Tuesday, May 8, 2012

With a convalescent on my hands, I had the chance to pull my copy of How to Cook for the Sick (1901) off the shelf and read him a few recipes. It was interesting to see his response: everything in the "Gruels and Mush" chapter made him say, "That sounds good." Everything in the "Meats" chapter made him say, "Stop reading!" Presumably "the sick" in question here aren't all recovering from the stomach flu, but did 1901 sanitarium kitchens really invest so much money in oysters and calf brains? Anyway, we came to the conclusion that what he really wanted was milk toast, one of civilization's perfect foods. And even though, when faced with the bowl, he could only consume two bites, he did get a dreamy look on his face and say that the smell of milk toast might have been all he needed.

Here, forthwith, is my recipe for milk toast. One of these days, when you come home crabby and cold-ridden, it may be the divine intervention you require. And it takes four minutes to prepare, even in a kitchen without a microwave.

Scald 1 cup of whole milk.

Toast 1 slice of good-quality bread.

Butter the toast with real butter.

Tear the toast into bite-sized pieces and put them into your prettiest soup plate or cereal bowl.

Pour the hot milk over the toast.

Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground pepper, and Hungarian paprika.

Take a deep breath of the rising steam before eating.

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