I submit that there is nothing more comforting than bread pudding made with challah bread and little chunks of heaven, otherwise known as dried pears, liberally stirred into the gooey yet chewy sweet goodness.
Oh, yessirree, stop, hold the presses, there is something better: Said bread pudding with a cup of hot Constant Comment tea. Lots of milk and sugar. Good conversation about the plot twists of the latest Harry Potter. Some at the Suite book group would rather imbibe hot cocoa than Constant Comment. I try not to hold that against them.
The snow here is about six inches deep, which is a big deal for us in Western Oregon. The Eastern Oregonians, they're a tougher lot. They wear their Wranglers a bit tighter and their sheepskin-lined Carhart jackets nine months of the year. It's so cold in Eastern Oregon right now that the air is seeping over to the valley already crackling frigid.
The ground is white with snow and the trees are white with frozen fog. It's cold, people.
When the Eng-Gen-Eer and I were newlyweds, we lived briefly on the east side of the state while he finished his degree. High desert summers, blue skies, young love, and long icy winters spent, um, er, studying.
I have some good memories of Eastern Oregon. But I'd never want to move back there. It's so much better to be where it's green all year round, where we have four children, where we have maybe less time for "studying," but lots more of the building blocks that stack up to make a beautiful life.
Speaking of stacking bricks. Our first winter of marriage, we lived in a little concrete block bungalow in a low-rent district near the college. It was a slum, but it was a newlywed, redneck slum, and we didn't really notice anything odd about it. The houses around us were all built just after WWII, without benefit of structural engineering.
In January the area was under record snow accumulations. Our rental, specifically, was under a record amount of snow load.
Our next-door-neighbor's house, more specifically, fell down from the weight of the snow.
It fell a little bit onto our house. One whole wall just sort of leaned over into our bathroom and master bedroom, but only a little. We barely heard the crash.
We did, however, hear the fire department's arrival. They banged on our door and asked us whether we had any children. I said, "I can't remember."
Isn't that a strange answer for a girl of 20, married for four months? I can't remember whether I have children?
I'm sure I grabbed my favorite teapot and my wedding album (which I hadn't, at that point, finished paying for). We had a condemned house. We were on CNN. We had each other.
But we didn't have any bread pudding!
Miri's Bread Pudding With Pears
About 6 cups day-old challah, cut into 1-inch cubes (I make my own bread but have to make extra if I want day-old!)
3 cups milk (half and half is better if you have it)
Half a stick of butter, cut into small cubes
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup or so diced dried pears
Grease the inside of your crockpot with the butter wrapper or pan spray. Pour the bread cubes in. In a separate bowl, first beat the eggs, then stir in the milk, then add all other ingredients. Pour the wet mixture evenly over the bread cubes. Cover and cook on low for about three hours. Stay warm while it's cold outside.