Posts Tagged With: Pudding

229/365: National Vanilla Custard Day

I’d be pudding you on if I said we hadn’t celebrated today’s food holiday, in one form or another, a bunch of times already this year (and also used the word “pudding” in place of “putting” in at least one previous post). August 17 is National Custard Day!

Custard, a cooked mixture of milk and egg yolks, has been around since the Middle Ages. The name derives from the French word croustade, meaning “crust of a tart.” Early custards could be either sweet or savory, though nowadays sweet, pudding-like custards are the norm. And why do I insist we’ve celebrated custard many times already? Because it forms the base for a wide variety of dishes, including tartscrème brûlée, and quiche. And we can’t forget chocolate custard. Been there, done that. And that, and that, and that. But we haven’t actually had just plain ol’ custard yet, so in that regard, this holiday is a new one.

We are in Ely, Nevada today for a family gathering. A close friend of Tara’s family passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, and we wanted to be here to honor his memory. Now, we always figured we’d celebrate a few of this year’s food holidays in Ely, because we are planning a trip here for New Year’s, which means we’ll actually complete the challenge here. But obviously that is months away yet, and this visit was never in the cards. Ely is hardly the hotbed of civilization; I doubt there’s anywhere in town that even sells vanilla custard. And with everybody pretty busy today, making vanilla custard is hardly a top priority. So again, we had to plan ahead, and made a batch before we left, which we packed carefully in a cooler filled with ice and hauled 840 miles across three states. We are now enjoying it from the comfort of a Motel 6 in downtown Ely. Definitely one of the trickier holidays to celebrate, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The photo below is NOT our custard. As I am writing this entry the evening before we leave, the custard is still setting up, and that will take hours. This is what I’m HOPING our custard eventually looks like. As a completist, I’ll probably come back here and add a photo of ours, when we’re back home. I’m bringing my laptop along, but probably won’t have much of a chance to use it.

National Vanilla Custard Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

221/365: National Rice Pudding Day

There’s more than a grain of truth to this declaration: August 9 is National Rice Pudding Day!

Rice pudding is a surprisingly simple dessert that consists of just three ingredients: rice, milk, and sugar. Sure, you can add other ingredients like vanilla, rum, raisins, nutmeg, or chicken bouillon granules, but sometimes simplicity is best. Not surprisingly, rice pudding originated in Asia, where rice was first cultivated thousands of years ago. The dish gained popularity during the Middle Ages, as it spread through Europe like the plague. Err…oops, that was in poor taste. It’s still too soon for plague jokes. The first written records of rice pudding are found in medical journals dating back to ancient Rome, where it was prepared with goat’s milk and used for medicinal purposes. Because rice was once an imported luxury, elaborate dishes were prepared using fancy spices and other ingredients. As the grain became more commonplace, ingredients were scaled back, and nowadays the dish has a reputation for blandness. And yet, some cultures revere it. In Dutch and Flemish folklore, heaven is described as a divine place where you can find a never-ending supply of rice pudding, to be eaten with a golden spoon. And in Sweden, children put out rice pudding for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Famous writers like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Walt Whitman all mention rice pudding in their literary works, and in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the supercomputer Deep Thought claims the existence of rice pudding is derived from first principles. Seeing as how I haven’t read the book I can’t really tell you what that means, but I’m sure it’s deeply philosophical and stuff.

To celebrate, my mom made rice pudding from scratch. In a strange twist of events, she wasn’t even there to enjoy it, but we were. And we did. Good stuff!

National Rice Pudding Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

196/365: National Tapioca Pudding Day

If it seems like we just celebrated today’s food holiday, you’re right: we did. Well, kind of. June 28 was National Tapioca Day. July 15, by contrast, is National Tapioca Pudding Day. Fine, they’re different holidays, but there’s a strange bit of deja vu because we honored the June 28 holiday with tapioca pudding. I know I said I write posts ahead of time, but that was a case where I didn’t write them far enough ahead of time to realize that Tapioca Pudding Day was right around the corner. What can I say, other than oops?

Tapioca pudding, similar to sago pudding (a Filipino dish made with sap from the sago palm tree), is a sweetened pudding made with tapioca and milk or cream. British schoolchildren call tapioca pudding “frog spawn” due to its appearance. I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to run out and devour a great big bowl!

Tapioca pudding was created in 1894 when Susan Stavers, a Boston housewife who ran a boarding house, took in a sick sailor who had returned from a journey with cassava roots. In an effort to make him feel better, she created a pudding using the roots, running the tapioca through a coffee grinder to give it a smoother consistency. The boarders raved over it, and Susan began grinding tapioca and selling it out of paper bags on a regular basis. Newspaper publisher John Whitman caught wind of Susan’s recipe and bought the rights to it, creating the MINUTE® Tapioca Company. General Foods bought them out in 1926, and tapioca pudding has been a popular dessert staple ever since.

This time, rather than settle for a cheap cup of tapioca pudding from the grocery store, we went to Sweet Tomatoes, a salad buffet restaurant that just happens to serve an excellent tapioca pudding. Which is exactly what it was: excellent!

National Tapioca Pudding Day

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179/365: National Tapioca Day

We’re going back to our roots to celebrate today’s food holiday. June 28 is National Tapioca Day!

Tapioca is a starch that comes from the cassava, or manioc, root, a plant native to South America. Spanish and Portugese explorers exported it to the West Indies, and it quickly spread to other tropical and subtropical regions. It’s a major source of carbohydrates and an important food source for half a billion people worldwide.

Odds are, when you think of tapioca, you think of tapioca pudding. I know there are other culinary uses for tapioca – I’ve used it in a beef stew recipe once – but  really, it works best in pudding. So, pudding it is!

I have always been fond of tapioca pudding. Tara had never actually tried it until last year, and though she was skeptical, ended up liking it quite a bit herself. Ours tonight was nothing fancy – pudding cups again – but pretty good, nonetheless!

National Tapioca Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

177/365: National Chocolate Pudding Day

Today’s food holiday is decadent, creamy, and smooth. Unless you live in England, where it’s more of a spongey cake-like consistency. June 26 is National Chocolate Pudding Day!

We’ve had pudding holidays before, so if you’re keeping track of all your food history through our blog, you’ll remember that “pudding” once referred to sausage, and was savory long before it ever became sweet. In England, if you order chocolate pudding, you’ll get a cake-like dessert that is thickened with eggs and steamed. Here in the good ol’ USA, pudding is thickened with starch and boiled, resulting in a much creamier treat. I’ll give Britain their cool double-decker buses and Big Ben, but I personally think our version of pudding is about a hundred times better than theirs. And I know. I’ve had both.

Jell-O started making puddings back in 1897, but most of the early flavors were fruity. In 1934 General Foods introduced Walter Baker’s Dessert, a chocolate confection named after Baker’s chocolate company. In 1936, in an effort to fend off a million “who the hell is Walter Baker?” questions, the name was simplified to Jell-O Chocolate Pudding.

We went the easy route today and had prepared chocolate pudding cups. Before you cry foul, just remember that we slaved over souffles twice this year, and have made a majority of desserts from scratch. We needed a break!

National Chocolate Pudding Day

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142/365: National Vanilla Pudding Day

Today we’re pudding out plenty of good vibes. May 22 is National Vanilla Pudding Day!

In the modern vernacular, pudding usually refers to a dessert. (Side note: I’ve never used the phrase “modern vernacular” in a sentence before. I feel all kinds of smart). But it wasn’t always so. Pudding is derived from the French word boudin, which means “small sausage.” So guys, if your girlfriend ever refers to you as a “boudin,” take offense. Anyhoo. If you’re wondering what sausages have to do with pudding, in Medieval Europe puddings were primarily meat-based. To this day, in Europe they can be sweet or savory, and not very pudding-like at all, as we discovered when we had plum pudding, which is more of a cake (and not a very tasty one, no offense to you Brits). It was the ancient Romans who used eggs as a binding agent in their dishes, creating a custard very similar to what we think of as pudding in the U.S. Around the 1840s, American pudding began to differ from traditional boiled English pudding when we started using custard powder – a type of cornstarch – as a thickener. This proved handy to covered wagon cooks, who rarely had fresh eggs available. Instant custard and pudding mixes were introduced in the 1930s, and quickly became a popular dessert item due to their ease of preparation and convenience. Not to mention the fact that they’re delicious!

I would have liked to have attempted to make a homemade vanilla pudding, but we were short on time today. I settled instead for a box of Jell-O pudding – but at least went with the type you have to cook (which Tara had never tried) instead of instant. I even had leftover homemade whipped cream from yesterday to top it with. The results were wonderful!

Vanilla Pudding

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