Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bring to a Boil Over Low Heat...continued

By the time I went to bed the list looked like this:

*Unload dishwasher, reload dishwasher
*Exercise at the Y
*Go to Target for Space Bags
*Go to Whole Foods for vanilla wafers
*Take ham out of freezer
*Clean out dresser drawers, Space-Bag all clothes that won't fit over baby belly, start a Good Will bag
*Clean off table to make room for sewing machine
*Start making onesies out of old T-shirts
*Practice Italian Instant Immersion
*Simmer heavy cream with vanilla bean for Chantilly cream. Chill. Whip.
*Make pudding. Chill pudding. Make banana pudding.
*Start dinner.

When Hoosband got home we went for a walk, watched Disc 2 of Weeds, Season 6, and happily consumed peas and pudding.

The peas were a little al dente, and the pudding was a little thin, but the flavors were outstanding, and I was completely satisfied.

Setting out to make this pudding, I was fairly certain I knew what I was doing, but my craving was so intense, I could not accept the possibility of spending the time to make pudding from scratch and not ending up with pudding.

Thus, I consulted my primary texts.

Nothing on pudding.

I consulted  my secondary texts.

No luck.

Finally, in the Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book I found a recipe for "cornstarch pudding."

Hmmm...cornstarch had not been a part of my initial gameplan.

I reviewed the ingredients: sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk....

I decided to swap out the sugar and cornsarch combo for confectioner's sugar, which is, after all, sugar and cornstarch. Other than that...what the heck, I'd play along.

The instructions, as per Betty's style, were teasingly simple and brief:

        Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture boils. Boil 1 minute. Blend in vanilla. Chill.

Now, here's where I would have drastically departed from Betty if left to my own devices: bringing the mixture to a boil over low heat.

You see, I am impatient, which, as a life-long CMT (Culinary Mastermind in Training), I can tell you is not the most useful character trait.

Many a Thanksgiving pie was not devoured (but rather sloshed across the floorboards of my mother's car in the transportation process) as a casualty of my youthful failure to grasp the importance of letting the filling set.

Having learned a lesson or two by now (let's hope), this time I acquiesced to the instructions in print and set the heat to Low.

Stirring...and stirring...and stirring...and drinking a glass of water...and stirring...and talking to Hoosband on the phone...and stirring...and checking my email...and stirring for what was certainly the better part of an afternoon, I waited patiently for the first signs of a boil.

My innate impatience gasping for breath beneath the surface, I finally adjusted the heat slightly to med-low and flitted back over to the computer to finish reading about "What to Expect" in week 26 of gestation.

Predictable as my favorite friends-who-fall-in-love flick, as soon as I abandoned my pot of goop, pudding bubbles began bursting.

I rushed back to the stove and readied my whisk, but clumps had formed quickly like middle-school cliques and would not be swirled into submission.

I removed the mixture from the heat and poured it slowly and carefully over a (much too small for the job) fine mesh sieve into a fresh, clean bowl. The lumpy remnants could then be flattened out, little by little with my handy silicone spatula and gradually re-introduced to the mixture.

In the end, the pudding was fine. A little limp, but layered with fresh bananas, organic vanilla wafers, and vanilla bean Chantilly cream, who's to complain?

Still, there is a lesson to be learned here, as there always seems to be.

I took a tedious process, generously applied my impatience to it, and created more completely unnecessary work for myself.

I can't help but thinking about what's coming for Hoosband, me, and Ziggy (as we have taken to calling the fetus).

Hoosband has gotten into and been awarded an amazing scholarship for grad school, which would mean a major move, and a major life change.

For me it could mean more items in blue on my lists.

....And more time to perfect my pudding recipe.

I get stressed so often at my inability to accomplish it all, to be a good wife, a good employee, a good vessell of procreation, and to do what I can to further my own goals in the minutes in between.

But stressing and rushing gets me nothing (but gray hairs and indigestion).

All I can do is stay focused, attentive, and try not to crank up the heat too much.

Patience is the secret to good pudding.

No comments: