2014 has been a year of fortuitous food moments for me.
After posting a pretty unattainable Foodie Gadget Wishlist on the blog, lo and behold, my family and friends purchased and delivered almost ALL the items on it! How have we not been scamming our close ones into buying us things this way all along?!! Oh the heavy-handed nagging I did in my teen years, fruitless and unnecessary.
Anywho, the illustrious Pistachio Kitchenaid arrived in Toronto, but I had to pick it up at the post office depot. Way. Out. Of. Town. Like, take the subway to the end of the line then a bus, out of town. The Pistachio baby is a 23 pound behemoth. The logistics were difficult, so I brought along a hot pink little old-lady trolly I often use to grocery shop. My pilgrimage started on a hangover -tinged Saturday morning. I left home with my crusty mascara-ed eyes and photo I.D in hand.
What a fool I was. When the post office clerk finally ascended from the stock room and put the gigantic box in front of me I realized. I stood off to the side while everyone in line watched me struggle. I broke a laboured, boozey sweat, holding the trolly every which way. I realized it wouldn’t fit. I could hardly move toward the door with my purse, trolly and now the 23 pound box.
Then a man approached me. He congratulated me on the mixer, saying he had one too and if anything the sheer size and weight of it mimicked how my cooking life was about to change. We laughed a chummy laugh and agreed nobody else in line could possibly understand. That’s when this total and complete stranger offered me a ride back into the city to drop me and Pistachio baby home. The culinary Gods hooked us up with a friggin’ chauffeur!!
But really, this man Russ was so incredibly sweet, and in Toronto these things don’t happen. We talked during the entire drive, where he told me him and his wife were foodies as well. We talked blog, and somehow lingered on rice pudding. I’d been missing my mother’s. He gushed about his wife’s creamy, dreamy, cardamom rice pudding. How can two strangers talk about rice pudding for so long?
Russ delivered us home, walked us right up to the doorway. He placed the mixer in my arms and I cradled it with the full knowledge that this would never happen again. We shook hands, said good-bye. I never caught his last name.
I’ve tried to make my beloved rice pudding with a little bit of Russ in it. It’s the least I can do.
Rice pudding is a really easy and affordable dessert, granted the texture is not for everybody. Stop thinking rice is strictly a savoury affair! It’s velvety and creamy like porridge and I also put condensed milk in mine. Condensed milk, the liquid gold of sweets. You could put it on an old shoe and lick the soles clean. A thick lather of dairy sweetness akin to glue. It’s what makes the pudding so sticky and, to further my glue analogy, addictive.
Cardamom and clove add some warmth and dimension to the dish, which would otherwise be a simple carby sugar rush (nothing wrong with that). But it does taste woodier, like spending a day in an isolated cabin wrapped up in a blanket. The clove is smokey, bark-like. When I assembled it, I put some layered cherries in the pudding as well as on top. Because the pudding is so soft, the cherries and shredded coconut give it a bite. I can see how most stone fruit would work well here too, maybe peaches or a plum.
To make this warm, sticky, treat just boil the rice with milk, coconut milk and spices in a pot. Stir so it doesn’t cling to the bottom, and when the rice looks cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated, drizzle on the condensed milk right into the mix. Watch the ribbons of liquid gold twisting and turning as they sweeten the pudding.
Tell me about your fortuitous food moments this year. Have you had any encounters of sheer luck? What’s a dish worth gushing about with a stranger?