Column moves into blogosphere

January 26, 2011 

The stories and recipes for this column have been inspired by my adventures around Olympia and the world. It has been a heartfelt joy for me to open chefs' kitchens to you while giving you a taste of my experiences. I have liked smiling at your from inside the newspaper.

Due to budget cuts at the paper, my column is moving off the printed page and transforming into a blog, which means I will still be smiling at you, but it will be from an electronic device. You will still find me at www.theolympian.com. This convenient form of communication will allow me to post recipes and ideas more frequently and in a timelier manner.

My stories have come from near and far. It is fitting that my last column comes from a place that for me is a little of both: the Sandstone Café in Tenino. Although it is not in Olympia, it is within Thurston County and requires only a pleasant drive down Old Highway 99.

Owned by mother/daughter team Cheryl and Sandra Pearce, the Sandstone has gradually made its way into the hearts of locals. The Pearces bought the restaurant formerly called Biscuits and Stuff and have taken time to add or change-up menu items, beautify the interior, and upgrade equipment, all the while emphasizing personal service. They enjoy their customers. As Cheryl put it, “our base is the community.” Their business is supported and enjoyed by locals, plus those who are lucky enough to stop by as they pass through.

The Pearsons adhered to the philosophy that by quietly and consistently providing friendly service and good food, they would win over customers. It worked. Cheryl has moved from Olympia to Tenino and is truly part of the community that the restaurant serves.

Their home cooking includes hearty breakfasts, sandwiches and soups, and changing monthly specials. The Sandstone is not open for dinner except for the first Friday of each month. This popular event – which features prime rib and other entrees – has been a source of connection for clubs and friends. Their space is also available for banquets and special events.

You will notice that certain menu items actually have names: George’s Special and Doug’s Omelet. These are real people. Spunky son-in-law Doug’s meaty omelet is seasoned with pepper jack cheese. George was Cheryl’s father and Sandra’s grandfather, now deceased. Both become misty eyed as they recall memories of this beloved family member.

The Sandstone Café’s recipe for Crispy French Toast adds a fun touch to a familiar breakfast. The egg-dipped bread is coated with panko which is a flakier coating than bread crumbs. You could also use crushed cereal. After grilling, each bite has a little crunch. I am still making pots of applesauce that goes perfectly over the French toast. It adds moisture but not the sugar of syrup. Slicing a banana onto the skillet and warming it up makes another super topper.

I have felt incredibly supported in this community by restaurant owners who have shared recipes and faithful readers who have stopped me in the grocery store to say “Hi.” It has been my goal as a columnist to entertain and educate. I love to eat well. I love the pleasures and power of food. I love to share my words with others. But after today, you will have to print those words yourself. Please come along with me as we dive into the blogoshpere – we have so much more to taste.

You can find me at www.theolympian.com/blogs. As usual, you can write to me at TheRecipeWriter@hotmail.com.

Eat your breakfast, get hooked up to the Internet, and keep in touch with me. Thank you and Bon Appetit!

Crispy French Toast

2 cups panko breading (can substitute crushed corn flakes or other cereal)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all together in a shallow bowl.

4-6 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup half and half (optional)

Whisk these three ingredients together.

Using 6-8 slices of thick cut French bread or Texas toast, dip each slice in the egg mixture then coat each side with the panko mixture. Lightly oil a pan and grill on both sides until golden brown. Serve with butter and syrup or top with your favorite fruit and nuts.

Sandstone Café

273 W. Sussex Ave., Tenino

360-264-4400

Crispy French Toast

2 cups panko breading (can substitute crushed corn flakes or other cereal)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4-6 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup half and half (optional)

Mix breading, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl.

Whisk eggs, vanilla and half and half in another bowl.

Using 6-8 slices of thick cut French bread or Texas toast, dip each slice in the egg mixture then coat each side with the panko mixture. Lightly oil a pan and grill on both sides until golden brown. Serve with butter and syrup or top with your favorite fruit and nuts.

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