Monday, April 28, 2014

The best french toast...

We've searched high and low for the best french toast recipe. My husband and I are big French Toast fans. But I don't like too much cinnamon or toast that's soggy. For Easter, we had decided to go for a mixture of things that were delicious. So, I searched long and hard on my beloved Pinterest, and there it was... The most delicious French Toast.  Well, good news everyone,  I think we've found the perfect recipe!


We got fresh baked bread from the farmers market. We sliced it nice and thick. I think that's the trick... fresh & thickly sliced bread. The bread we picked was sourdough, soft, and delicious. Then we just followed the recipe below.

The Best French Toast...
(from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cook's Illustrated)

1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus extra for frying
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 to 5 slices day-old brioche or challah sliced 3/4 inch thick or 6 to 8 slices sandwich bread


1) Heat 10- to 12-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat egg lightly in shallow pan or pie plate; whisk in butter, then milk and vanilla, and finally sugar, flour, and salt, continuing to whisk until smooth. Soak bread without oversaturating, about 40 seconds per side for brioche or challah or 30 seconds per side for sandwich bread. Pick up bread and allow excess batter to drip off; repeat with remaining slices.
2) Swirl 1 tablespoon butter in hot skillet. Transfer prepared bread to skillet; cook until golden brown, about 1 minute 45 seconds on first side and 1 minute on the second. Serve immediately. Continue, adding 1 tablespoon butter to skillet for each new batch. Yield: 4 to 5 slices.

This is not my recipe... I would like to thank Cook's Illustrated and Mary from the blog, "One Perfect Bite" for their contribution to our new breakfast staple.

 Hope you love it as much as we did.

-Nicola & the Little Pup

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I've been dreaming of a big, huge veggie garden. You know, the kind that has such a great supply that you have to give some away because you can't keep up with it. Like this...

A few things take the wind from my sails when it comes to gardening around here... 
1) The weather
It changes so much here that I can't quite keep up. One day it's freezing and there's an ice storm, and the next is 80 degrees with a tornado watch.  That said, keeping things alive can be tricky.

2) The pesky squirrels and rabbits
I think they are adorable and may or may not feed them. However, they eat EVERYTHING. I     bought a fig tree in the fall. When I brought it home it had about 10 figs on it that were almost ready to eat. I planted it in a pot on my patio and watered it daily. Each day figs were missing. I looked all over the ground, thinking that they had fallen off. One morning, I caught a little pesky squirrel on my tree snatching a delicious fig...caught red handed!  Who knew they jacked fresh fruit? The California squirrels are all radio active and stick to old trash. And to make matters worse, the papillon was sleeping on his patio watch job.

3) I don't have the money or space to pull that garden off. One can dream.

I decided to start small. I started my garden indoors when the weather totally sucked. I picked up seeds of some of the veggies that we eat often with hopes that we would just have ONE fresh salad from the yard this summer. I like to set small, attainable goals. :)

As much as I wanted raised garden beds, I don't know my yard well enough to actually spend the time and money building them. The trees have no leaves right now, and I can't remember what the yard looked like before winter hit around here. I would hate to build it and find that it's the shadiest part of the yard. 

The solution: 

Movable tubs! I found these at the flea market. I plan to get about 5 more so that I can line them up in the sunny spots. So far, so good. I'm thinking that the little pup helps manage the wildlife around here (when he is not napping or watching TV). Most dogs bark and scare the animals away. Miles is smarter than that... he cries and whines for them to stay and is so annoying that they never return. Works for me. 

Any gardening tips from the locals? 
Cross your fingers for me. 

-Nicola & the Little Pup


Monday, April 7, 2014

Some little visitors.

Our friends Laura and Helen came to visit us last weekend. See, Helen is a smarty pants, and got into Duke's Law school. So they decided to come spend a weekend checking out NC. Of course, the ONE weekend that they come, it rained almost the whole time. And if that wasn't eventful enough for some Californians, there was a Tornado Warning. UGH. Not really helping my argument of how wonderful it would be if they moved here. Oh well.

Duke's Chapel.

The Duke Gardens.

Bida Manda. 

Miles got a free dumpling courtesy of Chirba Chirba. Thanks! 

Lake Wheeler.

A little Macaron lesson. 

These are WAY better than my first try. See previous blog to admire the disaster. 

Too bad the weather was crummy. I guess they'll have to come back to see the rest of NC. 

- Nicola & the little pup

Friday, April 4, 2014

The sun is finally shining...

And I've been outdoors! Hallelujah!

My bulbs! 
Cherry Blossoms between us and the neighbors


This is all over my grass- I guess I should be considering it a weed. But I like it too much. 

Things are blooming around here... Including my allergies. 
SAYONARA winter! 

- Nicola & the Little Pup