Well up here in New England, winter nor’easters, snow and blizzards are part of our heritage so you’d think we would be kind of used to it. Well, maybe we are and so that is why there are preparations always, some of which are having at the ready: ice melt, snow shovels, a good broom, insulated winter boots and gloves etc and for those lucky ones, tuned-up up generators and snow blowers once again. That isn’t usually newsworthy. What is whimsically newsworthy however are pictures of empty shelves at the markets, cleaned out in a panic, of bread and milk…two staples which would not, on their own, sustain and comfort me in a day or two or three of hunkering down in captivity until the storm passes.
Bread and milk will stave off starvation. But they, on their own are hardly “sensuous” or soul food. (And actually, personally, I either use whole grain breads, artisan breads or now gluten free breads..and never have milk in the house anyway except for my coffee’s half and half). BUT in a blizzard, especially with the anxiety that it could last absolutely forever, one has to give in to pleasure in these enclosed moments…you know, “Carpe Diem”, just in case. So..I did shop several days ago for a loaf of white bread, evaporated milk and more half and half. But those in themselves would not sustain me emotionally or tempt my appetite so it absolutely required kitchen creativity once again. Perusing refrigerator and cabinets for other supplies to supplement this duo of simplicity, I gathered some culinary supports and VOILA..with some additions, I came up with a new thing for me which I have named “BLIZZARD BREAD!”
Actually, in fact it is another variation on bread pudding, which I include here as sensuous “supper” fare, because when we are captive for those long hours within the cabin walls while the snow and wind rages outside, we eat supper or breakfast or snacks all off schedule anyway while reading books, snoozing, watching the weather channel to see what the weather is, talking on the phone, playing around on FB and perhaps, altho not likely, cleaning the closets.
4 slices day old white bread, broken in small pieces, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teasp melted butter, 1/3 cup golden raisins (OR chopped dried apricots OR dried cranberries), 3 eggs-beaten, 1 and 1/3 cup of milk (I used a mix of evaporated milk because of its thickness and richness and part half and half), 1/3 cup of turbinado sugar, 3/4 teasp vanilla extract, and 3/4 teasp of cinnamon.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Place bread pieces in a 8×8 inch baking dish slightly sprayed with a non-stick butter. Drizzle melted butter over bread. Sprinkle raisins or chopped dried fruit over the top of bread.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with sugar, add the milk, the vanilla extract, and the cinnamon. Mix together, and pour over the bread, pressing down so the bread absorbs the liquid evenly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, depending on the thickness of the baking pan you are using. Top should be slightly brown, springing back when touched and testing with a knife should come out mostly clean when done.
To eat for breakfast or lunch or snack, it may be topped with whipped cream or a little additional half and half. For a sensuous “supper” all by itself, it may be dazzled up a notch by sprinkling drops of Frangelica, or Irish Mist over it (I have heard these liquers might also be used to “saturate” the bread, but then it would be “Blitz Bread” instead). You choose!