On this day in 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, two brothers with big dreams let their lofty ideas take flight. On September 24, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower declared December 17 to be Wright Brothers Day. His proclamation invited the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I must confess, I cannot recall a single celebration. I’m sure in certain circles, this is a very big day. Their 12 second flight was proof positive that the human spirit was meant to soar and dreamers are the pilots of that spirit.
On a strictly Foodie front, today is National Maple Syrup Day. Some day I hope to visit Vermont and sample true Maple Syrup. The origins of maple sugaring (making maple syrup from sap) are steeped in legend and folklore. No one knows for sure which Native American tribe first discovered the sap. What is known is that the practice was widespread long before Europeans arrived in the New World. All I know is that pure maple syrup is unmistakably delicious. It is also that small bottle of liquid gold kept on the top shelf due to its hefty price tag compared to Mrs. Butterworth or Log Cabin syrups.
For me, this day isn’t so much about the pure syrup as it is about the yummy things we do with syrup. Syrup and breakfast just naturally go hand in hand, don’t you think?
Bacon Pecan French Toast with Mock Maple Syrup
Custard French Toast
8 large Eggs
2 cups Half-and-Half
1 cup Milk
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
Dash Sea Salt
Dash Cayenne Pepper
1 (1 lb) loaf French Bread
Grease a 13-inch by 9-inch Casserole Dish, set aside.
In a blender, whip eggs, half-and-half and milk. Add both sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cayenne pepper. Blend until the sugars and spices are fully incorporated into the custard mixture. Pour into a shallow pan or bowl.
Trim ends from the French Bread. Slice loaf into 1-inch pieces. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture. Arrance slices in the prepared dish. Pour remaining egg custard over the bread. Cover with foil, place in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove the soaked French Toast from the refrigerator and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes before baking. Heat oven to 350 degrees. While everything comes to temperature, make the topping.
Bacon Pecan Topping
6 strips thick-sliced Bacon
1/2 cup toasted Pecans
1 cup Butter
1 cup packed Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Dark Corn Syrup
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
Stack bacon strips, slice lengthwise, then cut into small pieces width-wise. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Fry up the bacon bits, remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Chop pecans, place in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. Set aside.
Melt butter in a microwaveable bowl. Whisk brown sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg into the melted butter.
Fold in the bacon and pecans. Spread topping over the French Toast.
Bake, uncovered in the heated oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Mapleine Flavored Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons Water
1/4 cup Sugar
1-1/2 cups light Corn Syrup
1/2 tablespoons Mapleine Immigration Maple Flavoring
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm water. Add sugar and heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
Add Corn Syrup and Maple Flavoring. Continue to heat until the syrup just begins to boil.
Reduce heat to low, cook for 2 minutes longer for the flavors to meld.
Remove from heat. Syrup will thicken as it cools. Store any unused syrup in the refrigerator and reheat over low heat when ready to use again.
To serve French Toast, drizzle with a little of the syrup. Dish up the toast on individual plates and pass the Maple Flavored Syrup ’round the table to enjoy all the richness together.