Spring equals eggs are "in season" from our old fashioned poultry. Our hens follow their instincts to reproduce in nature's rhythm! Old Time Farm does not use lights to force our hens to lay eggs out of their natural cycle, so, as the days become longer, the Chanty and Turkey Girlz kick into production without regard to market availability or that consumers are accustomed to 365 access to what was a seasonal "protein" in yesteryear. Add to that our Chantecler and Standard Bronze tendency to go "broody", or want to sit on eggs to hatch vs lay eggs when the weather warms, means even more seasonality to the production.
This seasonal aspect is one of the biggest challenges we face with bringing products from our heritage breeds to market. How do I explain to people that we will not have eggs 365 days a year like farms using chickens selected for maximum production in minimum time on minimum input, and what in the world do I do with all the eggs produced during the peak egg season (February through April) when the Farmers' Markets are not open? We hatch chicks for future generations and ship "hatching eggs" to farmers/homesteaders on certain days of the week and obtained licensure of our kitchen from the state so we can use the extra eggs from other days in finished product at our markets! Eggs can also be shelled, beaten and frozen for use out of season. Before refrigeration, there were many ways used to store eggs for off-season use from storing in sawdust or sand to coating with a fat and storing in a cool location. Thankfully, we have refrigeration today.
I digressed to "talking turkey" so back to Bread Pudding! This week, I brought one of our most beloved recipes to market and I promised to share the recipe and how to make it ... Bread pudding with Rhubarb. When the eggs are plentiful, we make many egg recipes including bread pudding (sweet) and strata (savory) as well as rice pudding. My Great Grandma made bread pudding to use up stale bread and it was always a treat! Adding the rhubarb was a twist I added while experimenting - the sweet and sour play perfectly off each other. I encourage you to look at this as a "base recipe" and experiment with the sweet and savory aspect, using different breads and a variety of fruits, nuts and seasonings.
Bread Pudding with Rhubarb
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9" baking dish (if 13x9 is too much for you, cut the recipe in 1/2 and make a smaller amount or share with a friend or neighbor)
Cut the bread into cubes (no need to be precise) and spread out into baking dish.
Cut the rhubarb and sprinkle evenly in baking dish with bread.
Whisk the eggs, add the sugar, milk and vanilla & whisk some more to mix together.
Pour the egg, milk, sugar, vanilla mix over the bread/rhubarb mix and gently submerge any floating bread to make sure it is completely coated with the egg mixture.
Let stand for about 10 minutes so the bread can absorb the egg mixture then bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a knife or pick comes out "clean" when inserted into the center of the pan.
Eat warm with cream, whipped cream or ice cream or cold.
Do not be afraid to experiment with adding fruits like cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, raisins, craisins or changing the exact to almond, orange or anything else that suits your fancy. You can add nutmeg or cinnamon for a different flavor as well. Try making a baked French toast with whole slices of bread or removing the sugar and adding meat and a veggie for a savory option like our Nettle and Turkey Egg Strata.
Let me know what variations you come up with! Our ancestors had many variations of bread pudding and custards as all food in the house was precious and this was a wonderful way to use up the seasonal abundance of eggs and stale bread!
I will try to add a picture soon - I forgot to take a picture and we sold out of the bread pudding at market! Picture posted!!
Old Time Farm