Grandma Olson’s Bread Pudding

I do love bread pudding.  I know I’m constantly telling you how much I love sweets, but ultimately I’m not sure it’s true.  I love “sweetish”.  Not Swedish, but marginally sweet.  This is not a sweet dessert.  It’s more of a custard and you know how we Norwegians love custard.  I think my mom’s favorite pie was custard.  I’m not going that far, but I do love a good custard.

This is Grandma Olson’s bread pudding.  As you can see, it is totally unfancy.  With basically 6 ingredients, you can make this with ingredients on-hand.  I doubt if Grandma specifically called for an Italian boule, but it’s the closest thing I could find to the bread she would use.

The other thing you’ll notice is the lack of a sauce.  Grandma never made a sauce for the bread pudding when she served it.  So often you will see vanilla or rum sauce to serve alongside the pudding, but Grandma always served it with whip cream and a sprinkling of sugar.  Not whipped cream, but straight out of the milk jug cream.  She might froth is up with a fork, but truly this is a simple dessert.

3 cups cubed Italian boule, allowed to stale overnight in a bowl

2 cups granulated sugar

5 beaten eggs

2 cups whole milk or half and half

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins soaked in bourbon for 10 minutes or so

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan.

Combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half in a bowl.  Pour over the cubed bread and let it sit for 10 minutes, so the bread can absorb the liquid.  Add the raisins.

Pour into the greased 8 x 8 inch pan.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set.

There’s not much to this recipe.  I’ve even fancied it up a bit from the way Grandma did it.  I do not remember her soaking the raisins.  I’d eat it right after it comes out of the oven.  You’ll like it; I promise.

*  from the Recipe Box:

A boule is basically a round, fairly dense loaf of white bread.  It is much thicker than a French loaf or baguette.

You’re on your own if you want a sauce, but they are all over the Internet.

and remember:  Tell the truth or someone will tell it for you.  Big kiss, Lynn

Banana Bread/Muffins

I can’t remember a time when my mom did not make banana bread.  She always had a loaf or 2 hanging around.  As I write this, it happens to be her birthday so my thoughts are with her today.  While I rarely make banana bread, I did have a request for the pumpkin muffins made with chocolate chips instead of pecans.  That sounds totally ka-ka to me, so I’ve been thinking about alternatives.  Up popped mom’s birthday and the rest is history.

Chocolate chips do not ring my chimes, but I think I’m the only person who feels that way.   This is a truly fine banana bread recipe.  I just decided to add chocolate chips to make my little sous chef happy.  He’ll do anything for me, it seems only fair I do it for him.

If you choose to follow the recipe as originally intended, you will end up with 2 moist loaves with intense banana flavor, although a smear of butter makes it even better.  If you choose to make it into muffins, you will still get a moist muffin but with J’s requested chocolate chips.  You choose and let me know what you think.

½ cup butter

1 ¼ cup sugar

2 eggs

¼ sour cream

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons rum (or milk if you’d rather)

1 cup mashed bananas, very ripe

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon soda

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cup chopped nuts or mini-chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs and sour cream.  Mix in almond extract and rum.  Add dry ingredients alternately with bananas, beginning and ending with flour.  Stir in nuts.  Bake in 2 greased 8 x 4 loaf pans at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes.  Cool on racks.

To make the muffins, follow all the steps until “stir in nuts”.  Instead, add a cup or a cup and 1/2 of mini chocolate chips.  Using an ice cream scoop, portion into paper lined muffins cups.  This will make approximately 18.  Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

*  From the Recipe Box:

This is mom’s recipe.  The woman could bake!  I’ve tasted a lot of Banana Bread in my time, but none better than this.  Great flavor, moist, nummy and I don’t even like bananas.

One banana equals approximately 1/2 cup mashed banana.

and remember:  Never be cool.  Never try and be cool.  Never worry about what the cool people think.  Head for the warm people.  Life is warmth.  You’ll be cool when you’re dead.

Big kiss, Lynn

Cream Puffs/Profiteroles

I asked G what he wanted for his birthday cake and he said cream puffs, so I made cream puffs.  I was 20, he was turning 22.  I didn’t know they were supposed to be hard.  I had my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook and I was ready to try anything.  I didn’t know how to cook; I just used logic.  I guess that’s the point to this story.  I knew almost nothing about cooking.  Why would I when my mom was a great cook; I didn’t need to learn.  So, what is the point you keep asking?  If you are patient, have a cookbook, know how to read, can follow instructions, you can make anything.

We were living in Hawaii at the time, not a hotbed for French desserts.  I had Grandma Olson’s cookbook with me, what could go wrong?  This is what I’m trying to tell you.  Please give yourself a chance.  Don’t judge yourself too harshly.  We can do this!

Profiteroles are simply cream puffs that have a French cousin.  I love making cream puffs.  The same dough can be used to make a sweet dessert or a savory nibble.  G loves them filled with a good vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a thick hot fudge sauce.  At Christmas, I’ve been know to fill them with peppermint ice cream.  When making an hors d’oeuvres, I usually make them about the size of a golf ball, but for a dessert I lean more towards a baseball.  The size is totally up to you.  If you want 3 on a plate for the ultimate indulgence or a tray of single bites, you got this.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Plan on baking 45 to 50 minutes for large or about 25 to 30 for small.  Makes 8 large puffs or 20 small puffs.

Heat to boiling point in sauce pan…

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

Stir in…

1 cup flour

Stir constantly until mixture leave the pan and forms into a ball (about 1 minute).  Remove from heat.  Cool.

Beat in, 1 at a time…

4 eggs

Beat mixture until smooth and velvety.  Drop from spoon onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake until dry.  Allow to cool slowly.

I’m such a maroon.  I’ve since learned you can use your mixer to beat in the eggs.  I did it by hand and they were still fabulous.

Remember to adjust the cooking time to the size puff you make.

This is the recipe for cream puffs I used all those years ago and I’m still using today.  I keep notes in my cookbooks.  Betty Crocker and I are tight!

and remember:  Sometimes you need to give people high fives just for getting out of bed.  Being a human being can be hard.  Big kiss, Lynn

Popcorn Brittle

What is wrong with me?  I see a recipe for anything caramel corn-like and it’s as though I lose my sense of right and wrong.  I immediately want to make it and eat the whole batch.  I’ve never seen a recipe like this one before.  Usually my caramel corn needs to bake in the oven so the caramel permeates the popcorn.  I think this one could use a little oven time, but I’m on a real lazy-butt kick today, so what you see is what you get.

If there is a next time for this recipe, I would make a few changes.  I would definitely need a way to separate the popped from the unpopped corn.  Those leftover kernels are a dental bill waiting to happen.  I tried using my Chinese strainer, but the holes weren’t quite large enough.  I would also not use mini M&M’s.  They melted when I poured on the caramel and made it look a little on the dirty side.  See how colorful the first picture is before the hot caramel and how uncolorful the last picture is post caramel.   Using holiday M&M’s would be fun though if you’re careful.

This is another church cookbook recipe.  Big kiss, Pat.  I keep telling you what a goldmine they are.  I wish I had all of my mom’s back, but I never imagined back then how much I would enjoy having them as a resource.  I’m going to be much wiser my next life instead of so cute.

2 bags microwave popcorn

1 cup M&M’s

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup peanuts

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pop popcorn, removing all the unpopped kernels you can.  Put in a large bowl.  Add M&M’s.  Melt sugar, butter, corn syrup and vanilla in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add peanuts.  Cook another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add baking soda.  Pour over popcorn.  Mix well and place on a cookie sheet.  When set, break into pieces.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I used mini M&M’s.  Don’t do that.  They melt too easily.

I don’t know about this one.  I worry about the unpopped kernels.

and remember:  When a jack-in-the-box plays “Pop Goes the Weasel”, why does a clown always pop out instead?  Big kiss, Lynn

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

Just because you don’t enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Latte, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little pumpkin in your life.  Muffins are a vessel for pumpkin.  I want them a little dense and moist with lots of spice and flavor.

These muffins are wonderful.  The perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea.  The streusel topping isn’t overly sweet.  It does add the perfect crunch to the muffin.  I’m not a huge walnut fan, but pecans are another story; there is no bitterness here.  Freezing these little darlings is the perfect way to go.  One will thaw in 15 minutes or so.  Or, you can set it in the microwave in 30 second intervals until it reaches your perfect temp.

I may have a few bags in the freezer right now just in case you stop by and need a wee pick me up.

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
  • In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in pecans. Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.  I used a medium ice cream scoop to keep them even.
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
  • Bake at 375° for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

From the Recipe Box:

I did not use buttermilk.  I used ½ cup whole milk with 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes, give it a stir and use as buttermilk.  I rarely buy buttermilk; I never use it up so why bother.  Sour milk is just as good and usually much more handy.  You will not notice the difference.  I swear.

Great flavor in these muffins.

and remember:  People don’t always want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.  Big kiss, Lynn

Faux Starbuck’s Pumpkin Loaf

I have a confession to make, I don’t care for pumpkin spice lattes.  Am I the only one on the planet who feels that way?  Come August, it’s like everyone is on a pumpkin spice countdown.  Well, as long as I’m confessing, I don’t like Chai tea either.  It could be a character flaw, because I do love:  pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, Starbucks’ pumpkin loaf, etc.

I’ve been trying to find a good recipe that mirrors the Starbucks’ loaf.  It’s moist yet firm.  I hate an overly soft cake.  I need body!  This loaf is not too sweet, but definitely feels like dessert.  It reminds me of sweet breads mom used to make back in the day.  Everyone made them and had them ready for drop-in coffee company.  Ah, those were the days.

But, there I go again, digressing.  I’m Norwegian.  We have a natural affinity for coffee and a treat.  Remember Hygge.  Being cozy, enjoying life and companionship, slowing down and being one with the moment, especially as the seasons change.  So, I’m doing a bit of pumpkin baking.  I will try and recreate the pumpkin loaf from Starbucks.  This is a composite of several recipes I found on-line.  It’s definitely not as pretty as the original, but I’ll keep practicing since the taste is awesome.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8  X 4 inch loaf pan.  Combine the flour, soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl.  Beat the eggs, sugars and vanilla together for 30 seconds.  Add the pumpkin and the oil, mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, if desired.  Bake 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pan 10 minutes, and then turn onto cooling rack to cool completely.

You are going to want to make coffee, put on your comfiest sweats, get out an afghan, light a candle or 2, play a little Vivaldi and so enjoy this pumpkin loaf, and of course, Hygge.

From the Recipe Box:

I used the 8 x 4 inch loaf pan the recipe called for.  It was a mistake.  Next time I will use a 9 x 5 loaf pan or (2) 8 x 4 pans and bake it for a shorter period.  I ended up with dough on my oven floor using the smaller pan.

Instead of all the individual spices, you could use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.  Same old, same old.

I freeze leftover canned pumpkin and it thaws beautifully.

Even my non-pumpkin eater enjoyed it.  Winner

and remember:  Follow your heart, but take your brains with you.  Big kiss, Lynn

Papa’s Homemade Ice Cream

Do you have a favorite memory of your father?  Mine involved ice cream and black cherry sodas.  My dad would grab the car keys, and my brother and I, and announce it was time for Black Cherry Sodas.  We would head to the store and buy soda and ice cream and return home to whip up our treat.  This only happened maybe once a year, but it was a really big deal because dad wasn’t a sweets person.  The other mystery is where in Twin Falls, Idaho did they have Black Cherry soda when he was younger so he could develop a taste for it.

But then, one Christmas, dad got a hand crank ice cream maker and a whole new world opened up during summers.  There would be grilled oysters and clams and dad would get out the ice cream maker.   This is dad’s ice cream recipe.  Where he got it, I have no idea.  After a while, G and I took over the ice cream making.  We weren’t happy with plain vanilla ice cream, we wanted to be a little more creative.  However, this is the perfect base for any ice cream you want.

This amount of base is perfect for the large hand crank or electric ice cream makers.  For a Cuisinart, I would either halve the recipe or make half/save half.  With five minutes to go, I would add any extras you want in your ice cream.  It’s not an everyday treat; it’s a major time consuming project.  But, if you’re like me and have great summertime memories that involve ice cream and your father, I’d suggest you go for it.

6 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 quarts half and half

2 tablespoons vanilla

Beat eggs thoroughly.  Slowly and gradually add sugar and continue to beat until mixture is very stiff.  Stir in remaining ingredients.

Freeze in a churn style ice cream maker.

*  From the Recipe Box:

This was dad’s recipe.  It was always a big deal when he made ice cream.

G and I started making ice cream every Labor Day to celebrate back-to-school.  Only kids were invited at first.  They could eat as much as they wanted.  But as the kids got older, parents slowly started creeping into the mix.

Thomas Special was the best:  add malt, chopped chocolate and peanuts to a batch of vanilla.  This is our holy trinity.

Chopped Butterfinger Candy Bars were another favorite.

They were good times.

and remember:  Don’t underestimate the seductive power of a decent vocabulary.  Big kiss, Lynn