Milk Toast: Good for What Ails You

Diners at the Bâtard, an upscale restaurant in Tribeca, NYC can enjoy a dessert dish called milk bread, “A Christmastime treat from Germany,” says the September 1, 2014 issue of the New Yorker. The article goes on to describe this milk bread as having crème-brûlée crackles with innards like French toast or the texture of iced donuts.

New Yorker_Food & Drink

My German-Swiss Grandma Longenecker’s milk bread was much simpler. In fact there were only two ingredients: Milk and toast, probably with a little butter. Picture a bowl of warm milk and pieces of toast snippled up making a kind of stew. And she called it milk toast, not milk bread, serving it as a balm for belly aches or whatever else ailed us.

Another milky treat Mother served in the winter-time before school: Hershey’s hot cocoa with buttered toast for dipping. Yes, we dipped the toast in cocoa, inhaled the chocolate fragrance as the warming lump slipped slowly down our throats. Reinforcement for the cold walk to the bus-top. Uh-um, good!

CocoaToast

Do you have any milk with bread images in your memory bank? Any other cool weather warm-up recipes to share?

Coming next: 10 Things Our Family Did/Didn’t Do on Sunday

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47 thoughts on “Milk Toast: Good for What Ails You

  1. Your grandmother’s milk toast does not sound too appealing to me, but the cocoa and toast does. I used to make our daughters cocoa and cinnamon toast when they came in from playing in the snow. (I don’t know if they dipped the toast in the cocoa or not–they may have!) Homemade challah makes the very best cinnamon toast! Now I’m craving it! Haha.

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    1. I’m seeing more challah bread in the grocery stores these days, probably in honor of Rosh Hashanah. If you’re a “dipper,” you may enjoy your cinnamon toast with cocoa today. I’m thrilled that reading my post is part of your “breakfast” each day. Thank you, Merril!

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  2. Marian, when I can’t sleep, I STILL get up and fix myself a small, very weak-on-the-chocolate cup of hot cocoa and a half piece of buttered toast to chill me out, relax, read a bit, and then go back to bed. It usually works. (Too much chocolate of course can crank you up, but the hot milk with just a little chocolate in it seems to work for me.) I’ve heard of milk toast but Mom never fixed it, either. Your photo made me hungry.

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    1. I notice from your post that we both have our minds on the topic of food lately. Maybe the cooler weather makes us seek such physical comfort. By the way, I’m glad you have an effective, non-pharmaceutical solution to insomnia. Maybe your idea will work for other readers too. Thanks, Melodie.

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  3. Growing up my grandmother would fix us hot creamy oatmeal that we call avena. So creamy and silky that it was like a drinkable drink that she would serve in a cup along with a coffee that people today call a Latte. We walked to school even in snow. Good ole days.

    There was a cream of wheat commercial back then: a child having cream of wheat for breakfast would walk in a bubble meaning the cold didn’t affect them. The things we remember. Thank you for taking me back to those days.

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  4. Oh, Marian, mother made it for us when we were sick only she used “Postum” instead of cocoa. Can’t get Postum any more. I still will finally get up and drink a glass of milk when I can’t sleep..works like a charm don’t know if it scientific or in my head but it works, I used to heat it with honey, don’t even have to do that. kathy

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    1. These old brand names – I haven’t thought about Postum in years, but I know my Grandma had a container of it in her cupboard. It sounds like you and Melodie are on to something here. Scientists would say it’s the tryptophan in milk, but who knows! Thanks, Kathy.

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  5. We never had anything like toast in my grandmother’s house. I don’t think she ever bought a loaf of sliced bread in her 93 years of life. We did have cornbread crumbled into buttermilk for a treat after supper many nights. She was purely cornbread and biscuits. She did keep an old Hull earthenware cookie jar on the dining table with Hermits or tea cakes in it 🙂

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    1. Your grandmother sounds like a very Southern woman, Susan. I imagine as you are typing this you see that Hull cookie jar and imagine the tasty treats inside. Thanks again for adding to the conversation.

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    1. The ingredients sound very comforting. My memories with Mom are often associated with bananas and peanut butter on lettuce. Now that I’m writing this it sounds like an odd combination, but it tasted sooo good!

      Your comment adds a new”recipe” to the conversation. Thanks, Jenn.

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    2. WOW! I still fix sliced bananas with milk occasionally. Most people find it strange. I still remember my mother fixing it for me — good memories! (although now I use Splenda.)

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  6. “Snippled up.” Love it. 🙂

    My Grandma Hershey snippled up toast into a cup with a soft-boiled egg. Talk about comfort food! My daughter still craves it when she feels a little under the weather.

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    1. How nice we can share a similar PA Dutch vocabulary – better than pig Latin. Many of my readers are of that ilk, but even those who aren’t can guess its meaning, very onomatopoetic, don’t you think? I’m sure your Kate will carry on the tradition with her own brood someday.

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  7. Hi Marian, I grew up with the milk/toast for illness too! Later as a new Mom, it was often a meal for me when Jerry traveled with his work. I gave it to my boys when they were not feeling very well too! The hot cocoa was a treat in cooler weather but usually served in the afternoon or evening! We didn’t have time for it in the mornings! It is fun to think about these things that have somehow left my thoughts!

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    1. I’m glad these posts help revive our memories, Judy. If I hadn’t read about milk bread in a magazine, you wouldn’t be reading this post. Thanks for adding your special flavor to our conversation.

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  8. Well, Marian, you can tell our roots are in Pennsylvania. My Mom used to make me milk toast when my tummy was upset. I loved it. Sometimes I’d have just because … 😉

    My Mom talked about bread pudding, a dish they’d have during the Great Depression when trying to stretch their food budget. It always cracks me up when I see it listed as a fancy dessert in some restaurants. It was purely comfort food. 😉

    That hot cocoa treat sounds yummy, too.

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  9. Dipping toast in hot chocolate sounds heavenly. I think I’ll go and have some right now. I don’t recall having it as a child but warm bread. straight from the oven with butter and jam, served with milk was always a favourite at out house growing up.

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    1. I’m thinking of home-made strawberry and peach jam, both in my refrigerator right now. Maybe tomorrow morning – or an afternoon snack!

      How fortunate you are to have a Mother who baked bread. I’m glad this post jogged your memory, Darlene.

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  10. Well I’ll be doggoned! I’ve never heard of dipping toast in hot chocolate, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll try it out this winter.

    When we were sick my mom would crumble saltine crackers in a tall glass, pour milk over it, and then we’d eat it with a spoon. It sounds awful, but it tasted pretty darned good.

    The other bit of “medicine” that always made us feel better was getting to use a pair of scissors to cut out comics from the newspaper. I don’t know why on earth that was so much fun, but we loved it!

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    1. Yes, on those cold Idaho mornings the chocolate – toast dipping would hit the spot. Your mom’s potion sounds interesting, but I think a lot of the comfort in these “comfort” foods comes from the expression of love we felt being served.

      My mother sure didn’t give me a scissors for the comics. We weren’t allowed to look at them, for heaven’s sake. 😦

      In your case, I’ll put on my psychologist’s hat and say the cutting out comics worked like a camera, savoring the moment and saving it.

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  11. My Dutch grandma mixed an egg with that milk, soaked a thick slice of her homemade bread in the mix until it was soggy, and browned it in a buttered skillet. Good with powdered sugar, fresh fruit, preserves, or syrup. It was usually served for breakfast. If I weren’t in a hotel in Toronto, I’d think about making myself some for tomorrow’s breakfast. Thanks, Marian. This was so much fun. Love the NY Times image and the mug.

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    1. My ‘very Southern’ grandma gave us ‘fried’ grits for a special breakfast! She would cook grits the day before & then put it in a round bowl (not too deep) where it stayed overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, she would cut it into small, thin wedges (like a pie). In another small bowl were raw eggs, lightly stirred with a fork. She would then dip each wedge into a very hot frying pan, turning each piece when brown for the other side. Very messy to do, but it tastes delicious!

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  12. Oh my, you made me hungry :). Not good to be reading about such yummy things late at night. But I will say when I was younger, I loved tea with milk and toast with lots of butter. I loved dunking my toast so it got nice and soggy then ate it. I suppose that is very similar. 🙂

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  13. We, as younger children, used to crumble graham crackers in a bowl and pour milk on. You had to eat really fast as the crackers sogged up quickly. We called it mush.

    My husband likes heating milk and pouring onto grapenuts or shredded wheat, something he brought from his side of the family.

    I don’t like hot or warm milk as is, but I like hot chocolate (homemade) or coffee with milk and sugar.

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    1. I’m with you, Athanasia. Unless it has chocolate in it, I don’t like warm milk either, just so. I assume you make your chocolate with cocoa as you say it is homemade. My, there are so many different ways to stir up milk bread and now you have suggested crumbled graham crackers – yum!

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  14. We never had bread dipped in milk here. My mother’s cure all was chicken soup and, recently, when I was ill chicken soup was the only thing I could eat. My bed time drink is cocoa and, if I have a cold I put a dash of dark rum in it.

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  15. There are books written about the balm of chicken soup–there’s even one entitled Chicken Soup for the Soul. I like your bedtime drink when you have a cold – better than Nyquil here in the States – ha!. You always have interesting comments, Marie. Thanks!

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    1. Simplicity is not necessarily an easy way of life, but it is a gratifying one. Do visit again, Kathy! You’ll find a mix of reflections on my Mennonite life and thoughts on current events, sometimes both in the same post.

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    1. Do you ever make this dish yourself? Maybe sometime you feel nostalgic. It sounds like you have this recipe down pat, Gencie.

      Thanks for all of your responses to Jenn, Laurie, and Elaine. That’s what I call a conversation.

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