Eating, sleeping, taking a bath and just plain goofing off. Those are the things I do and I assume I’m not alone. However, in best-selling novels like The DaVinci Code the characters run amok for days without even taking a leak. Now I don’t think that’s a nice thing to do to one’s characters. So I always make sure to include bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms in my stories. My inspiration for the kitchen scenes in The Graduation Present came from my dear, sweet (right!) Uncle Bob’s love affair with what he called: “Eggs with Hats.” They were also his remedy for hangovers, along with tomato juice with a sprig of celery and just a wee dash of the hair of the dog (vodka).
During the year I stayed with him I’d often wake in the middle of the night to the sound of eggs sizzling and know that he’d risen from the recliner ravenous because he’d skipped dinner in favor of a post Happy Hour snooze. Sometimes he’d be having a conversation with the nasty yellow cat who’d adopted him or listening to his favorite record at the time, Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows.
Now Eggs with Hats are quite easy to make, however I’ve seen them referred to online as “Toads in a Hole.” To the English this is a sacrilege. A real Toad in a Hole contains sausage and Yorkshire cream and apparently takes skill to make correctly.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- white bread (preferably Wonder Bread)
- a skillet
- a stove
- a shot glass
Prep time: Depends on how much you had to drink.
Cooking time: Till done. No longer than fifteen minutes on high heat or you’ll set off the smoke detectors.
- Lay your pieces of bread out on the counter. Take your shot glass, turn it upside down and punch a hole through each piece of bread. Fill the shot glass with vodka and add to the tomato juice.
- Melt butter in skillet (use as much as you want. When butter begins sizzling, drop each piece of bread into the skillet along with cutouts (the “hats)
- Let crisp on both sides briefly.
- Crack eggs and drop them into the holes. Let eggs cook till cooked to your preference (runny or solid yolks). Remove from skillet and put the hat on the eggs.
Now the excerpt:
“They tasted good, those eggs with hats. I ate like I hadn’t eaten for days, even soaking up the runny yolks with the crispier edges of the fried bread. It felt good to have protein in me. And real orange juice, not that orange-colored water. But it was hell waiting for Uncle Bob to come back downstairs and explain what was going on. Why did Lou Raferman have Charlie’s car towed away? Why did I have to go to Paris?
The weather had changed overnight. Frost covered the lawns. As the sky grew lighter, children rode past the house on their way to school, bundled against the cold in such a way that only their red cheeks and noses were visible. In the distance, the always-on-time train hooted through the river valley. Omie emerged to sweep her front porch, a scarf sharply tied under her chin and thick black galoshes on her tiny feet. The concrete porch wasn’t particularly dirty, but it was her habit to sweep it every morning. As she did, she took clandestine glances at Uncle Bob’s house. I figured she would be over later to question why an unmarked moving van full of soldiers had pulled into his driveway early in the morning and disappeared with a Fiat; she spoke no English and Uncle Bob, little German, so the story she would circulate through the town would probably contain no element of truth.”