Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding... or How to Stay Social When You're Broke

We're a pretty social couple, and I would also venture to say that we're pretty generous. We've been known to fry half a dozen turkeys, roast a pig in a fire pit, and smoke enough meat to feed variously the entire library staff or the entire college or the entire neighborhood. When we lived in Texas we would host monthly get togethers for the student workers in his office. My husband would always cook about three times more food than anybody at the party could possibly eat. We'd send home all the leftovers with the kids, so often and so much that they started bringing their own tupperware.

Usually we look at the upcoming holidays as a chance to spread our culinary wings and try new foods and new techniques. On year we imported the ingredients for Thai food from the west coast, another time we had crayfish shipped in from New Orleans. Um, I don't think we'll be doing that this year.

So what to do? I need people like I need air. Seriously. I would die if I did not have frequent human contact. Of course, it's more than just that: strong networks help keep us mentally healthy and interacting with the people you know exposes you to more opportunities. At the same time, we need to hold on to the money we've got because there isn't any coming in right now. What to do? Enter bread pudding.

A while back I discovered that Wal-Mart has a rack of discounted loaves of french bread. Instead of the wallet busting $2.00, they're down to 90¢. In addition, if you buy a flat of eggs, it's $3.00 instead of the $5.00 you'd pay to buy the eggs in dozen cartons. Add a quart of half and half, a slug of Mexican Vanilla, a cup of sugar and a cup of raisins and voila! Bread Pudding for 50 for about $7.00. The best part? I never bring any home.

The Social Cheapskate's Bread Pudding
I usually make a double recipe for church and other large gatherings

1 dozen eggs
1 quart half and half
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Vanilla to taste (1 tablespoon? I never measure this, just pour in a generous slug)
1 loaf french bread, cubed
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9x13 pan. Mix the eggs, half and half, sugar, pie spice, and vanilla. Gently add the bread cubes and toss until well coated. Fold in the raisins. Toss until well mixed, pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes or until the top is wel browned. Top with warm cream sauce.

Cream Sauce
1 can Sweetened Condensed milk
1 cup milk
Flavoring of choice (vanilla, rum, cardamom, cloves, sky's the limit)

In a small saucepan over low heat mix a can of sweetened condensed milk with a cup of milk. Add in the flavoring agent of your choice, usually rum or brandy in our house, but sometimes cardamom and cloves. Serve over bread pudding.

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