The holidays will be here soon (sooner than I’m ever ready for). So will “family photo” time, especially for our family, as it’s the only time of the year we all try to be in one place at the same time — if only for a day or so. There have been times when it was impossible — a son stationed out of the country, a daughter who had to work, but we try. We’ll take a lot of group and candid photos. Many of those — the ones that aren’t hidden away in electronic devices — end up in boxes, just as hidden. Unlabeled, unknown, and a total mystery to grandchildren and great grandchildren many years hence.
We recently visited our daughter in Wyoming. A small collection of family photos, some a bit old and tattered, were beautifully framed and displayed on a staircase wall. I don’t know if the subjects were identified, but I hope so. It reminded me we should all take care of these treasures.
The lesson here is to preserve and label that history so the next generations can know the period clothes and hair styles, the cars that didn’t drive themselves, and for better or for worse, the plum cake your cousin always brought to family get-togethers.
When we closed up my mother’s house, there were boxes of old letters, photos, and telegrams going back a good 80 years. And a great many of them were totally unidentified. It was so sad, as there were quite a few interesting-looking characters — and a few dogs and horses as well.
The recipe for this week is a favorite for family gatherings. Thanksgiving morning, Christmas morning, any old Sunday morning. It needs to be partly assembled the night before and baked just prior to serving.
PUMPKIN PECAN BAKED FRENCH TOAST
As written, this recipe serves 3 to 4, but can easily be doubled, tripled, or more. Just increase the cooking time.
To do the night before:
Butter a 9-inch or equivalent oval or round baking dish — a pretty one if you want to serve in it. Set aside.
For the bread:
4 to 6 slices sourdough French bread, cut about 1-inch thick, crusts removed if desired
Lay them in the pan, just touching or barely overlapping.
For the custard:
4 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup pumpkin or winter squash puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg
Pour this mixture over the bread, cover and refrigerate overnight.
For the topping:
Put the following ingredient in a small bowl (don’t mix yet); set aside overnight at room temperature to soften.
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
In the morning:
Take dish out of refrigerator about one hour before baking. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Combine the topping ingredients and spread evenly over top of the bread/custard. Bake about 25-30 minutes, until puffed and golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired. Serve with warmed syrup and a side of chunky applesauce.