February is a hard month for me. Five years ago, I spent eight months taking care of my mother as she died. She spent thirty days in ICU and the step down unit. I didn’t realize she was dying. I figured it out on the twelfth, took her home on Valentine’s Day, and she passed early in the morning of the sixteenth.
Normally, if I have Peps* and chocolate, I am good. This time of year, Peps* and chocolate are not enough. Today I made my mother’s bread pudding. It was what I needed.
I would love to share the recipe with you, but this pudding never had a recipe. I do not think it was ever made the same way twice. My mother would make it for breakfast on shopping days. What was in it depended on what was in the house before she went shopping. She started with eggs. She used all the eggs, up to six, she had left. They were beaten with a whisk. Up to a half cup of butter, softened,was beaten in, She added up to a three quarters of a cup of white or brown sugar. Some days it was a combination of brown and white, and often less than half a cup. She used up to three cups of raw milk, cow and/or goat milk. I have no place to get raw milk, so I replace a half cup of the milk with heavy cream. Cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract were added. Sometimes, she would throw in raisins or currants. Whatever bread was left was ripped into small pieces and placed in a butter casserole dish. The egg mixture was poured over the bread pieces and a fork used to make sure all of the bread absorbed the liquid.
My mother put it into a 350 degree oven and baked it until it was done, forty-five to sixty minutes. She served it with milk, cinnamon sugar, jam, or syrup depending on what she had left. Once in a great while, she would make a bit of whip cream.
I am sitting watching the snow, eating a bowl of bread pudding. My kitchen smells like my mother’s kitchen did and, for this moment, I have peace.