The Shameless Chef: Capirotada(?)

Got any old bread laying around? Perhaps a loaf that, once you scrape off all the little societies that have been growing on it, still has edible bread in the middle? Well then, I've got good news. There's a traditional Mexican recipe for just such an occurrence, and it just so happens to be traditionally served at this time of year, some time between the beginning of Lent and Easter. It's called capirotada, or at least, that's my best guess on how to spell it. Family friend Angela, who kindly suggested the recipe, was herself not sure how to spell it, and I couldn't find anyone who seemed entirely confident about it on the Internet, so that's the phonetic combination of vowels and consonants I have resigned to. If you've got a problem baking something when you're not sure what in the hell it's called, just call it "Mexican bread pudding," because that's what it is.

No one was really sure about the measurements, either, so as far as I know, you will need:

• Bread (3 or 4 slices should do it) • 1/2 cup of sugar • 1/2 cup of raisins • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese • Butter Optional: • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

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Hey, don't let the fact that these may not be correct proportions upset you; let that free you. After all, it can't be blamed on you if it turns out to be crap, can it? I kid. I'm pretty sure these proportions are correct enough not to leave you with a casserole dish full of inedible glop.

First, pick out an 8'x11' casserole dish and butter it up. That's really all you need the butter for. Now get out your trusty kitchen scissors (Trusty Kitchen Scissors are the most important tool in the kitchen, and should not be children's safety scissors) and cut up the bread into 1-inch cubes. This is going to make it mix better. Now, in your favorite mixing bowl, mix the following:

• Sugar • 2 cups of water *** CORRECTION! *** 1 1/2 cups of water would probably be better. I used 2 cups and it took a long, long time to achieve the proper consistency. Also, you may be tempted to use milk, and obviously I can't stop you, but be warned: milk is... *pause for effect* ...NOT TRADITIONAL! *jarring chord* Optional: • Vanilla extract • Cinnamon

We're keeping these ingredients segregated (poor word choice?) for improved layering later on. Apparently the layering can be crucial to the baking process. I did not layer mine, so I guess we'll see once it's out of the oven. Adventure! So anyway, now that you've got your gooey stuff mixed together, layer the bread cubes on the bottom of the casserole dish, then the cheese, then the raisins. It should look uncharacteristically professional, for a Shameless Chef dish. Or, you can just mix everything together helter-skelter like I did, because sometimes you just can't be bothered to read ahead in your recipes.

Pour your gooey goodness into the casserole dish. Every single cube of bread should be good and soaked. If it isn't, your bread pudding will be infused with bits of Charcoal Briquette Toast, and you'll feel like something of a silly goose.

You should have preheated your oven to 350 degrees, by the way. Stick your capirotada(?) in there and set your timer to "Forever." Ha ha, only kidding! It probably won't take more than six hours. Right now I've had mine in the oven for around 40 minutes, and the water still isn't completely absorbed. Maybe I should have used less water? I dunno. I'M LEARNING HERE, TOO, YOU BASTARDS. But anyway, you'll want to somehow make sure all the liquid gets absorbed without burning the shit out of the bread, so good luck with that. I'd better go check on mine again... holy Lord. Hey, you guys know what's a fun game to play while you're waiting for stuff to cook? Word Bubbles. Seriously, it's really addictive, give it a shot. Anybody know a 13+ letter word that starts with "pas"? Oop, there goes the timer for the eighth time.

(If you're curious, yes, it turned out delicious, and yes, I still used too much water.)

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