Today was Friday, and it was pretty much the worst Friday ever. Nick got yelled at by crazies all day at work, and I wore pants to the office and nearly died of heat stroke. When I left, it was over 30 degrees Celsius, which in America or Imperial or whatever is in the high 80s, which is inhospitable and makes me regret wearing a bra and then I can’t concentrate and all I can think about is cold beer and getting the hell out of there as soon as possible. A very nice old man on a ladder visited today and installed these solar blinds that are supposed to reflect the heat out, but he might as well have covered the windows in tin foil, for all the good it did, and I’m beginning to think my entire department is the butt of a cruel, cruel joke. It’s hot. And the wall of my pen is right up against the vent, so cold air blows up, up, and away, but never on me. I considered tears. Except that I think they’d come out as steam and that would be terrifying and they already think I’m dumb there.
So I got home and Nick and I were both in terrible moods and he’d finished the beer and I was mad so we decided that we’d go eat a ridiculous amount of meat, because that makes everyone feel better, and they had PBRs on special, so we ate and drank for super cheap, and it was magical. I wore a dress. And we were still hot and uncomfortable, so we got Slurpees and energy drinks on the way home, and Nick bought some beer and a bottle of wine, and then when we got back to our apartment, we discovered that there were goings-on going on, and everyone was going down to the beach to set stuff on fire and be jovial. And then a series of complications arose, and it became clear that I would be bound to the overheating indoors while Nick went to the beach for fun and socializing.
Complication #1: Tomorrow we’re going to my parents’ for a barbecue and I am bringing a salad because I make this caprese salad with roasted beets that’s spectacular, but you have to roast the beets well in advance so they’re cool and easy to work with, so the night before is ideal. We didn’t know about the beach until 10:30 pm, which was right after I put the beets in the oven.
Complication #2: I ate too much meat at Memphis Blues. A certain amount of discomfort ensued.
Nick – “Everyone’s going to the beach. Wanna ride down?”
Me – “Who’s everyone?”
Nick – “People, you know – everyone.”
Me – “Do I like them all?”
Nick – “Well, I said everyone’s going to be there.”
Me – “Who don’t I like?”
Nick – “You know.”
Me – “Oh. That sucky girl who makes me angry and who I vehemently dislike in the nicest possible way?”
Nick – “You’d have to behave.”
Me – “I have to roast some beets.”
And so I am spending the night in. Which turned out to be a good thing, because I was in the mood for pudding, and I’m the only one here who likes pudding. So I roasted some beets, made some pudding, watched an hour’s worth of wiener dog videos on YouTube, and then set in to catch up on all my favourite blogs. And also to watch this, repeatedly:
But the main thing here is the pudding. It’s a recipe from Gourmet’s February 2009 issue, and I’ve made it several times now, and it always turns out perfect. It’s pretty much a hug you can eat, and it’s as easy to make as that Jello stuff, and takes the same amount of time, but it’s in a realm of its own for taste. It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and we’d get toast with butter and brown sugar on it – like that, but creamy and rich, and you eat it with a spoon.
(makes enough to fill four regular-size ramekins)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. butter, cut into bits (they say to use unsalted butter, but they would be wrong)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar and cornstarch. Then, whisk in the milk and cream. When I’m making this for just me, I halve the recipe, and use a single cup of light cream (or coffee cream, or Creamo), because why not?
Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently, and then boil, whisking constantly, for one minute. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Pour out into ramekins, cover with plastic, and then refrigerate until cooled, 60 to 90 minutes. Don’t chill for more than three hours, however, because it will begin to take on a weird, starchy texture. I made this in February, and cooled it on the patio because my fridge was full, and then when I brought it back in it had developed a skin and the cornstarch was very prominent – an undesirable flaw in any pudding.
When I halve the recipe, it makes enough for two ramekins. Which is perfect, because there’s no way you could eat just one serving of this stuff – I’ve already eaten my two, and now I am regretting my decision to not make the full amount. And I feel much better about life, and the fan is going in front of the open window where I’m sitting around in a clean pair of Nick’s underwear, so I’m starting to cool off. Pudding will do that for you. It’s a cure-all, like cough syrup and vodka, but you can serve it to children while their parents are watching.
And so the weekend begins, and I look forward to posting the fascinating details of my upcoming raspberry-picking expedition on Sunday. In the meantime, I’ve got some beets that need prodding and a bottle of wine in the chiller that’s begging for my touch. Cheers!