Friday, April 17, 2009

Comfort Food--Bread Pudding

Last night I decided I wanted bread pudding. Good bread pudding--the kind with crushed pineapple and shredded granny smith apples in it to give a little interest to the custard base. I have been seeing it more frequently on menus at some pretty upscale restaurants lately, but all of them seem to be pretty plain jane with an overly boozed sauce on top. A good light bourbon or lemon-vanilla sauce is all that is needed for this dish---it doesn't drown the flavors under heavy booze tones.

I found a recipe online that mimics the one I found (and lost) from Southern Living. It is originally from Dooky Chase--the famed New Orleans shop owner. I'd been making this for a while, then lost the recipe when we moved to the new house. Bread pudding is a great comfort food and a very tasty way to make use of leftover stale bread or french bread loaves that don't get used up. If you don't have enough for the pudding all at once, cube the bread, let it get stale by leaving it out overnight, then put in the freezer. You can keep adding to this bag until you have enough for the dish. YUM.

I am not one to be able to follow a recipe without adding some twist to it, so my addition is a cup of dried cherries or dried cranberries instead of the raisins. I like the better than raisins and they give a little lift to the dish. Feel free to add other dried fruit like chopped apricots or blueberries, if that sounds better to you. Either way, this makes a lot and is the King of comfort foods!

Oh, and I've been known to mix the white bread with a little leftover wheat french loaf. It's all good.

Bread Pudding
5 cups stale white bread (can be french, Italian loaf etc.)
2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
6 eggs beaten
8 oz crushed pineapple (I pour the juice in too)
1 large apple peeled and grated
1 cup raisins (or other dried friut like cranberries, cherries, or diced apricots)
1 1/2 sugar
2-3 tablespoons vanilla
1/4 pound butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Mix together the eggs, vanilla, sugar. butter, milk. Mix until smooth. Add the crsuhed pineapple and it's juice, grated apple and dried fruit. Add the bread cubes and toss to mix all ingredients well.

Pour into a greased 9"x13" pan baking dish.

Bake for 30-40 minuted until cooked through (should be firm in the middle)

Let cool and serve with whipped cream, a bourbon sauce (recipe later) or a lemon sauce.

I've seen it drizzled with chocolate syrup too, but I think bread pudding is best when the original flvors are allowed to shine.

The recipe calls for 5 Tablespoons vanilla--that sounded like too much. I don't remember putting that much in the Southern Living version, so I cut that in half. The recipe also called for 1 cup water to be mixed with the milk, but since I was using the juice from the pineapple, I omitted that. It's a recipe--play with it and make it yours!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Well Hello Wind!

Today is another super windy day in Kansas and that has lead me to contemplate how much I would love to be able to harness some of that and use it to power my house. While that is not financially feasible for us right now, it would still be neat. I am, however, contemplating a couple other small changes here at Animalhaus, hoping that it will motivate me to make bigger changes.

One of these changes is we are going to get a couple backyard feathered friends for eggs. I love the fresh eggs I buy from individual chicken owners when I can find them. However, as more people get the exposure to a real egg from a well raised chicken instead of a supermarket egg, the competition for these little prizes is getting fierce. I'm not seeing them offered for sale along the country roads much anymore. So, we have decided we are going to get our own very small flock. Actually I don't know if 5 chickens qualifies as a flock, but it will be enough to keep us supplied with fresh eggs and possibly have enough to share. Both boys are helping me look at coop plans and it is going to be a whole family project to build the coops and the enclosures. We live in a small town, but there is a limit on how many we can legally have--and no roosters for obvious reasons--so we won't need a really large set up. We will need a secure set up since we have a hound dog that thinks she is a hunting dog and literally grabs birds out of the air mid flight. We also have a couple neighborhood cats that make their way over our fence at night. That may be cured soon since our hound dog caught one last week and almost killed it by the time we pulled her off. The cat got over the fence and I haven't seen him back since. We have indoor cats, which the dogs doesn't bother, but for some odd reason, if a cat is outside, Cocoa goes after it. I'm not sure why. Anyway, I really feel that we need to build a very secure enclosure to keep the girls safe. I think the boys have settled on the chickens that lay the pale colored eggs. I'm getting them from, which sells them as "Easter Eggers". They are not the Ameracuna or the Araucanian chickens, instead they are hybrids (mongrels). Not a problem since we are getting them for the eggs, not for show.

We are also planning to build raised beds for the garden this season. We bought a composter, but so far it has not been filled enough and for long enough to yield any of the black gold, so we will buy composted soil this first season. By next season we should have enough to add to the existing beds.

We planted a cherry tree two years ago when we moved in, and this year it has taken off. Not enough to produce, I'm sure, but possibly by next year. We will be planting a dwarf pear tree and blackberry bushes this year in a effort to grow more of the veggies and fruit we consume. I'd love to get an apple tree, but we don't have a huge yard and I doubt we have room for much more. We'll have to see once the pear tree and the rest of the gardens get built.

Am I the only one to notice gas prices went up by 30 cents? While it is not $3, it does make me aware that we have relaxed our gas economizing a bit by driving a little more and not bundling trips like I used to. I am going to start bundling trips and minimizing unnecessary car trips starting this week. While the prices are not what they were, saving $ on gas gives me money to spend elsewhere in our budget. I'm still doing well with cooking at home more and am looking forward to being able to stretch the budget even more by having our veggie needs supplied in our backyard. Plus we will be growing without chemicals.

When I was in Iowa visiting my son, I got hooked on (flavored) Greek yogurt. Unfortunately, it is pretty expensive in our local grocery stores, so I am thinking about getting a yogurt machine to make my own yogurt. Again, I'll save $ and be in control of what goes into it. Has anyone madetheir own yogurt? Was it any good? I'll share my experiences once I actually get started..