This Mother’s Day Weekend has been brought to you by the letter B. B is for Bread. And Bacon. Both of which I have eaten far too much of in the past two days. And because both days featured giant lunches right in the middle of them, we haven’t eaten an actual dinner since Friday.
Saturday my family came for lunch – and since my Mom’s favourite thing to eat out is bacon and eggs, that’s what we had, with crusty homemade bread and sauteed spinach and maple sausages on the barbecue. Saturday night my sister and I brought our boys to Chuck E. Cheese. Yes we did. Not for the food, it must be stressed (we didn’t eat), but to cash in the hundred or so tickets my 6 year old nephew had inadvertently brought home from a birthday party, which were haunting his every waking moment. (His mom needed to bring me along to ease the pain a little, and so that she would have someone to roll her eyes at.) Ben wore his skinny jeans, which were really his jeans left over from when he was 4. Those two hours I’ll never get back are two hours I’m sure W will cherish forever – as he walked into that lit-up video game heaven, it was like the Mother Ship was calling him home. The only way it could have been improved upon would have been if the whole of Chuck E. Cheese was lifted up and dipped in chocolate, then coated in sprinkles.
On the way home we stopped at Home Depot to buy tomato plants. (Yes, my Saturday nights are decidedly different than they were a decade ago.) We closed the place, and while loading up the car, and stupidly allowing W to sit on the roof (don’t gasp – it’s a low, smallish car, not an SUV or a minivan) he kicked the trunk closed with my head in it. I spent the rest of the evening with a bag of frozen wild blueberries on the ostrich egg on my forehead, wondering if it really was a good idea to fall asleep (Mike was out), and if I was a good enough make-up artist to shoot a few TV segments I had to do today without looking like an alien. (Fortunately there was not much in the way of bruising, but my entire right hemisphere is still puffed enough to smooth out any forehead lines – who needs botox?)
Today – Mother’s Day – started off as most others do, with W pinching my cheeks and poking my head, which woke me up faster than usual. Mike got up (from W’s bunk bed – most nights it’s a game of musical beds/couches in this house), went downstairs and reheated me the leftover Tim Horton’s from yesterday, and brought it up, then put the road runner on for W and went back to sleep on the couch. Not that I wasn’t appreciative, but my breakfasts in bed can only go up from here.
Later in the morning I was back in our bedroom, changing, ranting to Mike about the big blue truck that was parked directly in front of our house, ousting us out of a parking spot for the better part of a week. I walked over to the window and was standing there, blinds open, wondering aloud who it belonged to, hands on my hips in a –humph– sort of way, when I realized I had no shirt on. I have recurring nightmares about scenarios such as this. I actually wondered if I had drifted back to sleep.
I had not.
The second string – Mike’s Mom and sister – came for lunch today. Since his Mom adores bread pudding, I made one out of the extra loaf of no-knead bread I had baked on Friday night for Saturday.
Of course there are a million things you could do with this blank canvas – use raisin bread and add a grated apple and a handful of pecans, or add shredded cheese and slivered ham with a few chopped green onions or wilted spinach, saute a whack of mushrooms in butter with garlic and add them with a handful of grated Parmesan (omit the honey or maple syrup if you’re making something savoury) – really the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. But Shirl likes hers just plain-old, straight-up. So I thought I’d make a quick espresso syrup I read in an old Donna Hay book (besides beautiful photos, she has great ideas) for the option to drizzle overtop. After all, bread pudding is just like French toast, in casserole form. (Yes, it is espresso. It’s not expresso. Not expresso!)
Plain Old Bread Pudding
You can use any kind of milk – or even eggnog – to make bread pudding. Obviously the heavier the cream the richer it will be – but even using all 1% works just fine.
1 large loaf good-quality crusty bread, or an assortment of bread ends (a loaf of untouched no-knead bread is perfect)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 1/4 cups 1% milk
1 1/4 cups half & half (or more 1% milk)
2 tsp. vanilla
a shake of cinnamon (optional)
Cut or tear the bread into 1” chunks in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, milk, cream and vanilla. Pour over the bread and let sit for an hour or two, stirring gently once in awhile. All the liquid should be well absorbed, but the bread shouldn’t turn to mush (thus the good-quality crusty loaf).
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pour the bread mixture into a 9”x13” pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray, or any baking dish that will accommodate the quantity you made. If you like, douse it with cinnamon.
Bake for an hour or so, until puffed, golden and set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Espresso Syrup (adapted from Donna Hay’s New Classics): bring equal amounts of strong espresso and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan with a capful of vanilla. (Instant espresso works very well for this – just add it right to the pan.) Cook for about 15 minutes, until it has reduced slightly and has a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat. If you like, add a splash of half & half – it won’t make it completely creamy, it just sort of takes the edge off.
May 10 2009 09:50 pm | breakfast