In grade school alongside the 2×5=10, “we the people,” they’re trying to catch their horse running over there, and colored celery should be a section on finance, investment and the like. Unless you happened to take a finance elective in high school (which I didn’t) you were taught how to count money, but nothing more than that. Not how much to save. Not how to save when you haven’t got much.
I suppose many people learn about all this shortly after starting their first real job. The kind of job that offers a 401k and matching something-or-other. In the same way you probably never saw a w-4 before starting that first job you are forced to figure it out on the go.
I don’t know many people with that type of real job.
In order to help us learn to be those sorts of adults even without that kind of job my friends and I decided to start a club. Though it might have been my idea I think I was the first to drop out. It was all the fault of the expense tracker. We were supposed to write down every expense for the month, figure out the percentage of total income vs expense for each category and then say why we went over — if we did. The tracker had some obvious flaws — there was a children category but not one for pets. Illogically, I went over on almost every category except debt — because I’ve been lucky in that way. My first purchase after that month was liberating. I could spend whatever I wanted and didn’t have to write it down. Ah-ha! Was that the lesson? No.
The lesson I really got from it was that somehow I am both a rich man and a poor man. (Except, I’m a woman). Neither one nor the other, but both at the same time. If that’s middle class the feeling isn’t what I expected it to be.
Poor enough to rarely throw away anything. Rich enough to make Pumpkin Bread Pudding. Bread Pudding feels like a rich man dessert, except that it isn’t. Looking around the kitchen a couple weekends ago I saw that almost every ingredient was there. From the last of the homemade roasted pumpkin puree sitting next to the too stale to eat bread in the freezer to the whole nutmeg older than the rum. Out of the whole recipe only two ingredients — eggs and milk — had to be purchased. Aren’t those thought of as grocery staples?
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from a multitude of others, many of whom adapted theirs from others too.
Cube enough stale bread to fill a cake pan 8″ round and 2″ high. Ciabatta and french breads went into this dish.
In a large bowl whisk 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, 3/4 cup milk, scant 3/4 cup cream, 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, a really good grating of nutmeg, two pinches cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon dark rum. Add in 2 large handfuls of golden raisins. Add in the bread and make sure it’s all well mixed. Let sit for about 15 minutes.
Butter the now empty cake pan.
Pour the soaked bread mixture back into the greased cake pan. Sprinkle a couple handfuls of pecan pieces on top.
This is about when all the precise work from above ran out. Bake at some temperature — might have been 325 or 350 until it’s done. Which was faster than I thought it would take so maybe 30-45 minutes.
In the picture, the serving is topped with an apple I just didn’t seem to want to eat, sliced and browned in a little butter and brown sugar. Many other not pictured servings went alongside a small scoop of vanilla gelato.
I should probably also mention that this was so good. I meant to share and then ate all six servings myself.