OK, so the blogs have been a little heavy recently. So, time to talk about one of my loves …
I love to cook! I love collecting recipes. I love experimenting with food, and spices and tweaking recipes. I love sharing food … having people try stuff I think is good, and then talking about food. Obsessive? Why yes, thank you very much! But it’s something I can be passionate about that also makes others around me happy.
I like food so much I’ve translated it into two different Facebook “experiences”. Last March, I did “muffin month,” a different recipe each day. I even made the muffins every day (OK, not every day, but pretty close). It was a blast. Right now, I’m doing “crock-tober,” and with a few friends, doing a daily recipe and commentary.
In the course of collecting and researching recipes, I come across some pretty fun stuff. “Ramen tacos,” (they’re not too bad), “Nutella cupcakes,” and, the site I’m posting now.
Everyone loves bananas! OK, not everyone, but most people enjoy the tropical treat. So, in all my culinary wanderings, I found this place: http://www.endlesssimmer.com/2010/05/17/100-things-to-do-with-a-banana/comment-page-1/. Here you will find a myriad of exciting and tasty recipes to try … something more than your traditional (but yummy) banana bread or pudding.
In addition to these wonderful treats, I’d like to list one of my own. It’s very personal … an old family recipe that evokes strong and beautiful memories for those I love the most.
My mom was a good cook. She didn’t start out being a good cook. In fact, my dad tells the story that, when they first got married, my mom’s food was … bland. He would tell her, “Babe, you have to add more seasoning.” So my mom, being from Michigan, would add more pepper and salt. She would wait for my Dad’s response, which was, “Hmmm. There’s still something missing.” So, she would add more salt and pepper …
My dad, who is from the South, was use to things cooked in broth seasoned with “fat back,” (a piece of pork more fatty than bacon), and various wild herbs my mom hadn’t heard of. Enter Granny Walker (my Dad’s mom), who lovingly took my mom under her wing and taught her the fine art of cooking.
Growing up, I had very little interest in cooking. But whenever I did turn an eye that way, I’d ask, “So, how do you do this-or-that?” My mom would say, “Well, I don’t really know …” She had perfected the art of cooking by taste, and sight, and smell. So many of her recipes are lost to me, simply because she didn’t write things down, and each time she made something, it was often subtly different from the time before.
But … her banana cream pudding was always the same. And it was one dish that my family would literally make pigs of themselves eating. I remember many times my Dad and brother “fighting” over who got the bigger serving and all.
OK, enough reminiscing. Here’s the recipe:
Mom Walker’s Famous Banana Pudding
2 pkg. instant pudding (mom used banana … I like 1 banana and 1 French vanilla)
Milk — according to pudding package directions
1 box vanilla wafer cookies (generic are just fine)
1/3 – 1/2 C. sugar
1 t. banana flavoring
You need an oven-safe container (I use my mom’s old 2 qt.Pyrex dish). Mix up the pudding according to directions. Sometimes, I use a little more milk than called for to keep it smooth. You begin by layering the cookies in the bottom of the pan. Then, slice the bananas about 1″ thick, and layer them in the container over the cookies. Make sure to leave some small spaces … the pudding needs to seep through. Continue alternating the layers of cookies and bananas until your container is full.
Now … the topping. This is the dish that taught me how to make “perfect” meringue. But if you’ve never made it before, be patient with yourself. The secret (according to Mom) is to be impeccable about keeping the whites and the yolks separated. So, if you get “even one speck of yolk” in your whites, they will not whip properly. So, consider yourself warned.
Once you have the whites and yolks separated (and don’t throw those yolks away! Save them in the fridge for amazing French toast the next morning!), get out the handmixer, and begin whipping those puppies. S-l-o-w-l-y sprinkle the sugar into the whites as you whip. When is it done? When you can dip the beaters in, and you pull them out and the meringue forms stiff “peaks.”
Now, pre-heat your over to 400 degrees. While that heats up, use a spatula to “spread” the meringue over the prepared container of pudding. Make it pretty, if you want it to look like Mom’s. Once the over is hot, put the pudding in. NOW, watch it carefully! Once it begins to brown, turn the oven off, and remove the pudding.
There you have it! It’s truly amazing … and I’m not just saying that. If you eat it warm, it’s even better …