July 29, 2009
Gee I haven't visited Tony for ages. I wondered if he would remember to come up to me if he saw me carrying a bag of bread. Well, only one way to find out.
Tony came to live with us when he was twenty years old. We have one and a half acres and he lived there for about eight or nine years. We had to order in bales of hay to get him through the winters, but generally he had enough feed on the place to get by. And of course anything extra I gave him.
He used to give me such a hard time when I tried to lock up the chickens. I used to carry the chicken scrap container and I lost count of how many times he nearly knocked me over. Then I began to take some extra bread for him and I tossed it as far away from the chicken pen so I could tend to the chickens in peace. It began the ball rolling for what was to become a routine for years. Tony would wait for me in the same place at the same time every afternoon waiting for his daily bread.
When our kangaroo Josie grew up and ventured out into the world, "our backyard", she used to give poor old Tony such grief. I guess Josie was young and frisky and playful. She would go up to Tony and literally "box" him in the face. Tony would shake his head in protest and snort, but he never hurt her. It was a different story though when Josie decided to take him on by his tail. She would grab and pull his tail and jump backwards. Tony used to wildly shake his tail and neigh with dismay, but it didn't stop her. Sometimes he got so fed up he would kick up his hind legs and once he even made contact with her. I was terrified he would kill Josie, but her reflexes were good and she would manage to get away unscathed. Mostly.
I wonder if he remembers Josie and what a pain in the neck she was. I wonder if he remembers the chickens or the guinea pigs that used to run under him and use him as a shield from hawks while they ate underneath his body. How he never squashed any of them was a mystery.
Sometimes I used to see Tony staring up at the gate or over the fence. Just what was he thinking. Maybe he wanted to get out. Sometimes he did. And just like a mischevious child we had to entice him back with a bag of goodies. In his case, bread, carrots or apples.
We took Tony to our farm about three years ago. I wondered how he would get on because he was no spring chicken. He is over thirty years old now. I remember he was rather put out and upset when we left him there all alone for the very first time. I came home and worried about him all night. I raced out the next day and took him some bread and spoke to him for a while. This went on for about three days.
Then Tony discovered the cows. They adopted him and he loved them. And it seemed they loved him too. Over time whenever we spotted the cows there would be Tony in amongst them. He went from being beseiged by a pesky kangaroo on a small block of land to being adored by fifty cows on magnificent green pastured hills in a beautiful valley. He has loads of feed, loads of company and the best view in the world. Our Tony is living like a king!
Aaaah! I think a little memory bulb just lit up.
Of course he hasn't forgotten. I wonder how the bread tastes after all this time.
The memories come flooding back. And he is loving his bread.
His curious fans come up for a closer look to see what all the fuss is about. Aren't they just beautiful.
Now that Tony has enjoyed his fill of bread, I guess it's my turn to get "bready". On rare occasions I buy a loaf of raisin bread, but I find it get's stale after only one day. Perfect. I decide to tweak an old recipe for bread and butter pudding and I am not holding back on the tweaking! Recently I purchased some small pudding dishes and I wanted to use them. Usually the whole lot gets layered in one baking dish. Here goes.
Raisin Bread and Butter Puddings
4 slices raisin bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup castor sugar
2 cups milk
freshly grated nutmeg
Spread the bread with butter and Orange Marmalade. Gosh I'm down to my last jar of my homemade orange marmalade.
Cut each slice of bread into quarters. Arrange the slices to fit into your buttered dish. I used two of my small basins.
Whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla. Add some orange zest for extra flavour if you like. Strain the mixture into a jug. Pour some of this mixture onto the bread. Allow to sit for about 4 minutes so that the bread absorbs as much as possible.
Grate some whole nutmeg.
Pour more of the mixture in; allow to sit again till it absorbs as much as it can. I did this three times. Sprinkle the puddings with nutmeg.
Do not be tempted to fill the dish all the way to the top. This picture below shows the maximum level you should allow.
I had some extra mixture that I could not fit into the puddings, so I poured the remainder into another dish. I was going to have some of the baked custard dolloped on the side. One needs to be creative!
Bake in a preheated oven for about thirty minutes or till well risen and baked through.
After a little while they will have deflated a little and begun to slightly come away from the sides.
Oooh, my little baked custard pot was looking rather delish as well.
When the puddings have cooled; slide a knife carefully around the edge; invert onto a plate; twist and lift. Grate a little orange zest on top. Voila!
Oh my. This turned out better than I thought. I didn't need to add any extra custard. It is rich enough on it's own and would be perfect with some stewed fruit. I am really, really pleased. Who would of thought some humble bread could look this good. Seriously, try it!