Homemade Vanilla pudding

May is a fickle month, weather-wise, at least in this region of the country. Last Friday it was warm. I actually felt hot running around doing a few errands in the afternoon. But the cooler temps are back, and I have my sweatshirt on over my turtleneck. Yes, I’m still wearing turtlenecks. It’s my uniform from September through May, so I’m in the home stretch, getting ready to switch over to clothes that at least suggest warmer weather is in sight. But it will be a little while yet before I break out the tank tops.

Tonight it seemed just right to  mix up a little warmth for an after dinner treat. One of my favorite comfort foods, plain vanilla pudding has just the right everything: the right amount of sweet creamy buttery warmth that makes it irresistible on a chilly evening. This makes a small amount, so if you are making this for more a couple of people, you’ll probably want to double the recipe.

Vanilla Pudding

Vanilla goodness


1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups half and half

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan.

2. Whisk in about a third of the half and half, stirring until smooth. Stir in remaining half and half until well combined.

3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened (about 5 minutes, but the time will vary).

4. Reduce heat to low and continue to heat, stirring gently, until the mixture reaches a simmer.

5. Cook one minute more over low heat, then remove from heat.

6. Fold in butter and vanilla extract. Spoon pudding into serving dishes.

I like this served warm, but if you prefer it chilled, just make early enough in the day to chill in the fridge before serving. I always have a bit left over, and it keeps well for a day or two in the fridge. Just reheat briefly in the microwave if you like it served warm.

This is a thinner pudding than the instant variety, but it is simple to make, silky smooth, and has no artificial ingredients!



Cup of coffee with whipped cream

My name is not Paula Deen. But though I don’t share her flamboyant style, I do appreciate her unembarrassed embrace of butter. I have a similar relationship with cream. Not milk, not half-and-half. Heavy whipping cream. I add it to my coffee every morning, and I’ve progressed from just liking it to needing it. In fact, if I can’t have the real thing, I prefer no coffee at all. No non-dairy creamers for me!

I used to be more inhibited. I used to buy cream for the special occasion recipes, the holiday, once-a-year treats, and guiltily finish off anything left in the carton in a once-a-year coffee splurge. The rest of the time I was much more restrained, and my coffee was just a morning habit. Half-and-half, or even milk, did the job of diluting the robust flavor.

I’m almost a vegetarian, and I have great cholesterol numbers. Maybe that’s why I’m comfortable with my food vice.  A few years ago, I began to buy cream a little more often. I think it was about the time I turned 40. Anyway, cream moved from a once or twice a year place on my grocery list to a weekly item. Now I am never without it, and my morning coffee is rich, satisfying, decadent. It’s not just a habit, it’s my morning comfort and reason for crawling out of the bed at 5:00 AM.

I often wonder who my fellow cream addicts are. I notice there is always a generous supply of cream in the dairy case, and as I only buy one carton a week, there must be others out there regularly supporting the cream component of the dairy world. Thank you, fellow cream lovers! I probably couldn’t carry the industry on my own, even though I’m delighted to do my part.

My husband is a steak lover, and when he drinks coffee, it is without embellishment: serious black coffee, like he learned to drink in medical school. He developed a coffee habit for the caffeine kick. I drink it for the flavor, and although I know it probably sounds sacrilegious to most people, I’ll trade steak for cream any day. If I’m going to have something that impacts my cholesterol, I’ll take it in a liquid form, thank you very much. At dinner, I’ll be the one with veggies on my plate. But I’ll make up for it at breakfast, when I indulge. And I’m over the guilt.