The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It


Feeding the College Kids: Bread Pudding

There is a soft place in my heart for kids in college.  The studying.  The small dorms.  The roommates.  The food.

Many moons ago when I was in college living in the dorms, I had a meal card that bought my lunch from the cafeteria five days a week.  They had salads, sandwiches, a hot plate, and burgers.  The food was always fine, but it wasn’t home food and  some experiences were always better than others.  For example,  it was in that college lunchroom that I first encountered lentils.

Shiver.  Lentils.

I can’t really remember eating in my dorm room much.  I know I did eat, but I really can’t remember what I ate, and I really don’t remember cooking anything.   I know that I had chicken salad a lot from the grocery store.  I also remember the time my then boyfriend brought me a bag of homegrown tomatoes that I sliced and ate on sandwiches.  That was pure heaven.

The tomatoes, not the boyfriend.  The tomatoes were much better than the boyfriend.

Well, now my niece is the college girl eating weird food in her dorm room.  Recently she made a meal in her dorm room and commented on it on Facebook.  A few college friends of hers posted about what she made, which was some “noodles and vegetable stuff” and a bread pudding.  Comments went back and forth about the meal, and it all ended up with me offering to feed these poor, starving college kids a homemade bread pudding.

It was fun.

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Before the Sauce

The recipe:

2 cups of milk

1 and 1/2 sticks of butter, separated

1/2 cup of sugar

4 cups of King’s Hawaiian bread, cubed

2 eggs, beaten

Dash of salt

Dash of nutmeg

1 t vanilla

2 cups of powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until a skin forms over the top.  To it, add the butter and the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir.  In a large bowl, pour the milk mixture over the bread and allow to soak for fifteen minutes.  This will look watery, but it will be fine.

While the bread is soaking, mix the eggs, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla together.  When the bread has soaked long enough, add the egg mixture to the bread mixture.  Bake in a well-greased square cake pan for 35 or 40 minutes.

While it bakes, make the sauce for the top by melting the stick of butter in a small saucepan.  When the butter has melted, add the powdered sugar and turn up the heat to medium.  Stir constantly and quickly until the mixture is thickened and the butter is well incorporated.

Pour the sauce over the top.  Store in the refrigerator but serve warm.

The finished bread pudding

The finished bread pudding

My family and I delivered this bread pudding and some other groceries to my niece recently on a cold winter’s night while she was working on a paper about a poem.  While we there, we got to take her out to eat, see her dorm room,  and spend some time with her.  It was so fun to see the girl who was born when I was in college taking her turn as the college girl.

That didn’t make it any easier to leave her in that lonely dorm room, though.

But hey, she’s a strong, smart chick with a great deal of confidence and a good head on her shoulders-a lot like lots of other ladies who paid their dues in college dorms with brick walls.

Not saying those are traits I have, but my dorm’s brick walls were bright Pepto pink.

A few days after our visit, on that same Facebook post that started the whole bread pudding conversation, one of the friends who first commented about that meal posted that my niece had shared a bit of my bread pudding with him.  He said it was “clutch.”

I guess that’s a good thing?

Regardless, it got the job done.  A few college students have now had a bit of home cookin’, and hopefully it made them a little happier.  And, they know all they have to do is comment on Facebook about food, and I’ll be glad to share some more of whatever they want.

Just making the food, sharing it, and thinking about the college life was plenty of fun for me.

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Help! Our Family’s Progressive Dinner 2012
November 24, 2012, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Random Foodie Thoughts | Tags: , , , , ,

Are cupcakes soul food?

One of my favorite parts of the holidays is the food, of course. The lunches, the open houses, the parties-I love it all and the food that goes with it. I am already looking forward to and planning it, and my tree isn’t even up yet. The issue? For the twelth (eleventh? thirteenth?) or so year, our family will be driving around the country side for our annual progressive dinner.

Our progressive dinner is an impossible amount of fun. We eat too much and play Dirty Santa with amazing fairness. Well, most of the time. We get dressed up and drive around to each other’s houses to check out the festive decorations. It is a blast.

Over the years, the themes of these dinners have varied. I think we have done it all from Mexican to Italian; from Paula Deen to cheese; from breakfast to small foods.

This year, I am the dessert. Of the three courses that are divided among the three sisters, the appetizer is the easiest while dessert is a close second. Main course isn’t that hard, but the main course sister gets to decide on the theme. Since we have two family members who will be going on mission trips next year, the theme for this year is Soul Food.

Problem? I have not had much luck finding a Soul Food dessert. I like to go out on a limb for this meal and make something unusual. That’s the problem. I found egg pie, which is not something you see every day. The rest of the desserts I found? I have seen them every day. I have made some and eaten most. That is not an exciting outlook for our dessert.

Frankly, I had no idea that I was so full of soul.

So, friends, I ask for the help of you. Any ideas out there for a soul food dessert?



“Don’t Worry. The House Isn’t on Fire. Mommy’s Just Cooking Again.”
August 11, 2012, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Food I Make, Random Foodie Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , ,

My sister’s birthday party is at my mother’s house. I asked what I could contribute to the festivities like I usually do. Usually, mother replies, “Nothing. Just bring yourself and the rest of your family.”

This time, she replies, “How about dessert?”

Oh, boy.

Now, those of you who read this random blog know that I choke under pressure. If people are coming over or the recipe may make money for a charity, I will almost always burn it.

We’re talking crispy here.

The dessert for the party isn’t for house guests. Nor is it for charity.

Nope. Worse than that. Family.

Oh, the pressure.

I decide to keep it simple. Simple is good, right? I asked the birthday girl what she wanted, and she told me anything was fine. I asked my family what they were in the mood for, and they replied brownies and banana pudding.

Easy, right?

Sure.

I decided to make brownies out of a box. Check. I bought ice cream, the good kind. A can of the good whipped cream. Fine.

Then, I decide to make a homemade hot fudge sauce to go with the brownies. I’ve had better ideas.

The recipe I was using said to mix water, sugar, and corn syrup.  I had no corn syrup, so I just made do.  I added the water and sugar together in a small pot, and heated the mixture over high heat as the recipe said.  I was supposed to heat it until it turned a light brown color.

Ok.  I wasn’t sure how brown the light brown should be.

I learned pretty fast how much too much was.

What I ended up with was a thick, hot, gooey, smokey mess. The smoke detector might have gone off. Maybe. It wasn’t a happy event.

I needed a redo, and I needed the pan, so I poured the sugar-water fiasco in a bowl where it hardened to a dark, dark brown solid.

It took two days to get the hard as a rock stuff out.

I tried the sauce again, and it worked out better.

I added a cup of chopped chocolate chips.

I also got a little fancy and added a real vanilla bean. I sliced it in half and scrapped out the beans just like on tv. So exciting.

The brownies with ice cream, homemade sauce, and whipped cream turned out fine.  The banana pudding was also a hit.

And my sister had a nice birthday.

Next year, I’ll volunteer to bring the chips and paper plates.




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