Friday, October 24, 2008

Am I Pudding You On the Spot?

Now that CSA season is over (sniff!) and my food preservation projects have been wrapped up, I'm getting back into the rhythm of cooking meals and baking wholesome treats. (Finally!)

To celebrate that fact, I decided to invite a couple people over for a dessert night -- two of the students from work who have been stressing over their senior projects lately. And since the one student was She Who Cannot Be Labeled, I decided to make... pudding.

In fact, two pudding recipes demanded to be made for the occasion: an Indian pudding simmered in the slow cooker, and a bread pudding baked in the oven.

The Indian pudding is an old American recipe, using cornmeal (or "Indian meal") in place of the flour that was so scarce for early colonists. It proved to be a wonderful, warming dessert that showcased plenty of local foods: cornmeal, butter, eggs, milk, sorghum molasses, and my oven-dried raisins.

Bread pudding also has a long history and exemplifies the frugality of the traditional housewife. Since it's generally made with old, stale bread (especially crusts), I filled this pan with the last slices and heels of the wheat-hazelnut bread I made last weekend. I also added peeled and diced pears, found in my CSA share a few weeks ago and now at the peak of ripeness, along with local butter, eggs, and milk.

The students appeared on my doorstep in the dismally rainy and chilly dark this evening, and I welcomed them with spicy fragrances wafting from the kitchen. They each loaded up on both kinds of pudding as well as a cup of local cider, and once She Who Cannot Be Labeled stopped giggling over the repeated use of the word "pudding" (I admit, I like to torment her about that), she agreed that this provided an excellent and delicious break from her studies.

(I will add that shortly after the students left, the Renaissance Man stopped by for his share of the dessert feast, and he agreed with the favorable reviews. And his pudding wasn't even as warm!)

On such a chilly and damp evening, something warm and spicy and old-fashioned really does hit the spot, and I think I should probably make the Indian pudding again sometime as a pleasant change of pace from cookies for dessert.

In fact, I'm pudding it on my list right now.

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At 10/27/2008 5:36 PM, Blogger Tara said...

Good to know that the pears take a while to ripen; the ones we just picked are hard as rocks. Do you need to store them in some particular fashion to bring about the ripening, or just let them sit?

At 10/28/2008 7:20 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Tara, I had mine both just sitting on the counter and in a bag with apples -- and both are recommended ways for ripening. Isn't it nice to get a little extra time before you have to use them? :-)


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