Sausage and Rye Bread Pudding

Thus life returns to normal.  And by normal I actually mean excellent.  It's strange how suddenly the reversal came - like I was gradually returning to emotional equilibrium when suddenly, I took a sharp turn that dislodged all the awful feelings I've been harboring since, well, May if I'm being honest.  Granted, I'm drowning in work, and nursing my back injury that has continued to nag me.  But I am terribly happy, finally.

This weekend I raced at the Head of the Hooch, a pretty sizable regatta in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with 190 crews total competing.  UChicago has never gone to this regatta before, for lack of money or time for another race in our schedule, especially one so far away, et cetera et cetera.  I've had my heart set on competing here since, oh I don't know, probably July, with the intention of bringing the entire varsity squad.  Usually for regattas like this, which are outside the Midwest and feature a relatively high level of competition, we only bring priority boats; that is to say, only a select group of the fastest rowers.  That's all well and good, but I really wanted to involve the whole team in a big race like this, which is on par with regattas like Dad Vail in Philadelphia and ACRA in Gainesville, Georgia, if you're familiar with the rowing scene.  Anyway, the non-priority rowers deserve not only to compete at an upper echelon regatta like the Hooch (or Dad Vail or ACRA), but also to be involved in the inherently social experience of traveling, essentially living, with their teammates for a few days.  Those are the experiences that we remember, the stories we tell to the new novices every fall and to our friends (who don't know what we're talking about but smile and nod along anyway, because they understand how much it means to us).  

There were a couple members who weren't able to be boated this weekend, which disappointed me, since I wanted everyone to be able to come.  But we had 23 rowers and coxswains from our 29-person varsity squad compete, and that was excellent.  I was so proud to be there, and to have made it possible for us to go.  Of course, there were so many other people instrumental to making that race a reality, especially my crew little sister Annika who helped me with the preparations and all the donors, who in total sent $5490.  Amazing.  That's a lot of money.  And even though my boat didn't win our event (Women's Club 8+), or medal for that matter, I was incredibly happy just to have planned a successful trip and to be healthy enough to row.  

If you could see me writing this I have a big stupid grin on my face.  It's great.

Sausage and Rye Bread Pudding

1/2 loaf stale rye bread
~1 tablespoon canola oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, diced small
3 links sweet Italian chicken sausage (or whatever sausage you want) removed from its casing
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Handful parsley, chopped
4 eggs
2 cups whole milk (you could use a lower-fat milk if you're so inclined)
~1 dash ground nutmeg
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the canola oil in a medium-sized skillet over a medium flame.  Reduce the heat to medium-low/low and sauté the onion with a dash of salt and pepper until soft and translucent.  Push the onions into a pile off to the side of the skillet, then break up the sausage into the center.  Cook the sausage until crisped, then add in the maple syrup and Dijon and cook for another minute or so.  Remove from the heat and stir the onions into the sausage.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, and nutmeg, then stir in the parsley.  Chop the bread into 1 inch cubes and stir into the egg mixture.  Let the bread soak up some of the custard while the sausage cools.  After 10 minutes or so, add the sausage mixture.  Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and add the bread mixture.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the custard is set and the top of the pudding has browned.  I'd suggest serving this with gravy, or an egg with a nice runny yolk oozing over the top.  Mm.

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