Friday, January 22

banana pudding

by the time I was 5, I'd already become good pals with strep throat. I actually enjoyed the daily regime of bubble gum pink penicillin, and had a favorite alligator-shaped medicine spoon. when I was told five would be the big year that I would be entitled not only to pretty grown-up bedroom furniture and a kitten of my very own, but I'd also be losing my childish tonsils and accessorizing with brand new tubes for my ears ... I was thrilled! what can I say, I was always a little odd.

I recall (not the painful blood-draw itself, but) getting to keep a (clean) syringe for a badass new bath-toy (..."why is the ceiling always wet?"), and I remember the afghan draped over me in the freezing o-r, and the suggestion that the anesthesia mask was perfect for playing elephant. I remember a little bit of puking after waking, but more memorable was the presentation of a stuffed dog I named tonsils (hmmm ... an odd kid, yet somehow unimaginative). and then lots and lots of jell-o and ice cream. I also recall my kindergarten classroom seeming much louder. but mostly, as a kid, I'd always sort of perceived the tonsil-less as an elite club, privileged in a way, and sharing a sort of bond. perhaps we'd just all been sickly kids who had experienced a sudden, measurable increase to our quality of life.

fast-forward to grown-up-hood, where this relatively minor outpatient surgery means something entirely different to an adult. besides the dependency issues facing an otherwise healthy grown-up, suddenly unable to drive for two weeks ... it just plain hurts. it sucks, actually. no — mine haven't grow back. instead, a good friend has been forced to undergo humiliation and discomfort my five-year-old self couldn't have imagined. luckily, one of her favorite things in the world is decidedly cool and squashy, and relatively protein-rich to boot!

banana pudding

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated or turbinado sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
dash of salt

7 cups low-fat milk
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, cut into small-ish pieces
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 - 3 ripe bananas, pureed
1 box plain ol' 'nilla wafers ~ couldn't find a dirty-hippie version

combine sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. in medium saucepan, heat milk to 160°. gradually stir 1/4 of milk into yolks, stir into reserved dry ingredients, and combine with the rest of the hot milk. cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (no really — the easiest way to lumpy pudding is to walk away from the stove for just a second), for 8 minutes or until it coats the spoon. remove from heat; stir in butter, vanilla and pureed bananas, and let cool to room temperature-ish.

arrange 'nilla wafers in a 4-quart bowl or dish. spoon 1/3 pudding mixture over. repeat layers with remaining cookies and pudding, arranging remaining wafers around inside edge of dish. gently push wafers into pudding. chill.

pack into cooler full of ice for surreptitious placement on friend's front stoop, then carefully ring bell and run for it before her groggy ass can get up from the couch.


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