Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Recipe for Happiness

Jane Goodall spent 45 years studying the social interactions of chimpanzees in Tanzania.  Through the course of those years she has written dozens of books, has helped produce movies and documentaries, and has received who knows how many awards for her authoritative work.  Did you catch that?  Her work is authoritative.  Jane Goodall knows what she is talking about.

Then there's me, living as the isolated male of the household for seventeen years.  I am no closer to writing an authoritative anything on the social mysteries of the female than I was on day one.  And no, I am not comparing women to chimpanzees.  That's your own mind at work.  Shame on you, you chauvinist hog!

Yet, let me share a principal that I have known for a while, and then provide an example of something that works.
The principal is this:  a general course towards happiness is best.  Not a course towards male happiness, but towards keeping the ladies of the house happy.  And even this is fraught with peril, as anyone who has spent time amongst them knows.  We men all have our stories about the best of intentions crashing down in abject failure.  No one does hysteria better than a teenage woman-girl.
Here is the example of something that works:  white chocolate bread pudding (recipe to follow).  I vouch for this.  I made a pan of WCBP and in that magical way of chocolate and baked goods and women, managed to lead two daughters, my wife, my mother-in-law, and my grandmother-in-law to what can only be described as a twelve-hour afterglow of being satisfied and thankful.  When was the last time you did that?
It is not a healthy recipe.  But then again, you're going to die anyway.  Every once in a while a little splurge doesn't hurt.  To make amends, let me recommend a cup of hand-roasted, single-batch, coffee from a very health-conscience coffee house, to top it off:  Johnsjava also offers gluten-free flavored coffee.  It's good stuff.  Try it, you'll like it.
BTW - Most cooking is not complex.  If you are not a cook, all the more reason to make this.  Relax, think of it as a chemistry experiment.  That's all cooking is anyway - chemical reactions.  Also, don't cheap out.  Do it right the first time, in all of its buttery, sugary, eggy wonder.
Anyway, here's the recipe.  Good luck.  Thank me later.

  • 1 loaf of stale French Bread - cube it - don't tear it to pieces like a lazy man, cube it with a knife
  • One-half pound of white chocolate coarsely chopped.  Do not get white-chocolate chips.  They have already been over processed.  Get a bar or a square and chop it with a blade.  Remember, you're a man and you like chopping things with blades.
  • 1 quart of milk (whole is best, 2% works, and if you want to add a little whipping-cream, more power to you)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten like they are going to be scrambled
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons of REAL vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon of nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 4 Tablespoons of melted unsalted butter
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Place the cubed bread in a buttered baking dish.  This is different butter than what is in the ingredients above.  The bread is going to swell in the heat, so make sure the dish has room at the top.  Then sprinkle the white chocolate pieces on top of the bread.  Take your time and cover it uniformly.  Melt the butter and then mix the remaining ingredients over a low heat and then ladle over the bread and chocolate.  I said ladle!  If you pour the liquid over the bread it's going to slop and push the white-chocolate away from the point of pouring.  Don't want that, ok?  Trust me.  Take your time, love can't be rushed.  Bake this for one hour at 350 degrees.  If you have a cool oven you can increase the heat to 360 at the start, or you can bake it a little longer.  It should be crispy on top and soft towards the bottom of the pan.

Then there's a sauce.  Did I fail to mention there's a sauce?  This adds to the ooh-aah factor.  This takes about twenty minutes so coincide making it with the cooking of the bread.  These ingredients are in addition to the ones above.  Take one-quarter pound (a stick) of unsalted butter and melt it in a pot with one cup of sugar.  Stir it and baby it.  Food is not laundry.  You can't put it on the stove and leave it with a timer.  When it is all melted together and translucent / clear - remove it from the heat.  In another bowl beat two more eggs.  Then, using the ladle, take small dabs of the melted butter and stir them into the eggs.  Do it this way because if you pour the eggs into the still hot butter/sugar, they will cook and that's just gross.  Nobody wants bits of eggs on top of their WCBP.  When that's done, you're done.  Although, some people put a quarter to a half-cup of bourbon or whiskey in the sauce for an added zing.  Me being a Baptist Preacher, I can't tell you do that, but you know…
Place generous helpings in bowls with forks and cover with the sauce.  Serve and stand back, knowing that happiness will surround your house for at least the rest of the day.

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