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Rice Pudding for Dessert: Happy Birthday Daniel and introducing Jennifer Gandin Le to the blog series on mothering and creativity

Daniel and Ben 1995845

This post is in honor of one of my best friends, Daniel Jenkins, who loves coconut rice pudding.
He loves to lead us to culinary wonderment and so, in honor of knowing and loving him for thirty-two years, here is my recipe!

I have to come clean about this: Annabelle Coote of Movement Matters asked me for this recipe last March. I guess I got distracted or something. (Sheesh! Sorry Annabelle!)
Annabelle is one of the many amazing women presenting during the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers in March.

Let me know if you give this recipe a run. As my eighteen year old snarfled through the kitchen just now, he asked what I was doing. When he learned that I was offering you this recipe, he confirmed it to be one of the highlights of his culinary upbringing. (Well, that is what I interpreted from the satisfied grunt he made.)

Your next chance for my rice pudding for dessert is this coming March 1, 2013 at Dewey Hall in Sheffield, MA.
A nice big bowl goes to the LLD reader who shows up at this event live and in person!
Leave me a comment here and let me know you will be attending and I will have a special bowl ready for you.

Today marks the continuation of the blog series on mothering and creativity. Jennifer Gandin Le shows up with a recipe all her own. Read it here.

Rice Pudding for Dessert, a la’ the Pokey Little Puppy
Featured at Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others

This recipe is adapted from Richard Sax’ Classic Home Desserts. I love Richard’s book, but I am a stubborn cook, and when I have an idea I work it a few times, damn the torpedos and turned up noses, until I get satisfaction from those round my table. So I took Richard’s recipe and noodled with it until I got this version.

~serves 6 to 8 so go ahead and double it
~time? Well, this is a very stir, wait, stir sort of thing.

2 ½ cups cooked short grain brown rice
2 cups low-fat milk
2 cups coconut milk- please use the full out coconut milk, not the no-fat version
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup raisins or chopped up apricot paste or dried unsweetened cherries
(the apricot paste you can get in Lebanese groceries or places that carry imported foods. It is a big rectangle of apricot paste that my husband remembers eating in strips growing up in Brooklyn. In a pinch, you could just cut up fruit leather.)
½ cup dried coconut, unsweetened plus another ½ cup to toast and sprinkle on before serving

~if you have a vanilla bean on hand, split it down the center and scrape the seeds in to the rice mixture before you put it in the oven.

1. If you don’t have a pot of cooked rice on hand, start the rice in the morning. Here is how I do rice: Water to rice ratio is 2:1. Rinse the rice well before putting it in to a saucepan with the water to boil. Once it is at a rolling boil, let it go for a minute or two, then cover the pot, turn the heat down low. Then, turn it off at about 35 minutes. Just let it sit, covered while you get everything else ready.
2. Combine the cooked rice with the milks and salt in a large, heavy saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Uncover, lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until it thickens, about 30 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup and simmer, stirring for about 15 minutes. (You can stop the cooking here if you want to wait and finish it right before you serve it- best that way, but I will eat this stuff at any temperature- so boogie on.)
3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the center. In a small bowl, soak your dried fruit in boiling water or very hot tap water for 10 minutes. Generously butter an 8-inch square Pyrex or oven-proof casserole dish.
4. Drain the fruit and stir it in. Stir in the vanilla seeds if you have them. Stir in the dried coconut here too.
5. Move the rice mixture in to the baking dish and smooth the top. Some crazy lassies dribble heavy cream on the top here, but I don’t. I am not a full fat dairy gal, even though I grew up within earshot of the dairy cows of Wisconsin. If I think about it, I drizzle a little milk on the top to keep it moist, but this has never been a real issue. See what it looks like to you and proceed according to your appetite.
6. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg or the nutmeg you have in your spice cupboard will be fine.
7. Bake until the top is bubbly and browned, 30-40 minutes. While it bakes, toast that last ½ cup of dried coconut to garnish each serving. Dish it up warm or chilled or room temperature.

You must remember I am a home cook, not a fancy doodle food blogger like Janet at A Raisin and A Porpoise, or Alana at Eating from the Ground Up or Gina of the Chili Contest in a Box book. They might do this differently, but when served this dish, they are as happy as can be.

Tons of love to you each,
and especially to you DHJ,

Alana Chernila is Queen of Her Own Heart : On Local Berkshire Wonders

On this last day of July, I have to tell you that over in the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series II department of this website, you will find Alana Chernila emerging from her writing room to talk about what happens for her in there.

Alana is a superstar here in the Berkshires. The streets are peppered with stars such as she, but Alana persists in imbuing her own brand of sparkle and genius in to everything she does. Alana is one of our Selectpeople, working with our Town Manager on getting our little town to work smarter. Alana also sells produce at our Farmer’s Market for Indian Line Farm. She does many things, and does them well, but what bursts your heart opens is when she writes and reads her work. You can hear her in our Out of the Mouths of Babes event next March, 2013. For now, just head over to read her latest post.

Will Wonders Never Cease

A few weeks ago at the Triplex Theatre, I sat in the front row as Taylor Mali spoke this poem of his. It was a tender day in his personal life, a turning point moment, and he personalized the poem as he spoke it.

Remember Me From Now

If for years before I die,
I linger and wither and forget
myself, like the old apple tree
in the orchard I cannot bring myself
to fell: if sadness or some other cancer
has spindled me to breaking:

then add to that blue future
to the list of reasons to remember me
as I am now, bursting in my glee,
in love with this day, this forest,
and these trees, these dark,
and lovely trees.

©Taylor Mali 2009 from The Last Time As We Were

Here is a peek of Taylor in action.

On Kidnapping

Paulus Berensohn, the artist and deep ecologist, taught me to ‘kidnap’ poems. He once presented this idea to his close friend and poet Mary Oliver and described to her how he memorized her poems and inserted words in key places to make them intensely personal, expressive of his own feelings within the container of her poems. From Paulus’ telling, Mary resisted the idea for about a year, then called him to say she had finally come round to liking the idea. Paulus has the beautiful ability to speak a poem at just the right moment in time, from memory. And, ofttimes, in his kidnapped versions.

I kidnap Mary Oliver’s poem, Why I Wake Early, nearly every day as I do yoga under the oak in my backyard.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Why I Wake Early, 2004)

When Taylor personalized his own poem to capture the poignancy of his day, with details I will let him divulge, the work jumped alive off the stage and wrapped itself, arms and legs around my heart.

Today, I will kidnap Taylor’s poem, to capture my day, this one moment in time. I’d love to hear what poem you’d like to kidnap and how you’d do it.

Remember Me From Now, after Taylor Mali’s poem, kidnapped by Suzi Banks Baum

If for years before I die,
I linger and wither and forget
myself, like the old apple tree
in the orchard I cannot bring myself
to fell; if sadness or some other cancer
has spindled me to breaking;

then add that blue future
to the list of reasons to remember me
as I am now, bursting in my glee,
in love with this day, the sunset and the green tomatoes, this good green land,
and these trees, these dark
and lovely trees.

Miracle view from the hammock. So glad I lay down. #summer #tree #heart xoS

Make a poem your own today.
Let the elegant hand of Mary Oliver, of Taylor or some other writer of soul filled words carry your heart out in to the clear air, where we can all draw a quick breath at the fleeting beauty of you.

I am Queen of my Own Heart in Naples, Florida today

Good Morning #florida. XoS #light

Good Morning from Naples, Florida

Love For Certain Work

Traveling is as refreshing for some
as staying at home is for others.

Solitude in a mountain place
fills with companionship for this one,
and weariness for that one.

This person loves being in charge
of the workings of a community.

This other one loves the ways
heated iron can be shaped with a hammer.

Each has been given a strong desire
for certain work, a love for those motions,
and all motion is love.

The way sticks and pieces of dead grass and leaves
shift about in the wind
and with the directions of rain and puddle-water
on the ground, those motions
are all following the love
they have been given.

I am here in southern Florida where the days start at 80 degrees. I am assisting my friend Jill Rogers in running her workshop about The Seven Sacred Steps. I am completely immersed in looking at how I love and learning to take steps towards extraordinary loving and also in her salt water pool at the early and end of each day.

Evening #Buddha in #florida. G'night! XoS

This little post is simply a love note to you readers of Laundry Line Divine. Here are four views of the Buddha that sits across from me as I do my Keystone Practices and my pal Lydia paddles around the pool in our new pink goggles.

I hope today finds you discovering something marvelous that is right in front of you.

#goodmorning #buddha and boat. Sweet #saturday. XoS

All my love to you today.
I will be back to my regular posting- this week Alana Chernila has a post on Out and I still want to tell you about our evening with Taylor Mali in Great Barrington.

#goodmorning #buddha with Mama Kitty. XoS

Til then,

Gilded Rigatoni Moments: Gratitude for our Mothers

“The Mother’s Day that means something, the Mother’s Day that is not a duty but a real holiday, is about the perfect mother. It is about the mother before she becomes the human being, when she is still the center of our universe, when we are very young.
They are not long, the days of construction paper and gilded rigatoni. That’s why we save those things so relentlessly, why the sisterhood of motherhood, those of us who can instantly make friends with a stranger by discussing colic and orthodonture, have as our coat of arms a sheet of small handprints executed in finger paint.”

Anna Quindlen

There have been posts on Face book of the gifts women have received on Mother’s Day. My friend Nichole’s daughter drew her mother in anime. Another friend’s kids ordered in Chinese food. My daughter promised me an hour of her day in the garden, which she promptly delivered, then went inside to bake a cake. My son, well, his box of Whitman Chocolates came with a card he has yet to sign. But he enjoyed regaling us with the story of the CVS clerk who was berating every single guy in line with a card or box of candy on the morning of Mother’s Day. The few…the happy few…the “band of brothers” there in line with Hallmark in their hands.

I don’t have any actual gilded rigatoni, but I do have this.

Catherine has always liked to leave notes.
Catherine has always liked to leave notes.

And until I get that card from Ben, I do have this.

This started as a flip book, but to do it right I would have had to start last year. And I am not so good at that kind of planning. Especially in July.
This started as a flip book, but to do it right I would have had to start last year. And I am not so good at that kind of planning. Especially in July.

I have been dipping in to my friend, ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ author, Michelle Gillett’s book A Celebration of Motherhood and there, found this quote by Anna Quindlen, who herself has a new book out. You can read a lively interview of Anna written by her son, who is a writer for Barnes and Noble. This quote, about the coat of arms for mothers made of small handprints, highlights what I have been up to all spring.

My daughter is about to graduate the 8th grade from her Waldorf grade school. There, this step in a child’s educational journey is celebrated with more pomp and a bit more circumstance. Her class has been together since first grade, with the same class teacher, a unique quality of Waldorf education. The pomp comes with a recognition of the closing of this groups’ time together, and the circumstance celebrates their next steps.

I am on the yearbook committee. Pouring over the equivalent of ‘gilded rigatoni’, over discs of photos delivered by parents too busy to sort them, which means I get to see their versions of events, the back of their kids heads as they squirm away from their parent’s camera views. It is as Anna says, this ubiquitous and ordinary, universal and tender experience, which you memorialize by saving the random and intentional tributes made for you by your offspring. ( The more I write here, the more I am hoping Ben writes something in that Mother’s Day card.)

In the bigger world there have been some poignant tributes to mothers. Proctor and Gamble offer this one. President Obama, this one.

I espouse further gratitude for our mothers in an effort to stir appreciation for what the women around you are up to. Whether or not yourself are a parent, we are all sons and daughters and have the capacity to enrich our lives by appreciating what was or was not done for us by our mothers.

Don’t stop with your gratitudes. I promise, they will open a door for you.
Here are mine for today:

Gratitudes for my Mom:

1. I am grateful she sent me to a Lutheran grade school in Chicago where I could meet friends I still love to this day, with common affection for Fritos and for violets at Easter.
2. I am grateful that Mom read so much as an individual and to us.
3. I am grateful for the house she bought after being divorced from my Dad and all the effort she put in to creating a haven for my sisters and me.
4. I am grateful for all the things she saved of mine, like all my alphabet pages from Bethesda Lutheran School.
5. I am grateful for the miles she drove to bring us back to Chicago, after we’d moved north to the U.P., to visit our relatives.
6. I am grateful for the love she cultivated with my Dad’s family, especially my Aunts and Uncles.
7. I am grateful my Mom was so stylish as a young woman, that she had this sort of mysterious past of which we know little.
8. I am grateful for her preparations for us, when we arrived home from somewhere, she’d be in the kitchen preparing a meal.
9. I am grateful for the sound of her singing ‘Turaluralura”.
10. I am grateful for the way she set the table, with a centerpiece and candle, no matter where we were eating.

Last week, when Ben was feeling overwhelmed and tired, I knew it was time to stir up some pudding. My Mom was a stove-top pudding person and I have carried that forward. Alana Chernila’s recipe in The Homemade Pantry is where I started last week. In the middle of making dinner, this recipe keeps you at the stove stirring, which means everyone else has to set the table and wait while you serve it in ramekins.Please don’t be put off by those dark bits of unmelted cocoa. In the face of not having all the right ingredients, I always add my own flourishes to recipes, which sometimes yield less than photogenic results, but believe me this pudding is perfect.

It is worth the effort, every stir is a prayer for ease, confidence, integrity and joy.
May you be happy(Stir) May you be well(Stir) May you be safe. (Stir) May you be peaceful and at ease. (Stir) and there it is, ready for dessert.

If I can offer my teen agers anything these days, it is comfort.

How about you?
What is in your ‘gilded rigatoni’ stash about your mother?

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