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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

yia yia's banana pudding!

There is nothing I enjoy more than the great taste of summer fruit:

peaches - Have you ever been peach picking? That peach fuzz is on there for a reason.... to make you itch and scratch for a few days! hahahaha,

strawberries - I remember picking them with my grandfather. He would actually pick them, I would eat them as he dropped them in the bowl. He didn't mind though.

blueberries - my former in-laws had bushes and bushes of berries. What a summer treat!! Delicious... I didn't mind picking the blueberries or strawberries.

grapes - My slinky is still probably in "Papa Jimmy's" grape vine somewhere on Hyland Drive.

I enjoy all fruit except for one. Banana. I will eat banana bread and banana cake (Have you ever had a banana cake with cream cheese and pecan frosting?..... good). I can eat it if served in a dessert, but I do not like to eat a plain banana. They're not juicy nor crunchy. Just "blah" texture. Are there any other fruits like it? ...ok, perhaps raisins and dates. I'd rather eat a giant bowl of lima beans to get the potassium! I have such a sweet tooth though, so a banana muffin brought to me by a coworker was much appreciated in the morning. I will say that I do make a good banana pudding. It is a recipe from my dad's aunt. We used to call her yia yia Maria. Yia Yia is greek for grandmother. Since I never knew my grandmothers, we called her yia yia. It's funny the things you remember about people. I remember her KITCHEN! The flames of her gas stove, the hugs, the love and the warmth felt in her kitchen. Her recipe for banana pudding was my dad's favorite. I decided that for a big crowd I would just double the recipe and have twice as much. I slaved over the stove making the custard until it was just right (so I thought). Beautifully decorated pan with Nila Vanilla Wafers (Nila is the ONLY brand I will use). I thought.. It looks kind of thin, but it will thicken after sitting in the refrigerator. I was so proud... This is one of my dad's favorite desserts. He will be so surprised! Who doesn't like banana pudding? .... well, me really, but I eat around the bananas! It's a southern classic. Meringue on top, baked to a golden brown, slivered almonds sprinkled on top. Yes, a masterpiece!! I thought. Time to serve the pudding. It didn't thicken at all! Oh no! How embarrassing! Being from a family of jokers and everyone having a sense of humor, my brother put it in a cup and proudly stated. "This is the best banana pudding I ever drank!!". Peels of laughter and a lot of fun. I guess someone at the fast food places must have had the same thing happen to them. Have you seen banana pudding milkshakes on the menu?? Yes, I did it first!!! :)

Here's her recipe.... Just a hint though: I wouldn't double the recipe.

Banana Pudding

Vanilla Wafers as needed
3 large, ripe bananas
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 quart milk
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, separatede
3 heaping Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
slivered almonds or pecan pieces

Line a 7 X 11 baking pan with vanilla wafers and sliced bananas sprinkled with lemon juice. Top with more wafers. Layer bananas and wafers... I use as many wafers as banana slices. I would like a "non" banana pudding too... just "wafer" pudding! :)

Bring milk to slow boil in 2 quart saucepan

Beat egg yolks with cornstarch and sugar. Stir hot milk gradually into egg mixture. Return to saucepan. Cook over low heat until mixture thickens. If thicker mixture is desired, add more cornstarch. Remove from heat, blend in 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Pour pudding mixture over wafers and bananas.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Spread meringue over pudding. Sprinkle with almonds or pecans. Place under broiler until golden. Watch carefully!! Serves 8-10

Recipe of Mrs. Mary Pefinis (my yia yia Maria)

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Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar