Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A taste of my history


This bowl is full of nostalgia for me. My Papa (grandpa), who died when I was 13, used to make this rice pudding. It was his specialty. His mother, my great-grandma Pearl, made it before him. It's a little old-fashioned, but we think it tastes great, and it's creamy goodness is imprinted on the memories of generations of Griffins.

Papa made it in a huge stainless steel salad bowl. It was probably the only thing big enough to hold all the milk. In keeping with tradition, I do the same thing. If you have a baking dish large enough to hold the mixture, feel free to try that instead.

THE RECIPE:

3 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
8 c. whole milk
1 c. uncooked long-grain rice
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large oven-safe bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly, except cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over top. Bake, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours. Stir once or twice partway through. Pudding is done when rice is tender and milk is mostly absorbed. It will look like there's still a layer of milk on top, but when you stir it, everything comes together in a creamy way. It will thicken a little more as it rests. If you accidentally overcook it, and it's pasty and thick, just add milk. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.


*NOTE: I have made this with short-grain pearl rice, which chefs will tell you is the preferred rice for making pudding. I made it in a deep 9x13 pan, and it took 2 hours to cook. The results were excellent.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sweet and sour specialty


This is a recipe passed down from my grandma to my mom to me. Everyone enjoys these sweet and sour meatballs. Feel free to make your own meatballs, as long as they are really flavorful, but I just use frozen ones for a quick and easy weeknight meal. My whole family eats this meal like it's going out of style. It's tasty stuff!

THE RECIPE:

14-16 oz. frozen precooked Italian meatballs, thawed
20 oz. can pineapple chunks, juice reserved
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/3 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
1 green bell pepper, cleaned out and sliced into strips

In a saucepan, stir together pineapple juice (should measure 1 cup), cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar, water and sugar. Stir while ingredients are still cold, or cornstarch won't dissolve. Over medium heat, bring mixture to boil and stir for a minute, until thickened. Add peppers and cover, cooking until peppers reach desired tenderness. Stir in meatballs and pineapple chunks. Serve over rice.