Thursday, February 3, 2011

Winter comfort food

It's snowing. Again.

I dashed to the post office this morning and realized, as my fingers froze to the steering wheel, that I hadn't set foot outside the house since Sunday. A very good thing, when daytime highs are in the negative range. Today is a warm spell, though...the thermometer registered all of six degrees when I got up this morning! It's snowing again now...

I've been hunkered down in the basement all morning studying calculus. I love my little study area, which looks out over my winter-napping garden. My guinea pig is nearby and talks to me every now and then (usually to demand something...more me...let me out into my playpen...). The only problem with my study area is that, well, it's in the basement. And, after many days of sub-zero temperatures, the floor is a wee bit chilly. <--colossal understatement

Days like today (and feet as cold as mine) call for warm and filling comfort food, and one of my favorites is rice pudding. We got the recipe years ago from the side of a bag of rice. Living in Japan, the recipe was always the preferred method of getting rid of leftover cooked rice after dinner. We don't eat rice as often now that we live in the US, but it still gets made several times every winter.

Mid-Winter Rice Pudding

3 c. cooked rice
2 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3 TBSP butter
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 c. raisins or chopped dates
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine rice, milk, sugar, butter, and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat until thick, 20-25 min., stirring often. (Do not allow to boil hard, or pudding will be grainy.) Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and raisins/dates.

If, by some remote chance, you have leftovers, reheat by putting in a pan on the stove with a little more milk.

We always eat short-grain white rice in our house, and hence, always use short-grain white rice for this recipe. I tried using brown rice once. Don't. It's yucky. (Well, brown rice in general is yucky, but that's another subject entirely...) We get our short-grain white rice in the ethnic food section at our local grocery store. I can't imagine how this would turn out with long-grain rice. (Come to think of it, I can't imagine how anyone eats long-grain white rice, period. Yes, I freely admit I am a rice snob. But I digress...again...)

If your family is like mine and there are people who don't like raisins (umm...::raises hand::), let them serve themselves after you've stirred in the vanilla but before you add the raisins. (We never use dates since this recipe is usually a last-minute creation, and dates are not something we keep in the pantry.)

Also, if someone in your family is on a restricted diet (umm..::raises hand:: again), you can go with a modified version which, in my opinion, is actually pretty much as good as the original.

Almond milk for cow's milk
Maple syrup for brown sugar (the extra liquid doesn't seem to make any difference...yay!)
Coconut oil for butter

Winter comfort food at its finest.

No comments: