food narratives

A Winter Story

It’s That Michigan Moment in February when the relentless cold has you boxed in like a sleepy bear in a cave. The icy air bites your skin and the only sign of life is the call of birds hoping for a refill of seed. You remain lazy and unproductive under a heated blanket in front of a fireplace waiting out the storm.

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The snow is icy and crunchy brown, not worthy of a snowman or a sled. You long for the smell of the earth again, a break in the grey sky, a tiny sprout of green to poke through the snow pack. You press your face against the window, searching for a sign of life, only to pull back quickly from the frostbitten glass. It doesn’t matter what the groundhog sees because when living in Michigan you know you are enduring winter for the long haul. It’s time to warm yourself from the inside out. Winter is why we have comfort food.

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On a ‘snow day’ from work and school the smells from the kitchen are of vanilla, cream and caramelized sugar coupled with the sound and aroma of pecans toasting on the stove. The warmth and goodness of rice pudding are about to fill your senses and comfort your soul.

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You wrap yourself tighter in your blanket, curl up your feet in warm wool socks, pour hot fresh coffee from the french press and then spoon homemade vanilla rice pudding into your bowls. Drizzle with a bit of caramel and sprinkle with pecans and tuck in to one of the amazing delights of being snowed in.

vanilla rice pudding with caramelized pecan topping
Storytelling foods photography by dena robles

Everything is right with this moment…and winter will pass soon. Maybe next week is when the first early crocus will sprout through the snow, upholding the promise of the groundhog and an early spring.

This dish is based off the recipe of Old Fashioned Rice Pudding with Salted Caramel and Pecans.