Indian Pudding recipe

Yesterday, I posted about my poem “Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding” which precipitated several requests for the recipe. So, here it is, with various notes, because I can never seem to share a recipe without side commentary. Sorry that the measurements are all US ones.  The recipe is pretty forgiving, so if you do have to estimate amounts, don’t worry about it.

Indian Pudding

2 Tablespoons cornmeal*
3 Tablespoons tapioca
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 quart warm milk
1 cup cold milk
butter size of egg

Add first four ingredients to molasses – then add cold milk and mix well. When the quart of milk is thoroughly heated, add gradually to above mixture. Pour into buttered 2-quart casserole. Add butter and bake two hours at 300 degrees F.  Stir occasionally first 1/2 hour.  Serve with ice cream.

*For a thicker texture, increase cornmeal to 6 Tablespoons and stir occasionally for the first hour. I’ve been doing this variation lately.

Other notes:
I’ve made this with whole milk, 2% milk, skim milk, and lactose-free milk. I have absolutely no idea what would happen if one attempted it with soy milk or almond milk.
It’s best to bake this a day ahead and then store in the refrigerator. The flavors seem to meld better after they set.
You can reheat individual servings in the microwave or reheat the whole casserole dish in the oven or microwave. You definitely want to serve it warm so that the ice cream melts over it as you eat it.
You can experiment with adding spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I happen to like this recipe without them, but many Indian pudding recipes do add them.
Indian pudding is deceptively filling. Don’t try to eat a large bowl unless you are very hungry.

Poem: Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding

I am very pleased to announce that I have another poem published today!  The blog of Silver Birch Press has published “Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding” as part of their “My Sweet Word” series. You can find it here: https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/making-aunt-gerts-indian-pudding-poem-by-joanne-corey-my-sweet-word-series/

Enjoy!

Update:  The recipe is now available here:  https://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/indian-pudding-recipe/

This month a year ago…

Warning:  I haven’t been sleeping well, so rambling is upcoming.

I’ve done some posts about this being the tenth anniversary of some huge losses in my life, but today I am reflecting on a year ago.

Last September, I sang with the Smith College Alumnae Chorus for a choral homecoming weekend with Alice Parker.  One of the posts I made afterward was about visiting the memorial tree for our friend Beth who died during our senior year and the chapel where I had spent so many hours.  I had always intended to write another post about friendship and Smith women, but didn’t for reasons that will probably become clear later on in the post. I’m hoping to give a taste of that topic now…

I love to spend time with Smith women, especially back in Northampton. It is always special to me to see my roommate Mary with whom I share such a deep connection that we pick up conversation as though we weren’t a couple thousand miles apart the vast majority of the time.

I was blessed to renew ties with two women, each named Cathy, whom I had known during my Smith years, although they were in different class years so I didn’t know them as well.  It may not come as a surprise that our best times for sharing revolved around food. Cathy R. invited us to a lovely farm-fresh al fresco lunch with her family who had travelled with her and we talked about farming and New England and family and medicine and art and photography and how some of us would have been at the Climate March in NYC that day if we hadn’t already committed to being at Smith for the weekend.

Cathy K. lives in the next town over from Northampton and invited us to her home after the concert for appetizers before going out to dinner.  Her family owns a couple of local stores that sell specialty foods, wine, prepared foods, and more. Everything was so plentiful and delicious that we never did go on to dinner but spent hours eating, talking, laughing, and sharing. Family, education, politics, losses, music, career changes, hopes, the future, new directions.  It is so seldom that one has an opportunity to discuss with such depth and breadth. I am profoundly grateful that being with Smith women so often leads to these heart-mind-and-soul-enriching conversations.

I was also grateful to have re-connected with Anne, who is a wonderful poet and who graciously accepted a copy of the chapbook I had assembled the prior year for a local contest, even though neither the individual poems nor my editing abilities were advanced enough to warrant doing so.  She sent me valuable feedback and advice and has since looked over other poems for me. She is one of my poetry godmothers!

Now, a year later, the Alumnae Chorus is coming up on a deadline to sign up to tour in Cuba next July.  And I can’t do it. Within this next year, both E and T plan to finish their master’s degrees and our travel time and resources need to go to supporting them. I also must admit that the thought of touring Cuba doesn’t really appeal to me, especially in the heat of late July.  I am such a delicate flower that I would probably wilt!

And yesterday was Grandma’s (my mother-in-law) birthday. She has a problem with admitting her age so I won’t reveal it here, but this year was especially difficult for her because last year at this time we were in the throes of trying to determine what was wrong with her back. It turned out that an osteoporotic compression fracture in a vertebra led to its collapse and a long year of pain and complications and medications and therapy and ups and downs. Well, a lot more downs than ups.

Her elder son and his daughter came to visit for the weekend, which was nice, but it also was a reminder of how much she can’t do anymore.  Grandma was trying to wish away the last year, which is painful to watch.

It’s also a reminder of how stressful the last year has been. Exhibit A:  my outbreak of shingles last December. Lucky for you, I’m not going on to the rest of the exhibits. I am doing better with giving myself a bit more distance, but it is still sad and concerning and draining.

Especially in September.

I’m working on getting myself back into a better place. I actually managed to sleep a five hour stretch last night.

I’ll take all the progress I can get.

SNAP

Dear Members of Congress,

I made a trip to our local farmers’ market this morning to choose among the amazing summertime bounty of fruits and vegetables from the NY/PA border region.

I was pleased to see the market so crowded and gratified to see that the vendors accepted SNAP benefit vouchers from shoppers. The people that I saw using vouchers this morning were retirement age women, but I know that there are also younger adults and families in our area who use SNAP benefits, even though household members have jobs.

I call on you to expand food benefits programs such as SNAP and WIC so that everyone in the USA has access to all the food they need to maintain or improve their health.

I also call on you to ensure that employers pay their employees a living wage, so that they don’t need to rely on government programs for basic necessities.

Both are ways to “promote the general welfare” as you are called to do by our Constitution.

Sincerely,
Joanne Corey

Strawberry shortcake

One of the trade-offs I made in spending five weeks visiting my daughter E in Hawai’i was that I was not at home for local strawberry season.  (I can hear you all sarcastically saying “aaaaawwwwww!”)

In our family, strawberry season is one of the most anticipated times of year. We used to go to our favorite local farm to pick them by the bucket, for ourselves and to share with extended family. I will admit the last few years had turned into buying quarts at the farmers’ market, with fewer people at home and a few physical constraints creeping in.

The two to three weeks of the height of strawberry season then turn into an orgy of strawberry eating. Strawberry shortcake was usually the first entrant. Fresh strawberry glacé pie, using a recipe from the farm we used to visit when I was growing up. Strawberry spinach salad. Strawberries on ice cream. Strawberries on cereal. Eating strawberries plain or dipped in sugar. Then, there were the strawberry-rhubarb combinations – pie, crisp, and a chilled soup that is one of my favorite dishes ever.

It is all amazingly delicious and special because we seldom eat strawberries unless they are fresh and local.

So I thought I had missed all the strawberries until I went to the farmers’ market this morning. One of the vendors is not a farmer himself, but re-sells produce from various New York and Pennsylvania farms. He must have some suppliers who are a bit further north and still had fresh strawberries. I bought a quart and currently have about half of them washed, sliced, and macerating in the fridge. I baked the shortcakes and will get some whipping cream when I go out on errands this afternoon. The bowl and beater and chilling in the fridge.

I get to surprise B with fresh strawberry shortcake tonight for dessert. I can hardly wait!

Food – leeward – food

Yesterday, E started a four-day holiday weekend, so we decided to go on an excursion to avoid the crowds that are sure to be huge over the holiday.

We started with breakfast at Town, one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants. E had polenta, greens, and egg and I had baked French toast.

Fortified, we set out on the H1 for the leeward (west) side of O’ahu. I had never been to that side but E and L had a short honeymoon getaway there and sometimes go there to visit the beaches. As I have mentioned, driving in Hawai’i is an adventure for me, but we made it through the day safely, despite some slowdowns. The weirdest thing on the road was passing my former rental car. Earlier this week, some warning lights came on in the Honda Fit, so it got swapped for a Toyota Corolla. E spotted the license plate of the Fit as I passed it on the highway. I’d say small world, but small island is more applicable in this case.

As we got away from Honolulu and its suburbs, we drove through terrain that reminded me of part of the Big Island – red soils, exposed rock, sparse and dry vegetation. In Hawai’i, the leeward sides of the islands tend to be dry. It’s common to see cactus and other plants that don’t need much water. The higher elevations as you go inland tend to be wet, some with annual rainfall of 400 inches (1,000 cm) or more. The highest peaks in the younger islands even get snowfall during the winter.

We parked close to the series of lagoons and beaches that the hotels that populate the leeward coast in Ko Olina had built.  We walked along the path behind the lagoons, enjoying the breeze and the views. Then, we went to get a smoothie and an acai bowl for lunch to cool off.

We headed back to E’s apartment before the traffic got too bad and to make sure we were here for our dinner reservation. The executive chef/owner of Town has recently opened a new restaurant kitty corner across the intersection from Town. It is named Mud Hen Water, which is the literal translation of Waialae, the avenue on which it is located.

Mud Hen Water specializes in small plates that fuse local ingredients and cuisine with more modern food trends. E and I shared:
*  pa’i’ai, which is taro pounded and fried, in a seaweed wrap so you can pick it up to eat
*  a beet salad, which was prepared similarly to poke. E was happy because she wanted me to experience poke style, but I don’t eat raw fish, so doing it with beets, which I love, was a great alternative.
*  A mutligrain risotto with peanuts and greens
*  lawalu, which was opah (a fish) wrapped in green banana leaves and cooked buried in coals, served with various grilled vegetables
*  a upside-down pineapple polenta cake, served warm with vanilla gelato
*  butterscotch-miso rice pudding with lacy ginger wafers
Everything was super delicious! We will have to go again the next time we visit. I’m sure we’ll go to Town also. We love to support the local businesses of Kaimuki!

GIANT Hawaiian pancakes

After Sunday mass, B, E, and I went out for brunch. E suggested we go to Mac 24/7 at the Hilton just down the street from our hotel for pancakes.

While they do serve regular size pancakes, they are known for their Mac Daddy Challenge, which involves one person eating three 14″ pancakes with toppings in 90 minutes.  A friend of E’s did it – as a hungry teenager – but, with none of us in that category, we decided to split the order among us.

We opted for the pineapple coconut macadamia topping. Here is what our platter looked like after we each had a helping. (For perspective, the spoon is a serving-size spoon and the knife is pretty hefty, too.)
Mac Daddy pancakes

Not pictured is the pitcher of coconut syrup that we poured on our servings on our individual plates. There was maple-flavored syrup, too, but a) I don’t think maple goes with pineapple coconut macadamia and b) coming from New England, anything less than 100% pure maple syrup gives me the willies.

The pancakes were delicious. Even with three people, we did not finish them, though. After we each had seconds, there was still enough left for B and I to have breakfast the next day. Fortunately, we already had a bottle of coconut syrup in our hotel kitchen refrigerator.

A Thirty Hour Day

Yesterday was loooooong.

Our alarm rang at 4 AM so we could get to my parents’ place so they could help shuttle us to the airport for the first flight – a 6 AM to Philly. Yes, I know that at most airports we would have needed to arrive at the airport by 4 AM or sooner, but BGM is not like that.

We were delayed a bit by fog, but got to Philly in plenty of time to switch terminals and get breakfast before boarding a flight to Phoenix, which arrived early. So there was lunch and walking about the terminal and browsing the shops and finally boarding our flight to Honolulu, which also arrived early at about 5 PM Hawai’i Standard Time.

The rub is that HST is six hours earlier than Eastern Daylight Time, so our bodies felt like it was 11 PM – and we had gotten up at 4 AM.  It took a long time to deplane, get baggage, wait for the shuttle bus to the rental car lot, finish paperwork, drive to the hotel, and deal with check-in and parking garage issues. We were fading fast…

Fortunately, our daughter E arrived with dinner, a delicious pasta salad with zucchini, Parmesan, and almonds that she had prepared and a loaf of fresh Italian bread. We are staying in a condominium hotel, so we had a fully equipped kitchen and a table for supper. Seeing E for the first time since they visited for Thanksgiving last November – and the food – helped revive us despite the length of the day, although I collapsed into bed a bit before 9:00.

Adjusting to time change is not one of my better skills, but B and I managed to sleep until 3 AM and then to snooze off and on until 6:00.   It’s now 4:15 PM and I admit to being a bit tired. But E will be done with her work day soon and we plan to go out to dinner and visit for the evening, which I hope will keep me going until a reasonable bedtime.

I’m hoping to get settled into Hawai’i Time sooner rather than later.

Drought, farms, and climate change

On the morning news, I heard the staggering statistics that California, which is in extreme drought, uses 80% of its water for agriculture, growing a third of the US supply of fruits and vegetables. It has already taken some farmland out of production or substituted crops that use less water. Meanwhile, it is in its fourth year of drought with snowpack under 5% of normal. As in over 95% of normally expected runoff water will not be there this year.

This should be setting off all kinds of alarm bells across the country. We need to shift our food production to more local areas and sustainable practices. Now, not in some distant future. We need to change our expectation of what foods we eat in which season of the year. When I was growing up, we ate fresh sweet corn in mid- to late-summer, when nearby farms were harvesting. We would prepare extra corn, cut it off the cob, and freeze it to eat at other times of year. We need to get back to this sense of eating fresh foods locally and preserving the extra produce to eat later rather than expecting California to send us strawberries in February. Certainly some crops, like citrus fruits, will not grow throughout the country, but others, like salad greens, can be grown close to where they are consumed, even in northern urban centers in winter where they can be grown indoors.

During the long slog fighting against shale gas development in New York State, I used many arguments against various aspects of this industrialization of our state. One of them was that, in this time of shifting climate, we needed to preserve our New York farms and forests for food production. Much of the farmland in the US is projected to have major droughts and heat waves as atmospheric carbon increases, including California and the Great Plains/Midwest farm belt. The Northeast, while expected to warm, is not expected to have severe issues with water supply. New York must assiduously protect its soils, water, and air from pollution in order to feed itself and other states as climate stressors increase.