17 May 2010

Family recipe Monday: custards and puddings

It's about that time of year when the cool, light desserts start sounding good. Not that there's a time when they don't....but even though the weather has been on the cool side itself here lately, the days are long, and lighter fare sounds better and better. Here are some great ways to end a long day, with minimal or no oven heating.

Egg custard
4 eggs
¾ cup sugar
3 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

Lightly beat the eggs, add sugar and continue beating. Add milk and vanilla and pour into an unbaked pie shell. Sprinkle top with nutmeg and bake 25-30 minutes at 250* F.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

Jell-O, of course, defined an enormous number of recipes in the 20th century. If you're ever in the Rochester, NY, area, you can check out the Jell-O Gallery. There are a number of those recipes that are mercifully forgotten now--check out James Lileks's Gallery of Regrettable Food for some prime, hilarious examples--but this one is a keeper.

Lemon fluff
1 pkg. lemon or orange Jell-O
¾ cup hot water
1 cup sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tall can of milk
Vanilla wafers for crumbs

Partly congeal Jell-O. When Jell-O is slightly jelled, whip, adding sugar and lemon juice. Whip again thoroughly. Chill milk and whip. Combine with Jell-O and mix. Line dish with crumbs. Pour in fluff, sprinkle with crumbs and set.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

Here is another recipe from the cryptic series. We'd love to provide you the directions, but this is all there is. If anyone has any insights into how this was made, please send them on. Until then, we, too, say "Nuts."

Apple pudding
1 T shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
¼ tsp soda
¼ tsp salt
1 apple, cubed

--Vada Brooks Johnson

Frozen Angel comes from a co-worker of Vada's, who worked in Lubbock for years at the Frontier Stamp Company. This recipe is written on a Frontier Stamp balance sheet form from the office. You can see from its condition why we are working to rescue recipes.

Frozen angel dessert
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
6 T sugar
3 T melted butter
2 eggs, separated
1 can (1 1/3 cup) Eagle Brand milk
½ cup lemon juice
1 T grated lemon rind
1 can Angel Flake coconut

Combine cracker crumbs with 2 T sugar and melted butter. Press mixture on bottom and sides of lightly buttered dish. Chill. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Combine Eagle Brand milk. Stir in lemon rind and lemon juice until thick. Stir in 1 cup coconut. Beat egg whites until stiff and gradually add rest of sugar. Fold gently into lemon mixture. Pour in tray, sprinkle top with remaining coconut. Chill in freezer until firm (4 to 6 hours).
--Mattie Ruth

Caveat: Eagle Brand is sweetened condensed milk, NOT evaporated milk. They are not the same and are not interchangeable. Overlook this distinction at your own risk. Eagle Brand was invented by Gail Borden in the 1850s as an early way of combating food-borne diseases in pre-refrigeration days. Pre-refrigeration days were scary, especially in the warmer climates. This became a successful product as a part of military provisions in the Civil War. He is remembered, among other ways, by the state of Texas naming the county of Borden and its county seat of Gail, which is not far from Lubbock, in his honor. Texans of my grandmother's generation simply called it "Eagle Brand" in all recipes. You're just supposed to know what that means. Evaporated milk, which didn't come along until the 20th century, has 60% of its water removed, but no added sugar. The sugar in Eagle Brand is itself a preservative, which is why it was originally added.
Finally, here's a real classic that uses both evaporated milk AND sweetened condensed milk. That's a sure sign of a Texas recipe. NB: Fredericksburg, Texas, produces the best peaches on this or any other planet.

Fredericksburg fresh peach ice cream
5 eggs
2 ½ cups sugar
1 14-oz can Eagle Brand milk
1 13-oz can evaporated milk
1 T vanilla extract
2 cups mashed peaches

Beat the eggs until frothy. Add 2 cups of the sugar and beat well. Add the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon freezer container. Add enough milk to fill the freezer container to within 4” from the top. Freeze for about 5 minutes or until the custard is thick. Combine the peaches and the remaining ½ cup of sugar. Remove the dasher from the freezer container and add the peaches to the custard. Replace the dasher and continue freezing until firm.

We all remember cranking ice cream in the hand-turned freezer. Funny how the grownups all set a good example by volunteering to do this at the beginning and encouraging us to follow their example at the end...

Happy Monday.

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