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Of snack boxes amidst the pandemic

It has been almost a year when the whole world became aware of this tiny thing named Covid-19.

Almost a whole year of lockdowns, quarantines, working from home, home-schooling and not being able to see friends and family whenever we like.

I can go on and on about all the negatives that Covid has brought upon us, but I won’t.

Instead, I choose to focus on the positives.

Mainly, that we are healthy and no one has caught the dreaded virus.

Also, I am not homeschooling.

We are living in Switzerland, and my eldest, Becca is still going to kindergarten. Nothing much has changed except that her teachers are wearing masks. The children here are not required to put one on, only those 12 years and older.

I have recently come to the conclusion that Becca and I will just fight over her school work. We are already having issues with her writing practice, what more if I have to make her do school work? I don’t have that kind of patience. I also feel that Becca needs the framework and organization of the school and some peer pressure to perform well.

Kudos to all parents who both work and homeschool.

So, with Becca still in kindergarten, I can still pack her snack box.

Preparing her snacks is one of my small joys.

She has a pink bento box with up to seven compartments (you can remove a piece and be left with 4 compartments) and I fill it up with crackers, cut up fresh fruit, dried fruit, a couple small sandwiches and a small doodle with her letter of the day.

I have been accumulating lot of bread crusts because I make heart sandwiches for her snack box. I use cookie cutters to cut out heart shapes from bread, so I have to deal with the excess crusts. Yeah, that part is totally my fault. But those hearts are really cute, and you know, my daughter loves anything cute.

So, I have been freezing the bread crusts and when I have enough, we make bread pudding. They also make good homemade bread crumbs!

Bread pudding

We have made bread pudding a few times these past months, and I have been adjusting my recipe to get the taste and texture that we all like. Some were too dry, others too wet…But I think I finally got it! And I am happy to share the recipe with you.

Makes one 9×13-inch bread pudding or two smaller ones. Use whatever baking pans you have and adjust the bake time. This makes a lot of bread pudding, so feel free to cut this in half. But I tell you, for our small family, we finish this in a couple of days. We eat this for breakfast, as dessert, and as a snack. Also, play around with the ratio of cream and milk. You may also add up to 1 cup of raisins if you like, but I am not a fan, so I leave it out.

7 cups (around 300 grams) bread, cut up into 1-cm cubes
2 ½ cups (600 ml) full-fat fresh milk
½ cup (120 ml) all-purpose cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs (63 grams each, with the shell on)
¼ cup (56 grams) melted butter
¾ cup (150 grams) sugar (white, brown, a mix or an alternative sweetener)
Pinch of salt
Optional: ½ tsp cinnamon

1. Butter your baking pan liberally.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, vanilla, eggs, butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon, if using.
3. Add in the bread and mix well to ensure that all the cubes are soaked by the mixture.
4. Pour into your buttered baking pan.
5. Preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F. Place your baking rack in the center of the oven. I like to preheat the oven after mixing the bread pudding to allow the bread to soak in the egg-milk mixture.
6. Bake for 45 minutes, or less if you are using smaller or wider baking pans. I would suggest to start checking at 30 minutes. Your bread pudding will be done when a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.
7. If you don’t need the oven right after, go ahead and leave it inside after you turn it off to cool. It will cook a bit more.
8. Enjoy warm, room temperature or cold!

***

Tweety Golez Matzat grew up in Silay City and is a University of St. La Salle alumna. Her childhood was filled with idyllic summers playing with her siblings, cousins and neighbors, taking dips in the river and eating dirty ice cream. During milling season, she would enjoy chewing on sugar cane and getting the juice out. Like a lot of Negrenses, Tweety has a sweet tooth and enjoyed the various desserts Negros has to offer. She is sorely missing mazapan de leche and dulce gatas.

She is now living in Biel, Switzerland with her husband and two beautiful daughters.*

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