Sunday, April 03, 2011

Transitions

We have reached the time of transition between winter and spring, and not a day too soon. When we first moved here spring was generally something that started up in February and really got going in March with the apple blossoms finishing things up in early April.

The last four or five years it seems like the rainy season last longer and the warming up takes place much closer to the timetable I remember as a child on the East Coast. The fruit trees still seem to follow the old schedule, so we have finished seeing the almond blossoms in February, plums in March and we are now seeing the pear, quince and apple blossoms.

Everything else, like the tulips and other bulbs have been much slower so they are just now hitting their peak. As you might have guessed from my gushing on about the garden and growing things, my attention has turned to those topics, too. Now that it isn't raining everyday I've been able to do some weeding, some soil preparation, and a bit of pruning.




Indoors I've gotten the seedlings going with hopes to plant them out in mid-April.

Food is still making its way to the table of course, but being creative in the kitchen has taken a back seat to other pursuits.

I did make up some festive 'brownies-in-a-jar" for a fundraiser which was fun. If you want to do the same...perhaps for and adult's Easter basket or for a hostess gift? the URL for how to make the jar of ingredients and also the recipe for baking up the brownies is HERE. There are lots of variations, too. Love mint and chocolate? Just add some chopped up peppermint patties instead of all or part of the chocolate chips. That's just an example...lots more are at the referenced post.


The other recent creative flight of fancy was taking my favorite bread pudding recipe and making a rum-raisin and bannana version. Here is where the transition part comes in because bread pudding is a cosy, winter type of dish and the additions are also easily found in winter most places...but the flavors speak of palm trees and balmy breezes and wicked drinks with paper parasols, the sort of place that almost shouts 'spring break'. This is not the most photogenic of dishes but you get a moist pudding soaked bread, soft and mellow bannanas, raisins spiked with rum, some walnuts for crunch, and nicly browned bready crust on top, too.


Banana Bread Pudding with Rum Raisins

Variation on a recipe from 1971, from a Fredicksburg, Maryland friend

4 cups dry bread cubes
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup raisins
3 cups milk, scalded
1 tablespoon butter
4 slightly beaten eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 sliced ripe, peeled bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Place the rum and raisins in a microwave safe dish. Cook in the microwave 1 minute at high power. Set aside until cool.
2) Melt the butter in the milk. Add a little of the milk to the beaten eggs, then add eggs to rest of milk. Stir in the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix to combine.
3) Put the bread cubes in a large bowl. Pour the egg/sugar/milk mixture over, stir gently, and let sit 15 minutes.
4) Butter a large baking pan. A deep one will give a softer center, a shallower one will give more crispy crust. Gently stir banana slices, rum/raisin mixture and chopped walnuts into bread mixture and pour into baking pan.
5) Bake in a pan of hot water until firm, about 1 hour. Serve warm.

5 comments:

katiez said...

I just noticed today that our crab apple is starting to blossom - as is our wisteria. I do believe there's hope!

David T. Macknet said...

Such beautiful plants - I'm SOOO envious! Glad you're getting a start, though!

Claire said...

Those "in a jar" mixes are SO attractive and fun to give. Love bread pudding but have never made it...will definitely have to try it!

Kelly-Jane said...

We have pink cherry blossom here, it's a joy to see. I love Spring :)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Spring? It snowed last night. Gaaahhh!

I do so admire your talent and efforts in gardening. Wish I could come at summertime to see how all those little sprouts turn out.

I agree, it's hard to make bread pudding look sexy, but it does look delicious.