On My Transfiguration into a 1950’s Housewife

There was once a time when I used to stare out of the kitchen sink window at the viburnum bushes pondering one of my life’s great mysteries: namely that I knew I was destined to be a 1950s housewife but didn’t actually feel like one. Well, I’m here to tell you, we can safely put that one in the solved column. The problem was that I didn’t yet have children.

I’m not sure how it happened, but the second I became a parent a switch inside me was flipped.

I used to dread mornings. Now I get up at 5:45 a.m. I walk Claire, cook a full breakfast for three, empty the dishwasher, start a load of clothes and have C. to school with his bed made and his room picked up by 7:40. Those of you who know me well, know that before fatherhood I used to think getting up at 8:00 was something of an imposition. And the weird thing is, I have a strange feeling of satisfaction about the whole ordeal.

My joy over completed loads of laundry coupled with a strange desire to keep C.’s drawers stocked with clean socks and underwear is particularly surprising to me. Before I was a dad I used to moan to my mom that I sometimes had to do laundry twice a week. She said, “When you were a kid I typically did it twice a day.” I presumed she was exaggerating. She wasn’t. Today is Sunday. C. is going over to a friend’s house to play after church, and I’m actually thrilled that I have a day just to laundry! What has happened to me?

And don’t get me started on how much I love a clean house now. It’s as if disorder and chaos are crouched around every corner waiting to attack the house, and I’m the superhero in charge of keeping them shaking a fist in the air and muttering “curses!” I need to come up with a name for my new super alter ego (The Orderizer? Put It Away Man?). And it isn’t just me. John springs into action to help me out. C., too. No lie! He is a wiz with the dust cloth and the vacuum cleaner. Sure I have to set up little rewards for us: “Okay, if we can get the entire house cleaned by 3:00 we’ll go see Pink Panther II.” But you should see them scurry.

I’ve even started meal planning and preparing dinners in advance! This morning we had French toast casserole (easy to prepare the night before – I included the recipe below. John and I loved it. C. was lukewarm. Said parts of it were too soft – he was talking about the buttery brown sugar part!).

I have a feeling this may be just a delayed nesting reaction, since we had such a short “pregnancy.” (I did catch myself last week putting off a trip to the grocery store until we ran out of plastic poop bags for Claire.) I guess I’ll just ride the wave for as long as it lasts.

Here’s the recipe:

Virginia Willis’s French Toast Casserole (From her cookbook Bon Appetit Y’all)

French Toast Casserole


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 loaf brioche or challah, sliced 1-1/2 inches thick (about 1-1/2 pounds)
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (I substituted a little cardamom)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Confectioners’ sugar, for accompaniment
Sorghum, cane, or maple syrup, for accompaniment


Combine the melted butter and brown sugar in a baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Pour over the bread, letting it soak in. Top with the pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Let the chilled casserole stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Bake until browned and set, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Sift over confectioners’ sugar. Serve hot or warm with sorghum, cane, or maple syrup.


5 Responses to “On My Transfiguration into a 1950’s Housewife”

  1. 1 kara
    February 9, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Don’t you love “Bon Appetit Y’all”? If you actually own it, I’m jealous. I’ve checked it out from the library a zillion times, and I renew it over and over before I finally take it back!

  2. February 9, 2009 at 3:32 am

    I love that your nesting. Totally made me smile. And that recipe is one of my all time favorites for breakfast meetings my husband has at work. Its perfect for popping in the oven early that morning and its perfectly warm when he gets it to the office. Love it!

  3. February 11, 2009 at 12:55 am

    I’ve missed your recipes! I love that you are nesting – you might need to come giving me some tips 😉

  4. February 12, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    That casserole looks divine!

  5. February 13, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Oh, Melissa, I believe I’ll be coming to YOU for tips.

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