[ed. 12/25/2007 8:21 am] Thanks to everyone who left a suggestion for how to cook the carrot pudding. Yesterday I tried just one more gourmet kitchen shop, and they had pudding molds! Stay tuned. Film, as they say, at 11 (or so).
Since I became single again, Christmas traditions at Chez PI have been rather spotty. For the first several years, #1 Son spent Christmas with the sperm donor. #1 Son and I would have our Christmas on the day before. We did the tree and decorations and presents and such, but I didn’t usually cook what would be considered a traditional Christmas dinner, although I did cook a prime rib for New Year’s (I have an awesome butcher whose specially seasoned prime rib is simply amazing).
On Christmas – the actual day – my personal tradition was to clean my oven and go to a movie. Lest you feel sorry for me, I actually enjoyed every minute and looked forward to it as a break from the normal holiday madness.
Then came a year when #1 Son would be with me for Christmas from now on. Anything you’d like to do? I asked him. He suggested travel. I asked where. He suggested Las Vegas. And thus a new holiday tradition was born. We spent several Christmases in Vegas, had a wonderful time every year, and it was great.
This year there is no travel. #1 Son just came back from a 1-week tour of California and is leaving for 5 weeks on New Years Eve. He needs to work to earn a bit of spending money before he goes. I have time off, but don’t feel like going anyplace, what with his impending departure and all.
So I am cooking dinner, and that is a bit of a quandary.
I know what to cook for a traditional Christmas dinner. We were a Turkey at Christmas family. Or, I could pick up one of those awesome prime ribs.
But #1 Son is vegetarian.
I scratched my head and pondered for awhile over that one. I didn’t really want to fix all the trimmings and not the main dish. Eventually I settled on what I like to call a kitchen sink veggie stew, which contains all the veggies that looked good in the store the day I go shopping: Carrots, beans, corn, cabbage, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes, celery, etc. It always tastes good. And, being a stew, has the added advantage of being serving-time neutral. I can start it in the morning, and no matter what time we eat it will be OK. I could serve it with a raisin/nut couscous (5 minutes) and a good crusty bread.
But I did want something traditional. In my family, carrot pudding was the traditional Christmas dessert. It’s a steamed pudding, like plum pudding or spotted dick. I have the recipe that was passed down through the women in my family for well over 100 years. There have been few changes over the years. I do use margarine rather than suet (thus making it vegetarian safe), but that’s about it. It is, as I said, cooked by putting the batter in a mold, placing the mold in a large pan with water, and steaming in the oven for 4 hours or so. Grandma and Mama both used a coffee can for the mold, which worked quite well.
The coffee I drink does not come in cans. In fact, I’m not sure if any coffee comes in cans any more.
No problem, I thought. I’ll just pop over to the gourmet kitchen shop and pick up a real pudding mold, and won’t that be traditional and oh-so-cool!
At the first gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile and didn’t find the pudding molds, so I stepped up to the counter.
Nice, teenage Christmas kitchen shop worker: May I help you find something?
Me: I hope so. I’m looking for a pudding mold.
NtCksw: Like a jello mold?
Me: No. A mold for steamed puddings. Do you know what that is?
NtCksw: I’m sure I’ve had one at some time. Could you just remind me?
Me: It’s a cake-type pudding that’s cooked by steaming in the oven in a mold. My mother used coffee cans.
NtCksw: We have asparagus steamers. Would that work?
Me: Thanks anyway.
At the second gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile until a nice older woman who worked there asked if she could help me.
Me: I hope so. I’m looking for a pudding mold.
NOksw: I haven’t seen one of those for ages.
Me: Do you have anything that might work? My mother used coffee cans.
NOksw: We have asparagus steamers. Would that work?
At the third gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile until a nice man who worked there asked if he could help me.
Me (having already cased the store pretty thoroughly): I doubt it, but thanks anyway.
After that, I did what I probably should have done in the first place. I came home and let my fingers do the virtual walking through the internet. I found a local gourmet kitchen shop whose online site showed a pudding mold. They weren’t sure if they had pudding molds actually in stock or not, but promised to look and call me back. They have not called.
So what do I do now? If I can’t find a pudding mold on Christmas Eve, how am I going to cook the darn thing? Do you think, gentle reader, that if I pour it into loaf pans for the steaming, it will cook correctly?