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Bears, Beds, and Blueberries and Blueberry Bread Pudding

By Susan Nelson

"Blueberries and Teddy Bears"As I wrote about in an earlier post, when I was nearing five, my mother decided she needed a break from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we lived with my grandparents so accepted an invitation to stay with a friend living in Vancouver, B.C.  After many efforts by my grandparents to talk her out of it, they saw us off at the train station and we began our trip across Canada.

For a small child the train trip alone provided so much to see and so many people to interact with, but finding myself in a new city with new sights and sounds was really exciting.  In comparison with the somewhat small town feel of Halifax, although the capital city of Nova Scotia, Vancouver felt, at least to me, so much bigger.  Buses, taxis, and people filled the streets and tall buildings loomed high overhead.  On our arrival we checked into a hotel in the downtown section.   After going to the desk to complete the necessary paperwork, a man in a uniform with buttons and small hat on his head, looking to me much like the only thing he was missing was a monkey and an organ carried our bags to a room on an upper floor.  Sitting on my knees at the chair by the window I could see the city far below and the blue expanse of ocean just beyond.

There was no bed visible in the room, and being curious about everything in my new environment, I asked if we were going to camp on the floor like in my picture books.  Smiling, my mother told me that the room had a “Murphy bed”, which was in the wall.  Okay, this for a girl of four and three-quarters was more than my curiosity could bear.  Questions erupted from me like bubbles out of a bubble machine.  “Do we have to sleep in the wall”?  “Who put the bed there, and why did they put in there”?   “Are there monsters, bugs, people in there with it”?  Worn out, my mother agreed to pull the bed out from the wall and show me how it worked.

Eyes wide with anticipation I watched as she reached up and magically out of the wall a bed emerged, squeaking and groaning as it’s feet spread out and touched the ground.  I was totally amazed.  Being small, my first thought after approaching it warily was to climb up on it.  Hey, I was four and three-quarters.  My mother busied herself with unpacking while I explored the miracle bed that lived in the wall.  Youthful exuberance being what it is, after finding it tame enough I stood up and began jumping around on it.  I’d been locked up in the confines of a train for a week so this was great fun.  Scolded once, I decided to move towards the pillows and jumped one last time which, as little as I was, provided just enough torque on that end to cause the bed to propel up and back into the wall.

Oh, oh.  My other half always says those two words strike terror in his heart every time they emerge from my mouth, which, to him, seems to be incredibly often.  He’s always saying he’s amazed I made it past my first birthday.

Being small, I lodged in the space between the bed and the wall.  My knees were now residing just under my ear lobes and I was crushed up against the pillows.  At the time the bed went up I was holding a small stuffed bear which wedged itself between the bed and the side panel.  Now it was stuck and my mother, who I could hear yelling on the other side, couldn’t budge it.  Assuring herself that I was not maimed or in distress, other than whimpering a bit, she contacted the front desk.  Several men were dispatched and soon I could their voices and feel them pulling on the bed.  After a minute or two the bed popped out of the wall depositing me in the middle of it.  This had never happened in their hotel before, or so they were explaining to my mother.  Checking me over for injuries, and finding none, they apologized again and left us alone. You’ll be pleased to know that other than one arm being slightly askew, the bear also survived.  A large basket of fruit arrived a short time later, and we were invited to enjoy dinner compliments of the management that evening.

That night I surveyed the bed with a jaundiced eye, and it took much convincing to get me to get under the covers.  My mother said she hardly slept a wink thinking we both might get swallowed up at any moment.

Vancouver was a wonderment to me.  There were an abundance of parks colorfully decorated with tall totem poles.  She and I took many trips outside of the city exploring the surrounding area. A self-described “hothouse flower” my mother doesn’t hike these days except from one end of the mall to the other, but at the time she wasn’t adverse to hiking in the woods, which we did often together gathering wild blueberries and catching a glimpse of the abundant wildlife here and there.

It was a good time for me. Vancouver is always a pleasure to see spreading out below me from my airplane window on landing.

This recipe is delicious.  My mother shared it with me, and I’m passing it on.

Bluebarry Bread Pudding

4 cups heavy whipping cream
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 12 oz. pkg. white baking chips
1 loaf rustic French bread cut in 1″ cubes

Sauce

1 12 oz. pkg. white baking chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. brandy

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the eggs, heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. Fold in blueberries and white baking chips. Fold in bread cubes. Let stand for 20 mins. until bread has softened.

Pour into a greased 13 ” x 9″ baking dish. Bake, uncovered for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For sauce, place baking chips in small mixing bowl. In small saucepan bring heavy cream just to a boil. Whisk in brandy. Pour over baking chips and whisk until smooth.

Serve with bread pudding.

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