24 December 2015

Orange-Scented Date Rice Pudding

Happy Christmas Eve Day!!!

I decided I wanted something a little special for breakfast this morning. I seem to always have rice on hand which must be a symptom of living in Turkey because there was never rice in my cupboard in the US. With the rice there it seemed only sensible to make rice pudding. So with one of my favorite Christmas movies (Elf) playing in the background I set to work.

More than any other day of the year, Christmas Eve is when I feel the most homesick. Although a 40 degree (F) temperature drop last night caused huge winds and massive power outages...

For as long as I can remember Christmas Eve has always been done at my parents with an assortment of family, friends, and neighbors coming. Mom would spend the day running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to cook and clean while we lounged around watching movies and maybe moved around a few things to pretend we were helping with the cleaning.

 Then it was off to the children's Christmas Eve Mass! Which is seriously, the same exact thing year after year. My mom managed it once and tried to make it less bad but as bad as it is people go crazy if you try to change it. Today for me marks one year of singing the Psalms at my church here in Istanbul. I feel so much calmer about it this year than I did last! I was freaking out last year and I know it didn't go well but I think (knock on wood!) that I've got it this year. This is the only time of the year that more than a dozen people turn up to my church so hopefully being faced with packed pews and Turkish curiosity seekers standing in the back won't throw my game!

Even though I'm not in Michigan pretending to help get the house ready for tonight's party I still have plenty of prep of my own here. I've already cleaned and mopped, have to "work" for a few hours, try on all my red dresses, do my nails, practice the psalms for tonight and tomorrow morning, and watch the digital Christmas presents roll in! Oh and clean up the rice pudding mess...

I had a few wee problems with this recipe and it wasn't quite as good as I wanted it to be. I prefer the takes longer but also seems to taste better rice pudding methods. However aspects of this recipe still have merit.

Recipe (adapted from My Gourmet Connection)

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  • 1 3/4 cups (whole) milk
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • a few dashes of clove
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces vanilla yogurt*
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dates 
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Combine liquids and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and add the spices, honey, vanilla, and salt. Once combined add rice, cover, and let simmer until almost all the liquid has been absorbed (about 30 minutes).
  2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in remaining ingredients. *I did not have vanilla flavored yogurt on hand so I used Turkish süzme style yogurt and a little additional vanilla extract.
  3. Serve room temperature or cold.

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