I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with the warmth, love and laughter of family and friends.
With the New Year having a full week under her belt, it feels like we’re off to a good start. I’m refreshed after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The slate is clean and a relatively empty calendar lay before me with many ideas, hopes and goals to fill each day. I have to be careful though. I am notorious for taking on more than I should and convincing myself that I can get it all done. Once I start having to juggle one thing around to accommodate another, I’m in trouble. It seems to spiral from there, so I have quite a bit of weekly “housekeeping” to do to make sure I keep everything on track. I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me.
When it comes right down to it, I have a hard time pacing myself. I have so many interests and want to try so many things, but there isn’t enough time to do it all. Sometimes it feels like I am back at work, running from one thing to the next and putting out fires, but I don’t have the luxury of an assistant like I did then. And frankly, I quit working to get away from that frenetic pace. So when my life takes on that dimension, I have to stop, reevaluate and begin to look for ways to either shed the baggage or completely refocus my priorities.
So in between the holiday chaos I did just that. I spent some time considering what I needed to do to get back to those days when I was more consistent with my blog posts. Admittedly, it takes me quite a bit of time to style a shot, shoot it, edit it, compose my thoughts, and carve out segments of time to write in between tossing in loads of laundry or running errands. That doesn’t even take to into account the time needed to visit and comment on other blogs, manage email accounts, Facebook pages, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, and a Pinterest account. In between all of that I’m supposed to be a mother, a wife, a cook, and maintain a home and a healthy, active lifestyle (read: exercise). Toss in holidays, vacations, seasonal gardening, amongst other things, and this blog often gets pushed to “tomorrow.”
But tomorrow is a thief; one that is very comfortable stealing today.
I’ve had to take a realistic look at what ultimately brings me the greatest happiness. Aside from my family and friends, it is this creative process that I share with you. This blog is the puzzle piece that completes the creative fulfillment quotient I so desperately wanted when I quit working years ago. My heart and soul are on these pages and it means so much to me to be able to express myself creatively with those who visit and take the time to comment. As a result, my focus has to be here, on these pages, more so than on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
I guess you could say I’m getting back to the basics.
And I know that’s why I fell hard for this Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Vanilla-Orange Sauce when I first saw it in one of my older cookbooks over a year ago. But I missed the opportunity to try the recipe last year and wasn’t about to let another cranberry season slip through my fingers. I know I’m pushing it as it is, but I’m hopeful you’ve stashed a few bags of cranberries in your freezer like I do every year because this is one worth making over and over again.
Steamed puddings are new to me and this one couldn’t have been easier to prepare. With a short ingredient list and a no-fuss, no-fancy-gadgets-kind-of-thing going on, it’s about as basic as you can get even though it sounds and looks fancy. I love that you don’t need an oven to cook it in – you only need a large pot and a spot on the stove – which makes a steamed pudding perfect for those times when oven space is at a premium (or when your oven is broken and awaiting a replacement part as mine recently was). On its own, the steamed pudding wasn’t much to speak of outside of its characteristic stickiness and quite honestly the color of the batter was visually unappealing. But when the buttery sweetness of the warm vanilla-orange sauce soaked into the crevices of the steamed cranberry pudding, the ugly duckling transformed into a beautiful swan.
This is meant to be shared with good friends. It doesn’t really get any more basic than that, does it?
I have generously adapted the method and ingredients of this recipe, which comes from San Francisco a la Carte, a cookbook from the Junior League of San Francisco. This is a simple yet elegant dessert that can be served after any holiday or winter dinner. The sauce is incredible.
- 2 cups whole fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
- 1/2 cup golden syrup or light molasses
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 pound butter, cut into bits
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) orange zest
- Butter the inside of 4 pudding molds and set aside.
- Combine the pudding ingredients in the order given and stir well.
- Pour into buttered pudding molds, dividing batter equally.
- Cover each pudding mold with 1 piece of parchment paper that has been folded to create a pleat to allow for pudding to expand and secure with kitchen twine.
- Set bowls on a rack in a large, deep pot and add water to come halfway up the sides of the molds without touching the parchment paper.
- Place a clean, dry kitchen cloth over the bowls making sure it doesn't touch the water.
- Bring water to a gentle boil, cover the pot, lower the heat to a simmer, and steam for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and stir continuously until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Turn puddings out onto warmed plates and pour sauce over.
- Each pudding serves 2-3 people.
- Additional pot and rack may be necessary if using 4 pudding molds.
I used English pudding molds from Mason Cash (size 48) and will link to a source that sells them in the U.S. You can also use Pyrex baking cups, ramekins or 1 medium-sized heat-proof bowl. If using a larger bowl, you will have to adjust the cooking time. I substituted golden syrup (recommend Lyle's Golden Syrup) for the light molasses because I wasn't able to find it in the grocery stores in my area.
Buying information for pudding molds: I have Mason Cash pudding basins in size 48 (approximately 2 cup capacity per bowl). They were given to me by a friend but Pacific Merchants sells a slightly smaller size (42) that should work but you may have to decrease the cooking time as a result. There are additional sources that sell 48’s but most are located in the UK.