Digging For Roots, or What the past has cooked up

Indian Pudding, courtesy of Yankee Magazine

I set aside blogging for a time after the April A-Z Challenge, but those who have read my entries there, may understand why I couldn’t pass up this Weekly Challenge. Thanksgiving Day, actually evening, as we couldn’t fit in desserts until later in the day, I am sitting around the kitchen table with my daughter and husband sampling the smorgasbord of sweet offerings: Pecan Pie, Apple Crisp, Pumpkin Pie, Indian Pudding… My daughter savors a bite of Indian Pudding and asks, “Who’s side of the family does this tradition of Indian Pudding at Thanksgiving come from? Your mom or your dad?” And inspite of the many thousands of hours I’ve spent doing family history and interviewing relatives, I did not know the answer! But being a good librarian, I knew where to find the answer… “Let’s call Grandma and ask!” I replied. I got my mom on the phone right away and asked her the burning question, “Who started the Indian Pudding tradition?” “I did!” She said. “The only time I’d ever had it was when we went to the Old Mill Restaurant for special occasions. I loved it so much I searched for the recipe and finally found it in a magazine [probably the Yankee Magazine! I just checked and found several versions there, but prefer my family’s after all, which I’ve included below as well as an introductory excerpt from one of the recipes] and we’ve had it every year since.” So even though this particular tradition is only a few generations old, it still harks back to my New England heritage and that Yankee ingenuity of making do with what one has. In this case, cornmeal instead of wheat flour! My challenge: Tell what family traditions you enjoy that have been passed down from your ancestors. I look forward to reading them in the comments! Indian Pudding Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Early colonists brought with them to America a fondness for British “hasty pudding,” a dish made by boiling wheat flour in water or milk until it thickened into porridge. Since wheat flour was scarce in the New World, settlers adapted by using native cornmeal, dubbed “Indian flour,” and flavoring the resulting mush to be either sweet (with maple syrup or molasses) or savory (with drippings or salted meat). In time, Indian pudding evolved into a dish that was resoundingly sweet, with lots of molasses and additional ingredients such as butter, cinnamon, ginger, eggs, and sometimes even raisins or nuts. Recipes for Indian pudding began appearing in cookery books in the late 1700s

4 c. milk 4 eggs, beaten ½ c yellow cornmeal ½ c sugar 2 tsp salt ½ tsp ginger 1 ½ tsp cinnamon 4 Tablespoons cold milk ½ c molasses scald milk in double boiler Blend remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add scalded milk gradually, stirring until smooth. Return all to double boiler. Cook over direct heat stirring constantly until thick (about 10 min.) Cover and cook over simmering water 15 min Remove cover and cook 15 min. longer. Best served warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream


About Gail

Genealogist, librarian, writer, traveler, Mormon
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2 Responses to Digging For Roots, or What the past has cooked up

  1. wordstock16 says:

    Yeast rolls are a part of our family tradition. It’s my aunt’s recipe and it is dated some 70 years ago. The first time I tried to make them I had to call my mom because it just says “bake”. My mom and aunt made them on a wood stove when they were young. I also had to switch out the lard to shortening. Still, it’s a holiday thing I can’t do without especially now that all of them are gone. Yum!

    • gapark says:

      Did you hear the one about the family tradition of always cutting the ends off the ham before cooking it? When a granddaughter finally asked the grandmother why, she said, “I didn’t have a pan big enough…” hehe!
      Thanks for sharing!

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