't have a toaster. I forgot that I didn't have one.


So I had to find a way to make myself toast this morning. Even though the Taco Bueno was calling my stomach with the anticipation of a breakfast burrito, I resisted. I was going to have toast.

My toaster contraption. ( I love poppies more than toast. I am planting some today! ;-)

I rigged this apparatus so I could ensure that the bread got toasted on both sides.

I turned the broiler on and did a light toast on both sides, I had to flip the toast half way. It was crisp, but not browned when it came out.The "browning" or last step of the toasting. I flipped it half way this time too.
The finished product. MMMmmmmm. Notice the Smart Balance. Like I said earlier, heart disease runs in my family.

All photos are clickable. Click to enlarge.


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