Enjoying the Ritual

One of the things I’m known for is the ability to be highly productive. I may procrastinate like nobody’s business, but typically I don’t let most people see me sweat. I’m excellent with deadlines and lists, and I like to think I multi-task fairly well, even though the truth is that nobody really multi-tasks well.

It’s been about a year and a half since I worked full time (plus more, with the Listen To Your Mother show). I’m freelancing right now and contracted with a hospital in Ohio on a very part-time basis. Oddly enough, my productivity has suffered. Actually, it’s not odd to me: I have known the truth about my productivity tendencies since I was in college and going to the grocery store at midnight with my friends because we “couldn’t go at any other time” when, on the contrary, we had all the time in the world. The ugly truth is that the busier I am, the more I get done, and the more time I have, the harder my to-do lists are to complete. It’s lazy woman’s syndrome.

Or is it?

Last week on Valentine’s Day I found myself in the kitchen after a last-minute decision to make some goodies for my sweet husband. My usual M.O. when I’m baking is just to get through the task and move on to the next thing, but Thursday was different. I was juggling three things: making chocolate-covered strawberries, baking cupcakes, and preparing strawberry-stuffed French toast (ahead of time, so all I’d have to do at dinnertime was fry it up). I caught myself rushing through it all at first, and slammed on the brakes in my head (insert screeching noise here). What was my hurry? I literally had all day.

I turned up my music and resumed what I was doing at a much more relaxed pace, taking time to stand next to my KitchenAid mixer and watch the paddle spin. I cleaned as I went. I straightened out a cabinet. I unloaded the dishwasher. I dried the strawberries individually after washing them instead of just laying them out on a paper towel. It was, for lack of a better word, glorious.

I even ate the heart-shaped cupcake I made especially for Jim because the frosting wasn’t going on it how I wanted it to. I figured he wouldn’t mind; the regularly-shaped cupcakes were fine, and just as delicious.

It was a great time to appreciate that I’m currently in a season of life when I have the ability to plan my day (mostly) how I choose. Right now, there’s no rush to do anything and I am savoring every bit of it just like that cupcake, because what I’ve learned about life is that we never know what’s waiting for us around the next curve in the road.

Want the strawberry-stuffed French toast recipe? I posted it back in 2008 but I think after eleven years it’s time to share it again. It came from a now-out-of-print cookbook by the Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Homes and Historic Inns Association called “Have Breakfast With Us…Again” and it’s definitely a family favorite. Here you go!

Strawberry-stuffed French Toast

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
4-6 strawberries, diced (I use 8, for extra color.)
2 loaves white, unsliced old-fashioned-type bread or egg twist bread (I use 2 loaves of Italian bread)
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Combine cream cheese, vanilla, 2 tablespoons sugar, and strawberries. Mix well. Cut the bread into slices 1 1/2 inches thick and then cut a slit that goes almost all the way down in each of those slices.

Spread about 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture in each pocket.

Mix eggs, milk, and remaining sugar in a medium-sized bowl and then dip each stuffed slice of bread in there before placing on a cookie sheet.

Let all of that goodness soak on the cookie sheet for an hour (or more!) and then, when you’re ready to eat, fry them up in a pan with a little bit of shortening. Garnish with strawberries, serve with bacon and maple syrup, and accept all of the accolades your family will throw at you while they have their mouths full! (Let them talk while chewing this one time; life is short and compliments are wonderful.)

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