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August 31, 2007

Of Toast and Toasties

The Comfort Food Edition

#1: Cinnamon Toast

Last night I found myself banished to the kitchen at 3am, mainly because the kitchen is the farthest area from our bed (I'd been tossing and turning for hours and didn't want to wake Alexis). Within about twenty minutes of sitting there in the lateness of the night/earliness of the morning doing yesterday's crossword, I discovered that a) I had to wake up in 2.5 hours and b) I was starving.

When I was little we always had a small ceramic container filled with cinnamon sugar in our cupboard. I believe that my mother had made the bowl, which had a wide mouth on its side plugged with a cork, and I have distinct memories of mixing the two ingredients together and watching the white sugar slowly turn a nutty reddish-brown.

Cinnamon toast is simple and, to me, one of the best concoctions on earth- toast some bread, spread on some butter, then sprinkle the premixed cinnamon and sugar over the top. Shake the bread off, put on plate, enjoy. There's nothing fancy about it but it is so, so tasty.

Last night I went to make some cinnamon toast, which I hadn't done in years, however my efforts were curtailed by a broken toaster and no sugar. Oh well.

#2: Toasties!

We never had grilled cheese in my household when I was growing up. Instead, we ate toasties. Yes, toasties. That is what they were called and we had a very special gadget that made them, which I believe my parents inherited from my grandmother. A few months ago I finally succeeded in convincing my mother to hand it over to me- on loan.

Here's how it works. A toastie maker is like the original panini press (image of toastie maker above). Cut up some cheese and maybe some tomato, break out the bread, and make a little sandwich. Then, place the sandwich between the two sides of the toastie maker, fasten it and cut off the crusts. Hold over open flame for about 5 minutes on each side (helps if you heat the maker up for a bit first). Open, remove your little cheese pocket, and enjoy.

I swear, this little gadget, whose patent was apparently pending in 1950 when it was purchased, makes the best cheese pocket ever. I highly recommend fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. Or, my childhood favorite- a piece or two of American cheese. And don't forget my breakfast test a few weeks ago- a pre-scrambled egg with a little cheese and a touch of hot sauce. Next time I'd make it with some sort of brioche bread.

You can get your own toastie maker from some camping supply companies. If you buy one, let me know how it works out...though I hope that my 50+ year old inheritance lasts a long, long time.

Posted by callalillie at August 31, 2007 4:58 AM | Food , Fun Stuff , Random


This adorable little diner we went to in Oakland on the last day of our trip a couple weeks ago put cinnamon-sugar on each table so patrons could make their own cinnamon toast. I confess I'd never heard of it, but the thought of it was so warm and delicious.

Posted by: deb at August 31, 2007 9:57 AM

Wow! That's actually the second time in my life I see one of those things!

My friend's parents have one, but it was made in France and is called a "cuisar". It looks pretty much the same as yours, but it has a shell shape embedded in it. It is very hard to find now and they cherish it as if it was made of gold!

Try something different with your toastie : instead of cheese, put some strawberry jam in it. It makes a great sweet treat!

Posted by: SuperCath at August 31, 2007 10:16 AM

Isn't this a pre-electric sandwich maker? They're totally not as cool as the old-school one you've got, but everyone I knew who didn't have a kitchen in college stashed one under their bed for surrepitious plug-in cooking.

Posted by: Cynthia at August 31, 2007 10:50 AM

Yes, it's kind of what George Foreman's grandfather would have made sandwiches with :)

Jam's a cool idea. Except now I'm thinking brioche as the bread, a little bit of cream cheese or baking cheese and jam. Yum.

Posted by: corie at August 31, 2007 10:59 AM

Sorry, I made a mistake... It's called a cuisor.
Sometimes you can find some on eBay.

Posted by: SuperCath at August 31, 2007 10:59 AM

I want a toastie maker and I love cinnamon toast!

Posted by: Petrie at August 31, 2007 11:16 AM

We had one of those growing up, although I can't tell from your photo if it's the same. I believe they are what are used to make Croque Monsieurs, which is essentially what you described. The one my mom has makes an imprint of a shell on the bread. Oh! I see someone else mentioned the same. Maybe the French ones all have a shell.

Posted by: craige at August 31, 2007 12:54 PM

There are people who have never had cinnamon toast? I thought that was a childhood staple! It would never have occurred to me otherwise.

I remember having similar toasty things at girls scout camp. We'd take white bread and put pie filling between them to make little campfire pies.

Posted by: Liz at August 31, 2007 4:32 PM

pie filling? like mincemeat?

Posted by: corie at August 31, 2007 6:18 PM

I love cinnamon toast, but try it this way and see if it doesn't knock your cinnamony socks off: spread butter on some bread, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then stick under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. The cinnamon gets all crunchy and carmelized.

Posted by: Sally at September 3, 2007 11:54 AM

Oh the memories. I still have the family Toas-Tite, looks the same as yours. I was able to buy a second one at a garage sale. We made cheese toasties and used pie filling too. I think we even made small Cornish pasties, a U.P. Michigan favorite! You could make small meat pies I bet. You would have to cook the filling first though. How about cooked hamburger patty, cooked bacon and blue cheese crumbles. Sounds god to me.

Posted by: Monty at September 3, 2007 5:53 PM

Pie filling like blueberry compote :-)

Posted by: Liz at September 4, 2007 7:03 PM

Just so you know, this posting made me crave grilled cheese so badly that I bought a mediocre one from our in-building "cafe" (aka Cafeteria)yesterday. Not only was it sub-par, but I think it gave me a stomach ache. I now need a quality toastie to repair the damage.

Posted by: kar at September 5, 2007 12:30 PM

Yummy, I am so hungry now.

Posted by: Virginia at September 8, 2007 3:56 PM

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