White Chocolate Bread Pudding

I was so inspired by Cindy‘s white chocolate pudding that I just had to make it too! Ohmygosh was it ever so good!

16 ounces white chocolate chips (use the good ones)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup half & half
1 tbsp vanilla
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 loaf white bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 450*

Bring to a simmer the heavy cream and half & half, then add vanilla:

In the meantime, melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler:

In the Kitchenaid, I blended the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow:

Once everything was ready, I used the Kitchenaid to mix it all together – the cream mixture, the white chocolate, and the egg/sugar mix:

Next, arrange the bread pieces into the baking dish – all along the bottom, up the sides, then make more layers until the bread is all used (there was a part of me that felt wrong by using just regular white bread and not some great baguette, but it turned out perfectly). This baking dish is 10″ in diameter:

Pour the warm mixture from the Kitchenaid bowl into the baking dish, then press any pieces of bread that are sticking up into the mixture. You want all of the bread to soak up all the yummy white chocolate mixture and not one crumb of bread to be sticking out:

In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cocoa powder, then sprinkle all over the top of the bread pudding:

Bake at 450* for 20-25 minutes. Watch it carefully to make sure the topping doesn’t get a chance to burn.

I would have had a better picture of this to show, but 99% of it was enjoyed within five minutes of serving it! Everyone went on & on about how great it was.

Friday Supper

For supper on Friday, I made that great pan-fried duck recipe, except this time rather than making a muscadine sauce, I used sour cherries and just a bit more honey (the finished pic is at the bottom of this post). Everybody **loved** it!

For the sides, I made snap beans that I cooked in chicken stock,

baby carrots that I roasted at 400* for about 25 minutes,:

and yukon gold potatoes, which I boiled for about 20 minutes in their skin cut up just like this, drained, returned to the same pot, and mashed. I only added chicken stock to it to get it to the right consistency. These were great.

Here it is, all done. Soooo good!

Shug Is Six Months Old Now

Shug is six months old now!

Oh does it ever seem like just yesterday that we were checking ourselves into the hospital so we could have him! If I could, I would go back to that very day and just live these past six months over and over again.


Other Bottle Trees

Wow! I got so many really nice emails about my reminder – the post just before this one – about looking for good Christmas trees to make into bottle trees (thanks!). It sounds like so many people are planning to make these this year! The directions for the ones that I made are here, but I thought it would be fun to show some other examples of people making more non-traditional bottle trees, too.

This is a pic I took of a metal bottle tree in front of a market in Greenwood, Mississippi. See how there are little lights at the ends of each of the branches?

I’m almost sure that this was made by The Bottle Tree Man, Dudley Pleasants, who lives and farms in Greenwood. He has several different versions of bottle trees available, and they have really nice shapes.

Hammock Iron Works in Arab, Alabama sells their bottle trees on eBay. (BTW, Arab is pronounced “ay-rab” and is the home of the Poke Salat Festival.) There’s another seller of metal bottle trees on eBay here too.

Someone on Flickr uploaded a pic of their custom bottle tree, which they made with a pole, what looks like chicken wire, and Christmas lights. The Gaylord Texan hotel made their version of a Christmas bottle tree.

Felder Rushing, who is my favorite professional gardener (his podcast from Mississippi Public Radio is here, and he has just *the* best sense of humor) even has a mini bottle tree in the back of his truck, where he also maintains a garden -really. There’s a pic of it about halfway down this page.

I think it’s fun to use bottles we’ve had here at home (wine bottles, etc.) for our two bottle trees, but if you’re looking to buy a bunch of bottles, or want to get some hard-to-find blue bottles, they’re available here.

There’s even an art environment by Elmer Long of Oro Grande, California of bottle trees:

Project Reminder

If you’re planning on making a bottle tree this year:

…look for some good Christmas trees that your neighbors may be putting outside now. Directions for making these are here.

Light Displays

We decorate our house for Chanukah – we have a big lit menorah in our front yard for the eight days – but Av and I have talked for a long time about how since it is the ‘festival of lights’ after all, it would make sense for us to have more of a light display. I know that if we really got into it, Av would go all Clark Griswold and have stuff everywhere (which I would love!). Just today, I found someone on YouTube that has done something similar:

We have so much fun looking at how our neighbors decorate for Christmas. This house is about five or seven minutes from our home:

I love this kind of thing!

There are lots of websites about Christmas light displays all over the country, and a couple of good ones are here and here. There’s even a contest hosted by KFC for the ‘Festive Fanatics’ lighting displays with some really great ones too!

For all the synchronized to music, perfectly decorated homes, though…my very favorite was the one that was in Simcoe, Alabama that we would drive through every year when I was growing up. It would literally back up the little highway in front of the house because of people waiting their turn to drive up into Harold Swindle’s yard.

It was up for 30 years and is closed now, but it was put up by Mr. Swindle at the request of his blind daughter who wanted people to be able to enjoy the lights even though she couldn’t see. He worked for 10 months every year putting it up and taking it down – over 300,000 lights, some of which he got into trees by using a slingshot. I remember, even as a child, thinking about what a special gift it was.

There’s an article about it right here.

Earthborn Pottery

One of our favorite restaurants in B’ham is Hot and Hot Fish Club – and one thing that sets them apart is what they serve their dishes on. It’s all made by Tena Payne of Earthborn Pottery, in Leeds AL.

Last month, we drove to Earthborn and I picked out three things – these two little bowls:

(see the little feet on these? That is one of the signature characteristics of this line)

…and this small dish, which was one of Leslie’s Chanukah presents:

There are many more pics of Earthborn Pottery here at their site, and Hot and Hot is also selling some of their line here.

Does anyone know of a comprehensive website with links to potteries by state? I can’t find a really good one. Please email me at ginger AT deepfriedkudzu …dot… com if you do – thanks!

Beautiful Cakes

One of the bakeries not far from our neighborhood always has gorgeous cakes displayed in their window, and this weekend, they really went all-out: