Monday, September 27, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not (Bread Pudding)

The recession has hit Ireland hard – harder than most countries. In the last two years we have seen many close friends laid off, salaries reduced, and industries decimated. My guy is in construction, an industry which virtually doesn’t exist anymore, and has worked only sporadically over the last two years. While I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been frustrating and challenging and sometimes emotionally exhausting, it has also been a wonderful learning experience.
While Ireland was going through the Celtic Tiger (the boom years) everything centered on money – how much could you spend and how quickly, and trust me when I say that feeling was contagious (and if I am being truthful sometimes it was even a little (whole lotta) fun. Everyone had money and everyone wanted to spend it. Hop on a plane and go to Italy for lunch – heck yeah! Eat out 7 nights a week – absolutely! Take a taxi literally everywhere – totally necessary! Even though I was never in debt and fairly responsible with my money, I was learning bad habits quickly.

Enter the recession. In the beginning (and totally by necessity) I knew my spending habits had to change, and after an awkward adjustment period (read flopping on the bed and moaning we never do anything FUN anymore) they did. Now I monitor my spending habits by choice. I am much more able to reflect on the things I need versus the things I want. I am able to enjoy the process of wanting something badly enough to save for it instead of just buying and wondering why and how I could still want for more.
I have learned something about myself that would have never been possible without this recession – the things that make me the most happy aren’t in a shopping mall and aren’t available at Don’t get me wrong – I love a good book, a fancy restaurant, and great outfit as much as the next person…but I can check the book out from the library, appreciate a meal more if it is for a special occasion, and wear the same great outfit to more than one event.
Even though I can’t wait for it to end I will always be grateful to this recession for teaching me that I love to cook and create things, that too many material possessions cluttered my heart, my head, and my bank account, and that you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy your family and friends. Lastly it taught me that I really don’t like to waste anything, especially food. I am the shopper in our household and the meal planner, and I pride myself on knowing what we need for the week. If we get to the end of the week and have to throw away anything that might have gone off, I feel like I have let myself down. Thus bringing us full circle to the recipe for this post (finally I hear you saying!): bread pudding.
I woke up this morning to make breakfast and saw that we had two loaves of bread that had four and fives pieces left respectively AND a whole new loaf. I don’t eat a lot of bread and even though Carl does, I knew he would never be able to eat it all before it got moldy. I could freeze it (but Irish freezers are tiny and thawed bread never tastes as good), I could make croutons (time consuming and so far I haven’t found a great recipe, plus Carl doesn’t really eat them) or I could make an old stand by – Bread Pudding. Simple to make, simple ingredients, and totally delicious – this is a great dessert to serve to welcome fall.
Bread Pudding
Gather your bread and cut into small pieces (I use kitchen shears to do this part).

Pour milk over the bread pieces and let soak while you measure out the other ingredients (I had buttermilk leftover from banana muffins so I used half milk and half buttermilk)

In small bowl combine eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Mix well.

Add 1 cup raisins (and nuts if you are using them).

Combine the bread/milk with the sugar/raisin and pour into a well buttered dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45minutes. You can make a glaze to pour on top or you can spread a pad of butter and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. I cheated and bought a pre made low fat custard to pour on top and it was so yummy! I love this recipe because you can throw in whatever you have laying around and it will be delicious. Some suggestions: cranberries, chocolate, nuts, craisins, more sugar, butter, different types of bread, etc.

Ingredients:5 cups cubed bread (8-10 slices if using left over bread)2 ½ cups milk2 eggs1 teaspoons vanilla½ cup granulated sugar1 teaspoon cinnamon¾ teaspoon nutmeg1 cup raisins½ cup Nuts (optional)

Preparation:Tear bread into medium pieces. Add sugar and cinnamon. Mix milk, lightly beaten eggs, and vanilla. Stir in raisins. Combine thoroughly with the bread. Place in well buttered casserole dish. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until lightly brown.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post. While I am SOO hopeful that for IRE, USA, and the world that the boom days return, I also hope that we are all able to carry with us into those good times the important things we have realized about frugality being the true luxury living, as it allows you to really enjoy the sweet things when they come into your life.
    That said, you got any good recipes for granola? I am planning to make it and package it cutely for my neighborhood/teacher/coworker christmas gifts this year and I am experimenting with recipes. Tried one from this famous food blogger at (you should check her out if you haven't) and its like her signature recipe and I thought it was . . . pretty good. would like to get better. ideas? should i check pioneer woman?