My mom was a fantastic cook. She always made very simple things but they were always so good. She was also a very healthy cook.
I remember the first time Chris came over for chili. We were newly dating (and very young!) and she plopped his bowl down in front of him. After a few bites, he said..."Liz, I hate to break it too you but this is not chili. It is vegetable soup!" And it was true. She was always adding veggies to stuff. Like cottage cheese and pasta dishes. I remember thinking she was so weird. She was just totally ahead of her time.
Now that I am a mom I appreciate her cooking even more. She worked as a high school librarian, but I had a hot breakfast every single morning and she cooked every night regardless of how tired she might be. There are days where I call Chris around 4 and say "not cookin, we are going out!" Maybe it is just the times, or maybe I am just lazy.
One of my favorite things that she made was bread pudding. She made it about 4 times a year and the nights I realized she was making it, I was in heaven. I could barely make it through the meal in excitement.
Imagine my joy when I ran across her recipe (in her writing) in a cookbook I have. I didn't think there even was a recipe. I remember her just throwing stuff in a bowl and baking it and making the chocolate syrup in a pan on the stove. I use the term "recipe" lightly because it is just ingredients, no amounts. It says stuff like, "add lots of bread" and "add a little butter." Not so helpful.
I tried to make it soon after she died and it was a diaster. I was in that horrible heartwrenchingmissingher phase and I felt like I had let her down. I remember breaking down in tears in my little apartment thinking I would never taste her wonderful bread pudding again. Such a small thing, but very important at the time.
6 years have passed and last night I was ready to try it again. I have much more cooking experience now (meaning, I actually cook on a regular basis and am willing to make things other than mac and cheese and tomato soup.) I got out the recipe, called Paige for her opinion, checked online to try and see what other bread pudding recipes called for and dove right in.
I was nervous. Isn't that crazy? I wanted to be able to make it like hers. I want Ellie to know what Tee Tee's bread pudding tastes like.
I used 1 ingredient not listed (eggs) and hoped for the best. The hour it was cooking I kept checking and checking. It smelled right. Good. But is it supposed to look like that? Man, I wished I could just call her and ask her how she made it.
The chocolate sauce that goes on top was a piece of cake. I wasn't worried about that at all. Sugar, cocoa, water, and cornstarch. How hard is that?
Finally, the moment came. I set a bowl down in front of Chris and nervously took my first bite.
I had done it!
As a matter of fact, I think it was even better than hers. (Sorry, mom, but it was, even Chris said so.)
Don't even think about asking for the recipe. I am not ready to give it up yet. It is mine! I am happy to make you some though. Anytime. Just come on over. Because it is GOOD!
Oh, and Ellie hasn't tried it yet. The allure of left over halloween candy was to great last night. And she wasn't getting bread pudding and a hershey bar so close to bedtime.