Caramel Bread Pudding (Brödpudding)

Caramel Bread Pudding (Brödpudding)

I rushed up to grandpa as he walked in and asked if he’d like to be the first one to try my creation and also that he’d get to be a model if he did. I handed him a plate of it as soon as he said yes and I snapped some pictures. Forgive me for my camera phone’s quality, but I think my grandpa’s pretty cute:

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The caramel bread pudding was fairly easy to make. I meant to make it the day before, and was completely prepared to track the prep time, but I got distracted with other shiny things. Yesterday, however, I managed to actually make it, and had so much fun that of course I forgot to record the prep time. Again.

I scalded the milk first, then added the melted sugar it required, and the result was not expected! Apparently when you add melted sugar to scalded milk it hardens immediately in a big bubble of what looks like a solidified, brown mushroom cloud. But this candied explosion dissolved in about four minutes, and it made me really miss science classes. Not really. I just wished my science classes had been that exciting.

I had the eggs ready and added them as soon as the sugar was dissolved, then mixed half of that concoction to the prepared bread crumbs in a separate bowl. The half without the breadcrumbs I added vanilla and salt, then put that into the breaded stuff as well. All of that was put into a small casserole dish and into the oven for almost an hour and a half.

It was required to bake for 55-60 minutes, but after several extra 7-minute increments, I gave up and let it be super…moist.

I made some whipped cream to put on top for as soon as it was cooled. No one else tried this dessert without the whipped cream, so everyone in my family gave it a 4 out of 5 stars. Mom said it was a little bit like pumpkin pie. I somewhat agree, but I thought it tasted a little more on the mushed graham crackers side because I was the only one who ate it without the whipped cream, so consequently…

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The recipe was fun and fairly easy to make. But I would personally consider it more of a snack or a breakfast sweet than specifically a dessert. It wasn’t especially unique, and the caramel taste was barely noticeable. I think it would give it a fun taste with some nutmeg or a some such festive spice. But to enhance the caramel flavor it might be helpful to include some corn syrup and butter. Aside from oven time, it probably took me about 15 minutes to throw it together.

On Prayer, Part 2: It Affects You

On Prayer, Part 2: It Affects You

 

I wish we were sitting across from each other at a quaint little coffee shop with ice cold frappes in our hands. The things I want to share with you are so much a part of my life and so impactful on my heart right now I feel as though we must be in person to convey these things accurately. But alas, you’re way over there and I’m way over here. Let’s imagine we have frappes though, because wow it’s warm in northern Illinois right now!

Recently, I was reminded through one of Jesus’ Gospel parables about the importance of praying earnestly. Boldly coming before the Father with your request and taking it to Him not just once but many times is huge. I decided to have a go at this myself, and pleaded with God on behalf of something that has been really impacting my life, and I included the plea for love and joy to fill my heart as I waited. I am so aware that my actions are often so selfish and I can do little about it in my own power, so praying for God to adjust my heart with genuine love and His joy has become a necessary factor for me. Throughout the day, God did not fulfill the initial request, but He changed my attitude about it, and in addition He filled me with a rare amount of a unique love and joy that I hadn’t experienced before. Because of various situations just in that day alone, it couldn’t help but be pointed directly at God, because I knew that I was completely incapable of conjuring up those qualities in myself! And this happened because the Holy Spirit led me to that passage that reminded me of praying to Him earnestly. That day, Hebrews 11:6 became very real to me: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

There have been many times that I have prayed for something in my life to change: for pain to go away, for finances, for getting accepted into a university, for a plethora of things. And you may have heard the saying that either God says “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. Often, it’s the dreaded “wait”, during which you’re not even sure if God heard you. But rest assured, He certainly did. When you come to Him, intentionally seeking Him out, He absolutely does hear you. And that waiting period is so very difficult. But this is what I’ve found to be so very true during those times of waiting and praying earnestly and diligently: He changes your attitude. There have been times when He was preparing me for the death of a dream, and what incurred was the result of a “no”, but He had something far better in store. Sometimes too that initial desire was in preparation for what was to come in its place. Waiting resulting in the answer “yes” is also a good preparation period, during which God is molding your character.

And there is so much more to prayer than even that. Building your relationship with God requires communication just like any other relationship, and this relationship with the Creator of the stars is a life-changing, heart-altering experience. And I can’t wait to tell you more about it soon and continue with our frappes!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13

 

 

On Prayer, Part 1: My Heart’s Song

On Prayer, Part 1: My Heart’s Song

You may have noticed that I write pretty much straight from my heart. When I put my fingers to the keys, I word vomit and don’t look back, especially when I don’t know how or where to begin, which is exactly what I’m doing now. Over the years of filling up diaries I have come to an automatic writing style of journaling that isn’t necessarily essay-worthy, but it’s from the depths of my soul. If I was blatantly honest with anyone it would be to paper, a computer screen, or Jesus.

So guess what?
You’re looking at a screen. 😉
You get to know my heart for a little while.

Lately, this enormously precious topic has been on my heart: prayer. The word makes some people wince, and others shrug. A lot of people would stop reading by now, because prayer is a boring topic that doesn’t make much sense, and isn’t really worth knowing about.

But it’s worth knowing. Let me tell you. It’s worth knowing.

Not only is prayer worth knowing, but it’s a vehicle to the One who is the source of your life. And He’s worth knowing.

There are several elements of prayer that didn’t ever really make sense to me for a long time either. For example, if God already knows my heart, why pray? and How do I know that my prayers actually affect anything?

I’m not here to answer those questions with a philosophical explanation, or even act like I know the real answer to what prayer truly does. Why I’m writing is to convey to you what I’ve learned over the course of the short 20 years I’ve existed in this crazy confusing world. Prayer is one really big thing that has impacted my life on so many truly, truly real levels.

It’s so hard to convey accurately what I’ve discovered about prayer. It’s been an interesting, and honestly perplexing journey over the past three years. But what I do know for sure are these three things:

  1. It affects you
  2. It affects your relationship with Jesus
  3. It affects others

So in the next few posts in this category, I’ll be diving into this topic of prayer and what I’ve come to know that has extraordinarily impacted my walk with Christ. I am still on a lifelong journey of discovering all the different, wonderful aspect of prayer, and I’m certain that I’ll never get to the point of fully knowing what it means to be in relationship-level communication with the Creator of the Universe.

But I suppose if I knew everything about things, life wouldn’t be so intriguing!

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears…For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:9-10 & 12

 

 

Recipe 7: Molded Blueberry Dessert (Blåbärsfromage)

Recipe 7: Molded Blueberry Dessert (Blåbärsfromage)

My boyfriend and I racked our brains for what we should do for a fancy date while he was visiting me from 10 hours away. We’re both broke college students, so even though the rural area I live in has pretty nice restaurants for a decent price, they still kind of made us wince. Then we had the idea to borrow some of my mom’s fancy dishes, candles, and a couple of cute table cloths, and set up our own little restaurant in my grandparent’s gazebo. Mom packed up for us extra Swedish meatballs and a salad she’d made, and I put together this recipe.

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Bless her heart, mom helped a lot with this one as I was on a major time crunch. It started out with putting together the blueberry gelatin base. But since I had bought canned blueberry filling, I used that instead. It was almost exactly the same thing, and tasted marvelous. Though sometime I should experiment with the difference. The next gelatin layer was more challenging. I scalded the milk, added the sugar and salt, then gelatin and water mixture, but I got impatient with its chilling speed and stuck it in the fridge while I took a shower. The next thing I knew, I was blow drying my hair and mom asked if the gelatin was supposed to be tough. “No, it’s supposed to be like molasses…?” I called down the stairs. And mom helped me fix that one. It ended up tasting great, and the texture wasn’t too shabby.

I chose to put pecans in the whipped cream mix, and I halved the maraschino cherries. They didn’t give an exact amount, so I did the abominable and improvised.
I’m terrible at improvising.
But it turned out okay!

Mom also helped by layering it all into the glass bowl and decorating the top with more pecans and cherries.

This dessert was a little thicker than a typical pudding, most likely because I had the whole thing in the fridge for a good hour, but all in all the dessert was thoroughly fantastic. My boyfriend loved it. We weren’t able to eat the whole thing ourselves, only a small serving each, because it was pretty filling. He and I definitely snacked on it later though.

I did share this one with my mom, even though I said I was going to keep it just for my boyfriend and I. She helped make it, after all.

She rated it three out of five stars.
My boyfriend rated it five out of five stars.

My rating: ★★★★☆

Prep time was maybe a half hour…I should stop trying to record the prep time because I never remember to jot it down in the moment.

I seriously loved this dessert, and I’m definitely making it again!

Recipes 5 & 6: Apple Pudding (Äppelpudding)

Recipes 5 & 6: Apple Pudding (Äppelpudding)

Recipe 5 looked ridiculously simple, like how could I go wrong on this one? In addition, upon reading it, this apple pudding looked exactly like the first recipe I’d done in this cookbook. Foolproof.

The recipe set out to prove me wrong and did a great job of it. Maybe I was just super tired and wasn’t thinking straight, but I really didn’t understand what they were asking me to do after a double-take. A couple of triple-takes later, I called my mom over. Now my mother is an excellent cook/baker, and as I’ve stated before, she spoils us with her scrumptious dishes. But even my mom had to re-read the directions a few times. Finally, she realized that I had misinterpreted it, and essentially ruined part of the effect that would have made it different than the first recipe. But we went with it and put it together as if I’d done it right all along. (I had put butter into the applesauce mix instead of leaving the melted butter for browning the bread crumbs)

Way to go, me.

As soon as the timer went off, I grabbed it and virtually slid it across the stove, took a quick picture…

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…and let my family eat whatever they wanted from the pan at their leisure as I went about preparing the next recipe because I was certainly not putting this one on my blog. But soon enough I had to start putting equalizing limits on portions they were taking because it was a hit!

They even rated it, quite immediately: ★★★★☆

I didn’t agree, but they insisted.

It tasted a little less goopy and oatmealish than the first recipe, so I figured it was an improvement. But a four out of five? I mean, I’ll go with it.

The next recipe was named exactly the same: Apple Pudding

After these 6 apple dessert recipes, I’m certain I’m a pro at peeling and cutting apples. Overall, I’ve cut, peeled, sliced and/or cored 9 pounds of apples. That’s 30 granny smith apples.

Throughout the second apple pudding recipe, I learned about steaming, scalding, and double boiling. I had to steam 4 pounds of quartered apples in sugar, which basically just meant I stuck them in a pot on medium-high for 15 minutes. The moisture from the apples mixed with the sugar minorly exploded at 12 minutes however and left a sticky disaster all over the floor and stove.

Meanwhile, I browned butter and breadcrumbs. Once the apples were ready, I rationed the breadcrumbs in inconceivable layers that were required. It was just mostly a mess. When this was in the oven for an hour, I made the vanilla sauce, which is actually a recipe all in itself in the book. This was the tricky part.

Scalding is pretty simple also: I stuck light cream in a small pan and stirred until it was just barely boiling at the edges and I could see thin amounts of steam. I had an egg, egg yolk, and sugar mixed and ready to add to the scalded cream as soon as it was removed from the heat, then I moved this to the double boiler, which is essentially a pot with another half-pot inside that rests on the top. It’s a double boiler for the reason that what’s getting heated doesn’t heat too much for the effect. I stood there constantly stirring for what seemed like an eternity, but a little less than an eternity because I was multitasking and browsing Pinterest. Once it got thick enough that it could make a good layer around the metal spoon I was using, I removed this again from the heat and added vanilla. Once this cooled, I folded in whipped cream I’d prepared in advance. I was pretty proud of that folding I did. So proud, I deemed myself a professional folder inner of all vanilla sauce and whipped cream duos. But then I spread it across the apple pudding prematurely and it melted all the fluffiness.

This wasn’t the reason, obviously, that it didn’t taste great though. It was just more bland than previous recipes. My family couldn’t decide on a rating for it, and I never tried it myself because I had been in the kitchen for 2 hours baking and snacking on so much food, I just felt fat for simply thinking about trying another dessert.

The average would have been a 3.5 out of 5 stars, but again, the half-star issue. But based on their reactions to it, I’m going to round down.

My rating: ★★★☆☆

A brief ode to having no available coffee:
Today I also learned
that one can make
chocolate milk
to look like
coffee
for pictures.

20 random facts about me (in case you’re curious)

I don’t like coffee, but I am a huge fan of teas and Caribou’s coffeeless coolers.

I have had 26 cats at once.

I’ve been to five different countries and most of the States.

I stood there in horror as my boyfriend picked a bat off the ceiling of a cave in the Amazon jungle.

I love Disney and Pixar movies.

Two of my high school teachers are still some of my best friends.

I worked in the fields detasseling, derouging, and/or pollinating for five stinkin’ years.

I’ve played the piano for fifteen years. (doesn’t mean I’m good though)

Never been to Florida or Hawaii. Someone please take me.

I can’t stand the feel of photograph paper or styrofoam.

My favorite books are “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, and “Outlaw” by Ted Dekker.

I love jr. mints and yorks.

If I was to have a completely different life I would be a professional ballerina and potter living in New York.

I sang my first solo when I was 4.

I dislike politics.

Out of 40-50 students at a puppet boot camp when I was 11, I won the first place trophy in puppet competitions plus many other awards.

I love Anne of Green Gables and I swore I wouldn’t marry anyone except Gilbert Blythe, and then a modern-day Gilbert came into my life and became my boyfriend.

I want to go to Sweden as a missionary.

I can write in Dwarvish.

There’s nothing in this world I love more than Jesus Christ, my Savior and King.

Recipe 4: Apple Pie (Äppelpaj)

Recipe 4: Apple Pie (Äppelpaj)

Today was one of those days where I woke up and just really did not want to go for a run. But remembering I had apple pie downstairs having cooled from last night, here I am, consuming apple pie and toffee philosophy ice cream. I suppose now I have to run. But not until I finally write this post.

The apple pie was pretty easy to put together, just as the last three recipes have been. However, I was really confused by the crust; the recipe demanded that I “spoon batter over apples in pan.” And the word “batter” here is very accurate, because it wasn’t at all like the dough I anticipated roling out into cute pie crust designs. Made of butter, sugar, egg, flour, salt and baking powder, it definitely resembled a near cookie-dough consistency. But oh my gosh it was the best pie crust I’ve ever tasted. It was so sweet! It was basically like sugar cookie-covered apples.

Spooning the batter on top didn’t seem right, but I did my best anyway, and it got me really nervous that it would burn in weird, sharp and jagged places. But because it contained so much butter, the batter smoothed over and created a fluffy bread-roll appearance across the top of the pie.

Unfortunately, because I left it out overnight to cool, the fluffiness collapsed in on itself, so it doesn’t look quite as attractive in the picture. Regardless, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

In the actual apple mix, the option was to include either chopped pecans or walnuts. Walnuts are cheaper so that’s what I chose, even though they’re not my favorite. But I couldn’t really taste them, and I doubt my brothers even noticed they were there.

The recipe suggested serving the pie with whipped cream, but I was out of that, so toffee philosophy ice cream it was. The two didn’t go together too badly.

If it wasn’t for needing a rating, I probably wouldn’t have let my brothers also have apple pie for breakfast (because that’s so unhealthy), but I guess it ended up being a great decision because they rated it really well. (Though it took a bit to get it out of them because they wanted to rate it an R or a 10/10. They knew what I meant.)

Again, I totally forgot to track the total prep time. The thing was in the oven for 35 minutes, and I probably spent a half an hour putting it together.

My rating: ★★★★★

(This was again after 4.5 stars, but when I explained that I couldn’t do a half star, they told me to round up. I have very supportive brothers.)