Monday, March 19, 2012

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

There was a day when rice pudding was the ultimate family dessert. If you’re over the age of 50, you probably remember this staple from your growing up years.  I remember as a child that I loved the rice part of it, but hated the raisins.  If you’re looking for a comfort-food dessert from your childhood, this is it.

There are some friends of my mother that I idealized - kind of iconic “June Cleaver”- types.  I’m sure some of you knew a few women like this.  They had it all ‘together’ at home, and nothing was out of place.  (Now - at this stage of my life) I would bet they didn’t wear a dress & pearls as their husbands returned from a long day at work - but that’s the image I had then.
One of these iconic women was Maxine.  Her husband was our LDS bishop.  Our ward Relief Society put together a cookbook, and it was peppered with her recipes.  My mother painstakingly typed every single recipe before they submitted it to be published.  That book - called “Sign Of a Good Cook” is one of my favorites.  Its pages are splattered, torn, and yellowed - and the recipes are memories of my days growing up.
Maxine’s recipe directions for Rice Pudding are different than others I’ve run across.  Like most, it contains the five common ingredients you’ll usually find: rice, milk, flavorings, sweetener, and eggs.  It seems almost every country has it’s own variation - and the United States has several of it’s own (mostly derived from other countries)  I wasn’t aware that even Africa has it’s own version.  

The earliest rice pudding recipes were called whitepot, and date around 1615.  It has usually been known as a comfort food - and I loved this quote by Walt Whitman.  He visited an invalid soldier who “was very sick, with no appetite... he confess’d that he had a hankering for a good home-made rice pudding - thought he could relish it better than anything.  I soon procured his rice pudding... I took it up to him the next day.  He subsequently told me he lived upon it for three or four days.”

Even I love this version of rice pudding - and that’s saying a lot.  The little touch of almond is very unusual, giving it a depth that vanilla can’t.  I found that adding the eggs beaten with sugar kept them from curdling when added to the thickened rice.  And it never hurts to add cream to thin it once it cools.

For the recipe, go to:

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