When I had lunch with T. for the first time at school on Monday, one thing was made blatantly clear: this is a girl who likes her lunch. And while she had fun talking and being silly with her friends, she also worked her way dutifully through all the compartments in her bento box, until there was little, if anything at all, left behind.
This is a girl whose highlight of her week last week was getting 60 cents one day to buy milk. Chocolate milk.
And a girl who likes it when I make silly sandwiches with silly names for her like Ants on a Pillow
(peanut butter on 1/2 an English muffin, with raisins on top)
or Rainbow Roll-ups. I don't have a picture of these, but add food coloring to some cream cheese, then roll out a piece of sandwich bread with a rolling pin so it flattens, then spread with the cream cheese and roll up, jelly roll style. These are guaranteed to delight.
She's also a child who likes her peanut butter sandwiches without crusts, thank you very much.
This fact caused me some dismay at first. I always thought that parents were the ones who encouraged their kids to eat crustless sandwiches by channeling their own anti-crust preferences onto their children. But I like crusts, and when I made sandwiches for T. at preschool I tried to always send her sandwiches with the crusts still on. She ate them, too. Something, however, has happened in kindergarten. The only part of her lunch that does return home is usually a set of perfectly-matched crescent-shaped crusts. I throw them out, because who really wants to eat some nibbled on crusts that have been languishing inside a child's lunchbox all day?
So I have caved in for the time being and, because I don't like food waste, I've been neatly cutting off the crusts before I pack the sandwich into her box. Then, I toss the crusts into a bowl, where they wait until the pile grows (usually by the end of the week) and then they achieve their destined purpose and become a glorious, golden, honey-sweetened bread pudding.
I was never a huge fan of bread pudding when I was growing up (who wants to eat a dessert made out of rejected bread?) but I have morphed over the years into someone who does appreciate a well-made bread pudding. It's perfect for a light supper, even, served with a spinach-and-raisin salad, and a glass of red wine on the side. Or, it's just what you needed to follow-up a simple meal of soup, or the ever-popular breakfast-for-dinner type meal we end up having about once a week at our house. And speaking of breakfast, leftover bread pudding is wonderful on a cold morning--warm it in the microwave, then drizzle some vanilla soy milk over the top; or serve it with grated apple and cinnamon.
Cozy Bread Pudding (Adapted from here)
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup butter or butter substitute
2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark, depending on taste preference)
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups bread, torn into small pieces (I used some chopped raisin bagels mixed in with a pile of T.'s rejected crusts)
1/2 cup raisins or any diced, dried fruit
1/2 cup chopped nuts
In medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat soy milk/half and half mixture until film forms over top. Combine butter or butter substitute and soy milk/half and half, stirring until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm.
Combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 1 minute. Slowly add milk mixture.
Place bread in a lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole.
Sprinkle with raisins and nuts. Pour batter on top of bread. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Serve warm.