Wrap my soul in a rice pudding blanket?
Don’t mind if I doooooooooo.
For someone who has a strong memory, my brain has become a little fuzzy over time. As much as I wish I could, I don’t remember every single Christmas. There are a few that stick out vividly in my mind, and little pieces that I’ll never forget. The Pilot’s first deployment, which was over Christmas -I cried the entire drive back to my apartment after family festivities- a ballerina doll that twirled on a stand, from when I was about 8. Kyle’s first Christmas- I was teaching him how to open presents and can still see my red flannel nightie and the shiny silver tinsel on our tree. It was the last Christmas that our parents were together. Watching Santa (a local dentist!) land on a neighborhood roof and shivering in the cold, but I didn’t mind because it was so.awesome. Going into the kitchen at my great-grandmother’s house to refill our bowls of brown rice pudding from the fridge.
While this version can’t touch my nana’s -and there’s no way she’d give me the real recipe (“Hmm, rice.. milk…” “Do you put cinnamon in it, nana?” “Well yes, of course cinnamon”),
it’s sweet, rich, delicious… even kinda healthy.
I went through a time period when I wanted to “healthify” everrryyyyything. I think the Pilot would even get a little scared when I’d tell him I was going to bake something, and would return with sugar-free fat-free chocolate bricks, aka cookie impostors. It wasn’t that everything HAD to be healthy -during this time was the era of Southern BBQ and Friday night Midori margaritas at On The Border- but I felt like I had all of this newfound knowledge and wanted to experiment with different ingredients. Something I learned along the way: don’t ever feed dinner party guests a crumble sweetened with Splenda. Just thinking about it now makes me shudder. Make them the real dang crumble.
I learned the hard way that some things aren’t meant to be healthified and should just be enjoyed as is, especially if you have dinner guests over.
At the same time, sometimes the healthier option tastes even better. Example 1: sweet potatoes will always taste better to me than white potatoes. Example two: brown rice > white rice. Every.single. time.
White rice is ok, especially as an accessory to a raw piece of fish in a nori wrapper, but brown rice has a beautiful nutty, robust flavor.
So here’s a version of beloved rice pudding, using brown rice instead of white.
The coconut milk makes it extremely rich and creamy, which cinnamon sticks give a festive spice. I’d even serve it to dinner guests 😉
Brown Rice Pudding
Makes about 10 servings
Cook time: 45 minutes – 1 hr
Active prep: 5 minutes
Chill time: Overnight in the fridge
-1 bag of brown rice (16 oz)
-1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
-14 oz water
-1 1/2- 2 C almond milk (or milk of choice)
-2 cinnamon sticks
-1 vanilla bean, scraped (save the outer pod to flavor coffee)
-1/4 C sugar
-1 C dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
1. Place the rice, coconut milk, water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and vanilla into the rice cooker.
2. Start the cooker on the brown rice setting. (You could also make this stovetop, just bring to a boil, down to a simmer and cover.)
3. After the rice is fully cooked (about 45 minutes), stir in the cranberries or raisins. Slowly start to add the almond milk and let the rice absorb the liquid.
4. Heat for an additional 10 minutes or so. Let set until room temperature, then store in the fridge.
Does your family have a traditional dish that’s served over the holidays?