When assorted relatives dropped by for a visit when I was growing up, we (my nine siblings and I) knew our parents would treat our company like royalty—and we were expected to follow suit. We made sure our grandparents, aunts, and uncles served themselves first at dinner and got first dibs on seconds, and we never let them help set the table or clear the dishes.
After one particular visit, my brother Johnny, then four, renamed himself Mr. Company, reasoning that the appellation “company” came along with some serious perks. The title, he thought, would afford him a pampered lifestyle, where dessert capped every meal, and breakfast was likely to be golden brown slices of French toast, served with lots of butter and maple syrup on top.
French toast was one of my favorite meals when I was growing up, and it’s one of my kids’ favorites, too. At age six, my daughter Kerrie relished helping me in the kitchen. She cracked eggs, added ingredients, and assisted while I fried the French toast in butter on a stovetop griddle. Over the years our recipe has changed, but for now, we’ve settled on this one. Make this delicious combo with your children. It’s easy, and the results are always great.
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 2 tablespoons apple juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 8 slices white whole-wheat bread (day old, slightly stale bread preferred)
- 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, and more as needed
- 2 cups cinnamon-flavored applesauce
- Maple syrup and sliced apple (peel and slice the apple just before serving so it doesn’t turn brown)
How to mix it up with your kids:
- Show your chef-in-training how to crack an egg by rapping it sharply against a bowl, and, if he is able, let him crack the rest of the eggs. Remind him to wash his hands—this step is messy the first few times.Teachable Moment--Why do eggs get foamy when we beat them?When we beat eggs, we mix air into them. The air forms bubbles, and as we keep mixing, they break up into smaller and smaller bubbles. Many of them are so small that we cannot see them without a magnifying lens. When eggs have many tiny bubbles mixed throughout, they are puffed up and foamy. -- Andy Boyles
- Demonstrate how to beat the eggs until they are nice and foamy. Then give your pint-size cook a turn. Help her pour milk in with the beaten eggs.
- Teach your child how to measure. Then have him add the apple juice, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the mixture. Let him whisk the ingredients so everything gets mixed in nicely.Teachable Moment--What makes an apple turn brown once it has been peeled or sliced?Oxygen in the air—the same oxygen we breathe—turns a cut apple brown when it combines with natural chemicals that leak out of the apple. Oxygen binds to many things—for example, iron, where it forms rust (think of rust on a steel beam). It also it binds to copper, where it forms a dark tarnish—check out some old pennies. When oxygen reacts with the stuff in apples (or bananas), it helps form a brown chemical called melanin, which, while not pretty, is perfectly harmless.--Andy Boyles
- Arrange bread on a shallow tray and show your child how to slather peanut butter on top. (Give her a plastic knife.) Let her put the sandwiches together, peanut butter facing in.
- Help your little foodie transfer sandwiches into the egg-milk mixture, and coat them fully on both sides.
- Add oil to a large nonstick skillet or a stovetop griddle. Turn to a medium heat and transfer the sandwiches, arranging them in a single layer in the skillet. Cook on medium-low heat for 5 or 6 minutes, in one or two batches, turning occasionally, and removing when golden brown.
- Let your child take charge of the finishing touches: quartering the French toast sandwiches with a small, dull table knife, and setting the quarters on a plate with applesauce on the side. Serve with maple syrup and sliced fresh apples. Ta da, done! Time to eat.