5 weeks ago
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I'm having a lot of "I'm not as young as I used to be" moments lately. Like when I went into Abercrombie a couple of weeks ago to buy a present for my pre-teen niece, and was completely overwhelmed by the smell of cologne, pulsating loud music, and oversized pictures of half naked people on the wall. Maybe it's just me, but the very day that I left the 18-34 demographic, in addition to becoming less desirable to advertisers, I lost all ability to be in Abercrombie for more than 3 seconds without feeling utterly desperate to leave. As I stood in the checkout line, I found myself praying for the line to move faster, and in return I promised to be a better person and a more faithful servant starting the moment I exited the store. After mercifully completing my transaction and departing, I felt like quite the cougar walking around the mall with my Abercrombie shopping bag, which, natch, was adorned on all four sides with young naked lads.
And then there's Rolling Stone magazine, which my husband has been getting since college. Reading Rolling Stone on a regular basis will either keep you young (David), or age you prematurely (me). It has become something of a joke in our house, because as far as we know, we don't pay for this magazine. They never send us renewal notices, so we can't decline to renew, and we have never notified them of our new address when we move. And yet, somehow Rolling Stone always finds us. So every two weeks, no matter where we are in the world, the mailman or a carrier pigeon will drop Rolling Stone on our doorstep, and every two weeks, I read it and find myself perplexed, in that way that old people are, at the music that the kids are listening to today, and their crazy "Young Hollywood" party ways, and the fact that Kim Kardashian is even a little bit famous. Yes, back in the days before fire, we partied with Prince! And we did it without getting arrested!
But really, nothing tells me that I am getting old quite like the fact that I enjoyed this rice pudding. As a kid, I thought of rice pudding as an "old lady dessert." I'll have to investigate further to figure out why I thought this. Mom, did Grandma used to serve rice pudding to the ladies on pinochle night? I like to believe that my thoughts about many things have evolved a bit since I was six, but my thinking on one issue has remained firmly entrenched over the past thirty years: rice pudding = old lady dessert. And yet here I am, helping myself to seconds. Hand me my reading glasses, David, I'm making us some more rice pudding!
Well, I should have known as soon as I read the simple-seeming directions that making this would give me fits. It sounded too easy to be true. Parboil the rice and set it aside, and then stir together milk and sugar and bring it to a boil.
A watched pan of sugared milk never boils:
Eventually it did boil, of course, and like the good little recipe-follower that I am, I turned it down to low and set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes. I stirred occasionally, as I was directed to do. And thirty minutes later, it looked exactly the same as it did to begin with! I felt like I was trying to rise kugelhopf dough again, what with all that was not happening in my kitchen despite the passage of the prescribed period of time. I decided to be crazy and turn the heat up to medium low. I continued to stir occasionally, and the sugar/milk continued to not do much of anything. Finally, probably close to an hour into the process, if I looked really really hard, I thought that I could see the rice floating under the surface.
Thar she blows!
Okay, so Dorie says that means that it's almost done -- great! I let it go a few more minutes, and divided it into a couple of bowls. I made one vanilla, and one chocolate:
It was very much still liquid, but I wasn't worried -- Dorie said that it would be, and that the puddingification would occur once it chilled for six hours. Well, alas, for me, pudding was not to be. Mine stayed liquid. I almost threw it out, but then Audrey suggested that I keep it and use a bendy straw instead. I tell you, I just have the coolest, smartest blogging friends! Thanks, Audrey!
Arborio Rice Pudding: The Liquid Years
But for the fact that there is something inherently unpleasant about arborio rice coming at you through a straw, this would have been a fabulous milkshake! The flavor really was wonderful.
Well, to paraphrase my friend Lisa, "I'm no quitter," so I decided to try again to achieve actual pudding. Another good blogging friend, Flourchild, gave me the heads up that I could try heating my rice soup again rather than starting over, which sounded like a great idea. Unfortunately, the liquid stuff had been sitting in my fridge for close to a week by that point, so I had to toss it. For round two, I cut the milk down to 3 cups instead of 3 1/4 cups, and I cooked it on medium low from the get-go. It gently bubbled away, again for significantly longer than 30 minutes (I did not see Dorie's post on the P&Q until after I made this, but I bet that I cooked it in the 55 minute to one hour range), and by the time I took it out of the pan, it definitely seemed much thicker than it did after my first attempt. I was feeling more optimistic that I'd indeed get pudding this time around. And I did get pudding!
Arborio Rice Pudding: The Pudding Years
This was SO good! The texture (which would have caused me to avoid this dessert in the past) seemed just right to me. The flavor was perfect. I preferred the vanilla to the chocolate. I was going to add in some chambord-soaked somethings to it, but I ran out of time. Maybe next time, because I'll be making this again for sure. Round 2 wasn't ready until Monday night, so I gave some to David as an appetizer before he left for a business dinner (he is getting used to me begging him to eat my desserts at random odd times). He really enjoyed it too. I think that this will be the perfect dessert to take us into our sunset years. Thank you, Isabelle of Les Gourmandises d'Isa, for causing me to take a second look at rice pudding. I'm glad that I did!