Category Archives: cooking with adhd
Honestly, I’m not sure this even counts as a recipe, so much as assembly instructions. It’s that easy.
This soup is quick and made up of not-too-pricey ingredients that you can keep on hand. For those of us prone to excessive salt loss in our sweat, it’s a good option for high-activity days.
Those on reduced-sodium diets can opt for lower-sodium soup bases. You do you!
- 2ish cups boiling water
- 1 serving brown rice noodles
- 2 bouillon cubes (or equivalent amount of Better Than Bouillon, etc)—your choice of flavor(s)
- 1 smöl squirt of squeezy garlic (optional)
- 1 smöl squirt of squeezy ginger (also optional)
- veggies of your choice (I used Walmart’s “super blend” chopped veggies and some baby carrots)
- Put the bouillon cubes and noodles in a bowl
- Pour the boiling water in
- Add any frozen veggies
- Mix up a little, then wait 5 mins for the noodles to soften
- Squeeze in your garlic and ginger, if you want them, cackling with satisfaction in the knowledge that somewhere a food snob is having a conniption
- Toss in any fresh veggies
You can also add any cooked protein you might enjoy.
The noodles I used for today’s batch are the Thai Kitchen brand that can be found at many grocery stores. They come with four individual sachets of noodles, each just about one lunch portion.
If you can’t find those, though, any quick-cooking noodles should work.
Today, three more options for mixing it up with some meatless options that have passed the husband test (or, at any rate, the MY husband test: ymmv).
Earth-Grown Zesty Italian Meatless Balls (ALDI)
A while back, I ordered Earth Grown’s frozen “zesty Italian-style” meatless meatballs from ALDI.
I’m embarrassingly fond of meatballs, and thus of the idea of frozen meatballs (aka “meatballs without all the work”)—but as a general rule, they could definitely use some help in the nutritional profile department, especially where saturated fats and cholesterol are concerned (D has hypercholesterolemia, so I try to watch those for him).
As such, ALDI’s frozen meatlessballs seemed like they might fit the bill. With no cholesterol and only 1g of saturated fat per 6-ball serving, not to mention a nice fiber boost and a good dose of healthy fats, they definitely come out ahead of both ordinary and all-turkey meatballs in the nutrition race.
Flavor-wise, they’re not really what I’d call zesty. They’re more mildly Italian-influenced than anything. That doesn’t mean, though, that they’re not tasty—just that they’re what one might describe as “good minglers,” like the friend that makes the whole party work without making it all about them.
I lightly browned my meatlessballs in olive oil for a couple of minutes, then simmered them in my favorite tomato-basil sauce while I boiled up some spaghetti (the suggested cooking time, conveniently, is 10 minutes).
D ate them without complaining, and I like them enough that I’d be happy to eat them any time I want a meatball fix, whether with pasta or in a sub.
Edit: I should note that D can detect turkey meatballs at first taste, and won’t eat them, but seems to find these acceptable. Even if he didn’t, I’d still buy them for myself. After a particularly grueling rehearsal, the only thing better than a good meatball sub is a good*meatless* meatball sub with a greatly-improved nutritional profile.
Overall: 8/10. Nice texture, pleasant mild flavor, decent nutritional profile.
Simple Truth Meatless Crumbles (Kroger)
I ordered these on a whim, but I was surprised how well they work.
Personally, I don’t care if my meatless dishes are obviously meatless—but D is kind of a meat-and-potatoes guy. He does like the desi chana tacos I make sometimes, but that involves a fair bit of planning, and I don’t know that ground green chickpeas would work in pasta sauce.
Enter Simple Truth’s frozen meatless crumbles. At $3.99 for a one-pound zip-top bag at my local Kroger, this stuff is less expensive than grass-fed ground beef, but stacks up really well in terms of utility in recipes.
Here’s a look at the nutritional profile from fooducate.com:
Pretty decent overall—and hecking wow on the protein front. Most people probably don’t need to worry that much about protein, but it can be important for dancers to track. As a male ballet dancer with a standing weight of around 160 pounds, a job description that involves lifting adult humans, and a less-than-optimal meal planning strategy (cooking with ADHD, y’all), it’s good to know about concentrated, easy-cook protein sources.
Like Earth-Grown’s meatlessballs, Simple Choice’s crumbles do contain soy and gluten, so if you’re sensitive to either or both, please be aware.
Of note, an entire cup of these crumbles is a LOT: it may be one serving, but it’s more than I typically use for one portion.
I make my taco/burrito recipe with about 1 to 1.5 cups of the crumbles and a can of beans (and, of course, onions and taco seasoning), and the resulting volume of taco/burrito filling is comparable to the same recipe made with 1 pound lean ground beef.
Each batch of taco/burrito filling makes about 8-12 tacos or 4-6 hefty burritos, depending on how many veggies I have on hand that I can add. Thus, while the stated 1-cup serving of Simple Truth’s makes crumbles includes nearly half the protein required by statutory person needs in a given day, you might not find yourself eating that much at a sitting.
I’ve found that the best way to prepare these is to lightly brown them in just enough olive oil to prevent sticking, then add whatever else you’re planning to add. They take only minutes to cook, so they come in handy when you’re starving and you want tacos NOW.
So far, the best batch of these I’ve made went like this:
- Brown chopped onions in olive oil. Feel free to add a little wine (I used cooking sherry).
- Lightly brown 1 cup of meatless crumbles in a pan.
- Add 1 can of black beans.
- Add taco seasoning (and water as called for on the taco seasoning package) to taste—I the equivalent of two packets of taco seasoning; one for the crumbles and one for the beans.
- Simmer everything for a few minutes, then serve.
D doesn’t even seem to have noticed that these aren’t made of meat, so score another win on the husband test.
Simple Truth Meatless Chorizo (Kroger)
I’ve saved the best for last, here, assuming I haven’t already written about this.
Simple Truth’s meatless chorizo is sold in link form, and holds its shape well enough to slice.
While I can absolutely imagine browning or grilling an entire link of this stuff and serving it in a bun (or a couple of grilled soft corn tortillas, loaded up with corn and black bean salsa and shredded cabbage, or even kimchi), so far I find myself slicing it up, browning it, adding whatever veggies I’ve got handy, pouring on some egg whites, and turning it into a killer egg burrito.
Prepared this way, each link makes two substantial burritos—one for D and one for me—or a burrito for now and burrito filling for later. It’s also fantastic served on tostadas, though that adds an additional hit in the saturated fats department.
I wouldn’t mind this chorizo being spicier, but its flavor profile is delightfully complex, and heat is easy to add.
At $3.99 for a pack of four substantial chorizo links, this has become a weekly staple in my house.
Oh, yeah, and it comes with the usual advantages of plant-based sausages over meat-based ones, as you can see from its profile on fooducate.com:
I’ll try to review each of these options a little more thoroughly in the future, but for now, I’ll close by saying all three of them have received D’s stamp of approval for meat substitutes—which is to say, here’s eaten them without apparently realizing that they’re meatless—and that the Simple Truth chorizo had better stay in production, or else I’ll … IDK, be very sad.
Full disclosure: this isn’t exactly a recipe? Because, like, it’s not that precise, really, and honestly, you could figure it out just fine without me.
But, anyway. Here it is.
Ingredients (I said it wasn’t that precise ^-^)
- Two large-ish portobello mushroom caps
- A bunch of soy sauce
- Some cooking sherry, or white wine, or vinegar, or something along those lines
- Olive oil
- Shredded cheese (optional)
Directions (umm, yeah … so these aren’t gonna be precise either)
- Rinse/wash the mushrooms as needed.
- Stick the mushrooms gills-up in a container, ideally with a lid, that’ll let them sit side-by-side. Probably pop the stems off if you’re using them as burgers.
- Pour in kind of a lot of soy sauce and about the same amount of cooking sherry (or whatever).
- Put the lid on the container and shake it up to mix everything and get the sauce into the gills.
- Stick the whole shebang into the fridge. Marinade for a couple of hours or go all out and just plain forget to cook it for a day and a half.
- Heat up your grill pan (mediumish heat) or any pan with a heavy bottom (also mediumish heat) or your Foreman-type grill. Brush on a little olive oil. Toss in some salt and pepper, to taste.
- Stick the marinated mushrooms in there, gills up. Cover and let cook for a bit so the mushrooms can get nice and soft.
- Add some cheese to the inside of the cup of the mushroom if you want. Cover again so the cheese can get nice and bubbly.
- I totally failed to time these, so just … cook for a while. I probably did mine for about 15 minutes or so, and they were nice and soft-chewy.
Serve however you like: on buns, not on buns, on toast, on tortillas, sliced over a salad … with pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, catsup, and mustard, or whatever else works for you … naked except for a single grilled cherry tomato. You do you.
I served mine on one-sided toast with a romaine leaf, pickles, mustard, and (for me) catsup.
I seriously did completely forget to cook these for at least 36 hours, and they turned out beautifully. Denis actually ate his, and there wasn’t any meat involved, like, at all (though there was cheese, and he does love cheese).
Sadly, I failed to take even one picture of any stage of this process. I guess I’ll just have to order more portobello caps with next week’s groceries so I can do that part. Sometimes you just have to take one for the team ^-^
I already wrote this once, and WordPress did some glitchy thing and ate the post (like, ate it so hard that it’s not even in my trashed posts bin), so unfortunately you’re getting the short version, which will inevitably be way less clever than the original.
Anyway, I recently learned an important fact:
I also discovered that when you randomly want polenta for lunch, but you also want to eat, like, Before Someone Gets B*tchy, you can nuke yourself some Quick Grits and just add stuff.
Only … like … if you add a bouillon cube? Add it to the boiling water before you add the grits, and safe yourself the weirdness of a random encounter with a big chunk of undissolved bouillon.
You should probably take a similar approach if you’re using something like Better Than Bouillon, just to make sure it’s distributed evenly. (BTW, Better Than Bouillon is awesome.)
Anyway, here’s the recipe for this afternoon’s lunch.
- 1 & 1/3 cup boiling water (or broth)
- 1 cube of bouillon or equivalent (unless you started with broth)
- 3/4 cup quick grits (not regular, or you will be sorely disappointed)
- salt to taste (you can definitely skip it if you use bouillon)
- random cherry tomatoes
- the remaining edible leaves in an otherwise disreputable-looking bag of kale (spinach would work just as well)
- about a teaspoon of butter & olive oil blend
- one egg
- Boil the water or broth and (if necessary) pour it into a large microwave-safe bowl (1 qt/1 litre will do)
- If using bouillon, ADD IT NOW, not later ^-^’, and stir to dissolve
- Add the quick grits and salt (optional) to the liquid
- Stir again
- Microwave for 4-5 minutes. My microwave is, erm, gentle, and it takes about 4.5 minutes. Yours will probably be faster.
- Remove the grits from the microwave, add veggies, stir, and allow to stand
- If desired, nuke an egg (spray a small plate with cooking spray, crack the egg onto it, and put it in the microwave). In my microwave, this takes 30-60 seconds depending on the plate in question and how cold the plate is at the start.
- Slide the cooked egg onto the grits, add the butter blend if you want it, stir, and enjoy.
If you prefer not to use the microwave, just follow the package directions to make your quick grits on the stovetop, adding the bouillon (if desired) at the appropriate point (before you add the grits), then carry on as before.
You can, of course, also make this with Instant Grits, and you can use any other veggies you have on hand. Get creative! Tofu? Why not! Could it be …. SEITAN? Sure! Toss some ham in. Omit the veggies and make a sweet-savory version by adding butter and maple syrup. Chill it, slice it, and fry it! Branch out and try old-fashioned Hasty Pudding! It’s all you!
Oh, and if you decide to make regular (as in, Not Quick) polenta?
Know that no less an authority than Serious Eats’ Daniel Gritzer says you can ignore the “rules” about waiting ’til the liquid is boiling to add the cornmeal and then stirring constantly until it’s ready.
I’ve finally given in and taken a day off to go to the doctor’s office, so predictably I’m bored out of my skull.
As such, it seemed like a good time to implement a quick organization hack.
I use chalk markers to label and date food storage containers. They’re visible on all colors and transparencies, come in cute colors, and are easy to wipe away. They do, however, really prefer to be stored horizontally.
My previous solution was to jumble them in with my magnetic basket of assorted dry-erase pens, but that resulted in:
- an overflowing basket (I’ll pause here for lowbrow humor of the kind that occurs to me every time a U-scan machine politely chirps, “Please check your basket!”).
- a giant pain in the tuchas whenever I needed to grab a specific pen.
*Any similar product should also work; these just happened to be on hand at Staples** yesterday.
**I should never be allowed to enter Staples without a responsible adult. I did manage to restrain myself from buying a purpose-built Headphones Pocket and about 7,000 Sharpie Pens, but just barely -.-
Technically, D-Wings are cord guides—and I definitely need some of those, because 2019 amirite?—but I noticed that the large ones were the perfect size for my chalk pens.
I stuck them on the side of my microwave, where they’re unlikely to be in the way but not so far out of sight that I’ll forget about them. It seemed less drastic than sticking them on the side of the fridge, which is more likely to stay here if we move someday.
Now my chalk pens will be easy to grab when I need to write “Breakfast” or the current date on a food container.
Better yet, I still have two large D-wings and a bunch of small ones, so my cord-containment needs will not go unmet.
Edit: PS—possibly because I actually remembered to take my Adderall today, I verified the fit before installing the D-Wings, which seems like a good idea.
It’s been about a thousand years since I posted a recipe, but this one’s worth knowing about if you like tapioca. If you don’t like tapioca, on the other hand, you might hate this stuff.
Prep Time: ~5 minutes
Cook* Time: 1 – 8 hours
Who’ll Like It: Tapioca fans ❤
Who’ll Hate It: Tapioca haters XP
Best Uses: Dessert, Breakfast
Hardest Part: Remembering to buy the d**n Chia Seeds
Pairs Well With: Disorganized mornings; late-night cravings
*And by “cook,” I mean “stick it in the fridge and mostly ignore it”
The Actual Recipe
I’ve adapted this from a variety of similar recipes with similar goals. One of the best things about it is that it’s adaptable. Lactose intolerant? Use almond milk. Allergic to almonds? Try coconut milk. Hate coconut? Use rice milk. Don’t like artificial sweeteners? No worries; you can use sugar or agave or honey or maple syrup or…
Here’s What You’ll Need (for each serving)
- 1.5 tablespoons of chia seed (I’m using black chia seed because that’s what I’ve got, but white is fine, too)
- .5 tablespoon unsweetened coconut shreds (or powder)
- .5 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1-2 tsp sucralose
- ~.25 tsp coconut extract
- ~.25 tsp vanilla extract
Here’s What You Do
- Put everything except the chia into a small container with a lid (I’ve repurposed a glass jar that came with shredded cheese in it)
- Stir briefly
- Add the chia
- Whisk all the things briefly with a small whisk (a fork will work fine, too)
- Stick the lid on and stick that bad boy (or girl, or gender-nonbinary personage) in the fridge
- Chill for a minimum of 1 hour, but preferably more like overnight, then come back, stir, and stuff it into your maw
For even distribution of the chia seeds, I’ve been coming back 30 minutes into the chill time to re-whisk everything, but that step is optional.
Most of the recipes I’ve found for this use 1 cup of whatever milk-like product and 3 or 4 tablespoons of chia seeds, but when I made my first batch, I found that makes rather an enormous portion. I halved all the volumes to arrive at what seems, for me, like a more reasonable end product.
That said, you can definitely shove an entire 1-cup-of-milk portion of this into your face if you try hard enough.
- I’ve read that highly acidic ingredients can prevent the chia seeds from “gelling” adequately, so if you’re going to toss in orange juice, lemon curd, etc, you might want to do it right before you serve this up.
- If you eat this stuff after one hour, chances are good that it’ll still be a little loosey-goosey and a little crunchy. Don’t worry, though, you won’t die. Or, at any rate, I didn’t.
I entered the ingredients above into LoseIt’s recipe calculator, and here’s what it threw back:
I suspect that this would be really, really good with lemon curd … which, of course, I don’t happen to have on hand. Even better with berries (which I do have) and lemon curd.
As always, I’ll try to get some pix up here soon.
‘Til then, please enjoy this picture of me looking disconcertingly like a young George “Dubya” Bush on the trapeze:
And also this one of “splits down,” just because:
The other day, I wrote about trying a couple of low-carb recipes.
I’m doing the low-carb thing until I can get back to my usual training and performance schedule because it’s an easy way to balance input and output without feeling like I’m starving all the time.
My diet is usually pretty well stocked with veggies and so forth, so this mostly means that I’m stuffing my face with a metric shedload of cabbage (Savoy or Napa, at the moment) where I’d usually put pasta, burritos, or taco shells, but of course there’s more to life than cabbage. (Pumpkin smoothies, by the way, are totally in the “more to life” department. Recipe forthcoming.)
In that vein, I’ve decided to try a couple of specifically low-carb recipes that would work for both D and me, since it’s not like I asked D if he wants to give up bread and rolls for the next month.
The two standouts thus far in terms of ease of preparation and really nice results both hail from TryKetoWith.Me, the blog of “KetoGirl,” a computer-science student and ketogenic-diet advocate in Chicago. These are two of her simpler recipes, and I chose them because when I looked at them, I didn’t instantly go, “ACK! TOO MANY STEPS!” and click on back to a safer place.
- No, I’m not making fun of the Safe Spaces concept. I think they play an important role, and they have definitely been helpful to me at times in my life. I mostly just wanted to link to the Safety Dance because it’s hilarious.
Because it’s fall and I’m obsessed with putting cinnamon in everything right now, I decided to make sweet-spiced versions of both these recipes—so (because I am apparently out of plain cinnamon … wonder how that happened) I made the waffles with pumpkin pie spice standing in for the optional cinnamon, and I turned the doughballs into mini pumpkin pie spice rolls by rolling the dough out flat, coating it with a blend of Splenda and pumpkin pie spice, then curling it into a long log and cutting it into individual rolls.
- Not everyone is into sucralose and what have you. It works fine for me, so I use it, but stevia or xylitol would work just as well.
Both recipes proved pretty easy to follow—if I was working directly off my tablet or had printed them a little differently, I could have avoided the one mistake I did make, which was the result of my own formatting, not KetoGirl's.
Neither required an exhaustive list of ingredients I can't find locally. In fact, I found them all, plus one random extra (arrowroot powder, which I've been meaning to buy forever but always forget about), at a not-particularly-fancy Kroger a couple miles up the road.
For both these reasons, and because the end results are delicious, I am happy to issue the Cooking with ADHD Squirrel! of Approval© to both recipes.
The only drawback? The whole point of doing a low-carb diet while I'm on the bench is to make maintaining energy balance a no-brainer. The pumpkin pie spice rolls are so freaking good that they might completely torpedo that plan.
Just sticking this here in case it might be useful to anyone else. I’m going to try this recipe:
…use some of the waffles for dinner or dessert tonight (haven’t decided yet if I’m making savory waffles or sweet ones), then freeze the rest. I’ll keep you posted.
Update: These are great! I made a sweet version seasoned with Pumpkin Pie Spice (I wanted just cinnamon, but apparently I’m out of just cinnamon?), and they’re lovely. Also, I would definitely count them as ADHD-friendly, though the way I printed the recipe made life challenging for me. I forgot the baking powder initially, then added it after I made the first waffle and realized my error. I’ve done this before, with other waffles, soooo…
I think, though, that I’d really like to try making them in a regular waffle iron rather than the Belgian waffle iron that I have—which is what I usually think about waffle recipes, actually, so they resemble regular waffles in that way, as in effectively all ways.
Also going to try making these whilst I’m mucking about in the kitchen:
Both look pretty ADHD-friendly (at least, once you remember to buy the ingredients that maybe you don’t have if you’re not normally a low-carb person), so I’m eager to see how they go.
I won’t know until I’ve made them, but I’m hoping I can potentially adjust the waffle batter so I can use the Foreman grill to make a sort of foccaccia-style thing with it (between the Foreman grill and the waffle iron, you can make SO MANY THINGS, guys). Likewise, I want to try making cinnamon doughballs based on the garlic recipe. I’ll report back about those, too.
In other news, for some reason or another, our water has been shut off. We’re current on the water bill (I checked, and then paid the next bill since I was logged in anyway), and usually the water company sticks a note on the door when they have to shut us off for maintenance. I’m stumped.
I suppose I could call them, but I’m going to give it a couple of hours first.
I think I may may have posted my bread recipe at some point in the past, but I’ve updated it a little bit, so here’s the update!
I have a kitchen scale now, so later on I’ll add metric mass values so those of you cooking in Europe can give it a whirl without having to guess. It works fine by the fairly-inexact American volumetric method, though!
You will need:
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 4.5 teaspoons highly active dry yeast (I recommend SAF red; also, that’s 1.5 tablespoon, by the way; or if you’re using packets, 2 packets)
- 1.5 cups hottish (not boiling) water (or 1 cup hottish water and .5 cup milk)
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (margarine or veg oil will work, too!)
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, honey, or malt syrup (your choice)*
- 1.5 teaspoons salt *
Ingredients marked * are optional. I like the flavor of bread better with salt (and need tons of salt because my body is crazy), but you can leave it out. The sugar/honey/syrup changes the flavor of the finished bread only a little, but it can help get your yeast going if it’s sluggish. Honey or malt syrup add a little moisture, but not enough to require adjustments (edit: usually).
I think you can also bake bread entirely without fats, but I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure how it would turn out.
To make the bread:
- Combine water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to blend them, then set aside.
- Combine flour, butter/oil, and salt in a large bowl.
- When the yeast mix gets foamy, pour it into the dry mix (if you’re using butter, the hot water will help it melt).
- If you’re using milk, pour it in, too.
- Stir with a stirring spoon to everything is fairly well blended (don’t worry — it doesn’t have to be anything like perfect!).
- If you have time, give the ingredients about 5 or 10 minutes to rest. This lets the flour take up the liquids. It also lets you find some awesome podcasts to listen to while you knead (might I recommend the History Chicks?).
- Squish everything together a little with your hands, dust your work surface with flour, and dump your dough right onto it.
- If you’re like me, set a timer so you don’t find yourself thinking, “OMG, I have been kneading this dough foreeeeeeeevaaaarrrrrr.” 6 to 8 minutes should do the trick.
- Ready … set … knead! Remember, no grouchy TV chefs are here, and even if they are, it’s your kitchen — so knead that dough in whatever way works for you!
- Ball up the dough, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise for 30 minutes (if you’re in a hurry) to 1 hour (if you’re not). Longer than 1 hour is fine, too. If it’s going to sit all day or overnight, though, maybe stick the dough in the fridge so it doesn’t go completely crazy.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat dat oven — I like a darker, crisper crust, so I set it for 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Punch down your puffed-up, self-important doughball friend, then shape your baguettes or batards or loaf or rolls or boules or what have you. I often do one baguette and either four submarine rolls or eight dinner rolls.
- If you have time, let your dough rise again (like the Mary-Ellen Carter!) for 15 – 30 minutes. this step is optional, but gets you a pooftier end product.
- Bake for 15 (for dinner rolls) to 30 minutes on or in whatever kind of pizza stone, cookie sheet, loaf pan, and/or baguette pan you’ve got on hand. You can probably even use muffin tins (though I haven’t tried that).
- Cool (preferably on a rack) for as long as you can stand it.
- The most important part! Enjoy your bread while collecting accolades from your friends and loved ones who will be like, “OMG, this person is amazing!” (Unless they can’t have gluten. I should learn a good gluten-free recipe, because Celiac is no joke.)
That’s it! I’ll try to add pictures, and someday, I swear, I really will do a video post about this.
Edit: Oh, yeah. You can also also combine steps 1 through 4 and just mix everything together right away, as long as you have good yeast. I like to proof mine because it makes me feel like a mad scientist, but it isn’t really entirely necessary.
When I make pizza dough (exact same recipe!), I usually omit the second rise.
Just a quick heads-up: I’ll be putting together a much briefer version of this recipe with step-by-step pictures (this post is too long to fit the Cooking with ADHD model!) and probably a video version as well.
It should be up soon.
I should probably also try to come up with a semi-standard, ADHD-friendly format for these posts if I don’t get distracted bef— SQUIRREL!
Anyway, yesterday, I woke up with a random craving for hasty pudding/Indian pudding/maize pudding/whatever you want to call it.
I looked up a bunch of recipes and became more and more discouraged: most of them involved a bazillion steps, required ingredients that I didn’t have, served 30, and/or took at least two hours* to cook.
That’s hasty, my friends — hasty like a sloth.
Finally, I thought, “Screw it, entire peoples who didn’t even have recipes have been making cornmeal mush ever since cornmeal was invented. I’m just going to do that, add some brown sugar and vanilla, and throw a little whipped topping on**.”
So I marched into the kitchen, grabbed the cornmeal from our giant Lazy Susan cabinet thingy, and … hesitated.
Perhaps, I thought, Perhaps I should consult Betty Crocker … just in case.
So I did, and right there on page 354***, was a recipe for polenta, conveniently labeled fast, which in cooking parlance usually also means easy.
It was also labeled low-fat, I didn’t really care about that, but if you’re on a low-fat diet, you’re covered. Those on low-carb diets, on the other hand … um, maybe this isn’t the optimal recipe for you guys.
I didn’t make polenta (though basic polenta will definitely be covered win a Cooking with ADHD post).
I did make a really easy maize pudding — the polenta recipe just gave me confidence that my intuition about ingredient proportions was pretty much on track.
So, without further ado, here’s the basic idea:
Easy Maize Pudding — Makes 4 Portions
- A double boiler (Don’t worry! You can improvise one! see notes below) or a medium-sized sauce pan with a heavy bottom
- A wooden or nylon stirring spoon
- 1 cup (about .25 liter) cornmeal — yellow, white, red, blue — whatever color you have on hand)
- 2 cups (about .5 liter) milk (I used 2%; I’ll try this again with almond milk for vegan version)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) brown sugar (this is just for flavor, it’s okay to use less or even to substitute honey, molasses, white sugar, Splenda, or whatever you like)
- 1 teaspoon (10 ml) vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
…That’s it. That’s all you need. You could probably even use water instead of milk, though the end product might not be as creamy.
- Turn on your favorite streaming radio, a YouTube documentary, or whatever you like.
- The next step can be done two ways:
- If you have a double-boiler: fill the bottom part with water and the top part with the milk; heat over medium-high flame* until the milk steams.
- If you don’t have a double-boiler: pour the milk into a medium-sized sauce pan with a heavy bottom over medium-low flame* until the milk steams. It might take a while.
- Add the brown sugar and vanilla to the milk.
- Add the cornmeal, stirring while you pour it in. You don’t need a fancy whisk or anything; a plain old wooden or nylon spoon is fine.
- Stir until everything is well-blended, then cover the double-boiler or sauce pan, reduce the flame* to very low — like, as low as possible without actually turning off your burner — and set a timer for ten minutes.
- While the pudding heats, stir it once in a while to prevent sticking or scorching, but for the most part, leave it alone.
- After 10 minutes, remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool for a bit so you don’t blister the roof of your mouth off like I did that one time.
- Serve hot with whatever suits your fancy.
If you’re using the heavy-bottomed sauce-pan method, you’ll have to pay closer attention than you will with a double boiler, since milk scorches pretty easily. You might also want to throw in a little butter or cooking oil to prevent sticking.
You’ll notice that the metric equivalents above aren’t exact. Don’t worry about it — in this recipe, all you need to know is that you want a ratio of 1 part cornmeal to 2 parts milk, and even there you’ve got some wiggle room. The rest you can fiddle with according to your personal taste. For example, I’d probably like less sugar, but 2 TBSP was a sound guess for dessert applications.
About That Double Boiler…
A lot of people don’t have double-boilers. They’re finicky specialized kitchen things that take up a bunch of space, and most of us don’t use them very often.
If you’re among the many, though, don’t worry!
You can improvise a double boiler from of a sauce pan (or even, in a pinch, a deep frying pan) and a metal bowl that’s just big enough to rest on top of it or inside of it without touching the bottom of the pan. I used to do it this way back before I had access to a double boiler.
Here’s a link to an article on improvised double boilers: http://bakingbites.com/2009/09/how-to-make-a-double-boiler/.
If you don’t have lids for your sauce pans or improvised double boiler, you can make do by resting a stoneware or Corelle plate, a cookie sheet, a metal mixing-bowl lid, the glass lid from a suitably-sized casserole dish, or any similar flattish, heat-resistant object atop the pan of pudding-in-progress.
Just make sure to balance it carefully if you’re using an improvised setup and to use potholders when you lift it off (seriously, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone, “Herp de derp, think I’ll just lift this metal bowl lid off with my bare fingEAAAGGHHHHEHEHEH!!!”).
In fact, even if you do have lids for your pant, you may find yourself doing this if, for example, they’re all in a disorganized overhead rack and you don’t feel like fighting with them.
Um, not that I would ever do that. Ahem. :::quietly tucks metal mixing-bowl lid back into the cupboard:::
Other Ways To Enjoy Maize Pudding or Cornmeal Mush
This dish makes a pretty decent breakfast on a cold morning. For that purpose, I’d recommend making it with less or even no sugar. I like it without any at all for breakfast (that said, I’m not into sweets for breakfast, so your mileage may vary).
You can also add things like raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, or chopped dates for a sweet, fruity kick (you might want to increase the liquid just a little bit; I’ll report back in my updated recipe post).
For a quick and easy savory side-dish, substitute a little garlic and/or onion powder for the sugar and adjust the salt to taste. You can also brown some chopped onions (you can even get them in the freezer section already chopped) in butter before you add the milk or water. For a one-bowl meal, add salty kalamata olives, feta cheese, some fresh baby spinach, and cooked chicken or lamb once the mush cools.
Like standard cornmeal mush or polenta, you can even chill this pudding in a loaf pan (or, if you’re me, a plastic container lined with plastic wrap), slice it, and pan-fry it. Pan-seared maize pudding topped with vanilla ice cream sounds pretty good to me.
It’s also really very good with real maple syrup.
Speaking of maple syrup, don’t be afraid to try the less expensive, darker grades. Darker maple syrup bears a stronger maple flavor, so a little can really go a long way. It’s absolutely delicious on mild-flavored desserts like vanilla or sweet-cream ice cream — or like maize pudding.
If I remember correctly, most systems for grading maple syrup in the maple-syrup producing regions of North America date back to a time when maple syrup was used as a substitute for regular cane sugar, which had to be imported at great expense from the tropics.
The paler syrups (which are not more processed, but rather are collected early in the “sugaring” season) earned monikers like “fancy” and “Grade A” and commanded higher prices because their subtler maple flavor made them better substitutes for cane sugar.
However, the darker grades are absolutely delicious and perfect for those of us who really like a lot of maple flavor but don’t want to have to swamp our food in liquid sugar to get it.
Though I grew up in easy reach of the famous Vermont sugaring grounds and their storied produce, I’ve become quite enamored of a local, very dark maple syrup that hails from a nearby part of Indiana. It’s perfect on maize pudding.