Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cooking Influences

Many times the people who really like to cook have a special person, often a relative, who taught them the ways of the kitchen. In my case the influences were from both my Mom and Dad, although mostly from Mom. She didn't share her kitchen well, but I don't either. I remember that before she would show me how to make pie crust that I had to read about it. I think it was 3-4 pages in the Fannie Farmer cookbook. Then we talked about what I had read so she knew that I had actually read it and understood at least some of it. Finally we went into the kitchen and made the pie crust right down to measuring out the iced water in tablespoons. I can still make a pretty good pie crust from scratch, although I rarely do. Thanks Mom for all the cooking advice and instruction over the years. Do you, dear reader, have anyone who inspired you in the kitchen?

When my Dad died in 1994 one of the ways that I mourned was by putting together a cookbook with favorite family recipes. By then all of the children had learned to cook (some were more enthused than others) and often had collected recipes from friends and elsewhere that had little in common with the foods we grew up with. I wasn't sure that a collection of those old standards would be of much interest but went ahead anyway because I wanted to have them for myself.

Letters were exchanged with my Mom and interested siblings so that I included the most desired recipes and could include comments from Mom, too. Many hours were spent typing them up and organizing them by season. There was an index but it somehow was left out of the final booklets. When I was finished I made copies and took them to a printer who made up enough copies for Mom and me and the 7 others and they had a black plastic binding so that the book could be laid flat for use. The illustrations were copies from an old cookbook and all the illustrations were of children doing things like finding eggs on nests, tossing salad and eating birthday party ice cream.

Everyone received their copy at our family reunion the summer after Dad died.

Over the years since I've used my copy often and I'm pretty sure that the others have, too. Some of the recipes have shown up on this blog from time to time. When I visited my Mom last spring I found that her copy was in tatters from much use! Unable to find the originals (or the computer files) for the cookbook so that I could just have new copies made, I decided to create a new, updated version. That is one of the reasons that I took the InDesign class last semester. Now I know enough to do a good job with type and layout.

Yesterday I said I was going to have custard for dinner. Actually I had some leftover casserole, but then had custard, of a sort, for dessert...rice pudding. One of the recipes from the original Family Food cookbook is Rice Pudding. The recipe comes from The Boston Cooking School Cook Book and here is what my Mom said about it:
"When we were stationed in Boston during World War II, I bought my first cook book - The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fanny Farmer. It was my cooking bible for many years and provided the following 2 pudding recipes, Rice Pudding and Bread Pudding."

This rice pudding is the kind made with rice that has already been cooked. It also uses raw egg whites, folded in at the end. With eggs these days sometimes not being as bacteria free as we might like you may want to use a product like Best of the Egg - Whites instead of fresh egg whites. If the pudding were baked at the end there would be no problem to just use the whites from the separated eggs. Will have to try that sometime. In the meantime, here is the recipe for your enjoyment.

Rice Pudding

1 C cooked rice
2 C milk
1/4 t salt
1 or 2 eggs, separated
1/2 C sugar
1/2 t vanilla

Scald the milk with rice. Beat egg yolks with the sugar in the top of a double boiler.

Add the hot mixture slowly to the yolk mixture while stirring. Cook in top part of double boiler over simmering water until thick. Flavor with 1/2 t vanilla. Fold in the egg whites which have been beaten stiff with the salt. Chill.

(Notes: I folded the cooked mixture into the whipped egg whites instead of the other way around because my double boiler top couldn't hold both worked fine since I added the cooked mixture by the cupful and then folded. I also managed to overcook the rice slightly which gave the pudding a bit of a toasted rice flavor. I added three drops of orange oil which worked nicely in tandem with the toasted rice and vanilla flavors.) Serves 4 - 6.


  1. What a lovely idea to compile a book of family recipes when your father passed and to distribute copies throughout the family. I love this rice pudding - it looks so 'custardy' and creamy, which is exactly how I like it. By the way, do you prefer to be called Elle or Pat? :) I'm always confused as which to use! lol

  2. Lisa, I'm glad you like the looks of the pudding. It really is custardy and creamy, plus light because of the egg whites. I blog as Elle but Pat and Trish are other nicknames. For blogging I prefer's from my grandmother's and my middle names, so has sentimental value, too.

  3. I use that cookbook all the time, and it has the stains to prove it! I showed it to my sis-in-law Linda and she loved it and even copied a few of the old family recipes.

  4. Beth, a new version is in the works...stay tuned.