Sunday, July 1, 2012
Well now, this is a little bit embarrassing. But hopefully you can derive the spirit of the bread pudding from the photo.
One of my kitchen (and life) philosophies is waste not, want not. It's not only for economical reasons; I truly believe that the most respect you can give to those who made your food possible - whether that means farmers, gardening neighbors, migrant workers, egg-laying hens, or the elk that gave its life for your dinner table - is to ensure the food is prepared with love and shared and consumed to its fullest extent. That bread you baked on Sunday gets eaten as sandwiches on Monday, French toast on Tuesday, salad croutons on Wednesday, and bread pudding on Thursday. That milk that is nearing its expiration date gets mixed into chocolate pudding or blended into a morning smoothie. That fruit nearing a state of over-ripeness turns into amazing fresh fruit popsicles. Those broccoli stems get cut up along with the broccoli head in the vegetable stir-fry. Coffee grounds and used tea leaves go into the garden. When you butcher a deer, you don't just cut out the backstraps and leave the rest of the carcass - you cut out all the meat (including the heart), donate the hide, give a bone to the dog, and put the horns up on the wall.
I don't think I'm alone in this. There is something ingrained in us that grieves at an overt display of waste - think landfills, litter, or that meal that someone barely touched that is getting thrown in the trash. Despite the influx of wealth in North Dakota and the conspicuous consumption that some have taken to because of it, many of us still harbor that instinct passed on from our salt-of-the-earth forefathers to make do with what you have, happily live a humble life, and say a prayer of appreciation for the nourishment that will carry us through to the next day. The simple acts of using our hands to knead bread dough, or dig in garden soil, or make venison sausage all represent so much more than food production; they are acts that connect us to the rhythms of life, helping us appreciate our food sources and bring greater respect to those who help create this Land of Plenty that we live in.
Which brings me to bread pudding. The cherries are from my backyard, plucked off the trees as the robins squawked above me in protest; the eggs are from Steph in Driscoll; the bread is last remnants from a couple loaves baked earlier in the week. Put it all together, and that bite of cherry bread pudding is not only a beautiful breakfast; it's a representation of my community, a reflection of my place in the world, and a gesture of respect to all of those people and forces that made it possible.
Cherry Bread Pudding
Adapted from this recipe from the New York Times
4 oz. stale white or whole-wheat bread, crusts removed (weigh after removing crusts)
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Butter for baking dish
3 eggs, separated
1/2 c. almond flour or almond meal
2 Tbls. honey
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 lb. cherries, pitted (I used sour cherries, mixed with a couple extra Tablespoons of sugar)
2 Tbls. sliced almonds
Tear or cut bread into small pieces. Combine milk and vanilla and toss with bread in a bowl. Let soak.
Butter a 8" x 8" baking dish. Arrange pitted cherries in the dish.
Stir or bread soaked bread until it becomes mush. Beat in egg yolks, almond flour, cinnamon and honey.
In a clean, dry bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment, begin beating the egg whites on low speed. Gradually add the sugar, turn up the speed to high and whip until egg whites form a soft meringue, about 1 minute. Be careful not to overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the bread mixture. Scrape into baking dish and sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.
Posted by Rhubarb and Venison at 10:07 AM