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Sunday, July 17, 2022

More Depression-Era Cooking: Rice Pudding

Despite being born within seven weeks of each other, my husband and I had significantly different upbringings. My parents were 19 when they married and 20 when they had me. My mother is half Mexican; her mother’s family settled New Mexico before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. Tortillas and beans were what she and her children were raised with. Treats from my grandmother involved dried fruit, fruit rolls, and jerky. My grandmother was raised eating sheep and goat meat; the jerky she made for us was beef. We didn’t get a lot of sweet treats.

My husband, on the other hand, comes from solid German, Irish, and English stock. His parents are also several years older than mine and old enough to remember the Depression and the food that went along with it. Treats they were raised with included standard fare like pudding—rice, tapioca, and bread pudding—all very cheap eats. (Or they used to be. Have you seen the price of tapioca? It’s through the roof.) Rice pudding was often on the menu at his house. I was not raised with any of those and they have never touched my lips, though not for lack of effort from my paternal grandmother. She quit trying to serve any of those pretty quickly and opted to make us more acceptable treats—Jell-O gelatin and chocolate pudding.

But as we face the advent of Great Depression 2.0, I think it would be worthwhile to consider frugal options for desserts that use ingredients we already have on hand.

I had some leftover rice in the refrigerator and thought I might make my husband some rice pudding. As I am still trying to shed a few pounds, I thought it would be a perfect dessert—enticing to him and not at all to me. (Besides, it has raisins in it.)

Rice Pudding

2 cups milk, divided

1 ½ cups cooked rice

¼ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup raisins, optional

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon butter

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine 1 ½ cups milk, rice, and salt in saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick and creamy, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in remaining ½ cup milk, raisins, egg, and sugar. Continue cooking and stirring until egg is set, 2-3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 5 ½-cup servings.

Family reviews: First off, it’s very easy to make, so I liked that. Aaron ate half of his serving right after dinner. Because he is diabetic, he’s careful about eating too much rice—it spikes his blood sugars pretty quickly. However, he misjudged the carbohydrate count last night and needed to eat some more pretty quickly. He headed straight back to the fridge for his remaining dessert and was saddened to find I had already packed it in his lunch. He was happy to be given another serving. Jared also scarfed some down. Lydia, being my daughter, eyed it with skepticism and decided to pass. Me? I don’t do rice pudding.

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