Conner is my oldest. My most vivid memory from his first days on earth are of clutching his tiny frame tightly to my chest as he threw his head back howling at the sky... all. night. long.....One could ponder my choice to continue to give birth after the months of sleeplessness and deep angst that comprised his first year.
Conner has managed to hold onto the status of my most difficult child throughout his entire tenure here on earth. Don't get me wrong, each child has given me their own version of heartache, difficulty and challenged patients. But Conner's version has come with a depth and breadth unlike anything I was familiar with and unlike any I could've prepared for. Somewhere in the mix that became the who that he is, he picked up a lust for making choices that put him on the edge of 'normal' life. Perhaps being branded 'first born' placed him in a position to test the edges of living so his brothers could take a more controlled and learned path in his wake. And, as first born Conner has been first to test my patience, first to push the limits, first to create undue angst and first to earn my undying love.
Yet, each day of his young adult life Conner claims another bit of my trust and admiration; reinforcing my already steadfast faith in his ability to find a path true to his heart. This faith has always been present and well seated in my soul, but I have not always been resolved to believe it would take him into a future beyond the day in which he was currently walking! Conner has lived days and made choices so far outside of my comfort zone that I sometimes wonder from who's womb he sprung! Yet, he is here. Nearly 19, talking on the phone with the dispatch coordinator, preparing for lift off to Alaska. He passed his drug tests, prep work and is getting on an airplane to King Cove, Alaska to work in a cannery for the summer season.
Wow. Another step down a path my catholic, middle class sensibility can't quite wrap itself around. And yet, I am so proud of his fortitude and resolve to make this happen for himself. This is his path. Right now he alone is taking these steps and heading down this road to a place that will be his story. Bravo my baby. Bravo my blessed, tender loving 7 lb 11 oz redheaded bundle. Take off. in love. mom.
Conner's 19th birthday breakfast
Cardamom Apple Baked French Toast with Cider Syrup
(adapted from Chefs on the Farm, shannon borg/lora lea misterly)
4 apples, cored and cut to 1/4" slices
4T sugar or sucanat
2 t fresh ground cardamom (buy the green pods, crack open, crush seeds with a mortar/pestle-you'll thank me!)
2 T butter
1/2 c half and half or milk
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
unsliced bread-I used homemade sourdough, but any quality, dense bread will work beautifully
Heat the butter in a skillet while you are mixing the apples, sugar and cardamom in a bowl. Once the butter is hot, add the apple mixture. Stir frequently to keep from sticking, and cook until softened and a bit caramelized (10-15 minutes)
Butter an 8x8 Pyrex dish. Cut the bread loaf lengthwise to create 4, 1/2" thick slices of bread. Lay two of these into the bottom of the dish (you want them to ultimately cover the bottom of the Pyrex). Spread the apples over this bread layer and place the remaining two slices on top. In the bowl used to mix the apples, crack eggs and whisk. All half and half, vanilla and salt. Pour this mixture over the bread/apples. Cover with saran wrap, weight with a plate and jug of milk and place in refrigerator over night.
Remove weight and saran then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Prepare syrup while baking:
1 c apple cider
1c sugar or sucanat
Bring these to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and stirring frequently, reduce to 1 cup.
Once the bread is baked, remove from oven, invert on a serving platter and pour the syrup over all. Oh it's so good! The more cardamom the better-just grind it by hand!!!!