Today, I am going to not one, but TWO Thanksgiving meals: one with a friend’s wonderful family, and one with the sangha at the Zen Center.
Seriously: there are so many things for which I am grateful. Not only do I have the ability to cook, but I have the physical capability to do it (no small thing, when we’re humbly honest with ourselves), food to cook with, and so many incredible people with whom to break bread and share water.
Just for today, I am going to set aside my righteous indignation regarding the injustices in the world and my frustrations about the genocidal roots of the historical holiday, and just be grateful. After all, if even Noam Chomsky can take a day off (http://bitURL.net/auac), then I can too.
Each of the two meals is a potluck: after all, Thanksgiving is a lot saner when everyone chips in. I am going to make two Beet, Potato and Wild Mushroom Casseroles (http://bitURL.net/auae), the subject of one of my previous blog posts. I am also going to make the following recipe for Bread Pudding, just because.
This recipe is deceptive: for as layered and exquisite as the flavor is, it is surprisingly easy to make. It is also a great recipe to help prevent food waste: whenever I get a few too many bagels, or if a loaf of bread isn’t getting eaten as quickly as it usually does, I save them in the freezer rather than discarding them. Of course, it is important to wrap the bread well, so that it doesn’t get freezer-burnt, and to thaw it thoroughly before using. After thawing, go ahead and double-check the flavor, just to ascertain that there is no freezer-burn taste. It’s better to check now than to wish you had later.
Because I am taking this recipe to two different celebrations, I will be baking it in two separate pie pans instead of in a 13-by-9 inch baking pan. You, too, can choose to bake it in bread pans or a Bundt pan: just be sure to be EXTRA attentive to the cooking time if you do so, because it can change quite dramatically when differently-sized pans are used.
- 1/2 cup (slightly heaping) golden raisins
- 1/4 c amaretto (OR substitute 1 t almond extract and 3 T orange juice)
- 4 T butter, melted
- 12 oz. (approx. 4-5 cups, depending on the density of the baked goods) bread, bagels, or pastries, day-old
- 1 qt. light cream
- 3 eggs
- 1 2/3 c sugar
- 1 T vanilla extract
- Combine the raisins and the amaretto in a small saucepan. Heat just to a simmer, cover, and set aside.
- Use a portion of the butter to thoroughly coat a 13-by-9 inch baking pan or two 9-inch pie pans. Reserve the remaining butter.
- Tear the bread into chunks and place in a large bowl. Pour the cream over the bread and set aside until soft.
- Beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and thick. Add the vanilla, the remaining melted butter, and the raisins and amaretto.
- Toss the eegg mixture with the bread gently to blend. Pour into the pan(s) and bake at 350 degrees F until browned and almost set, approximately 45 minutes.
- Serve warm.