Dogs will occasionally bark at me while I run. When I’m laying down parallel to the sunrise mirroring its tranquility, my desire to rise from my feather laden bed and pound the pavement, swiftly swooshing my legs and feet back and forth goes hand in hand with getting a colonoscopy. But I do it anyway, and like a Scrooge I huff and puff and grumble on the onsets of my run, filled with…not negativity, but wanting to leave the moment that I’m in, waiting patiently for that feeling I get once it’s over. In a spiritual sense I should enjoy this, because the moment we’re experiencing is the one we should always soak up, take advantage of, and experience fully.
The dogs can feel my energy. Because in my neighborhood, I encounter small, large, and medium furry best friends of man. And when I’m in the moment, swooshing along and enjoying the euphoric runners high the way I’m meant to, they sit and stare, watching me diligently, moving only their heads as I pass along, and silent with their glossy, endearing eyes. But when I’m scrooge-like, they bark and flail about like a mini tornado that I sometimes fear for my life, especially from the little chihuahua at the end of the block that can probably jump higher than I can.
But this happens because dogs feel the vibe. They know and they feel it approaching, soak it in, and react accordingly. Kinda like us humans, right? How many times have you been in a marvelous mood when a vibe sucker walks in and stomps on that good mood without speaking one word? They come in and act like voracious vacuums and chupacabras, slupring the good energy right out of you. You’ve met and felt these people. You unwillingly soak in their miserable vibe and probably want to bark at them too but that would make you uncivilized. Fortunately, with each ying comes a yang and when you’re in a bad mood, someone can come in acting like stinging rays of sunshine and impart their glow onto you instantly. Vibe givers. Either way, you’re soaking it in. You feel it, you soak it, it’s yours.
Theoretically, bread pudding is this in food form, as it lovingly soaks in whatever you give it. Bread is cubed up and tossed with butter, then unified with dairy, eggs, sugar, and in this case, pumpkin and dulce de leche. Um, what? Yes. Plus! Can I say how supremely easy and economical it is? It can even be made in advance, brought to room temperature and thrown in the oven to let cook on its own while you’re in the middle of the holiday season tornado and general life. And it’s made with ingredients that you probably have lurking in your kitchen. What, you don’t have tons of canned pumpkin and dulce de leche like I do? This will also give you a chance to use up that old bread currently dying a slow death that’s about to meet its arch nemesis, mold. Instead, you can make people close their eyes and say “mmmm”. The pumpkin and dulce de leche combination is custardy, thick, and delicious, and absorbs everything around it to its fullest, resulting in a dense and creamy bite.
With this in hand, and hopefully your good energy, you’re bound to make people happy and relish in your presence. Be a vibe giver, not a lonely vibe sucker. Feel, soak, give well, and watch out for that dog.
Pumpkin & dulce de leche bread pudding
Adapted from Gourmet
Notes: If you’re pressed for time, the bread pudding can be mixed up to one day in advance. Bring to room temperature and proceed with the baking. If it’s not at room temperature, add about twenty minutes to the baking time.
This can be made with very, very stale bread. It will soak it all up. Use what you have!
Can’t find dulce de leche? Make your own!
The rum is very optional but also very necessary. It adds a nice little toquecito (touch) and umph to the dish, a nice zingy contract to the mellowness of pumpkin and caramel.
I doubled the spices in this recipe because I think it’s better that way.
If you don’t have heavy cream, feel free to use all whole milk. Or use all heavy cream or all half and half. Any dairy mixture will yield similar results.
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
2 tablespoons dark rum, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup prepared dulce de leche, plus extra for serving
Set oven at 350 degrees F and place a rack in the middle.
Whisk together cream, pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, rum, salt, and spices in a bowl.
Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Alternatively, toss bread with butter in the baking dish, then throw in the pumpkin mixture and toss to combine. Dollop dulce de leche on top. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Can be served warm or at room temperature, preferably with extra dulce de leche and ice cream on the side.