By Pam Burke 

View from the North 40: Modern cooking redefines the modern meal


January 10, 2020

I made bread pudding yesterday — I know it’s not the rocket-science of baking and it’s not fancy, but I wanted to treat myself to one of my favorite foods.

It was made extra-special because I used real-vanilla extract, and the bread pudding smelled divine.

And when I say divine, I mean irresistible.

While it was cooling on the counter I would actually pause in whatever I was doing, close my eyes, tilt my nose to the air a bit and inhale deeply, letting my breath out with a satisfied, “mmmmm.” It’s the human dessert hunters equivalent to a hound dog catching a scent and baying.

The recipe is simple: Bread crumbs from about four slices of dried bread, one-third cup of raisins, four eggs, one cup of milk, one-third cup of sugar and a half-teaspoon each of cinnamon and vanilla. You just layer the bread and raisins in a baking dish, beat together all the remaining ingredients and pour that over everything in the dish. And then bake it at about 325 degrees, my Betty Crocker cookbook says for 40-45 minutes, but mine usually takes close to an hour.

The recipe says it serves six, which seems reasonable.

Y’know, one of the things chefs do on those fancy cooking shows is “deconstruct” a common food, making a new dish or meal out of its parts. So a chicken pot pie could be deconstructed as a grilled chicken breast plated with a white sauce and sprinkled with chopped chives; a side of sauteed vegetables of snow peas and julienned carrots; and garnished with two wedges of crispy, browned puff pastry.

I made that up, but feel free to steal if you want.

And if fancy isn’t your shtick, then I would argue that a McD’s bacon, egg and cheese biscuit is a deconstructed omelet that is only missing the onions. They beat the eggs, pour them on the griddle and fold this up — that’s omelet style eggs — but they layer the bacon and cheese in slices on top — deconstruction style. Instead of having the biscuit on the side, it’s used to make a convenient, self-contained sandwich.

I’m not here to advertise for a multi-national mega-corporation which makes enough money to do its own advertising, so we’ll just move along to my point, which is this:

That whole thing about the bread pudding recipe serving six people is a bunch of Betty Crocker bull-ogney.

Allow me to illustrate my point.

If I deconstruct a half batch of bread pudding I get two eggs, two pieces of toast sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar, a side of vanilla-soaked raisins and a glass of milk to wash it all down. That sounds like a perfectly decent and delectable breakfast to me, therefore, the recipe makes a serving of two for breakfast.

I’ll argue with ol’ Betty about that point. If things get heated, I’ll even go at her in a cage match — or a round of fisticuffs, if she prefers an old-fashioned smack down.

As a matter of fact, I had to leave for work early this morning, so I’m thinking I’ll have to argue my case with my husband that the reason half that bread pudding is gone is because I felt I needed a wholesome and filling serving of breakfast for supper last night.

I think we can negotiatie a plea deal for me without a lawyer, or arbitration, if I commit to baking another bread pudding next week to appease him.

Oh darn.


I would be more sheepish and apologetic about eating half of a bread pudding but, well, I’m shameless — and already drying more bread at .


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