Be Kind

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Categories: Food & Dining

World traveler and professional chef, Shannon Smith.

If I was asked the most important lesson I have learned in my life, it is to be kind. I was born with a deformity on my face. Nearly every day I was asked what was wrong with my face, and I answered the way my parents taught me, “I have a birthmark.” Of course, it bothered me when people asked, but I got somewhat used to it.  Most people were just curious, but others were mean. It affected my self-confidence my entire life, but it also taught me some very valuable lessons.

In grade school I was often teased and bullied, but I tried to use humor as my shield. As a result, I had a lot friends who accepted me for who I was and what I looked like. Most of them told me they didn’t notice my flawed face, and that the real beauty was inside. The last week of my senior year in college, I met with my advising professor to tell her I had been accepted into graduate school. She told me she had something she needed to tell me. “Shannon, if you don’t get your face fixed, you’re going to have a very hard time getting a job.” I remember just nodding in agreement, and going back to my dorm room to sob. That day I decided I would prove her wrong.

I did get a job out of college. It was in a fabric store where I sold expensive fabrics and sewed custom clothing for wealthy women. I was still asked about my face, but I had become so used to it, I brushed it off. I had made friends in my new job, and many of them are still friends after 30 years. I’ve taught my children to never question someone who looks different, and to always be their friend. In my travels I’ve met many people on every economic and social level, and I try to treat every person with kindness. It’s how I want to be treated, so why wouldn’t I do the same? 

At age 48, I found a surgeon who would attempt to repair the deformity on my face. It was a difficult choice because it was very dangerous, and I was worried about what people would think. I’m not asked anymore about my face, but I’ll never forget the lessons I learned. I learned that I wasn’t going to be happy if I worried about what people thought about me all the time.
I also learned that most people have something they don’t like about themselves, and I should say something positive and encouraging at every opportunity.

Today, I have a job that allows me to stand in front of people and teach what I love the most, cooking. I do my best to share my skills with others because it doesn’t cost anything to be kind to others. Kindness is never wasted, and there are opportunities every day to give it to others. One of my favorite ways to show kindness is with food, and bread pudding is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. Here is my recipe for Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding.

White Chocolate & Blueberry Bread Pudding with Amaretto Cream Sauce

I’ve made this bread pudding so many times for dessert, breakfast, brunch and parties. It is one of the most requested recipes I have, and it is so easy to prepare. The use of fresh blueberries and dried blueberries add two different flavors and textures. Be sure to use high-quality white chocolate and never use whole-wheat bread for this dessert.


  • 6 cups torn egg bread, crust removed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup dried blueberries
  • One lemon, zested and juiced
  • ½ cup toasted sliced almonds

Amaretto cream sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

For the bread pudding, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place torn bread on a baking sheet and let sit out to dry overnight. Alternatively, you can put the torn bread into the oven at 200 degrees for 45 minutes to dry. (The dry bread will absorb the custard better)   Butter a 9”X13” baking dish with 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the half-and-half, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Add the bread, chocolate, blueberries and dried blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice and almonds; stir in butter and mix well. Let sit for 30 minutes so the bread will absorb the egg mixture. You may need to add more half-and-half, so the mixture is very moist, like a thick cake batter. Pour into the prepared dish. Bake until firm when pressed in the center, about one hour.

Amaretto cream sauce:

In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the Amaretto and whisk until smooth. In a medium saucepan, heat cream and sugar over medium heat. Add the Amaretto mixture to the hot cream and constantly whisking, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, whisking for 30 seconds. Let cool to room temperature before serving with the bread pudding.

White Chocolate & Blueberry Bread Pudding with Amaretto Cream Sauce

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