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Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Interrupt the Bright Lights for this Announcement

On Sunday, I posted about the bright lights of my city. Now I post about a dimming light which has come to my attention. I do hope you will take a moment to read and try to put yourself in this young man's shoes.

The young man's name is Edwin and he is 21.  My friend Jonah at Missions of Hope has assisted Edwin in having a Bone Marrow Aspiration test done at the Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu, Kenya.

The medical report says that Edwin has a massive hepatosplenomegaly and is recommended to have a peripheral smear for conclusive opinion of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.  I don't pretend to understand all of this report and the numbers involved. After google searching I see that this is a very serious condition.

Like most Kenyan families, Edwin's family cannot afford any kind of sustained medical attention and assistance.

I've learned that Edwin's mother has already sold almost everything they own to help with the travel and medical costs associated with getting to the hospital in Kisumu. What we are praying for is someone who could step forward and help Edwin and his family from A-Z, that is, with the continuation of his diagnosis and throughout his medical  treatment. I know there are people out there who could, and would do this, if they only heard about the need.  

We are asking if you would be so good as to share this story as broadly as possible. At the bottom of this post you will find share buttons. It is very easy to share this story on Facebook and Twitter or via email with your friends; even to blog about it on your own blog.  We also value your prayers.

I will provide updates on my blog as they come available. Please check back. Thank you for your time and attention. Blessings!

If you can help Edwin directly with your finances, please let us know or simply send your gift to kerichojoy[at]gmail[com] via Pay Pal

February 29, 2012 - Update: Jonah will be escorting Edwin to hospital tomorrow to see what next steps will be for Edwin. I have also written to an organization to see if they might help Edwin. We covet your prayers .


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bright Lights


We had a wild, windy day yesterday with great big, wet snowflakes falling fast and furious. It was unwelcome weather because I was going out to a dance performance (more about that in a later post).  The big white strips caught in mid-air are the snow flakes. The snow was falling so fast that it was difficult to get a photo of it. You can see the large flakes lying on the patio floor.

 It is rather late in the season to be getting snow where I live. We also got a large snow fall early in the season which is again unusual. The weather is largely unpredictable around the globe these days. 

My small garden will have to wait awhile until the weather warms up but I'm sure the skiers are happy with the fresh snow.
I like the pretty photos snow helps to create and I simply love looking at the bright lights at night on a snowy mountain. I can see these scenes from my desk.


It is most difficult to get a night shot with my camera.  
I'm happy with these few that I'm sharing with you. 
 I hope you like them too.
Please click on badges below to see more blues and scenic photos!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Two More Books

Two more books toward my 2012 reading goal.
Late in the week I started reading a book I've had in my library for a few years; The Measure of Man, the memoirs of Sidney Poitier.

Mr. Poitier was never one of my favourite actors but I do recall enjoying his movie, Lilies of the Field.  I saw the movie as a child and remember enjoying it immensely.  Mr. Poitier won an Oscar  for his role as handyman Homer Smith, a man who helps refugee nuns build a chapel out in the desert somewhere. I think I was fascinated by the movie because where I grew up I'd never seen a black grown up,  only two boys about my age who I didn't know personally.  I was curious about these people because they were rarities in my world and we had no opportunities for association.   I'd also seen two other Mr. Poitier films, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and To Sir With Love. I liked the latter movie more than the former,  but didn't really pay much attention to either of them.

In the last year or so, I happened upon another of Mr. Poitier's movies which I did not see as a child.  It is called A Patch of Blue.  This movie appealed to me even more than Lilies of the Field. In the movie, the character, Selina D'Arcy is a blind, white girl who meets a black man, Gordon Ralfe, played by Sidney Poitier and falls in love with him. Although his brother strongly advises Gordon to tell Selina that he is black, Gordon refuses to do so. Problems arise when Selina's mother, played by Shelley Winters, learns about Gordon and Selina's relationship and forbids her daughter from being with Gordon because he is black. Gordon doesn't reciprocate Selina's love but views her as a friend and he is dedicated to helping her. The movie ends in an interesting way.

Anyway, back to the memoirs.  I've long wondered about the details of Mr. Poitier's life and his acting career which developed at a time in American history when it could not have been easy, an understatement to say the least, to have been a black man or a black actor.  This was the reason I picked up The Measure of a Man.  I wanted to know where Mr. Poitier came from, how he got into acting, and how he managed to retain his grace and dignity during times of racial turbulence and how he managed to thrive as an actor despite the lack of opportunities for black people.

I'm learning how he grew up on Cat Island in the Bahamas and made it to New York via Nassau and Miami, where he started his acting career on the stage, before moving to Hollywood to continue a career in motion pictures.  It is fascinating to have insight into the times from the eyes of this veteran actor and to learn how easily his life could have ended up so much differently.

I'm still reading the book and while I haven't formulated all my conclusions, one thing jumps out at me, and that is is how  seemingly "accidental" it was that Mr. Poitier became an actor at all.  Another thing I've learned is how his childhood, and way of life on Cat Island, really shaped him for the better and influenced how he conducted his life and made decisions through his life time.  On Cat Island you see, he was not a racial minority. Everyone was more or less like him and his family, and that had a lot to do with how he continued to view the world and his place in it when he got to America.   Mr. Poitier is a man of wisdom and strength and one thing he says in his book which I think is a good lesson for us all is:
I've learned that I must find positive outlets for anger or it will destroy me. I have to try to find a way to channel that anger to the positive, and the highest positive is forgiveness. (p. 128)
So far, it's a fascinating read.

My friend, Caroline at Lonicera's World, sent me a book entitled, Jennie by Paul Gallico. It arrived from England in the post on Friday and I immediately began to read it. It is a delightful little book about a boy named Peter who desperately wants to own a cat but is not allowed to because his nanny suffers from allergies. Peter has a terrible accident and when he awakes he finds himself transformed into a cat. His nanny immediately throws him out of the apartment and he is confronted by the mean spiritedness of human beings on the outside, as well as other animals. He runs hither and thither until exhausted, he collapses ,and is rescued by a feline named, Jennie, who takes him under her paws and teaches him how to become a cat.

This delightful little book is written by Paul Gallico, who I've read, owned 23 cats of his own.  Mr. Gallico has really been able to capture the behaviors of cats and describes them in a way that is completely understandable even to those that are unfamiliar with cats. When Jennie describes the rules about washing for example, I could not help but think about my former cat and how she used to wash herself and in what circumstances she would wash.  The Jennie in the book says, "When in doubt, wash!".

With these two books almost completed, I will soon be able to add a few more books to my reading goal for the year.

How about you dear reader? 
Have you set reading goals for 2012 and if yes, how are you progressing on them?


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sunsets in Living Colour

These photos were all taken within a few minutes of each other. I love the pink and purple hues.







Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Simple Pleasures This Week

I want to thank all my newest followers and readers. Welcome to my blog of simple things. I hope you will find something you can comment on so I can get to know you better. I go back and find your blogs and read them too!
This lap blanket will be finished today or tomorrow. I'm pleased with how it's turning out.

This is my latest book. It is easy to read and later I discovered that it is actually a child's book and comes with illustrations in the child's version. Interestingly, the author is described in one site as a pre-J.K. Rowlings kind of author and this book was somewhat of a departure for her. It's a delightful book. You can learn more by checking amazon.com. The book is called "The Star of Kazan". I'm still working on "Paris 1919" as I set it aside for awhile. Both books are good reads.

What are your simple pleasures this week?

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Love

There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved. 
- George Sand - 

It's a great thing to be able to love and to be loved. Whether it is your family, your friends, your special loved one or people you don't even know, like the widows and orphans in a far away place.

I didn't bake these but aren't they pretty? I had to share some with my family.

~ MAGIC OF LOVE ~
by Helen Steiner Rice (Poet)

"Love is like Magic and it always will be,
For Love still remains Life’s Sweet Mystery!
Love works in ways that are wondrous and strange
And there’s Nothing in Life that Love cannot change!
Love can transform the most common place
Into beauty and splendor and sweetness and grace!
Love is unselfish, understanding and kind,
For it sees with its Heart and not with its Mind
Love gives and forgives, there is nothing too much
For Love to heal with its Magic Touch!
Love is the language that every heart speaks,
For Love is the one thing that every heart seeks!


Did you know
that
God is Love.

1 John 4:8


HAVE YOURSELF A WONDERFUL VALENTINE'S DAY. 
IF YOU ARE ALONE, SHARE YOUR LOVE WITH A STRANGER BY DOING 
A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS.
IT WILL FILL YOUR HEART WITH LOVE.

IF YOU HAVE SOMEONE WHO IS SPECIAL IN YOUR LIFE
DON'T FORGET TO LET THEM KNOW.

 

Works in Progress

I've been super busy trying to learn how to read knitting patterns and make sweaters. Knitting a sweater is one of my goals for this year so I am making good progress on my goals. Now that I have some limited experience with flat sweater making I have to learn how to do it in the round. Then I'll be able to make socks and tackle more interesting sweater patterns.


Knitted newborn baby sweater and cap made with new yarn. This is my first set. The sweater still needs to be sewn together.  The cap is not really a set with the sweater but for now it is the only one that I've made in complementary colours.  This was a learning experience in every way.  I learned how to read a pattern, how to add cast on stitches to a work in progress,  and how to shape the neckline.  

This knitted baby sweater is my second attempt at knitting a flat sweater.  This one will fit a 3 month old baby with added room for ease.  I have changed up the pattern in the first photo (above) with mixed results. I added a crochet insert in each sleeve (visible on the under sleeve to the right of the photo), added a crocheted edge all around the outside of the sweater and a button for extra interest.   It is made with unused yarn from the thrift store. I have one more skein of this yarn and I'm hoping it is enough to make matching booties.

 This is the latest item I am making and the first crochet item I've made in this pattern which is a ripple or wave pattern.  This item is being crocheted with odd balls of yarn in (mostly) complementary colours.

I thought this would be a lap blanket to drap over the the wing chair in the master bedroom.  In talking to mom, I realized she needs it more than I do.  She will cover her lap when she is driving around in her chair. The colours seem busy, but they will coordinate with a lot of her wardrobe.

I've had mixed success with these projects so far. I'm finding I don't have a lot of patience for starting and re-doing things when I make mistakes. I also don't have a great deal of patience for reading patterns and/or waiting for long periods to be able to ask someone for help.  I do belong to a group of knitters and crocheters but most of them are not experienced knitters and are learning like me. We also meet very infrequently, so it isn't much help as of yet.  So then I go on line and try to find the answers to my issues.

There are a lot of video tutorials on line but I find they generally leave some important aspect of the learning process, or the pattern, unaddressed. Not everyone out there is a good teacher though they may be excellent knitters or crocheters.  I need detailed instructions and I also need to have the patterns explained to me in a way that it helps me remember the patterns. I don't learn well by simply watching. I need to understand HOW a pattern works and the potential issues and solutions beforehand.

For example, one instructor said he had had a difficult time for years with uneven ends a the ripple afghan (That is a ripple afghan in my bottom photo. The bottom edges need to be uneven and "wavy". It is the sides of the afghan that can become uneven and they aren't supposed to be.) similar to the one in my bottom photo above). Then he went on to explain his version of how to make the ripples.  When I went to view and follow his written instructions, they were incorrect.  One small error but it makes a huge difference to a beginner.  He also  never did say how to make sure you don't get uneven side edges in your finished product to save everyone else the grief that he himself experienced.  In the end, I abandoned his video lesson and I resorted to a set of written instructions I had on hand.  The end result, is a pattern which is somewhat different than those that I've been viewing on line.  At least I did learn enough from the video tutorials to make more sense of the printed pattern I have.

Initially, I intended to make the crocheted afghan with the yarns in my yarn stash.  I quickly discovered that this won't really work. I don't have enough skeins in the right weights and colours to make a lap afghan. Even though my yarns are mixed washable fibres in 3.5 or 4 weight yarn, I still found that the cheaper yarn at the slightly heavier weight made a difference in the stitches and things became a little less even than I would like.  I will try to resolve any uneven edges with a border finish at the end of the project but I won't be able to do anything about the stitches in the body of the afghan.  I also realized that it isn't a good idea to mix inexpensive yarns with more expensive yarns. In the above example, the blues and whites at the bottom of the photo are less expensive yarns and it really comes across in the feel and size of the stitches. Nonetheless, it is a good practice piece. I think my second attempt will be better and I've already decided on the colours (burgundy/dark red, cream, orange, tan, maybe green) for my living room lap afghan. On second thought, I think I will skip all the colours and make it shades of green which will be more neutral.

Based on what I've learned, I will buy all my yarn in advance.  I will use a larger size hook (size 6 instead of 5) and I will work the stitches in double crochet stitch,  rather than single crochet. I think these steps will ensure a smoother finish, a looser stitch and a smoother feel to the finished product.

If any of you are crocheters and have tips for me based on what I've shared, please do drop me a line!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Making Pizza

I love ground beef as a versatile meat option for dinner, however, sometimes I run out of ideas about what to make with it.

I decided to try making pizza. It was a perfect chance to use my new Kitchen-aid Artisan Mixer which I got for Christmas but haven't used yet. I've never used a mixer like this before and was surprised at how easy it is to use. I enjoyed using the mixer a lot and will likely use it again very soon.

Initially I wanted a red mixer but the stores were out of them. This chrome coloured one is nice too!

Crusty Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast (1 tbsp.)
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp. cornmeal

Dissolve year in warm water. Add salt, olive oil and 1/1/2 cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.

Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2  minutes. Knead of speed 2 for about 2 minutes longer.

Please dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place free from draft, about 1 hour, or until it is doubled in size. Punch dough down.

The dough formed into a ball but before I greased it for rising.  I mixed a double batch of pizza dough.  After rising I formed half of it into a loaf of bread. I used the other half to make a huge pizza.The bread turned out nice and crusty; just as the name of the dough says!


Brush 14-inch pizza pan with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough across bottom of pan, forming a collar around edge to hold toppings. Add toppings as desired. Bake at 450 degree F. oven for 15-20 minutes.
̊
There are green beans and broccoli in the chopped mixture above, as well as a red onion. You can add more flavour to your pizza by seasoning the ground beef, adding herbs to the tomato sauce, or putting fresh herbs, like basil, on the top of your pizza as a topping.

The pizza is fresh out of the oven and ready to enjoy!
̊ 
I don't eat much pizza and this was the first time I'd ever made one.  I made this one extra large, in a rectangular pan rather than my round pizza pan which was too small. There was plenty of pizza left over for snacks and next day's lunch. 

I think I'll experiment more often with pizza making.  I'd love to try using unusual combinations of vegetables.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beautiful Things

Beautiful Things

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us


The singer-songwriter, Michael Gungor, said "My wife Lisa and I wrote the song together based on experiences at our local church. We were seeing our friends going through suffering and pain. This song is an expression of hope that God will make beautiful things out of the dust in our lives, and God will somehow use us, use our obedience and love, our feeble human effort, and build Himself a kingdom. I see that God is using suffering to bring us closer to Him."

The band Gungor not only makes beautiful music but I learned they are incredibly involved in missions in their home town of Denver, and internationally. Michael Gungor and his wife moved to Denver and eventually founded a community of believers called Bloom. There they are regularly involved with the homeless and needy.

I end my post with this beautiful quote from Michael, “If leading worship is just about bringing a group of people into a room so we can get goose bumps and sing songs together, there’s not much value in that. But if leading worship is a means to an end, that we leave this place as a different kind of people, as part of a new humanity that God wants to create--the people that are caring for the widows and orphans, that aren’t bound by the systems of this world but becoming free, becoming fully engaged in our world--then that matters.” (Source: New Release Tuesday)

If you are moved to become involved in missions to the widows and orphans, I can highly recommend Kenya Missions of Hope. Please click here to read more about the missions, to pray and to perhaps lend your financial support.

Brother Thomas Rop contacted me the day before yesterday about school needs. This week you would be helping a young girl who is short for school supplies and uniform ($80. US, 52 GBP, 61 Euros, 75 AUS) and her two sisters who still need school shoes $36 and $43 US respectively,  (23/28 GBP, 28/33 Euros, 34/ 41 AUS). The two sisters will also need toiletries in a few weeks. Please know that none of the orphans we help are living in an orphanage. They are living with caretakers in private homes or living in orphan headed households as in the case of the 3 girls who have immediate school needs. Your gifts and prayers are so much appreciated for them all.

God bless you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Thing of Beauty

I love handmade things. I've always loved crafts of all kinds. Anything made by the hand, that takes time to render, is special and holds deep attraction for me.



When I travel, my eye is always drawn to different textiles, pottery, jewellery and other hand crafted items.  Kenya is a wonderful place for seeing and buying hand crafts. I wrote about some of it here.

Kenyan beadwork is connected to the cultures of the various tribes doing the beadwork and is a somewhat new addition to their culture.  Much like it was to the Native American Indians who traded in beads with the foreign settlers, Kenyan beadwork dates back to the late 19th century when beads from what is known today as the Czech Republic, became available to them. 

Beadwork has a special attraction for me because when I was a teenager, I made things out of seed beads.  Mostly I made earrings and necklaces for the women in my community.  They loved to adorn themselves with one of a kind pieces. I haven't done any of that kind of work since then.

In Kenya, bead work is often used, along with hairstyle and other types of adornment, as a way of identifying someone's status and identity.  I'm not sure if this is still the case today, but certainly it probably is where the tribal traditions are thriving.  Westerners tend to know more about Maasai beadwork.  For example, a mother may place a string of beads around a baby's wrist, ankle and waist and thereby be able to track the baby's growth. In addition, a girl or boy's eligibility for marriage can be observed by the shape, pattern and colour of their beadwork.

A beaded bowl caught my eye the last time I was in Nakuru.  The beautiful colours caught my eye and also the fact that I'd never seen a beaded bowl before.  I brought one home.  It now sits in my bathroom holding small items like my hair clips. I would love to have several more of them in different colours; at least one gold, and one in different shades of blue.  I'm sorry I didn't buy more but I have learned not to overdo it with the tourist purchases. Whenever I get back to Kenya, I can buy a few more bowls.


I added the last photo jut because I like the wavy lines of colour that occurred when I moved my camera too quickly.


In writing my post I was fortunate to come across a book devoted to the culture and customs of Kenya, called Culture and Customs of Kenya by N. W. Sobania.  It looks like a wonderful book for your library if you're at all interested in the culture of Kenya; a fascinating country with many different cultural traditions.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dragons Fly Overhead

It's the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. I wrote about it here if you would like to read more.

Imagine my surprise, when earlier this week, I looked up at the sky and saw a cloud in the form of a dragon!   



 

I quickly snapped these photos before the dragon flew away!

I'd love to hear what kind of interesting cloud formations you've seen lately.

Enjoy more sky watching by clicking on the badge below.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Beans, Beans, Beans

Today on my walk I managed to find a brand of lentils and beans that I haven't tried before. The price also seems a little cheaper than the usual offering at the other stores I frequent.  So I picked up a few bags of several types of beans and green lentils.

Right now I'm soaking garbanzo beans and pinto beans and thinking of what to make with them.




These new to me garbanzo recipes look like something I would like to try.   

Garbanzo Bean Medley


1 tsp. olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
1 can garbanzo beans (I'll use "from scratch" beans as they have no preservatives)
1/8 tsp. fresh pepper
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a skillet  and saute green pepper for 2 minutes, add onions and garlic; saute until soft. Add beans, pepper and salt; saute until well blended and heated through. Serves 4.

Notes:  I will use red peppers instead of green ones because I prefer the taste and colour.

Garbanzo Bean Soup
 
1 lb. garbanzo beans (the recipe calls for dried but I'm using "made from scratch" beans)
8 c. water
1/2 c. olive oil
1 lg. onion, diced
1/2 clove garlic, diced
4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 (6 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 (6 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
4 med. size potatoes, peeled

Saute onions in olive oil and when tender add all other ingredients with the exception of stewed tomatoes and pepper. Saute for 2 more minutes. Bring garbanzo to a boil and add all ingredients. Lower heat to low and boil until tender. More water or salt may be added to taste. Cook until potatoes are done. If you would like a thicker consistency.mash some of the beans and potatoes.

I'll probably use the pinto beans for some make ahead chili, as in this recipe but I'll use pinto beans instead of kidney beans. 

The health benefits of beans are many:  they lower cholesterol and promote digestive health, promote  heart health, stabilizes blood sugar levels. The beans also have antioxidants in them and can help manage your weight by giving a feeling of fullness (satiety).  Garbanzo beans contain molybdenum, manganese, folate, fiber, tryptophan, protein, calcium, phosphorous and iron. 

I was surprised to learn that garbanzo beans may be one of the world's oldest, cultivated bean.  I was also surprised to read that India supplies the vast majority of the world's garbanzo beans; something like 80-90%! Other producers of garbanzo beans are Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia and Mexico.

This chart is a bit old but I don't think that the bean production levels haven't changed too dramatically.

Recently I learned two tips for cutting down on the gas in cooked beans. The first tip is not to cook the beans in the same water in which you soak them. The second tip, is to change the water part way through the bean cooking process. I tried the latter tip last time I made beans and it really worked.


What about you dear reader?
Do you have tips you use to cut down on gas from cooked beans?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mama's Bread Pudding

Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around mama's baking.  Among other things, she made delicious bread pudding. It was so creamy and soft. Actually she was an excellent cook overall. Self-taught and a largely intuitive cook. I was not a natural cook and I took little interest in the kitchen except to make baked goods.

My lack of interest in cooking continued after I was grown.  My jobs always required me to put in long hours and arriving home late at night left little energy or time to shop for a wide range of ingredients or slave over a stove.  While mom was still able to get around, she would often visit and I so appreciated her visits.  I loved to come home from work and have well made and good smelling food hit my nostrils as I walked in the door.  I also just appreciated being able to spend time lots of time with her and though I worked long hours my weekends were free so we would spend time together going around the city and being tourists.

In later years, I had to cook for my mother and my cooking skills improved though most times my cooking was not to her liking. Who can blame her after having been such a great cook all of her life? Others of her generation looked to her to teach them.  So it was hard for her to be able to enjoy much of what I'd cook.  Later, when I retired, I began to experiment more in the kitchen. A few of my recipes and experiments are on this blog.  However, I admit to still having little patience in the kitchen.  I need simple recipes that don't require too much fussing over, especially since I'm prone to multi-tasking.  I am a simple girl at heart and I love simple food.

Recently I've been thinking of recipes that mom made when my siblings and I were growing up.  Things like rice pudding, bread pudding, dream bars, hamburger soup, home made bread, and bannock bread. Of course she made much more than these dishes, but these are the comfort foods that stick out in my mind, and which I crave from time to time. I've posted my experiments with each of the above dishes on my blog.  Even though I had no intention of posting anything about cooking on my blog, it actually became something I did rather frequently and cooking has become something I enjoy from time to time.

If you are interested in any of my cooking experiments you can search for them on my blog by typing "recipes" or the type of recipe you are looking for like "baked beans".  The repertoire on the blog is not extensive, but it is growing.  I would say that my dream bars still need work to be truly "dreamy", lol.  But other than that my other cooking experiments have turned out well enough. I call them experiments because I didn't inherit any recipes as such from mother (except for the dream bars) and I experiment by changing up recipes a fair bit to suit what I have on hand or to capture the essence of how mama made something.


Today's cooking experiment is bread pudding. I remember that mom's bread pudding was not like most people's bread pudding.  Hers was very soft, melt in your mouth, and delicious like real custard pudding.

I took the following recipe and made it my own with a measure of success. I can see those areas where I can improve things.

I used left over 2 left over French baguettes, one was white and one was whole wheat,.  Rather than homogenized milk I used 1 1/2 cans of evaporated milk with equal amounts of water and I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar (a slightly reduced amount).  I made sure to use lots of liquid to try and achieve the creamy consistency and also because the French baguette was very hard.  I can also use stale white bread if I want bread pudding more like mama used to make.








Some recipes call for the milk and eff mixture to be heated first which is what I did. If you do this with evaporated milk you need not boil the milk otherwise it will curdle with the added water.  I used mine when it was just before the boiling point.


I added the raisins to the bread before pouring in the milk mixture.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 loaf day old bread, cut into cubes and toasted
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together milk, eggs, brown sugar, spices and vanilla. Toss in bread and raisins. Pour into a 9” by 9” ovenproof casserole dish, sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for 30-45 minutes, until eggs are set, and the top is golden brown.
Ready for the oven.

In my house we never ate bread pudding with a sauce. We ate it with cream so I have not put a recipe here for bread pudding sauce.

Finished product.


 After the pudding was cooked I noticed that some of the bread pieces were still a bit hard. I left the pot in the oven after turning the heat off and kept it in there for another 15 minutes or so. When I took it out again, it looked like the pudding in the photo above (Finished product).  It softened up much of the bread that was chewier.

If I make this pudding again with hard French baguette, I will first soak the bread crumbs to soften the crusts a bit. In the end though, the pudding tasted a lot like that of my childhood.
What about you my dear reader? What childhood recipes do you recall and perhaps make?
Enjoy!

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