Covert Matters Digest
Tasty Topping Off of High Holy Days
By Dimples Dinwiddie Prichard
Easter was special in my Virginia family because it was always at Grandma Ruth’s and Granddaddy’s house at Big Bethel, a government installation in Hampton that supplied all water going to all military installations on our Virginia Peninsula.
After church my family would get in the car, after packing play clothes for my sister and me. We headed for the fresh air of the country atmosphere and the warmth and wonderfully delightful aromas of Grandma Ruth’s kitchen.
We always wore our Easter finery so we could bask in the nod and smile of approval from my grandfather and the dear hugs and genuine compliments of Grandma Ruth, working, of course in the kitchen to make a dinner worthy of praise that surpassed any that had come before this one.
My two uncles, just a bit older than my sister and I, would come running to the house at the sight of the car turning in the driveway. Always wanting to know if we had brought our play clothes, they weren’t much for compliments on girls’ clothing but on whether or not we would be ready for play after dinner. We always were.
I was more of the adventurous type than my little sister who was content to just be there, run the trains in the basement and not outside catching baby eels in the apron of the spillway or in warmer months, tadpoles. She liked staying clean more than I did, while I liked keeping up with the boys.
But the powerful aromas from the kitchen would draw me back inside sooner than the boys were ready to go in. I was about ten when I started paying more and more attention to what Grandma was making, especially on those holidays where she always outdid herself.
Easter dessert was always bread pudding, with an apple pie on the side for those that might have that with coffee a few hours after dinner. But bread pudding was always the specialty served after Easter plates were cleared.
Tradition and security went hand in hand at the Dinwiddie house. It was good to know what dessert followed dinner. It was mandatory to have good table manners at grandfather’s table. For those who favor a good bread pudding dish here is her recipe, from her heart to mine and from mine to yours:
Grandma Ruth’s Bread Pudding
• Grease baking pan or dish with sweet butter.
• Crumble three or four slices of white bread in small cubes (remove the top crust ).
• Add a lump of butter in a mixing bowl.
This presented a problem since I didn’t know how much a lump was, but I learned from her demonstration.
• Cup your hand and fill the bowl that your hand makes up to the first knuckle of your fingers. That’s a lump.
• Put it in the bowl along with four eggs, 1 cup of sugar or in these times Splenda, in case you can’t or don’t want to eat too much sugar.
• Two teaspoons of vanilla, (real, not imitation) two or three cups of milk, whole or 2%, beat with your mixer until nicely blended. Pour over the fresh bread crumbles until nearly covered, sprinkle thoroughly with nutmeg over the entire top.
• Place in a water bath, otherwise known as another larger pan of water. Water should reach about 3/4th of the way up the dish containing the unbaked pudding. Put in a 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for one hour or until a silver knife comes out clean.
• Remove pudding dish first and place it on a rack. It should be just the right temperature for eating after dinner. Take the water bath out carefully to avoid any spills or burns and pour the water in the sink.
Grandma also lent me her secret ingredient that Granddad liked but didn’t think was appropriate for children. Rum soaked raisins. 1 cup of raisins, covered with your taste in rum, light or dark. Let sit overnight until rum is absorbed and raisins are plump, pour out excess rum or save it for a white sauce. Let raisins dry somewhat in the air and before adding to pudding mixture, coat with flour to keep them from all going to the bottom.
Make any recipe for dessert white sauce and add rum mixing by hand. Pour over a dish of bread pudding and if needed or wanted add a good-sized dollop of vanilla ice cream. I got my first taste of that after I was married and no longer considered a child. It suited me as much as it did my Granddad! Good with a fresh cup of coffee!
Eat…and be happy! Happy Easter.
Sepi Prichard grew up in Newport News, Va. Her maiden name is Dimples Dinwiddie. She is an outstanding kitchen expert and has maintained family recipes that still mesmerize family and friends. She resides in Raleigh, N.C., with her husband.