Whew. It was a long, long week. The kind of week wherein I wanted to come home, curl up on the sofa with a book and eat the yummy, comforting food my Grandmother would make. Sadly, of course, I couldn’t do that. Partly because, well, she’s dead and partly because, as the resident grown-up, I can’t just hide. So instead, I made my own comfort food (with a little cheating from Whole Foods). This was on Wednesday night which was particularly terrible.
Why so terrible? A painful meeting with a mother and daughter who are in an emotionally and potentially physically unsafe situation at home. It was so hard to watch as mom slowly let down her guard to tell us what was happening. Not all, mind you, just some. Over the course of 40 minutes it went from “everything is fine” to “I’m thinking of leaving.” It was hard all around- on mom, on her child, on my principal, on me… In the end I was, once again, in awe of the power and bravery this woman showed. While these conversations are hard and exhausting, often they remind me just how amazing people can be.
So I needed to cook something warm and comforting when I got home. I made mashed potatos, green beans and cheated by buying some pre-made meats – and thai tofu, ’cause that’s how I roll- from Whole Foods. The potatos were warm and comforting to be sure, but I needed more. So I made chocolate pudding pie. From scratch.
Now, you must understand, chocolate pudding is one of my few nemesises…nemesi? in the kitchen. I’ve made it more than once and often, no matter what I do, it comes out the wrong texture- too thin, doesn’t set up and ends up a really rich sauce. Still tasty but not pudding. But I had an extra pie crust from making quiche earlier in the week (P.S. use the Hippo’s dough recipe to make your own pie crust, you won’t be disappointed. Plus, if you are lazy as I am, you can make it in the Cuisinart in a jiff.) and there was some really good chocolate for sale when I went through Whole Foods. How could I resist?I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for the pudding- you can find it here. I’ve used it before and I was determined to make this pudding correctly!
I combined the dry ingredients in the top of my double boiler. I added the milk and whisked it all together. I set over the double boiler, which had simmering water in it and let it bubble away. I stirred it once in a while, as the instructions suggested. Now, here’s where I always seem to get it wrong- I don’t think I ever let it cook long enough. SK suggested about fifteen to twenty minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. I let it go at least twenty five minutes and it seemed thick enough at that point. I added the chopped chocolate and let it melt in while I whisked. And that’s it- you just let it set up. So I did. And it didn’t set. I even left it overnight but no, no dice. Here it is, in the pre-baked pie shell, not quite set up.It was frustrating. But Thursday was a new day so I poured it all back into the double boiler and let it cook again. For longer. Plus, I mixed about two teaspoons of cornstarch with a few splashes of milk and whisked that into the pudding while it cooked and… wait for it….IT WORKED! About thirty minutes after the second cook, I had real, actual, correctly textured pudding! See?Ok, admittedly, it’s hard to tell the difference but trust me. When I sliced into it, the pudding stayed where it was supposed to stay!
Plus, it was exactly what I wanted. Maybe not on the day I wanted it but good nonetheless.
And, I’ll give you a bonus photo with a little bit of a caveat. I have posted a few photos of my (I think) beautiful daughter on here because this is, after all, a blog about family cooking. But I’ve not posted photos of me. Mainly because I don’t use my real name here and because I’ve found that when I see photos of the bloggers who write the blogs I read, I find it sort of jarring- they’re never what I expected them to look like! But, while I was making the pudding, my mother came by and took some photos of me and my daughter “cooking” together and it got me thinking about that. As I’ve mentioned, the kitchen in my house is the one in which I learned how to cook, by my grandmother’s side. I intend to teach my daughter the same way. And this photo sort of summed that up for me. Since this blog is My Family Table and she’s the next generation of it, I think it should be seen. So here it is:(No worries, she wasn’t actually touching the whisk nor was she close to stove or the steam from the double boiler- safety first!)
Coming up over the next month? Lots of excitement around here! We’ll be having a birthday dinner for our tenant, a birthday cake for the baby (she’s a YEAR old! How on earth did this happen?!), Passover in early April and…. Oh, the excitement…. a NEW STOVE and NEW OVENS! Thank you to my mother who loves me very much. I am so, so, so lucky! I can’t wait!!!