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Banana pudding the right way

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Terri Hunter

Those people who love and carry on about how delicious restaurant banana pudding is are to be pitied. If they had ever tasted the real stuff, their taste buds would rebel at the thought of making it with instant vanilla pudding even if it’s gussied up with whipped cream, cream cheese, or Cool Whip – that’s just not real banana pudding.

For the authentic rendering, pay attention and follow directions. Get a medium-sized pot. Put in 3/4 to a whole cup of sugar. Personally, I go for a cup. Add four big ol’ tablespoons of flour and stir it into the sugar until it all looks the same. Separate two eggs and add the yolks to the pot. Pour in 2 1/2 cups of milk. Turn the stove eye [burner] on medium.

Now stir everything with a whisk until it’s blended. Once it’s blended, you’re going to need a spoon. Then stir as if your life depended on it. Don’t turn your back or it will burn on the bottom of the pot. In a while the mixture will start to thicken. When it gets as thick as you want it, turn off the heat and add a teaspoon of good vanilla extract and stir. That, children, is the real stuff.

Don’t scrimp on the vanilla wafers, always get the good ones. Layer wafers, then banana slices, then the pudding in an ovenproof bowl. Two of the layerings will fill a bowl. Make a meringue with the egg whites and four tablespoons of sugar. Spread the meringue on top of the pudding and lightly brown in a 375-degree F oven for about eight minutes.

If you’re really dedicated, you’ll time it so the banana pudding is still warm when you serve it. I can almost guarantee that once you’ve tasted banana pudding the way nature intended, there’ll be no turning back.

New Book Celebrates Southern Appalachian Food

Available at A Novel Escape on Main Street in Franklin is a handy and regionally relevant new book: Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food: Recipes & Stories from Mountain Kitchens, by Jim Casada and Tipper Pressley, both of whom are natives of the Appalachian Mountains. After perusing a practical and often humorous “Glossary of Southern Appalachian Food Terms” familiar to many long-timers in the area, readers of this book will find numerous recipes using locally grown and foraged foods.

The book is punctuated with Western Carolina University and National Park Service archived photographs, many that are historic, depicting the area’s foodways’ culture – from hog butchering to biscuit making to fishing to potato harvesting. Many sections include foods picked, gathered, and foraged from the wild. For example, the book features recipes using wild-grown persimmons and pawpaws, such as Persimmon Bread and Pawpaw Pudding.

With so many types of fall squashes currently harvested and available at produce stands and the every-Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon Franklin Farmer’s Market, one recipe shared from the book is for Butternut Squash Souffle:

3 cups butternut squash, cooked and pureed (pumpkin and cushaw work equally well)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (whatever is preferred – but walnuts are aplenty in this area)
½ cup self-rising flour
¼ cup butter

Combine the first six ingredients and mix well. Pour into a buttered baking dish. Combine the rest of the ingredients, incorporating butter until you reach a coarse-crumb consistency. Sprinkle mixture on squash puree and bake at 350-degrees F until top is brown (about 25-30 minutes).

Note: This recipe can be used as a sweet side dish, much like a sweet potato casserole, or as a dessert.

Have a favorite recipe and/or food-related story to share? E-mail: [email protected]. include a photo, if possible.