Friday, May 23, 2008

Night Snack

I just had one of those greatly fulfilling cooking experiences that leaves you warm & fuzzy. Everyone needs a cooking “pick-me-up” to combat the many generic meals, the never ending lettuce washing & endless potato peeling. Everyone needs to step out of their cooking “comfort-zone” & find sucess in that little something that’s so ridiculously simple yet you’ve never quite mastered it.

One such night was tonight. If you’re a parent you should know that the make or break question of the night is usually “WHAT’S FOR NIGHT SNACK”. So tonight after touring the kitchen with my expectant two year old, we found…..a few molding mikans, an empty basket where the bananas were & a “He expects it of me” theme song going in the back ground.

So, I’ve been wanting to try out a recipe I saw on TV awhile ago. Every once in awhile I like to check out what’s on the total of TWO BS cable stations. (And by BS…you know I mean BS, right?) Well, yada yada ya… a sound bite……Asian New….Lebanese cook……rice pudding……fading memory & poor attention to minor details such as measurements…..etc etc…

CONFESSION: I always turned up my nose at rice pudding. And you should really, if you’ve grown up in Japan. I mean, come ooooon! I have a pretty compact list of things that make me cringe, twitch & shake in that “two-year-old-spaz-attack” style. And if you must know, Disneyland, giant stuffed animal people & the thought of rice pudding are at the top of my cringe list. Well, I still feel a little ashamed to say so but I wanted to try it. So with the help of my faithful su-chef I went to work. This took approximately 15 min, from start to finish. This barely fed a questionable group of 7.

Step 1#: Find yourself a 2 year old daughter, put her on a clean counter. Give her something to hold to make her feel useful. And be prepared to explain each item as it is produced & added.

Step 2#: Heat up 2 c. of milk + ½ c of water, and drop in 4 slightly crushed cardamom pods in a saucepan. (Get your 2 year old to say “cardamom pods” over & over again real fast!!)Step 3#: When your milk is hot add in some honey….umm…..somewhere around 3-4 tbsp.

Step 4#: VITAL STEP: find a rowdy 4 year old who keeps trying to pick up his 8 year old sister & do contemporary dancing with her & act as if having him add roughly 3 cups of cooked rice to the milk & stir it, is indeed, VITAL! Step 5#: Heat the mixture till nearly boiling then fish out the cardamom pods & pour the lot into the blender. Warn the two bug-eyed pre-schoolers of the horrors of them trying to push the blender button without putting the lid on first. PUT the lid on. Let them blend it for about 15 sec. About the only “key factor” I recalled from the guy I saw on TV, was….don’t over-blend.
Step 6#: Open a can of coconut milk. Think of a dumb coconut song to sing with your kids. Let them have a lick. Warn again of the terrors that befall naughty children who try to stick their finger into opened cans. Pour mixture back into saucepan & add coconut milk & heat through.

Step 7#: Pray for patience as you are assailed by 3 older children seeing how close they can get their nose to the sauce pan without singeing their hair. Send all to grab spoons & sit down & serve it up.This little girl was very pleased with herself. I believe she was under the impression that she made it.This little boy could've cared less, he promptly fell asleep right in his bowl.

Well, there you have it. It was fun & I felt good about it. The original recipe was meant to be eaten cold but we didn’t have time for that. How did it taste? I suspected I would like it, (maybe that’s why I stubbornly clung to denial over the whole concept) and of course it was great. The “tsubu-tsubu” factor was good, I think it helped me to not have to see whole ACTUAL grains of poor Japanese rice, I would’ve felt too guilty. It was rich, thick, creamy & had a subtle fragrance of cardamom that just made you want to lick the bowl clean. (I’m ashamed to say some (gasp!) did)

Again, surprisingly leading the gang ‘moochers’ was my significant other who, in rather rare form, seemed to think it was really the “cat’s pajamas”. All in all, I’m happy to say that I MADE rice pudding.


Kari said...

I love your writing Al! It sounds great. Rice pudding is one of my all time favorites, especially if it's chilled.
I hadn't eaten it for years, cos yes, most Japanese look at me in horror if I mention it or worse.
Anyways, a delightful Lady makes it for breaky sometimes. I will have to try your recipe some time. :)

babylove said...

ha ha! I realize it's not very "exotic" but I feel really "daring" making it. How silly! I think that this is actually supposed to "thicken up" pretty good when it's cold. Better for summer anyways!

Nina said...

It looks like gruel ..."I like gruel!"
Hey, can u post a clip of Erika saying “cardamom pods” over & over again real fast? Haha, I wld love that!
Great pic of her making that "Ashley face," & whoa, Hunny's looking like Travis now! Kiss him for me.

Aich said...

Haha, you won't believe it! Mike's gone to make some for the kids' snack. And I agree with you, it's a very daring dish to make in Japan. I know some people who will just crucify you for heresy! That and putting mayo on rice. AAAARRRGGGHHH!

babylove said...

Aich: Great, it's so "happy-making" to make simple "kid-pleaser" meals. I'm sorry to say nearly everything I've posted in the last year has been for the kid crowd.

Nina: I like gruel too! Hee!!

Mike D said...

Now why didn't I think of blending the rice before???
I'm sorry to say mine was just the humble sugar and raisin kind of rice pudding with, OH YEAH, brown rice(!!) with non of the purrty exotic coconut and cardio-man.
But blending it still managed to fool everyone into thinking it was oatmeal. COOL! Tx for this one.
I can use. Oh yes I can.

babylove said...

Humble cooking, is good! :) I think the "real" revalation to me was blending it too! But I'd bet a little salt too/cinnamon or vanilla & butter would do the trick on any rice pudding.