I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately. Balance in almost every sense: between working and relaxing, between eating lots of fresh, healthy food and not feeling tied to the kitchen, between watching how I spend my money and not feeling like I’m denying myself comfort, social time, or fresh strawberries.
I know it’s responsible to think this way to some extent, to not eat ice cream for dinner (at least not every night) or throw your money around like it grows in the garden. But to be honest it’s kind of exhausting when I get into these phases. It seems like every thought that pops into my head requires a multi-step analysis before I can take action.
As an example, here’s a conversation A and I had at the farmers market today, as I was eyeing bags of rose- and tamarind-flavored popcorn:
Me: “Maybe I should buy some popcorn today.”
Me: “But we did just get that popcorn popper.”
A: “That’s true.”
Me: “But there’s no way I’m going to make saffron rose syrup for my popcorn. That seems like a lot of work.”
A: “I guess so.”
Me: “Also I’m going to make that bread pudding later, and how much sugar do we really need?”
We didn’t buy popcorn. I can talk myself out of anything.
I wonder if this line of thinking has to do with the onset of spring, as we move in this in-between time, no longer winter but not quite summer. I wonder if the push-and-pull of the seasons is being mirrored in my mind, or if the anticipation of a summer almost here is drawing my mind’s eye to the distant horizon, where I can see more clearly than usual the ramifications of what I do.
So here is my ode to an in-between season, a custardy bread pudding that would sit happily on any winter table, paired with some of the first sweet strawberries of the year. It’s a true spring dessert, a little too heavy and too long in the oven for summer. As far as balance, well—somehow I’m always able to talk myself into dessert if it’s homemade.
Strawberry Bread Pudding
2 C milk
½ C white sugar
¼ C brown sugar
½ t vanilla
1 T Grand Marnier
13 oz. bread, cubed
1 pint strawberries, sliced
Place cubed bread in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and Grand Marnier. Pour over the bread cubes and let soak for 15 minutes. Butter an 8”x 8” baking dish. Fold the strawberries into the bread mixture. Bake at 350º for 35-45 minutes, until custard is set.