Wednesday, 3 February 2010
4pm must have been a magical time for my mother.
Once my brother and I arrived home from school the tranquillity of the empty house dissipated so rapidly she could be forgiven for thinking it had been mere reverie.
Gasping through the hormonal fug of both early and mid adolescence – there are four years between us – we were mostly unpleasant both to each other and, regretfully, to her, by association. I have no idea how she put up with it and am not surprised that the occasional outburst came our way.
The debilitating and damning effects of the chemical surge were exasperated by hunger (probably because lunch had gone uneaten) and on entering the house the first question was always ‘What’s for tea?’ quickly followed by ‘When?’
Whatever the answer, we would head to the cereal cupboard to sate the hunger brought on by double Chemistry last thing in the afternoon or French lessons with the formidable Mrs. Losse (thanks to whom I will never, ever forget how to conjugate etre and avoir).
Cereal was our go-to, our emergency, our stop gap.
But not always.
There were a few occasions every month, more often in the winter when the weather made us more receptive to it, when a fresh rice pudding would have been slowly cooking in the oven. The soul-fulfilling smell of rice, milk and nutmeg was a great welcome home. Piled into bowls and topped with cinnamon and brown sugar or honey.
On those days we left the fighting until at least five o’clock.
An hour’s peace in exchange for rice pudding? Sounds like a good deal.
Thai Rice Pudding
This is a Thai-rice pudding as opposed to a Thai rice-pudding. The grains are of the fragrant jasmine variety which lends an extra level or warmth to the dish. They are particularly glutinous and sticky as well making for a hearty and satisfying dish just as good last thing at night as it is for breakfast with a cup of coffee.
One part Thai rice
Three/Four parts milk depending on how runny you like your rice pudding
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the rice, stir the grains until they are coated with the butter then add the milk. Bring to an easy simmer, stir in as much or as little sugar as you like and a fine dusting of nutmeg (whenever I use mutmeg I always think of Anthony Bourdain’s advice, namely ‘go easy’).
Cook for 45 minutes in a pre-heated oven at about 130 degrees C by which point the rice should be cooked. Check halfway through – add more liquid if it needs it. This is an instinctive dish – you’ll know if it’s too dry.
It keeps in the fridge for about a week – great for spooning out and reheating at opportune moments to be topped with a dollop of strawberry jam or nuts and seeds if you are feeling virtuous.
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