Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Making pumpkin pie from scratch is the most delicious way, and not as difficult as you might think. This is our family recipe. Perfect fall comfort food!

Egg-Nog Rice Pudding Custard (Dairy-Free)

A tradition passed down from my paternal grandparents was Sunday Night Rice Pudding as the meal. I'm guessing it was an easy meal for Grandma to make at the end of her "day of rest", especially since the rest of the day may have been less than relaxing after the big Sunday lunch after church for a family of 11 plus whatever guests they had over.

Growing up, we had Rice Pudding on Sunday nights about half the time--Sundays were also the night of my Dad's hockey league games, and a meal of just rice pudding didn't provide the long-term energy he needed, so we often had other things, or Rice Pudding as dessert only.

Our family does this far less. But, on occasion, it makes a great, light, "snacky" meal, albeit not the healthiest one ever because of the starch and sweets. I made a modified, "healthy" version many years ago that had more eggs and less sugar than most recipes I had found, but was still delicious... and a treat that shows up far less than my kids would like. :-)

On a recent Sunday night, faced with a shortage of protein items in the house (except eggs), and less cooked rice than I would usually use in a Rice Pudding recipe to feed my hungry boys, not to mention my lactose-intolerant Levi (another reason this menu item is not on really regular rotation), I decided to modify it yet again.

So, here is my dairy-free version that is more a custard than a rice pudding, and a much more acceptable meal replacement than a straight dessert. It turned out pretty good. The family mostly liked it--although the vote was that the "normal" recipe was slightly better. (Duh! Dessert!)

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Egg-Nog Rice Pudding Custard (Dairy-Free)

Makes about 8 cups. Serves 6-8 as the only menu item, or twice that as a side.

In lg. casserole (about 4-5 qt.), mix:

1 doz. eggs, beaten
1 400 mL can coconut milk
1 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. vanilla
8 c. cooked brown rice
2/3 c. seedless raisins
1/4 c. hemp hearts or pumpkin seeds

Mix well. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake covered at 375 degrees for 50 minutes*, or until set and knife inserted comes out clean. Serve with cinnamon and cream (or coconut milk or oil.)

*If you opt to halve this recipe, I recommend cooking at 350 degrees rather than shortening the time for a more even bake.

Shingles, New Job, Rice Pudding and Rice Pilaf

*Long sigh.*

Well, our house is our own again. My mother and her husband were staying here since Sunday night, visiting from ye olde U. S. of A. In that time, Mike re-shingled the entire back side of our roof, which covers about 1000 square feet. Mom helped him, and I spent most of my time cooking for the crew.

What a blessing that was. When we purchased this house, we knew that the shingling needed to be done sooner rather than later, and our insurance company would not even give us full coverage until the job was completed. Well, in addition to the free labour, Mike also blessed us with about 2/3 of the shingles required for the job, which he had had taking up space in his barn in Montana. This saved us mucho grando casho! Thank you, a million times thank you, you guys!


Something I forgot to mention in my "Lifemarks" post on Saturday is that Jason started a new job on Monday--again. This is his third job since moving up here in December, and even though it is just covering a maternity leave, the 30% increase in pay for the year he will be there was too tempting to turn down. And you never know, a lot can happen in a year--perhaps the job will become permanent. That's what we're praying for, anyway.

He's working at the DMI pulp mill about 25 minutes out of town, in their computer department. His job description has nothing to do with the side of the computer industry he was working in before, or even what he trained for in college, so it is going to be interesting to say the least. He will be running new software through its paces before it is released into the company, finding every flaw possible, and then training the staff how to use it. A total desk job. He's hoping he likes it, but I guess the advantage of it being temporary is: If he doesn't like it, in a year, he can go back to fixing hardware and computer networking!

The other perk of this job, besides the jumped income, is that he can work a schedule that allows him to get off early on Friday half the time, and get every other Friday off. Bonus! Long weekend with my honey every other week! 'Course, the days are a little bit longer, and he is getting up at an hour in the morning that should be reserved for robins and worms, but I guess you can't always have your rice pudding and eat it too.

Speaking of Rice Pudding, I've been promising this recipe to a friend of mine, among others, so here you go. My famous, modified-to-be-Maker's Diet-friendly-Rice Pudding:

Talena's Awesome Rice Pudding (I'm so modest, eh?)

1 c. uncooked or 4 c. cooked brown or white rice, preferably basmati (see below for how to prepare)

In 2-qt. casserole (stoneware is best), mix:
3 eggs
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. whole milk or coconut milk

Add cooked rice and 1/3 c. unsulphured raisins. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cook for one hour in 350 degree F. oven, or until a knife inserted in the top comes out clean. Stir and serve with cinnamon and cream.

Serves about 6-8 as a dessert or 3-4 as a meal. (Sunday nights are "Rice Pudding Night" in our family, a tradition that dates back to my grandparents.)

Brown Rice

I usually use basmati rice, but you can use regular brown rice, too. Basmati just has such a wonderful nutty flavour and texture.

Melt 1/4 c. butter in medium saucepan. Rinse 1 c. of rice twice in cold water, then add to butter. Stir on medium-high heat until rice takes on a milky appearance. Then add 2 c. filtered water and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Cook, uncovered, on med.-high until water reduces to just above the level of the rice. Cover and put on lowest heat for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.

For a more flavourful version, to be served as a side dish to a meal, saute 1/2 cup chopped onion in the butter before adding rice. Substitute homemade chicken stock for all or part of the water.

For Rice Pilaf, add spices (dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil) and sliced mushrooms to onion when sauteing. Add vegetables (peas, carrots) along with the rice.

For Coconut Rice Pilaf, add dried cinnamon stick, a few cloves, nutmeg, minced garlic and crushed ginger to the onion when sauteing. Substitute whole coconut milk for about 1/2 - 2/3 of the chicken stock, and add 1/4 c. unsulphured raisins with the rice. You may want to add a little more liquid (stock) with this one, as the thicker liquid tends to disappear faster, allowing this one to burn rather easily.

Soaked version: To speed up the actual cooking process, rice can be soaked in advance to remove phytates. (Rice has a very low phytate count, and most of them are neutralized during a long slow cook, but soaking works, too.) Soak rice in a medium saucepan with 2 c. water and 2 tbsp. kefir, plain yogurt, buttermilk, whey, lemon juice, or vinegar for 7 hours or overnight in a warm place. Without removing lid, bring to a boil and skim. Add 2 tbsp. butter and 1/2 tsp. sea salt, cover tightly and simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before removing lid and fluffing with a fork.

Happy cooking!

After this rather eclectic post, I would like to leave you with this:

Quote of the Day:

"Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius." - Comte de Buffon (1707-1788)