Coconut Rice Pudding

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Today was all about Loretta.

She begged for a doll and for rice pudding. She got both.

The pudding is a Tamar Adler recipe that I've made a few times before since I usually have cold rice in the fridge and coconut milk in the pantry. 

And the doll? It called for a poem.

Girl Power

Suddenly, after seven years of girlhood,
you wanted a doll.

In the toy aisle, there's Rachel, Tess,
Ashley, Star. They have horses, roller skates,
tea sets, electric guitars, and big price tags
next to your crumpled allowance.
You pick Phoebe
because her hair is long.
You're talking to her before we're home.

I forget how much love you have to give.

Now, on the living room floor, you're brushing,
humming, cooing, changing her shoes,
making her a bed. Something in me knows
this is the easiest
being a girl will ever be--
before rejection, scales, first love, 
before unraveling, tidal desires--
one suntanned, lively second grader
who wants only a doll, a Sunday afternoon,
and snacks all around.

Coconut Rice Pudding
I don't know how Loretta got rice pudding in her head, but she did. My kids have a one-track mind (treats!) just like their mother has a one-track mind (cheese!). Phoebe had some too, of course.  

2 c. cold cooked rice
2 c. coconut milk
1 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
grate of nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
lime zest if you like

Combine all ingredients except lime zest in a heavy medium saucapan. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn to low and cook until rice has absorbed a lot of the liquid and pudding is the consistency you like. Tamar says 50 minutes--I did more like 25. Once done, spoon into bowls and top with lime zest, if you like. (or stewed fruit, cinnamon, toasted nuts...) Phoebe likes hers plain. 

Coconut Lime Bundt Cake

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You know me and my bundt cakes.

No layers to mess with, no teetering heights, no great expectations. (And I'm sure I don't have to tell you that expectations are everything. Keep them low--or at least realistic--and life is much happier.)

I read recently that another secret to happiness is visiting the library. Some researcher determined that library visits deliver as much happiness as a pay raise! If you're me, you must pay your massive fine first and take yourself out for a consolation drink afterward. Only then will you enjoy your visits. Loretta will readily tell you how big it was. I won't.

This time, I checked out One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti. My branch is small, so there is very little choice, and this is a mercy. Whatever is on the new book shelf is what I take. I've made three delicious things from it, but wanted to let you in on this bundt cake first.

I made it for a meeting at church and had enough leftover to bring to clients the next day. (Another Bundt Cake Plus: they can be cut into at least 12 pieces.) Besides cake flour (which I used and reccomend you do, too) I had everything for it in my pantry. And that makes me over-the-moon happy.

Coconut Lime Bundt Cake
I followed Yvonne's recipe almost exactly except I wanted a little tang. So I added lime juice and zest, but you can take that out if you want pure coconut. And I prefer my coconut toasted, but she doesn't call for that either.

Cake Batter
20 Tb. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the pan
1 3/4 c. plus 2 Tb. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 c. full fat coconut milk
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut
1 Tb. vanilla
2 1/2 c. cake flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder

Glaze
1 c. sifted powdered sugar
2 Tb. full fat coconut milk
Juice and zest from one medium lime
1/3 c. shredded sweetened coconut, toasted in the oven for 4-5 minutes if you wish

Preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in the coconut milk, shredded coconut, and vanilla. Remove bowl from mixer and stir the flour and baking powder in by hand until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the pan and bake until golden, just firm, and a toothpick comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, stir the sugar, coconut milk, and lime juice together in a bowl until smooth. Spoon over the top of the cooled cake. Mix the coconut with the lime zest and sprinkle mixture over the top so it sticks to the glaze.

Peanut Butter Coconut Bars

peanut butter bars
For a few years now, these have been my go-to cookies. (Alright. One of them.) You can almost make them in your sleep. In fact, I've often been half-asleep, standing at the mixer at 11:00 pm, making cookies for a potluck I forgot about or a school bake sale I foolishly agreed to contribute to. Peanut butter (the bad, hydrogenated oil kind), coconut, butter, maybe some chocolate chips. They're what I like to call "sleeper cookies," in that they look disappointingly dull.  Like, "Who made those for the bake sale?" No one will swoon when you walk into the room with your Saran wrap-covered platter.  But they'll be your BFF after that.

Maybe you can bring these to the Halloween party you forgot about. Growing up (and this is a long story I won't tell), our family was one of those weird ones that had harvest parties instead of going trick-or-treating. So I am bound and determined that my children will go trick-or-treating, get as ghoulish as they want, and dive into the ridiculousness of Halloween with gusto. And if that means cookies and candy, so be it.

Peanut Butter Coconut Bars
Adapted from my Gourmet cookbook. You really do want the bad kind of peanut butter here, not the good-for-you, stir-it-up kind. Other than that, these cookies are a blank slate. I've made them without the coconut, subbed oatmeal for the coconut, added chocolate chips or not, put salted peanuts on top or not. The best pan to make them in is an aluminum  1/4 sheet (half the size of a regular baking sheet). If you don't have one of those, a  9 x 13 will work.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2  cup white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut or oats (or 1/2 and 1/2)
1 c. chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup finely chopped salted roasted peanuts for the top (optional)


In a bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter with both sugars and beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter, beat the mixture until it is combined well, and beat in the egg, the vanilla, and the salt. Add the flour, beat the mixture until it is just combined, and stir in the coconut and/or oats, and chocolate chips. Spread the mixture evenly in a buttered jelly-roll pan, 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 1 inches, sprinkle the peanuts over it (if using), pressing them into the mixture lightly, and bake the mixture in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the mixture cool completely in the pan on a rack, cut it into 24 bars, and cut each bar in half diagonally to form 2 triangles if you want (I usually don't.)