In this modern-day-take-it-out-of-the-freezer-and shove-it-in-the-microwave world, we often lose sight of what real food tastes like. Not too surprising, when you look at the ingredient lists on most prepared foods. I figure if you can’t even pronounce half the ingredients, you shouldn’t rely on it as a major food source. Many so-called foods have more chemicals than food ingredients. Just think about beef stew or chili simmering slowly through the day, ready to warm the cockles of your heart – not to mention your cold hands – come dinner time. Or home-made breakfast burritos or Cornish pasties, stored in the freezer for those mornings when you can barely find the kitchen, let alone think up a menu.
Tapioca pudding is a good example of what real food tastes like. Very simple, easy and fast, tapioca pudding made with raw milk, real cream and fresh ranch eggs is so far from that glutinous stuff on buffet restaurant tables as to be a different food family. Eat it plain, dress it up with sliced fresh fruit or home-made chocolate sauce and you have a dessert fit for a king – or queen. And if (as my husband does) you just plain love the stuff, you can tell the small fry it’s made from fish eyes and keep it all to yourself!
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs tapioca
2 ¾ cups milk (can be up to half cream)
1 well-beaten egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Let stand five minutes. Cook on medium heat, stirring CONSTANTLY (ignore this at your peril and wind up with scorched pudding), until it comes to a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool at least 20 minutes, stir once more. Refrigerate.
If you want to be really old-fashioned, you can scrape a vanilla bean into the milk and let it stand for about 10 minutes before you add it to the saucepan. For chocolate pudding, increase sugar to ½ cup, milk to 3 cups and add 3 ounces of chopped chocolate to saucepan before cooking. If you’re in a hurry and willing to pay very close attention, you can start it on high (only if you have a good heavy saucepan – thin ones will let it scorch) and turn it to medium when it starts to get hot, stirring all the while. If you’re going to do this, don’t try to do anything else. Boiled-over tapioca pudding makes a terrible mess of the stovetop, especially on electric burners.