Archive for the ‘Pudding’ Category

Tinky Goes Yankee

3 March 2009

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A Note to Readers:
 
 
This blog has moved. For newer posts plus copies of all the old ones (even this one!), please visit me at the All-New IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS.
  
Tinky
 
I don’t usually put posts on my blog that merely link to other web sites, but today I’m making an exception. The new issue of Yankee magazine is now OUT—and it features an article on me, Tinky Weisblat. I’m the star of the March/April “Best Cook in Town” feature by veteran Yankee writer Edie Clark.

 

Edie called last fall just before the semi-final rounds of my annual Pudding Hollow Pudding Contest. She needed to interview someone THAT WEEK and hoped it could be I, preparing an original pudding recipe. I was a little taken aback since I had to test seven other puddings for the semi-finals, but I love being famous. So of course I said yes and scrambled together a recipe for something called Cozy Apple Pudding.

 

We had a lovely visit despite the chaos. One of Edie’s greatest assets as a reporter is that she seems like an old friend the minute she walks in the door. She worked and chatted with my mother and me as we cooked and even sat through a rehearsal of my signature song for the Pudding Contest, “Find Me a Man I Can Cook For” by my neighbor Alice Parker. Of course, Alice joined us for pudding.

 

I encourage you to run right out and buy an issue of Yankee. In it you’ll find Edie’s interview with me; my apple pudding recipe (made with apples plucked from the tree in my front yard!); and the recipe for one of my favorite entries in the Pudding Contest, Greek Eggplant Pudding by Nancy Argeris.

 

If you must read the article right away, you may look at it online, but I think I look a little thinner in the print version so naturally I want to steer you toward it!

 

Besides, it’s a great magazine with terrific taste in cooks…….

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An Arrgh-ument for Pirates

6 November 2008
The Pirates of Pudding Hollow. Thanks to Phyllis Gotta for the photos on this post!

The Pirates of Pudding Hollow. Thanks to Phyllis Gotta for the photos on this post!

          A note to readers: This blog has moved! Please visit the new IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS for new posts as well as copies of older ones (yes, even this post!).  See you around the stove……..

          Tinky

          My friend Peter Beck called my attention to a piece in the style section of The New York Times last Thursday about the popularity of pirate attire. Pretend pirates apparently frequent coastal resorts. Pirates were also seen in and around homes across the nation last week. Times writer Michael Brick noted that pirate ensembles have become the fifth most popular Halloween costumes for American children and adults, beating out both zombies and Hannah Montanas.

          Peter knew that I had inserted pirates into the entertainment for my annual charity pudding contest. The story we enacted, supposedly found in a vault in the Town Office here in Hawley, Massachusetts, told of a visit to Hawley by pirates in the late 18th century. The cutthroat band was in search of our town’s most famous comestible, pudding.

After reading the piece in the Times Peter asked, “How did you know that pirates were so chic?”

          The truth is that I didn’t actually know it—at least not before I saw the contest entertainment. I mainly wanted to recycle some of the props from my nephew Michael’s eighth birthday party, which had a pirate theme. The pirate party was the brainchild of our cousins Jane and Alan.

 

Jane Steinberg & Alan Kraut at the Pirate Party

They Started It All: Jane Steinberg & Alan Kraut at the Pirate Party

        In addition, as a writer I loved the incongruity of placing pirates smack in the middle of a town that’s about as far inland as any community in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. I’m a big fan of the absurd. So with a little nod to Gilbert and Sullivan I named our little play “The Pirates of Pudding Hollow.” When I saw our pirates on the stage, however, I realized that I had stumbled upon archetypes that appealed hugely to amateur actors and to the public at large. Our pirates threw themselves into their parts—leering, fighting, and of course yelling “Arrgh!” a lot. The audience was charmed, and the other actors were inspired. The pirates are lobbying heavily for a return engagement in next year’s entertainment. Michael Brick quoted one of the pretend pirates he interviewed on the appeal of faux piracy. “It’s this idea of being able to go out and do whatever you want and be whatever you want and throw all these morals away and not care about the law, when in reality you can’t,” a 19-year-old pirate told the reporter. 

 

Pirate John hams it up pretending to be sick.
Pirate John hams it up pretending to be sick.

           Like witches, gangsters, gypsies, and wild-west gunfighters, pirates appeal to mainstream Americans because they exist to some extent outside of our culture and our laws. We don’t really want to sail the seas nonstop or make people walk the plank (not most people at any rate; I do have a few candidates in mind). We certainly wouldn’t care for pirates’ limited diets or their even more limited standards of personal hygiene.  What we do want is a little license to play–to shout, to pose, to dress up, and to be intimidating without actually having to intimidate anyone.

Pirate Michael accesorizes his wardrobe.
Pirate Michael accessorizes his wardrobe.

          Pirate lore is also appealing because, like the knights of the roundtable or Indiana Jones, pirates are on an eternal quest. I don’t know anyone who has ever seen, let alone dug up, buried treasure. But that two-word phrase bears a strong romantic appeal. Treasure trove is something we may dream of all our lives but never find. Thinking of it gives us all a little license to dream, however. And a dream, as our new president elect could tell us, is a pretty useful thing.
         Here is last year’s pudding-contest entry from our pirate captain, Ray Poudrier. The pudding’s name fits in nicely with the piracy of this post. Ray says he almost called it “Bachelor’s Pudding” or “Pudding for Dummies” because it uses so many packaged ingredients. I hope readers deem it appropriate pirate fare.

Captain Ray has a HUNGER for pudding!
Captain Ray has a HUNGER for pudding!

 Captain Ray’s Butter Rum Raisin Riot

Ingredients:

1 package gingerbread mix (for an 8- or 9-inch square pan)

1 cup rum

1/2 cup raisins

1 package butterscotch pudding mix

1/3 jar caramel ice cream topping

whipped cream to taste (optional)

Instructions:

Prepare the gingerbread according to the package’s directions. Cool it; then slice it into3 layers.

Heat the rum and raisins in a microwave oven for about 3 minutes. The raisins should soften, and the rum should be reduced.

Prepare the butterscotch pudding according to the package’s directions. Cool it slightly.

Drizzle the bottom layer of gingerbread with a third of the reduced rum. Pour about 1/3 of the butterscotch pudding on top.

Place a second layer of gingerbread on top. Drizzle that layer with 1/3 of reduced rum. Pour another 1/3 of the butterscotch pudding on top. Pour on the drunken raisins and remaining reduced rum.

Place the third layer of gingerbread on top. Drizzle the top of the gingerbread layer with remaining pudding. Add caramel topping in open areas of cake, if desired. Allow the cake to rest overnight. Serve with whipped cream if you like. Serves 9. 

One More Look at the Birthday Party Pirates!

One More Look at the Birthday Party Pirates!

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Hush Puppy Pudding

22 October 2008
Pirate Captain (and 2008 Pudding Head) Ray Poudrier, left, and First Mate (and Judge) Michael Collins admire Ray's award-winning Hawley Grove Pudding.

Pirate Captain (and 2008 Pudding Head) Ray Poudrier, left, and First Mate (and Judge) Michael Collins admire Ray's award-winning Hawley Grove Pudding. Photo courtesy of Phyllis Gotta.

          A note to readers: This blog has moved! Please visit the new IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS for new posts as well as copies of older ones (yes, even this post!).  See you around the stove……..

          Tinky

          The Sons & Daughters of Hawley (the historical society in my small town in Massachusetts) have just pulled off another successful Pudding Hollow Pudding Contest. The pudding contest is my baby so I have to admit I’m a bit prejudiced, but I’ll pretend I’m objective and say that it was a huge success and a lot of fun. This year’s entertainment, “The Pirates of Pudding Hollow” (which posited that our inland town was visited by pirates in the late 18th century), had both the actors and the audience roaring with laughter.

          I’ll post more details and more pictures soon but for now I want to share one of the recipes that made it to the finals, Hush Puppy Pudding from Marilyn Pryor of South Hadley, Massachusetts.

One of our testers for the semi-finals was reluctant to make it because the ingredients include commercial cornbread mix. I understand her scruples (who knows what’s in those mixes?), and one of these days I’ll try to duplicate the pudding using scratch, rather than boxed, ingredients. When that happens, I’ll add the amended recipe to this post.
          In the meantime, as the person who DID prepare it for the semi-finals, I can say that this pudding is very tasty and (except for the cornbread-mix ingredients) quite healthy. I served it with ham, pineapple, and a green salad for a terrific fall meal. And it certainly lived up to its name since Truffle blissfully (and quietly!) ate some of the leftovers.
          For more details about the contest, please visit its web page,
http://www.merrylion.com/master/events/events.html.

Puddings Awaiting Judging

Puddings Awaiting Judging

Hush Puppy Pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup cornbread mix

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sliced green onions (I used 1 bunch; it didn’t quite make a cup, but it worked)

2 cups plain yogurt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter, melted

2 10-ounce cans vacuum-packed corn

Instructions:

          Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the cornbread mix, flour, and salt. In another bowl, combine the onions, yogurt, eggs, and butter. Stir in the corn, and add this mixture to the cornbread combination, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon the resulting batter into your prepared pan, and bake until golden brown and set in the center (about 45 minutes). Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

Ninety Years in the Making

25 September 2008

My Mother
My Mother

          A note to readers: This blog has moved! Please visit the new IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS for new posts as well as copies of older ones (yes, even this post!).  See you around the stove……..

          Tinky

        Tomorrow– September 26, 2008–my mother Jan turns 90. (Obviously, she was incredibly old when I was born since I’m only 39.)

            For years and years she took care of me, exhibiting common sense, humor, and a complete inability to feel guilt. I have never been able to fathom that last characteristic. I feel guilty at the drop of a hat. If my mother makes a mistake, she says, “Oh, well”; apologizes; and promptly forgets about the whole matter. I think her non-guilt is one of the things that has kept her going all these years.

            These days, of course, it would be fairer to say that we take care of each other. She had polio in the early 1950s, and her balance is far from good. She gets frailer by the month. She frequently forgets to eat (something I can’t imagine myself doing, alas, even at 90!). Consequently, she needs a little help getting around, fixing meals, turning on the television set (why is it that remotes become increasingly difficult to use even as the American population ages?), remembering which pills to take. I give that help cheerfully—most of the time.
            She still helps me as well, however. When I’m cooking something challenging she pitches in in the kitchen, serving as sous chef and dishwasher. When I’m frazzled she calms me down. Best of all, she provides an example of cheer and grace I’d love to emulate. We don’t always agree, but we always appreciate each other.

 

The Sous Chef?

The Sous Chef?

 

 

 

          The year after I graduated from Mount Holyoke College, I visited the campus and fulfilled one of my undergraduate dreams by attending the weekly faculty happy hour. I met Roger Holmes, a professor emeritus who had known my mother in the 1930s. I asked him whether he remembered her and rattled off her maiden name and graduation year. He sipped his drink, nodded, and murmured appreciatively, “Short and full of life.” Those five words still describe Jan Hallett Weisblat pretty darn well.

            Here’s a pudding my mother entered in the 2006 Pudding Hollow Pudding Contest. She obtained the recipe from her mother, Clara Engel Hallett, who taught her to cook as Jan taught me to cook. It’s lovely and light—and tastes even better with key-lime juice and rind instead of lemon. I’m thinking of putting a candle on top and using it as a birthday cake tomorrow.

                                         —  Tinky

Clara’s Lemon Angel Pudding

Ingredients:

6 eggs, divided

1-1/2 cups sugar, divided

3/4 cup lemon juice

2 pinches salt

1 envelope gelatin, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water

1/2 large (or 1 small) angel-food cake, broken into bite-sized pieces

1 cup heavy cream, whipped and sweetened

lemon peel for garnish

Directions:
            Beat together the egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, the lemon juice, and 1 pinch salt. Cook over a double boiler until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the dissolved gelatin.

Beat together the egg whites, remaining sugar, and remaining salt until stiff. Fold the whites gently into the custard mixture. In a trifle bowl (or another decorative bowl), alternate layers of the custard and pieces of cake, beginning and ending with the custard. Chill the mixture at least from morning to night, preferably for 24 hours.

Just before serving, cover the top with whipped cream, and grate some lemon peel on top for color. Serves 10.

            Copyright 2006, Merry Lion Press/Sons & Daughters of Hawley. For more information about the Pudding Hollow Pudding Contest, visit its web page, http://www.merrylion.com/master/events/events.html.

           Here’s a later update to this post, adding a couple of photographs from my mother’s 90th birthday party, which was a joyous occasion. The first photograph depicts my sister-in-law Leigh and my nephew Michael getting ready to decorate her birthday cake, or rather her birthday cakes; each of them decorated one! The second depicts the finished cakes. You can probably guess who decorated each. Leigh’s aesthetic philosophy is “less is more,” and Michael’s is “more is more.” The final picture is one we all treasure, a photograph of my mother (left) with her younger brother Bruce Hallett and baby sister Lura Hallett Smith. We were thrilled to have all three siblings together for the celebration.

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