Tag Archives: pudding

I take succour from pudding and poems.

Sunday there was a big bowl of dead-ripe bananas in the parish hall, for the taking. Maybe they had been left from our church’s monthly hosting of the overflow from the local rescue mission. The program started up again last week for the fall and winter.

I couldn’t resist bringing home a couple of bunches, which I put in the fridge while I hunted for a fast-friendly recipe to use them in. Since then I have very much appreciated the pudding I made, eaten as warm as possible as I try to shake the chill that has descended on me and my house.

Do I never weary of writing about my shivering? Evidently not. My flesh and bones are crying out, “Do something!” And I occasionally respond in new ways… but I suppose it is typically a variation on a story of sun and food.

On my outing to the library I was able to shed my wool sweater. I was picking up a collection of poems by Les Murray, whose name has popped up here and there for months now; I see that he died just this year. When I eventually checked, what do you know, I didn’t have to search farther than my neighborhood branch to find New Selected Poems. It was lunchtime when I got home, so I took a little bowl of Vietnamese Banana Tapioca Pudding and some other snacks out front to eat on the bench. And I sat longer, to be warm, and perused my book.

In the garden the sun is shining, and I can even get hot in my flannel shirt. But indoors this morning I had carried my breakfast on a tray up the stairs to one of the temporary storage rooms (a.k.a. bedrooms), the eastern one where I could sit with the sun on my back. I have been reluctant to turn on the furnace, because of all the empty spaces in the walls and ceiling of the room that is still not out of its demolition phase. I didn’t want to try “heating the great outdoors,” as my father used to put it.

In my library book a surprising number of poems got my attention by their accessibility and themes, and then made me happy by the evocative images and philosophical musings that are so satisfying. Which to share first? By now you will know why I chose this one to end today’s story:

SUCCOUR

Refugees, derelicts – but why classify
people in the wreck of their terms?
These wear mixed and accidental clothing
and are seated at long tables in rows.

It’s like a school, and the lesson
has moved now from papers to round
volumes of steaming food
which they seem to treat like knowledge,

re-learning it slowly, copying it
into themselves with hesitant spoons.

~Les Murray

cool panna cotta with blueberries

I’ve made the Italian pudding called panna cotta several times now. It is a wonderfully refreshing and easy dessert for summer especially, so clean and cool — especially if you include yogurt or buttermilk, and not too much sweetening. If you haven’t made it before, this page, Why Panna Cotta is the Perfect Dessert, is a good place to start; the author shows how versatile it can be, how you can even make it dairy-free and vegan, though the traditional recipe calls for milk or cream, and gelatin.

gl IMG_2819 panna cotta

My good friend Ruth came for lunch yesterday and I made panna cotta for our dessert, the Rosewater Panna Cotta with Blueberries from the same site. I doubled the amount of rose water and blueberries. (Unfortunately I took the picture before I put the sprig of mint on the puddings.) If you are interested in the other recipe I made in the past, with buttermilk and an apricot compote with candied fennel seeds ! , it is from Bon Appetit. It was yummy, too, but of course the toppings took much longer to prepare than rinsing some blueberries. I remember thinking that the buttermilk panna cotta all by itself was perfect and needed no dressing up anyway.

I had been hoping that Ruth and I could eat in the garden, with olive trees and yarrow waving in the breeze by our table…. but it was 97° out there, so we opted for the house, almost 20 degrees cooler. We let the sound of the fountain come in through the screen door; I think the birds were having their siesta. The heat crept in, too, but not too fast, and just enough for us to appreciate our lightweight dessert, perfect for an otherwise wilting afternoon.

If you have ever made panna cotta, will you share your favorite recipe with me?

In the Glad kitchen.

gl half tsp 4Because of the strange and wonderful arrangement of me having two housemates to share my big house, my kitchen is a warmer and livelier place than it would be otherwise. Kit has her favorite mugs and her red teapot that she frequently fills, and a collection of tea that has swelled my original holdings to bursting.gl kitchen scene 4-16

The tins are mine, special because they used to sit on my grandma’s kitchen shelf. I don’t remember what she kept in them, but I keep tea.

Mrs. Bread gave me a cape violet, which has blooming offspring now, bgl violet P1030899(1)ut this flower is on the original plant, which is not a frequent bloomer for me, but because of that each flower is even more exquisite and precious. Every kitchen should contain something growing, and at least occasionally blooming, don’t you think?

We women all like to cook (though I must admit to cooking much less than I find myself eating what Kit cooks), and Susan seems to like to clean up — at least, she does it a lot. One thing I made recently didn’t require cooking: a vegan chia seed pudding which I found on Minimalist Baker. I’ve made it twice, and the second time I also created a pumpkin-spice version that has yet to be perfected. We really like the chocolate one, but variety is nice.

While concocting these nice jars of breakfast or anytime-food, I used measuring spoons from different sets, and noticed a discrepancy in the size of the half-teaspoons. gl half tsp 3The one on the right above is Oneida brand, and it is almost a whole teaspoon, as I found out with the agl half-tsp measure cupsid of a medicine cup. The one on the left is new and relatively inexpensive, and it seems to be just right, while the one in back is probably a hundred years old, and it seems to be a little less than a half-teaspoon. I often have wondered if the really old measuring spoons have had their edges worn down over the decades…. But what am I to think of this overall lack of standardization?

Kit says she has been semi-consciously avoiding that bigger spoon when she needs a half-teaspoon, and now we know why it — it isn’t what it purports to be! Are even our measurements getting supersized?gl pudding 4-16 chia

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We seem to be focusing on brown and orange foods lately. The chocolate pudding is brown, of course. And the light and crispy sesame flax crackers that we’ve made three batches of. That recipe comes from a library book, Food 52: Vegan by Gena Hamshaw. Moving on toward orange, Kit made carrot-ginger soup with cashew cream for a topping.

But for sheer elegance, I present one of my favorite foods, whose presence in the kitchen is to me always either promising or comforting. It takes so little effort to cook, and is versatile and healthy. It is what I call a yam. If you do a little research on what is a yam and what is a sweet potato, you might go a little crazy with the impossibility of being both botanically correct and a non-weird member of your local culinary culture.

gl Sweet_potatoes,_Padangpanjang wiki

So, my recommendation is to just call it what you always call it. I love all the sweet potatoes I’ve ever cooked and eaten, but for some reason I buy this Garnet Yam more often. Here is the last piece of yam from the recent batch I baked. It’s time to put a few more into the oven, to make this rainy day warm and nourishing.

gl yam apr

Double Dark Chocolate Pudding

chocolate pud & whiskMany months ago I wrote the draft of this post, when I was making pudding frequently for my husband. In the last week of his life he ate little else. Cancer and chemo had made meals a challenge, and toward the end, this was the best solution to the various food-related problems.

He needed the extra-extra nourishment that is in this rich chocolate confection. For him I added additional egg yolks, which you might do, too, if you are cooking for someone who is anemic, or who can’t eat much at one time, and needs the mega-nutrition that is in each bite. Unless someone doesn’t like chocolate, they will probably find it easy to eat.

chocolate pud Lindt

Though it is a truly delicious dessert to serve to anyone — even the healthiest people! — I myself surely do not need super rich nutrition, and after my husband died I couldn’t imagine what might move me to cook it again.

I found my motivator recently when a friend was in the rehab hospital after a painfully tedious ordeal. On the phone  I arranged to go visit her and asked, knowing that the institutional meals were likely to fall short of fully satisfying to the whole person, if I might bring her anything. She requested chocolate pudding, having in mind a prepared version from the grocery store. I wasn’t familiar with that sort anyway, but since I had become such an expert at this version, I immediately knew that I would make it for her.

It really is not difficult, and you don’t have to practice as much as I did to find that out. I had a good system going for laying out my ingredients and working through the steps quickly. One day I even produced two batches, one in the morning and one in the evening! Any other dessert I’ve ever made has been rare enough that I wasn’t comfortable and familiar with the process in a way that let me experience that flow. At the time, I might add, I was consoled and cheered by being able to create something that was pleasing and and useful, even though I knew that its powers were limited.

Chocolate Pud eggs

This recipe is special because of the dark chocolate bar that is mixed in at the end. Before that addition it is more of a milk chocolate experience. Considering the amount of chocolate in the final product, the sugar is at a minimum. For that reason I just at this moment decided to add “Dark” to the name. You might find similar recipes that have more butterfat and no egg yolk — I reject those in favor of versions that include that lovely and elegant food, the egg, which has such a vast nutritional gift to give.

Double Dark Chocolate Pudding 

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (I like Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks (or more)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, plus shavings (85% or 90% Lindt is nice)

Place a fine-mechocolate pud dry ingredsh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.

Whisking constantly, heat over medium until you notice some thickening at the bottom of the pan, 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate; stir until smooth.chocolate pud doubling

Divide among 4-6 small bowls and smooth the surface of each one with a swirl. Garnish with more dark chocolate shavings. Eat warm or cover and chill.

Other than adding more egg yolks for my husband, and using arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, I didn’t make any changes to this recipe I found on Martha Stewart’s website.

My friend was quite happy with my gift. I brought enough for two servings, in a bag with some ice on the bottom, so she could eat half later. It was very comforting.

chocolate pud 4