It is interesting to me how certain smells or acts evoke memories. I had this experience yesterday as I was making rice pudding for my treat to take to book club. When we lived in Bozeman, we were really good friends with Adrianna and Nick. We used to do everything together. We ate dinner together 3 or 4 nights a week and hung out and watched movies and played cards and went on walks and went to Institute and activities together. In fact, they were the ones who introduced us to Wizard (our favorite card game to play to this day).
Adrianna made the best rice pudding. I love rice pudding! She would not give me the recipe, though, saying it was a family secret, and her father had personally developed it. She would make it for us occasionally, which was nice, but would never give me the recipe.
When we first moved to Bozeman, all of Greg's family lived there. But over the years, people started moving away. His parents and younger siblings went to Colorado, Todd & Rachel went to Idaho Falls, and Kyle & Jonette started the exodus to Utah. My family was living all over the country. Greg had started Ultra Steam with Todd and my dad and was literally traveling the country and was gone for weeks at a time.
One birthday, I was feeling a little lonely. Greg was scheduled to get back from a trip in time to celebrate with me, but it was midday and he was not back yet. There was a knock at the door, and I opened it to find Adrianna, with a few kids in tow (including a brand-new baby), in the cold February Montanan winter, holding a hot tub of freshly made rice pudding - and a card with the recipe written on it.
This is, I think, perhaps the best birthday present I have ever received.
The fact that she remembered my birthday, and made me something that was meaningful, and bundled up her kids and walked over, meant so much to me. Now, every time I make her recipe, it is as if the rice pudding is imbued with love and gratitude.
I do not know if the recipe is that good, frankly, because I am so emotionally tied to it. But for what it is worth, I am including it here.
1 c sugar
2 T corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
2 c milk
1 beaten egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 T butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
some rice (whatever I have left over - don't really know how to judge)
Combine sugar, corn starch, and salt. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick and bubbly. Stir constantly for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Put egg in a medium bowl. Slowly stir in one cup of hot pudding mix. Pour back into pot, return to heat, and cook for 2 more minutes. Turn down heat and add vanilla, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add rice and raisins. Warm through.