Saturday, January 27, 2018

Putting down the pudding

After weeks of snow and ice, then thunderstorms, then back to snow... and text messages from my power company telling me when power will be restored (sometimes when the power is actually off, and once when it wasn't and I wondered if I should expect to be tripping over cookbooks in the dark at any moment), I could use some comfort food. That means this weekend is pudding weekend!

Of course I'm not going to give you recipes for the warm chocolate pudding that I crave during weeks like these, or the tapioca or butterscotch you may want if you've got the palate of a 3- or 80-year-old. That doesn't mean they'll all be nasty puddings, though. This first recipe from Alaska's Cooking (Anchorage Woman's Club, fifth printing, 1965) offers up a nutty pudding I'd be happy to try if it didn't mean constant stirring over low heat for who knows how long:

Wait another month or so, and you can put fresh maple syrup in the Maple Pecan Pudding. I love that the recipe recommends a variation of the pudding dumped over an angel food for "squashy cake."

Let's get to something a little more period-specific. The mid-20th century loved its cans of fruit cocktail, as this recipe from Favorite Recipes of Ohio: Family Edition (eds. Audrey M. Johnson, Boone T. Boies, and Dr. Vivian Roberts, 1964) attests:

It's the old style of pudding-- more like a cake than a custard-- but it gives an excuse to cram one more can of fruit cocktail down the family's throats if they've finally rebelled against just eating the stuff right out of the can.

If the pantry is out of fruit cocktail but you still need a pantry staple dessert, the Ohioan cooks suggest this instead:

I'm not sure I'd highlight flavorless cream of wheat in the title (or spend the day baking it, crumbling it, molding it with whipped cream, and garnishing with grapes), but I clearly have different priorities than the '60s cooks.

Pudding wasn't just a way to use up cereal or fruit, though. It could hide vegetables, too, as the Alaskans suggest:

Carrot Pudding (a favorite Christmas dessert!) also uses grated potatoes and a full cup of suet (which makes me think of it as bird food).

I won't claim that pudding can be used as a cleaning product, but the name of this Ohioan pudding makes it sound as if it might be one:

Pine-Scotch Pudding: the only dessert that sounds like it might clean your kitchen floor. (Disclaimer: dessert will only make floor sticky.)

If you know me, you know I had to save the worst pudding for last. The Alaskans are a hearty lot, so they put protein everywhere-- even the pudding:

Liver and Rice Pudding might be just the dessert to fix if you're trying to make yourself give up desserts as part of your new year's resolution! Or maybe it's the main course if you're trying to give up carbs like rice? Look, with the onion, liver, molasses, and raisins, I'm not sure quite what is going on here, but I'm pretty sure it would help you give up something.


  1. I could see having pudding with suet in it when it is -50, and you are trekking outside all day, but liver pudding? Maybe it's a little European influence since blood puddings are still a thing there.

  2. I'm recovering from surgery and my mother brought me rice pudding. Really did the trick!
    I didn't realize Cream of Wheat could be a pudding, some things are better left to the imagination.