Self Improvement

So it’s been officially 1.5 years since moving to New York City. In that year-and-a-half, I managed to accomplish a number of things, and I’m super proud of those achievements. Despite my initial loathe, I have come to appreciate the city more. I have adapted to the pace, the buzz, the lights, the whirl. I have formed deep relationships with and within the city, forged by a strong community and nourished by a shared love for life. I guess this all comes at perfect timing, coinciding with my decision to stay here a few more years. However, it has come to my attention that in this process of integrating with the city, I have really changed as a person. What once was a passive-aggressive, timid, entirely awkward, and nonchalant girl, has now turned into a fiery, impassioned, assertive, outspoken woman who wants demands that the world meets her high (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations. Recently, a professor here at Columbia evaluated my performance in class and told me that I was a ‘firecracker’, and while refreshing and brilliant, risked being misdirected. My supervisor at work regularly comments on how fiery I am, from the one liners to the blunt-say-whatever-I-think personality. Just yesterday night over steamy Korean bbq and little bowls of banchan, an old friend from Cal told me how much I had changed since my undergraduate days – more assertive and aggressive. The most astute observer of my development has to be David, and he completely confirmed everything previously mentioned. I was in shock – how could 1.5 years have changed me (or anyone for that matter) so much?


This morning, I contemplate these changes over some very boozey French Toast. Eggnog French Toast to be exact. Laced with JD whiskey and notes of nutmeg – this version of French toast is a fantastic way to start the day. This is also perfect for using up any leftover eggnog you might have in the fridge – whether homemade or from the carton. Enjoy.


Boozy Eggnog French Toast
Source: Adapted from Alton Brown’s Eggnog

Eggnog Ingredients
4 eggs, carefully separated
1/2 c + 1 tbs granulated sugar
1 pt whole milk
1 c heavy cream
2-3 shots whiskey or rum [to taste really]
1 tsp ground nutmeg

French Toast Ingredients
1/2 loaf old brioche, challah, or French bread, cut into 1/3-1/2″ slices
1/2 stick butter
powdered sugar
maple syrup

For the eggnog – in a metal bowl, beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until the sugar has dissolved, and the eggs have lightened in color.

In a saucepan on medium-high heat, bring milk, cream and nutmeg to a boil, stirring and scraping the pan as needed. Remove from heat, and slowly add to the egg/sugar recipe, but make sure not to cook the eggs by tempering the hot mixture. Return everything to the saucepan and cook until the mixture is bubbly and steamy [I eyeball this, but Alton recommends 160*F]. Remove from heat, add in whiskey [or liquor of choice], and allow to chill in fridge until thickened.

Meanwhile with an electric mixer (hand or stand), beat the egg whites to soft peaks and slowly add the remaining 1 tbs sugar until stiff peaks form. Once the eggnog mixture has thickened, fold the egg whites into the chilled mixture. Top with whipped cream and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg as desired, for immediate consumption.


For French Toast, pour 2 cups of eggnog into a shallow dish, baking pan or saucer. Place sliced bread into the eggnog, submerging the bread as needed to absorb all the liquid. Allow to soak at least 10-15 minutes, before flipping over and allowing the other side to do the same. This process really depends on what type of bread you have and how thick the slices are. French bread will take longer as it is more dense, whereas brioche and challah will only take a few minutes.

Heat a skillet on medium (to prevent burning), and melt 2 tbs of butter. Carefully arrange a few slices of soaked bread onto the pan, and add more butter as needed to keep the frying pan/skillet happy. Once one side has browned, flip over and allow the other side to caramelize. Serve hot off the skillet and top with maple syrup, powdered sugar, fresh fruit, and whatever your heart desires. A nice glass of ‘nog in the morning doesn’t hurt either.


While the alcohol has cooked off, there remains a woody and very subtle, residual undercurrent of whiskey. It is aromatic and plays nicely with the nutmeg. This is definitely not something the kids will like, but a sure treat for any adult.

So over cups of ‘nog and bites of French toast this morning, I need a few moments to re-evaluate myself. After all, I’m about to start a new chapter in my life, and it’s perfect that the new year is right around the corner. It’s a time of self-assessment and and self-improvement and self-changes. With that sad, I guess I resolve to make those changes more positive, less self-destructive, and overall more pleasant for those around me.

Happy holidays,

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