So, this morning, since I had no tapioca on hand, I set about making a bread pudding (something I have only eaten maybe once or twice, and never made before!). My Better Homes and Gardens cookbook hailed it as the ultimate comfort food, so that bolstered my confidence. So many times, when I cook, it feels wonderful to know that the food is going to please, encourage, comfort or welcome the people who eat it! As a pastor's wife, I seem to be forever bringing food to functions such as potlucks & Bible studies, as well as inviting people to my home for dinner or hosting meetings. I love it! I love knowing that home-prepared food can create a wonderful atmosphere- and convey heartfelt hospitality and love. I feel like there can be such a ministry in thoughtfully prepared meals or gifts of baked goods.
Such were some of my thoughts as I sliced buttermilk white bread into cubes, dried them in the oven, and mixed them with raisins, eggs, milk, sugar and spices. The combinations seemed so yummy! Within minutes of sliding the pudding into the oven, the aroma was so heavenly- a perfect blend of spice and sweetness- that I knew I had to make one for us (besides, having never made one before, I needed a test one to make sure it tasted okay, right?)! So...I did! I pulled all the ingredients back out and retrieved the measuring devices. I thought about making a smaller one, but then decided to make the same amount again and divide it between a slightly smaller portion for us and an even smaller portion for one of our elderly widow neighbors. Soon Papa, Mama, and Baby Pudding were baking away, the pudding beginning to puff a bit in their graduated glass dishes. When the knife finally came out clean, I set them to cool on a few of my colorful, hand-knitted (not by me, although I'm learning!) hot pads, where they proceeded to "deflate," and settle into a lovely looking trio of comfortable, gooey goodness! And when we "tested" ours after lunch it was just that! I think it can be summed up quite nicely with, "Mmmmm!!" :)
Travis and I later walked to the end of our street to visit with our neighbors. The man and woman accepted us in graciously and were grateful for the still-slightly-warm offering, although I knew in a moment, it was meager comfort for someone in such a situation. But, as we visited and prayed with the couple, I hoped that maybe the Lord would use this small gift- something so simple as a comforting dessert- to touch the heart of a sick and dying man with the love of Jesus Christ.
"Better Homes and Gardens"
4 cups dried white or cinnamon swirl bread cubes (6-7 slices)*
1/3 cup raisins
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 1 1/2-quart casserole; set aside. In a large bowl, combine bread cubes and raisins.
In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Stir into bread mixture. Pour into the prepared casserole.
Bake, uncovered, for 50-55 min. or until puffed and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
*BHG tip: For dry bread cubes, cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread on a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake in a 300 F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until dry, stirring twice. Cool.