Whilst in the throes of death and plague last week, I found myself at the clinic numerous times for various ailments. On one of my trips I asked the PA what kinds of foods I should be eating, since my appetite was pretty much gone. One of the first things she mentioned was pudding….pudding… dear god I don’t even remember the last time I had pudding. That cool, smooth, creamy concoction straight from the refrigerated plastic tub. It was settled. I would go get my prescriptions filled, get my hands on some vitamins, and purchase some vanilla pudding. Yes, vanilla – chocolate just doesn’t do it for me. Go figure. I had very little energy on this day, so I only made it to two stores before giving up. Neither had cold, ready-made vanilla pudding. Only chocolate and tapioca… ew. God bless my roommate, she had gone out later to grab dinner and had checked at another grocery store – still nothing.
Later that evening I was feeling feisty (me, feisty? never ;)) and irritated that I still had no pudding. So, I started searching for recipes to make it on my own and found a very promising recipe involving egg yolks, whole milk, and a whole vanilla bean. Totally over the top, but I was in a mood, so I decided to do it. I assembled the pudding and though it was tasty, I was disappointed to see that after it chilled in the fridge, it reverted to a soupy liquid, not a thick, rich pudding that I so craved. As I contemplated this vanilla soup, I saw I had a bunch of almost-too-ripe bananas on the counter. If there’s one thing I like more than vanilla pudding, it’s banana pudding… hmmm.. So I decided to saute the bananas in butter and sugar and blend them into my vanilla pudding base. With just a little more corn starch and a heap of crushed nilla wafters, I had me a sinfully rich and decadent banana pudding. I tried this on three friends and the feeling was mutual – completely ridiculous.
But, I realized that while this was a good recipe, it wasn’t really starving artist practical. I mean come on, heavy cream, vanilla bean, four egg yolks…. sure, it was a fun and a good little project to have when you’re sick, but it’s not something you could throw together on a whim (or on a budget). And besides, I still needed vanilla pudding! At the advice of my mother, I sought out the Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix, a mere $1.39 that requires only two cups of milk. So I whipped it together and was astonished at how fast it came together. Once chilled, it was everything I was wanting. And the best part? It can also be used to make a quick and sinful caramelized banana pudding for a fraction of the cost and time. And I don’t even miss the yolks or the vanilla bean. Even in sickness, the starving artist still thinks creatively yet practically… and then collapses.