Posted by: thedirtybaker | November 7, 2011

Warming the cockles of my house.

RICE PUDDING TIME!!!!

It’s cold today in Southern Arizona.  Yes, we’re wimps here.  But in Tucson, when it’s not supposed to break 60° Fahrenheit and it’s raining, it’s cold!  It doesn’t help that I have polished concrete floors (and tile in the kitchen and bathroom).  They’re great in the summer, but COLD in the winter.  The windows and doors aren’t well sealed, and the cooler hasn’t been shut to keep out the cold yet.

So this morning, I decided to postpone my workout until afternoon, and stay home to grade papers.  As NPR recorded the temperatures going down instead of up, I had to take measures: Flannel sheets and a down comforter on the bed, and rice pudding in the oven.

Rice pudding is my go-to dish for warming up the house.  It’s delicious, and flexible, too – instead of cinnamon and raisin, you can use orange peel and cranberries, or other flavor combinations.  Dried apples with cinnamon would be great! But lots of foods are delicious.  So what’s so special about Rice Pudding?  Two things – it’s incredibly easy to make, and it cooks for an hour and a half to two hours, with just a few stops to stir it.

So here’s my recipe, from the New York Times Minimalist column (Mark Bittman):

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/18/dining/the-minimalist-how-to-be-a-pudding-head.html

This time, I added two cinnamon sticks, a half teaspoon of strong vanilla, and probably 2/3 c. raisins, though I didn’t measure them.  I’ve made it with coconut milk, and it was decadent that way!

On another note, the title “Warming the cockles of my house” made me wonder what the heck it means to warm the cockles of something.  I assumed that cockles were a form of shellfish, based on the song with a chorus of “selling cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o”). It turns out that they are a type of small bivalve mollusk that was widely eaten in the British Isles.  They are shaped rather like the chambers of the heart, and that might have led to the term.  Alternately (or in parallel, I suppose), the Latin for the chambers of the heart is “cochleae cordis” which might have been anglicized into cockles of the heart, either as a misinterpretation by non-Latin readers or as a joke by educated doctors.  Technically, though, those “cochleae” were snails. (This information came from here:  http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-coc2.htm.  A few more possibilities are here:  http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-cockles-of-your-heart.htm)   The real question for me is: how are cockles with garlic and olive oil?  Or Tabasco?

One more question: how the heck do I insert a link here properly?

So now, as I sit in the cozy bed, smell the delicious rice pudding, listen to the rain, and drink lemon tea with honey, I will go back to grading essays.  Well, four out of five ain’t bad.

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