Friday, February 7, 2014

Love in the Air and Slow Cooker Strawberry Bread Pudding

It's February! And we all know that means the month of Valentine's day! Now, I do hope this will not be the last post I get to before the 14th, but in the event that it is....I'll make sure it's nice and festive!

So a lot has been going on with me, which is probably why this blog isn't nearly as complete as it could be... I finally finished my Nurse Aide course only to realize that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that sort of work, and so now I'm in the waiting game to sign up for more courses at the local CC to study what I actually care about. Hopefully the biochem courses don't fill up too quickly before I have a shot at them, because I definitely don't want to pay a four year Uni price for things I can get out of the way here...

So, here's hoping that works out. I've settled on nutrition and dietetics basically after 1000+ people have told me not  to do it, and elaborated on (well actually, didn't elaborate much on) why it would be one of the worst ideas I could possibly imagine (way to put a damper on things, right?), and you know, I am rather discouraged simply by the fact that I've wasted this long not going forward with it. I really do need to stop taking advice...well meaning or not -- it tends to frazzle me...

In any case, that brings to light another concern which is...money. Dinero. Argent. Whatever you want to call it, it eludes me in all its forms. I have been trying to get a job and it has been one Hellish battle; near enough to make me quit if I wasn't desperate. I guess I don't know the proper ways to go about getting one since clearly other people have more success than me...but I have to work with what I have in any capacity.So with any luck things will turn around in that department and I'll be able to focus less of my energy on worrying about it. In theory, of course.

In lighter news, I've been getting very deeply into DIY of all sorts as I am finally putting the house (and my room) together -- it's a wonderfully relaxing feeling to have things...settled, and just the way you want them! Plus it gives me something to do, and feel like I'm saving gobs of money by resisting the urge to by the expensive non-knock-offs in the shops. If I were a wealthy person, I can picture the sense of power associated with paying ridiculous amounts of money for material things...but I'm not in  a position to entertain those notions, as I've said.

I will definitely be blogging along with my crafts as well! I just have to get myself a little more focused.

Anyway, on to the recipe!

So I'm really not one to buy bread at the store, but I volunteer at my local cafe all the time, and each time I do they insist I take things home -- like the bread from the morning that they are otherwise going to throw away. Well, of course I can't refuse such an offer (actually I've tried many a time, always unsuccessfully) and so I find myself with a whole lot of bread just sitting on top of my refrigerator waiting to either be used or, sadly, mold.

In my efforts to conserve (waste not, want not!) I have devised another bread pudding -- I say devised because I sort of made up the "recipe" as I went along. I think it came out wonderfully, and was so easy because of the fact that I made it...in the slow cooker!
DunDunDunDun!


Without further ado....let's make some Bread Pudding shall we?! Like I said, this is perfect for using up leftover bread, so long as it's got enough of a crust to it to withstand being in the cooker for a few hours...so I wouldn't recommend using any Wonder-bread-shaped things for this... Get a nice artisan French or mild Italian loaf if you can, and you know, I think most grocery stores even have their own versions in the fresh Bakery departments... I used Pagnotta, which is a sort of round Italian loaf that tastes a little like a cross between Ciabatta and Miche... Basically, it's a country loaf. 
Pagnotta, courtesy Google Images
Look! There's one now!

Strawberry Bread Pudding

 Ingredients
  • 1 loaf stale country bread, cubed (or torn for that rustic look...) 
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries (I used Dole sliced strawberries -- they come in a huge bag from Sams')
  • 2 cups milk (dairy/non-dairy doesn't matter -- whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sugar, preferably real cane or turbinado - this will depend on preference and the quality of sugar that you use. If you use white sugar, you will need to add more for the same sweetness
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, grade B if you have it
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • coconut oil, for the pot and for dabbing (solid)
 Method
  1. Combine the milk with the lemon juice and set aside to curdle. In the meantime, melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl (or carefully on the stove) being mindful not to burn it (which can easily happen -- browned is ok but burnt...you'll know, believe me)
  2. In a very large bowl, combine the cubed bread and strawberries.Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and toss with the bread in order to coat as evenly as possible. Reserve a little of the cinnamon sugar mixture to top the pudding with, or just make more when the time comes...
  3. Combine the beaten eggs with the milk, then add in the orange juice, maple syrup, and butter, making sure to whisk constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs (people would have you believe that can't happen once they're combined with the other stuff but...I have proven its possibility!)
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the bread mixture and gently combine, making sure not to stir roughly or you'll tear the bread into too small pieces. I have the best luck with a folding motion.
  5. Grease the interior of your slow cooker with coconut oil (generously). Carefully add the pudding mix to the slow cooker, and dollop with more coconut oil as much or as little as you want on top (the heat will melt this into the mix as it cooks - yum!). Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top.
  6. Here's the important part (which I will forget, believe me); plug in the slow cooker. Then, cook on low for about 7-8 hours. Be careful when you're opening it back up because it will be hot, and there will be quite a mist of hot air from all the moisture. 
  7. Serve warm or cold.
Bon app├ętit!

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