Break Up the Boredom Bread Pudding
Published in "Cook Your Marriage Happy" by Debra Borden and based on an original recipe by Mark Bittman.
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 leftover loaf sweet egg bread like challah or brioche, cut into 2-inch cubes (about 5 to 6 cups)
2 eggs, beaten
Please make sure you've read the ingredients before we begin. Have you noticed all the "2"s? 2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 eggs ... this is important. Cooking therapy is about noticing everything! And a stale marriage is often one that's no longer noticed.
This is a good time to ask: Do I notice my partner? Remember, cooking therapy is mindful and purposeful. That's the difference between a therapy and an activity. I want you to be mindful and conscious of every step and how it resonates in life.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Your marriage is not a refrigerator or no-bake cake! It needs you to turn it on. In a small saucepan over low heat warm the milk, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Notice you can't just turn up the flame immediately. It's a slow process that requires some attention.
Continue cooking just until the butter melts; cool. Again, this requires some thought. You don't want to over- or underdo. And when you start changing your marital patterns you may have to step back after a few changes and let things cool down.
Meanwhile, butter a 4-to-6-cup baking dish and fill it with the cubed bread. When you were slicing and dicing the bread, what did you think about? In cooking therapy, everything has meaning.
Perhaps the cubes represent some parts of your marriage that are currently in pieces, but at the same time, you can be hopeful that the pieces will come together again. Even buttering the dish should remind you that while we want the finished product to "come together," we don't need to stick to the old ways.
Add the eggs to the cooled milk mixture and whisk. Now this is fun! Finally, you can use some energy to improve your marriage. Whisk away the old and stale till they are merely memories! Adding fresh air to the mixture, your marriage, can only help.
Pour mixture over bread. As you pour, think about how much you care that your marriage improves. Pouring itself is a healing act. Notice how your efforts are soaking into everything and binding the components.
Let soak for an hour. In the recipe, this is an optional step, but I include it because I think everything improves in a relationship when changes are made slowly and people have time to "soak in" those changes.
Bake 30 to 45 minutes, or until custard is set but still a little wobbly and edges of bread have browned. I love this direction. A marriage isn't changed in a day. Like bread pudding, some parts have to set, some will still be wobbly and sometimes the edges remain a bit hard.
Serve warm or at room temperature. At the risk of being redundant, what could be better than taking a dish from cold to warm? By now, you should be smiling.
Per serving: 272 calories (percent of calories from fat, 28), 8 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, 9 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 326 milligrams sodium.
Ligaya Figueras writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Email: lfigueras(at)ajc.com.
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