Monday, March 22, 2010
Musings on Blogging, Also Bread Pudding Tips
I was scrolling through the past couple months of garbage on this blog when I noticed that I haven't shared a recipe/experiment type post in quite a while. I was thinking about the reasons for this. I almost blush at some of the gimmicky, fad type stuff I used to write about when I started this whole thing (Bacon Sausages, Bacon Rice Crispy Treats, Spam Candy, Prison Cuisine, etc...). I had vague notions that I could capitalize on certain trends, utilize various social networking sites, and all that kind of shameless self promotion to become a wildly popular blogger and buy my own island or something. Through a minimum of effort I did manage to generate significant buzz over certain posts, but I never really had the desire to become a polished operation (you know, take good photos, spell check posts, actually work, all that kind of nonsense).
In light of all this, it seemed some friends and family enjoyed my ramblings and I decided to concentrate on more normal and relevant things to my life. So I reorganized a couple times (any old timers remember the short lived Mr. Dave's Pantry era?) I decided to focus on recipes highlighting ingredients and products produced local to my beloved Upstate home, and to highlight some of the idiosyncratic and weird habits native to the area (Capital District Hot Dog Micro-region, Chicken Riggies, Utica Greens, Stewart's, Price Chopper, etc...), and to stop promoting my posts or even attempt to generate traffic. RFS became a labor of love (my wife thinks I write funny stuff sometimes, good enough for me).
I found this to be a comfortable niche. However, I have been very busy as of late with increasingly less time to blog. This and the fact that I kind of decided it was lame to invite people over for dinner, only to mince around and snap photos of their food. Plus, there is a great preponderance of other bloggers who have gotten the same notion about our glorious Captial Region and are writing about similar "local" themes (I don't want to become some insolent ninny, plodding through Rensselaer looking for the next hole in the wall to blog about). So I guess I kind of stopped documenting the process of my (often vile) kitchen chicanery. The blog has kind of become more about my fascination with the post-modern, industrial food complex of America in our time. While I say I am fascinated by it, I don't necessarily celebrate it (I often think that in light of the content of this blog, people think I am a bacon devouring, milkshake swilling, pig beast with the gout). This leads to all the posts about fast food, discount shopping, processed products, etc...
Jeez, that was a solid block of verbal diarrhea written for the approximately 3 people who care about the evolution of this crappy blog (and that is counting my cat). Anyhow, now on to something completely different.
I think I have posted about bread pudding before, but we shall go ahead with some tips I have for you for bread pudding. I won't call these my secrets as everything here is fairly common practice, but I have a certain way I like to go about making this wonderful dish. I love recipes that are born of frugality, bread pudding was meant to use up odd bits and ends of stale bread. I deviate from this slightly in that I will purpose buy "day old" bakery products specifically to make bread pudding. So when I saw 6 Kaiser rolls for 1 dollar at Able Bakery I had to purchase.
I like to dice the bread a little finer than most recipes will tell you to, down to about an 1/8th inch dice or so. I find this produces the solid, homogeneous, custard like texture that I prefer.
I like vanilla to be the star flavor in my bread pudding. I don't use any nonsense like raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc... I use the guts of a couple vanilla beans (I buy them bulk).
I don't use a fixed ration for my egg/milk mixture. Conventional wisdom dictates something like 4 or 5 eggs per 2 cups of milk for 3 cups of diced bread. I use this as a starting point and add or subtract as necessary. I think it depends on the texture/staleness of the bread. I add the milk (vanilla bean guts whisked in), eggs, and a pinch of salt to the bread and let it sit for a good 45 minutes. I find this to be an oft omitted step is essential to the final texture.
When the bread is good and sodden, I add a bunch of demerara sugar. Again, you probably want to eyeball this according to your taste. For this batch I would keep it over 1 cup and under 2. Also, a half cup of melted butter goes in. Mix well and pour the gloopy mess into a well buttered baking pan. About an hour in a 350 degree oven and it should be browned and well set.
My wife and I's favorite way to eat bread pudding is to refrigerate it over night, slice into hunks, and fry in a little butter.
It comes out like the best French toast that you have ever eaten.
Anyhow, I just thought I would throw up some cooking ideas to get back to my roots. Bread pudding is good, you should try it.