Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rice Pudding

"Happiness weighs more."
                - Anne Lamott

A week or so ago, Mom and I were grocery shopping. Her prime focus is on deals and a clearance cart makes her move a little faster down the aisle, probably raises her blood pressure a few points. Well, alright, I feel about the same (but don't tell her). Dumpster diving is in our blood.

What, then, might we do with a bag of rice that was certainly in the multi-pound range? It wasn't "minute rice" (our favorite) but it was still too good of a deal to pass. So we didn't.

"What am I going to do with all of this rice?" Mom asked as she divided the large bag into storage containers. For starers, she cooked rice today and we had white rice with vegetarian gravy. I suppose we made a dent in the rice but it wasn't really very noticeable.

"How about I make rice pudding?" I asked. I used to love a rice pudding at the Carillon Cafeteria in Dayton (long ago closed). I was just a kid then and didn't really consider what they might have done special. I seem to remember it being baked in individual ramekins (or maybe it was merely served that way) and dusted with cinnamon. It was creamy and spicy and I'd scrape the tiny bowl clean.

Rice Pudding - still warm and fragrant with cinnamon

Could we duplicate that simple dessert?

If the recipes posted on the Internet are any indication, no. Each recipe seemed unusually complicated for something that seemed so exquisitely simple. We finally turned to a Better Homes & Garden recipe which is in one of the books we keep in the kitchen. While it is undated, I expect it is from the 1960's.

Here's the recipe with my own notes:

Rice Pudding

3 beaten eggs
2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups cooked white rice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
  ground cinnamon (for topping)

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except for the cinnamon). Mix well.
Bake in a 10 x 6 x 2" glass baking dish at 325° for 25 minutes
Stir. Sprinkle top with cinnamon to taste
Bake another 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean

Can be served warm or chilled.

I removed the baking dish from the oven at the half-way point to stir and add the cinnamon. Mom thought it would have been better to just move it to the open oven door and work there, not allowing the pudding any chance to cool.

Half-way done - Rice Pudding coming right up!

Since I was worried it might overflow the pan (neither of us have made this recipe before), I placed a pie drip pan beneath it. Bad idea. That increased the baking time considerably. And though I used a 8 x 8" glass baking dish, that's substantially the same number of square inches as the recipe calls for. Because of the drip pan, I think, my baking time was much longer than they note (about 45 minutes). Don't do it!

Bottom line: how does it taste? Well, it's not the Carillon Cafeteria's type of rice pudding. I would call this more of a "Rice Custard". It has the very nice aroma of warm cinnamon and I'm enjoying a  slice (yes, it can be sliced into squares) with a cup of hot, black coffee.

So, as the last of the season's snowflakes fall, I'm enjoying a warm dessert right out of the oven. What could be better?

Finished and ready to cut

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