Sunday, October 19, 2008

Old Fashioned

Tapioca Pudding

In a fit of something a few months ago, I succumbed to a very good deal at Amazon for several boxes of tapioca, the 'minute' kind. I was thinking of fruit pies at the time, remembering it was my mother's favorite thickening additive for berry pies. Last evening I recalled how excited my Dad got when I made some tapioca pudding from a box of 'instant tapioca pudding' a long time ago (we were living in Seattle). So I thought I would see if I could make it from scratch. The box had a simple recipe. And it does require a lot of stirring!

Tapioca Pudding

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
2 3/4 cups milk
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp. almond extract (that's my substitution for vanilla yesterday)

Mix sugar, tapioca, milk and egg in a medium saucepan; let stand 5 minutes.

Cook on medium heat stirring constantly (you must do this!), until mixture comes to a FULL boil (no stirring it away).

Remove from heat, stir in almond extract. Cover for creamier texture.

Cool 20 minutes, stir. Serve warm or chilled, and store leftover pudding in refrigerator.

Makes 6 (1/2 cup) servings.

The substitution of almond extract for the vanilla gave it a special feeling and tasted great! Whole milk makes it best, I used 2 cups whole and 3/4 cup 2%. My Dad loved it so all the stirring was worth it.

The milk and egg were local, the sugar was C&H, so I assume it was from Hawaii. Although not noted, I'm guessing the almond extract would be from California since we grow most of the almonds in the US. Tapioca is originally a South American plant, but I think it is grown in many places, such as Asia now, and it's not noted on the box. Tapioca seems like a very old fashioned kind of ingredient to me, so it must have been pretty common in the US for some generations.

"According to the MINUTE® Tapioca Company, tapioca pudding originated in 1894 by Susan Stavers, a Boston housewife, who took in boarders. Among them was an ailing sailor who had brought some cassava roots from his journeys. Hoping to soothe the sailor, she made a sweet and delicious tapioca pudding from the roots. To create a smoother consistency, Stavers took the sailor's suggestion of putting the tapioca through the coffee grinder. The pudding turned out smooth, and Susan received rave reviews from her boarders. Soon news of her dessert spread, and Stavers was regularly grinding tapioca, packing it in paper bags and selling it to the neighbors.

John Whitman, a newspaper publisher heard of this wonderful recipe, bought the rights to Susan's process and the MINUTE® Tapioca Company was born. It became part of the General Foods family in 1926 and part of Kraft Foods, Inc. in 1989" (Linda's Culinary Dictionary)

And you have to check out the story of the freighter that was almost sunk from an expanding load of tapioca! Can't let Cookiecrumb post ALL the good stories (this one is really an oldie but goodie)!