Sunday, January 24, 2010

In Honor of Bora and the Saints, The Perfect "Pain Perdu"

Happy Bora
Originally uploaded by Noladishu
This is a photo of Bora. She's been a part of the family ever since I was born. My grandfather first hired as a sitter to help take care of his wife as she was going downhill fast from Alzheimer's. I was born just a few months before my grandmother died.

Paw-Paw liked her a lot and since he was getting up in years, wanted to keep her around. At first, his excuse was to help take care of me (and later my little brother). She taught us Creole French. She took us on the streetcar all over town. She was like a second mother to me and my little brother. As we got older, she took care of my grandfather more and us less.

When Katrina hit, her house in New Orleans East was ruined. She had insurance and Road Home money, but to this day, it's not rebuilt because she can't quite come up with the last chunk of money to finish it. I also think one of her contractors screwed her over and took the money and ran. She misses New Orleans every single day.

She still lives in Houston, where she evacuated to shortly before Katrina. She's in her eighties now, but still going strong. She's coming to our wedding in March if I have to drive there and pick her up myself. And she still watches the Saints.

Dear Saints, please win this one for Bora.

The Recipe: Bora's Perfect Pain Perdu
Perfect Pain Perdu
2 eggs (beat)
1/2-cup sugar {can be cut in half if you wuss out}
1/2-cup milk
1-2 tablespoons vanilla
Cinnamon (eye it; enough to form a slight crust on the mixture)
Stale Bread {3 day old French bread sliced 3/4" thick is about perfect}

It took me a while to really get this recipe down. I asked Bora for a recipe, but being an old Creole woman, she knows nothing of recipes or measurements. I actually had to talk her through it while holding up measuring cups to try and nail it down.

Beat the eggs and add the sugar, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Once it's all nice and mixed up, start soaking the bread.
Get out a big cast iron pan and get it real, real hot. Melt some butter in the pan and take the thoroughly-soaked bread and plop it in the pan. It should be really noisy when you drop it in.
Smoking pan
Don't worry if it smokes a little. If it isn't smoking, you're doing it wrong. It doesn't take very long per side. Only a minute or two (depending on size of bread, how much you crowd the pan, etc.). If you run low on sauce, don't be afraid to stretch it with a little milk. The recipe was designed to be poor-people food.
Pile of Lost Bread
Pile up your Lost Bread and take to the table. You can coat it with cinnamon-sugar, maple syrup (if you're a Yankee), or good 'ole powdered sugar.
Mmmm...  Powdered Sugar

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