Food can be simple and still sensational

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Brenda Stanley
Tales of the Dinner Belle
Belle's Rice Pudding
Belle's Rice Pudding
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Dropping off our son at the airport, I offered to walk him in while my husband, Dave, pulled the car around to pick me up. After giving my son a hug, I went back out to the curb to wait. As I saw Dave pulling up, I decided to be funny and pretend to be hitchhiking and strike a “sexy” pose. As the car pulled in, I realized it wasn’t my husband, but a family arriving at the airport.

I tell this story to make a point. Sometimes sexy isn’t appropriate. And that goes for food, too. I know that food can be sensuous, but all too often I see cookbooks or cooking shows try to be so unique that the simple goodness of a traditional dish is lost.

My grandmother’s rice pudding is a wonderful example of this. It is buttery, creamy and sweet with the perfect mixture of cinnamon and raisins. You can serve it warm or cold, but for the full comfort effect -- it needs to be scooped hot from the pan and topped with whipped cream.

I grew up with a lot of old-fashioned food. My grandmother was raised on a Pennsylvania chicken farm and with 11 brothers and sisters, their family survived on the staples. They made what most of us refer to as comfort food -- nothing sexy, just simple, warm, and delicious.

What also makes this type of dish so good is consistency. It is something you can always count on -- unlike my husband, who was supposed to pick me up at the curb.

Belle’s Rice Pudding

  • 3/4 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Whipped cream

In a medium saucepan, bring milk to a soft boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in beaten egg, butter, raisins, vanilla and cinnamon. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and serve warm with whipped cream.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of two. She is a cookbook author and novelist. For more recipes and information, visit her website www.talesofthedinnerbelle.com.

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