Food for thought…or just for eating
by Annette McCleave on November 18th, 2008

Favorite writing foods. Hmmm.

Let’s be really clear: I don’t cook. For many years there was a running joke in my house that I could burn Jello. I’ve certainly ruined Kraft Dinner. Yeah, don’t ask. Just put it down to a mind that can bury itself so deep in a story that the real world ceases to exist for a while. Long enough, apparently, for food to burn and KD to turn into gray mush.

Right. Now that I’ve instilled you with confidence, I’m going to share my favorite recipes.

I’ll point out, for the sake of the faint-hearted, that these are my mother’s recipes, which I follow to the letter. Creativity with words? Got that. Creativity with spices? Uh, no. I learned early on not to experiment.

My all-time favorite food for Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie. Here’s how my mom makes hers:

2 nine-inch unbaked pie shells (my mom made her own pastry, but I skip that part and go right to the frozen food section of the grocery store)
1 large can of pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups of brown sugar (packed)
2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 tsp ginger
2/3 tsp mace
2/3 tsp nutmeg
2/3 tsp salt
4 eggs (separated)

In large bowl, beat the egg yolks; blend in the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, salt, mace, ginger and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy, then fold them into the pumpkin mixture. Pour into pie shells.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Bake until the pastry is golden and a knife inserted into centre comes out clean. Let them cool on a rack.

Then dig in. Smother your piece of pie in whipped cream or eat it plain. Whatever works for you. The best part of this recipe is how light and fluffy the egg whites make the pie. Yum.

My other favorite recipe for cool autumn weather is rice pudding. Try this one:

½ cup of short grain rice
1 cup of boiling water
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
4 cups of milk
1 cup 18% table cream (what, you thought this was low cal?)
½ tsp nutmeg
½ cup of raisins
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cinnamon

In a large saucepan, cook the rice in the boiling water until the water is absorbed. Feel free to cook yours in a steamer if you prefer, but you’ll need to transfer the rice to a saucepan to complete the recipe.

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Then whisk in a cup of the milk and stir until smooth. Add the sugar mixture, along with the rest of the milk and the cream to the saucepan with the rice. Mix well. Add the nutmeg and the raisins.

Stirring steadily, bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to the barest simmer and stir occasionally. Cook 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until very creamy.

Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Remove the pudding from the heat. Whisk a little of the pudding into the egg yolks, then add the egg yolk mixture to the rest of the pudding. Put the pudding back on the stove and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and butter. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.

I swear, even if you don’t usually like rice pudding, you’ll love this. You can eat it hot or cold.


6 comments to “Food for thought…or just for eating”

  1. 1

    Ah, pumpkin pie. For me, that’s autumn! My grandmother was the apple pie baker in the family, my mom did the pumpkin. Those scents are definite childhood sense-memory experiences for me.

  2. 2

    My sister makes a wicked Granny Smith apple pie. And she makes cheesecake, too. I’m afraid my meager talents just won’t stretch that far.

  3. 3

    Creativity with spices? Uh, no. I learned early on not to experiment.

    Ha! I have a theory: If we polled a bunch of writers, I bet at least 7/8ths of them have thought they could “revise” a recipe and make it “better.” The other 1/8th just sent it off to their editor half-baked.

    And Annette, way to use nutmeg in both recipes. It’s hard to get the full seasonal use out of your nutmeg. I’d throw some almond extract in there too, since that tends to sit around for awhile after you make sugar cookies…

    Oops, see, now I’m editing :grin:

  4. 4

    My daughters and I make pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, and I make cranberry sauce because I love the way it makes the house smells. But coming up with recipes is a bit of a stretch for me. I’m more of a “hey honey, wanna barbecue tonight?” kinda girl.

  5. 5

    Cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries and the smell of meat roasting on the BBQ…am I the only one starting to get hungry?

  6. 6

    Yum! Both recipes look great, but I think I’ll be trying out the rice pudding one.

    I did make two pumpkin pies earlier this week — that’s one my whole family likes to eat.

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