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Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
For the pudding:
1 loaf French bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
4 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup diced bananas
1 teaspoon rum extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 eggs, beaten
For the sauce:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup, or to taste, caramel-flavored liquid coffee creamer
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the pudding, soak bread in milk. In a separate bowl, toss together sugar, bananas, rum extract and cinnamon; add to the bread. Add beaten eggs and toss gently to combine. Place in a buttered 13-by-9-inch dish. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until set.
For the sauce, heat butter and powdered sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Add coffee creamer. Pour half the mix into the beaten egg while whisking to combine. Add the egg mixture back to the pot and heat over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes to set the egg. Pour sauce over warm pudding and serve.
– Adapted by Kimberly Dupps Truesdell, from a family recipe; original source unknown
Chapter 5 recap
A reporter from a local TV station interviews police about the latest vandalism. The reporter tells Mirabelle that the police aren’t planning any additional patrols to catch the downtown vandal.

Chapter 6

“The police aren’t doing anything,” Mirabelle exclaimed, slamming her beer onto her dining table. The Mad Anthony Summer Daze sloshed out of the glass, creating a puddle of amber liquid on the white surface. “Not! One! Thing!”

“And here we are, your car damaged,” she said, pointing her finger at Finn, “my business reduced to nothing and poor April having to put up with us both. It’s ridiculous. Ridiculous.”

“Mirabelle,” April said, her voice sad and worried. “Oh, honey. No one can know whether it’s just been a bad week or whether it’s something more. I’m not sure police can do much now. And, if they could, I’m sure they wouldn’t even tell Jennifer Sanders. Not even off the record.”

“April’s got a point, honey,” Finn said. He put his beer down next to hers and grabbed Mirabelle’s hand. “The police aren’t going to tell a reporter anything that might jeopardize an investigation. Especially a reporter who isn’t as cute as you.”

“Oh, shut up,” Mirabelle said, taking a quick sip. “Flattery is not going to bring me out of this funk.”

“Flattery gets me everywhere,” Finn said, winking at his friend.

Mirabelle pushed herself away from the table and headed to the kitchen. She grabbed a red bowl from her cabinet and a loaf of bread from inside her microwave. Admittedly, the microwave wasn’t the best bread box but her tiny West Central kitchen forced her to be innovative when it came to storage.

“You know what I…,” Mirabelle said, her voice obviously agitated. “What we need?”

“I know,” April exclaimed. “We need more beer! I could run down to the store and pick up some Fat Tire.”

“No,” Mirabelle said flatly. “We need someone to take this seriously and do something.”

“And just who are you suggesting,” Finn said. “Do you want the FBI to come in to look into two acts of vandalism in the booming metropolis of Fort Wayne?”

Mirabelle glared at Finn, a look he hadn’t seen since he let it slip that he preferred his grandma’s apple pie to her brandied apple dumplings.

“Me. Us. Other downtown business owners.”

“Us?” April asked. “What would ‘us’ do?”

“Well … ” Mirabelle said, ripping apart the loaf of bread and throwing the pieces into the bowl. “I don’t know, but something. Definitely something.”

April and Finn stared at their friend, not daring to ask more questions of Mirabelle. No need to stir up the crazy in their pal who was obviously suffering from frustration and intoxication.

Instead, the two watched as Mirabelle lost herself in her work. The torn bread became a mountain. Bananas were peeled and chopped swiftly into perfectly sized pieces. She twirled as she got out the heavy cream from the refrigerator and a can of something from the cabinet.

“So … what are you making?” April asked after what seemed like hours of silence.

“Bananas Foster bread pudding,” Mirabelle mumbled, not even looking up, as she continued to work.

“Well that’s a new one,” Finn said. “Sounds pretty fantastic to me.”

“Me, too!” April said, trying to elicit excitement. But she was met with silence and a stern look.

April looked at Finn.

Finn looked at April.

They stood up, and April grabbed her purse. In silence, they let themselves out and let Mirabelle to her dessert. To herself.

Mirabelle emerged from the kitchen 30 minutes later. She pushed her hair out of her eyes and saw that her two friends had left. Three half-empty beer glasses and a vase of past-their-prime peonies decorated the table.

“So much for them,” she thought to herself, grabbing the glasses from the table and returning to the kitchen.

Mirabelle took one last drink of her Mad Anthony and dumped the rest of the warm ale down the drain. She put the glasses in the sink and began piling in dishes – mixing bowls, measuring spoons, whisks.

As she got to work, hot, sudsy water washing over her hands, Mirabelle looked up. Through the cutout of the breakfast bar, she could see through to the living room and the small TV in the corner. It was muted while Finn and April had been over, but she could see a familiar figure on the screen.

Mirabelle walked around to the living room and grabbed the remote control from the seat of her Ikea chair, turning up the volume on the set.

“Back to you, Steve,” Jennifer Sanders said.

“Thanks, Jennifer,” the 21 anchor Steve said from the studio. “Police said the crimes are being treated individually but are they taking any precautions at other public parking areas in downtown in the event that they are related? Adding cameras or increasing patrols?”

“Not at this time, Steve,” Jennifer said. “This afternoon, I did speak with the owners of several parking lots around the city. While they are not immediately concerned, they do plan to install attendants at each of the lots to have a presence and hopefully deter criminals.”

“Thank you for that update, Jennifer,” he said. “And now to Mike with the weather.”

Mirabelle hit the button to turn off the TV and headed back to the kitchen to get her bread pudding out of the oven.

“That’s it,” Mirabelle muttered to herself. “That’s it! I know what I need to do!”

kdupps@jg.net

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