Until I moved to South Carolina a little over 2 years ago, hurricanes & earthquakes had very little impact on my life. Sure, I have family in North Carolina and family in California, and when I would hear about hurricanes, I would think of my family in North Carolina and pray for their safety. The same would happen regarding earthquakes in California. The past two years I have spent in Charleston have, thankfully, shown very little hurricane activity (and very little earthquake activity. I have been hearing this year that the experts are anticipating an above average hurricane activity season, but to be completely honest, I still had not given it much thought until this past week, when a "little" storm named Irene formed and began moving her way towards the East Coast.
I am grateful that Charleston saw only a small, small portion of Irene's furry. Some rain, some wind, but not anywhere near the destruction NC and the northern part of the East Cost are seeing (and will see). My heart goes out to everyone affected by the devastation of this enormous storm.
Ironically, one of my sisters just moved to Washington DC two weeks ago. Not only will she be experiencing her first hurricane (and experiencing it much more than I will be, even though I am directly on the coast), she also got to experience the earthquake of earlier this week that impacted the Virginia/D.C/East Coast!
Another irony is the name of this hurricane. Irene. Irene was the name of my late great grandmother. She was neither large nor destructive :) but is someone I loved very dearly and someone who has directly influenced my career path. How ironic is it that the first hurricane both my sister and I experience is named the same as our late great grandmother? I find it funny....
Even though it's still summer, some days call for comfort food. Yesterday was one of such days. With the stormy weather as a result of Hurricane Irene, this craaaazy cold I cannot seem to shake, and the end of my first week of teaching for the fall semester (where I am teaching 5 college courses), I needed comfort food! And I needed it to be something I could make with ingredients I already had on hand.
On the drive home from school yesterday, inspiration hit me: rice pudding. Something that can be served warm, cold, or room temp. Something I could put in a warm bowl (warm rice pudding is my preference) and wrap my hands around it while I hunkered down in front of the TV and watched Irene's developing path.
I used brown rice for my rice pudding because I had it on hand. I'm not a big rice eater... especially white rice. I'm more of a potatoes girl. But I do like the nutty flavor and the slightly crunchy texture of brown rice. And I found frozen wild blueberries in my freezer and I decided that might make an unexpected change from the raisin accompaniment traditional to rice pudding.
A great thing about a big batch of rice pudding is the leftovers! Now, I've got breakfast for the next couple of days too :)
R E C I P E S
Brown Rice Pudding
This particular pudding is a little on the "soupy" side, which I how I prefer it. If you do not want it to be as loose, reduce the amount of milk and perhaps add an additional egg or two.
2 cups of Water
1 cup of Brown Rice (I used organic Texmati Brown Rice)
2 cups of Milk (I had whole milk on hand)
60 g Brown Sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
Freshly Grated Nutmeg, to taste
Splash of Bourbon (totally optional, but I think it adds to the depth of flavor of the pudding)
1/4 c Real Maple Syrup
1. Combine the water and brown rice together in a heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes. (and take a nap during that 30 minutes, if you're me)
2. Add the milk (reducing the amount if you want a less soupy end product) and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Whisk the brown sugar and egg together. Temper some of the hot rice milk mixture into the sugar and egg. Return everything to the pot and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. If it coats the back of the spoon and holds a line when you run your finger over the back of the spoon, it is done! Do not allow it to boil, or else the mixture may curdle. Remove from the heat.
4. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla bean paste, nutmeg, splash of bourbon, and maple syrup.
5. Serve immediately, or serve chilled or at room temperature. Top with maple blueberries, if desired. Store any leftovers, covered, in the fridge.
Maple Blueberry topping
inspired by this recipe from 101 cookbooks. The original recipe is one of my favorite pancake toppings!
180 g Blueberries (I used frozen wild blueberries, because they were what I had on hand.)
100 g Real Maple Syrup
Freshly grated Nutmeg, to taste
1. Combine the blueberries and maple syrup in a sauce pan. Heat until hot and until the blueberries have begun giving off their juices.
2. Remove from heat and add freshly grated nutmeg, to taste. Store any leftovers in the fridge.