It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I’m a city girl. I was actually born in a small town but have gradually transitioned to bigger places throughout my life, from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Kansas City to Atlanta to Los Angeles to my present home here in Shanghai. I suppose I formally came to realize that I’m a city girl when my husband and I traveled to Australia two years ago and visited the beautiful Hunter Valley area that’s about a two hour drive north of Sydney. We stayed at the Tonic Hotel, a quaint B&B in the heart of Hunter Valley wine country surrounded by beautiful fields, quiet country roads, and not a single person in sight. Yes, it’s as lovely as it sounds. The Tonic Hotel has a D.I.Y. ethos to help ensure you have a peaceful stay undisturbed by hotel staff. There’s no check-in desk or bell boy, and you rarely see any other guests. By day, the sun is shining near the beautiful pond and wild kangaroos bounce by your porch. At night, you can see every star in the sky. It was all very peaceful and quiet. A little *too* quiet at night. Perhaps I’ve seen too many horror movies, but I couldn’t sleep at night. Where are the comforting sounds of cars whizzing by my window and drunk people arguing outside at 3 am? I was nervous and a little scared. Although my sweet husband assured me nothing would happen, he wanted me to feel safe so he stood on guard all night to make sure no one broke in with a chainsaw (as I had feared) so I could sleep in peace.
Anyways, what does this have to do with rice pudding!?! Well, Tonic stocks your fridge everyday with new breakfast treats — all D.I.Y. but with instructions like how to make scrambled eggs in the microwave. One morning, there was a selection of fresh bread, croissants, homemade muesli and also a bowl of rice pudding. I’d heard of rice pudding before but up until then had never tried it. Well, hear this: It was delicious! It was served with a side of fresh fruit and jam to be mixed in. After I got back from Australia, I wanted to try making it myself. I will always remember the sleepless night we had on that trip and associate it with this comfort food. Are there any foods that remind you of a funny story?
Rice pudding can be eaten as a dessert but I love having it for breakfast with sliced mango. The dash of cinnamon reminds me of Christmas and it’s just so creamy and satisfying. It can also be eaten plain or drizzled with honey, condensed milk or with a dollop of your favorite jam.
Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 35 min | Serves: 2-3
Adapted from Joy of Baking
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (65 grams) long or short grain white rice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (50 gram) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
toppings (optional): fresh fruit (mangos, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries), raisins, honey, condensed milk, jam.
In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk, rice and salt. Place saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium to medium-low and simmer until the rice is tender (about 25 minutes). Stir the milk mixture frequently using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the rice is tender (al dente) remove from heat and add the sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Return to heat and cook until the rice pudding thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon the pudding into your serving bowls and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until serving time, about 1 to 2 hours. Keeps for 3 days.