I turned my stubbornness trait around and called it tenacity. I turned my inability to ask questions around and called it curiosity. And, I learned to cook, because I am tenacious and curious… and always hungry! Cooking was not a skill I learned as a child, or even as a young adult. Eating, though, eating was an activity I was skilled in. Being stubborn, and not asking questions, I often took food for granted. Someone prepared food, you could buy it somewhere, someone could even deliver it. I never realized that I could be that someone who decides what to eat, gets the ingredients, prepares the recipe, and manages my hunger.
I received a Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding gift. So many possibilities existed between the covers of that book, yet I resisted exploring the breads and cookies, roasted meats and vegetables, menu suggestions and casseroles, until I wanted rice pudding. Rice pudding, creamy, delicious, sweet, and satisfying – the gateway to becoming a cook!
Becoming a good cook requires patience, another trait I lacked in my youth. My friends still joke about the time I served them half-cooked chicken and fresh lettuce from the garden complete with stems and dirt. Patience in cooking means you thaw the chicken before cooking it and letting it cook until it is done; patience in cooking means you rinse the lettuce and trim it up before serving. Patience in cooking means you source your ingredients, prepare them correctly and allow them to cook the appropriate amount of time. Patience in cooking means you take your time with rice pudding to let the flavors marry into custardy perfection.
Sometimes you may ask yourself why you are resistant to moving forward and getting the thing that you want. For me, cooking became a metaphor, a way to look at life differently and not take things for granted. Cooking became a way to move forward with positive traits like tenacity, curiosity, and patience. Making rice pudding taught me how to how to cook and how to live!
(from Betty Crocker’s cookbook)
½ cup water
½ cup uncooked instant rice
3 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups milk, scalded
½ cup raisins, if desired
Heat oven to 350°. Heat water to boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in rice. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.
Blend eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Mix in rice and raisins. Pour into ungreased 1 ½- quart casserole, sprinkle rice mixture with cinnamon. Place casserole in square pan 9x9x2 inches; pour very hot water (1 ¼ inches deep) into pan.
Bake about 70 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean. Remove casserole from water. Serve pudding warm or cold.