I’m incredibly addicted to routine. I don’t enjoy surprises and I like to think 3 or 4 steps ahead of every move I make. The day always starts between 6:45am – 7:00am and usually kicks off with a quick glance of my phone to check email and news headlines, followed by a cup of coffee and a trip to the bathroom for the most glorious “first of the morning pee” (it’s always the most rewarding, no?). Shortly thereafter, the women of the house begin to emerge from their slumber and I kick into “DAD MODE”. DAD MODE consists of changing a diaper, heating a bottle and handing the reigns of the remote control to the 14 month old so that she can enjoy “The Sunny Side Up Show” on Sprout. After Chapter 1 of every morning, we move on to chapter 2 where I find myself getting dressed and throwing on a coat to take the dog for a stroll around the block so that he too can enjoy the glorious nature of the “first of the morning” pee. Upon our return we bid adieu to the Mrs. as she leaves for work and we enter the wonderful world of being a stay-at-home-dad.
Task number one is to feed the precious darling child which at this point is more akin to an African Plains hyena that hasn’t had the fortune of stumbling upon a gazelle carcass in a week…AKA – SHE’S HUNGRY.
The child is a carb junkie. She’s loves all things bread and cereal. Cheerios are a popular staple as well as waffles and pancakes, but her go-to, her ultimate, her burning inner desires yearn for nothing more than a simple toasted slice of bread. This is where dad’s day can either flourish in self complimentary achievement or can crash and burn in self loathing from either toasting the perfect slice or torturing a slice with techniques perfected in, but that haven’t been seen since the mid-15th century.
The process is simple enough. Remove bread from bag, place gently into one of two available toaster slots, lower the lever and wait the appropriate time until the toaster ejects what should be a lovely golden brown slice of heaven. Friends…Oh dear friends, if only it was this simple.
Many things can go wrong during this process. The number one leading cause of imperfect toast is the inadvertent changing of the darkness setting. This can happen either by mishandling of the toaster during transportation to or from the cabinet or (and i think this is more likely) the muddling hands of an individual or gremlin that is set on ruing my day, damn near from its outset. Many times I will wait the nearly two minutes for the toast magic to happen only to be left with a slightly warm piece of bread that is colorless and feels more like a slice left on the counter overnight that has become stale. “No big deal!” you may be saying to yourself. “Just put it back in for another cycle.” We all know what happens when we toast bread for a second cycle…it burns. It burns bad. Speaking of burnt toast, that is the other effect of unknown darkness setting changes. We end up with a substance suitable for repelling arrows during the Shang Dynasty of the Chinese Empire.
Let’s recap – Darkness setting. We need to check this not just before we begin toasting in general, but before every cycle. There is no such thing as being to careful or overprotective of this knob. It can ruin your day in a mere two minutes.
If you have the misfortune of having a “modern day” toaster like myself, you may have a handy switch on your toaster labeled “TOAST – BAGEL”. The Bagel setting is the third leading cause of a disastrous toasting experience. The bagel setting disables one side of each toaster slot from heating up, thus only toasting one side of your bread. Perhaps this is handy if you are a bagel eater and you only want the soft innards of your deliciousness to be golden brown and crunchy, but it reeks havoc on us bread lovers. When the bagel switch goes willy-nilly you are left with a toast/bread hybrid. It absolutely defies the laws of humanity and I feel that God himself never envisioned such a horrific fate to maybe his greatest invention (we’re talking about sliced bread here folks – just making sure you’re still with me). You are left with a slice of perfectly golden brown toast on one side and an unblemished piece of bread on the other. Sigh. Now what? Oh! “Spin it around and run it for another cycle” you suggest. Please see above…BREAD THAT GOES FOR A SECOND CYCLE BURNS! It just does. Learn this rule immediately, please.
There are other factors such as the relative coolness or warmth of your toaster. The first slice(s) always seems to be a little weak in their color whereas the second batch may be a little darker than the first. I always suggest running the toaster “dry” for one full cycle before introducing bread to ensure that your toaster is at it’s ideal level of preheating.
What does all of this mean? 1. The hyena must wait idly while her kook of a father runs all of the toast algorithms in his head before dropping her slice of heaven. 2. Even after running more calculations that NASA if someone (or something) has monkey with either the darkness setting or the TOAST – BAGEL switch, her wait could easily be doubled. The latter typically results in thrown sippy cups and binks and may include ear piercing whines. The pressure of then producing even a simply “acceptable” slice can prove to be too much, forcing an error in the second attempt and forcing a much maligned third attempt.
Please note that all of these concerns are magnified, sometimes as much as 400% when toasting waffles or toaster pastries. These are neither as plentiful or easily replaceable as a slice of bread. We always take extra precaution when preparring these items, but in retrospect, we should apply the same discipline to all food products that require a trip through the toaster.
I’ve thought of replacing my toaster. It is possible that there is an error free machine waiting for me at my local home store. Could a toaster-oven solve my problems? Perhaps a commercial conveyor belt typ toaster? I’m sure either would be a suitable replacement but would inevitablely come with their own hiccups. For the time being I am going to stick with old “tried and true” but will always keep at least one eye on it and will try to remember that it is an inanimate object that is not hellbent on my demise.