These days, getting thread to go through the eye of the needle involves remembering where I put my glasses, which sounds easier than it is, especially when a deadline looms. My granddaughter Ellie, this darling girl, has a birthday very soon, and I needed to get her present in the mail.
She has been playing picnic lately, and if you were three and playing picnic, you would want some food. So Oma (that’s me) is making some food to add to her picnic, and I hope she likes it. Even under a deadline though, I got maybe a little carried away.
I started with a book, a sweet classic that some of you might remember: Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present*. In it, a little girl is trying to come up with a present for her mother. Mr. Rabbit, an unlikely helper, guides her through with fun suggestions, based on color, of what the little girl can and cannot give her mother. For example:
“What else does she like?” said Mr. Rabbit.
“Well, she likes yellow,” said the little girl.
“Yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit. “You can’t give her yellow.”
“Something yellow, maybe,” said the little girl.
“Oh, something yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit.
“What is yellow?” said the little girl.
“Well,” said Mr. Rabbit. “There are yellow taxicabs.”
“I’m sure she doesn’t want a taxicab,” said the little girl.
“The sun is yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit.
“But I can’t give her the sun,” said the little girl, “though I would if I could.”
“A canary bird is yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit.
“She likes birds in trees,” the little girl said.
“That’s right, you told me,” said Mr. Rabbit. “Well, butter is yellow. Does she like butter?”
“We have butter,” said the little girl.
“Bananas are yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit.
“Oh, good. That’s good,” said the little girl. “She likes bananas. I need something else though.”
And voila, they find bananas on a picnic blanket.
Now you see why there had to be bananas for Ellie’s birthday present. Felt bananas can be part of any fun picnic. Mr. Rabbit and the little girl also put red apples, green pears and blue grapes in her mother’s birthday basket, so there had to be those too. But let me tell you what happens when you get on the internet and look for a pattern for fake food. You see a lot of cute stuff! And the next thing you know, you are also making carrots and corn.
I did buy the grapes, but the rest happened yesterday. The apples came out smaller than I wanted, and the bananas not as bendy/curved as they should be, but Ellie will figure it out. There are not that many steps to making felt food and it went pretty fast.
Except for the corn. The corn is way more time-consuming that anything else but it is super cool so I had to do it. I know some of you are going to wonder how those kernels came to be.
One kernel, one stitch, at a time — that’s how. **
Ellie won’t have any idea that the corn took more time than the pears, but you might be able to imagine how much more time! It didn’t matter to me. The corn was too cool not to make. And one more ear is in the works and will be in the package before I mail it today.
Coincidentally, there was corn on my fridge that I had cut off the cobs the last time we had corn on the cob. We had had it on the grill, and you can see that some of the kernels got a little dark. I love it that way.
Corn Pudding is what you do with leftover corn! Simple and quick, totally yummy. I was in rather a hurry with making the fake food and all, so this was perfect. Start with the recipe.
Naturally I am all about eggs right now. This is what I gathered yesterday from my hens, nine total.
Some of them are still small, starter eggs, one came from a silkie and some are normal. Look at the difference in sizes. The big one here I collected a few days ago, thinking surely there must be a double yolk inside. The littlest one is from a silkie.
I used all these but the silkie egg for my corn pudding, three instead of the four that the recipe calls for because I was right about the double yolk.
I keep my butter in a cabinet, not in the fridge, so at this time of year it’s plenty soft. Whisking the butter into the eggs will not work as well if your butter is hard. If yours is not soft from having been in the cabinet, soften it in the microwave.
Use a whisk to beat this up. I mean beat. You have to break up the butter, and you can’t do that by stirring. You have to beat. I suppose you could use an electric beater. I prefer to do it by hand because 1. I feel more connected to the process if there is only a hand tool between me and the food. And 2. I think it’s better to use your body if you can (burn the calories, maintain some semblance of arm strength, etc). I don’t think we do ourselves any favors by letting machines do for us what we can do for ourselves – to a reasonable point, of course – but that is another conversation.
At first when you start beating in the butter, you will see some egg white un-mixed-in and some butter still in small pieces. It will look like this.
Now use your wrist and beat it with a little umph until it looks like this.
Now add the flour, salt and baking powder.
And beat again.
(Perhaps you see the evidence that I had other things to do yesterday and was not paying too much attention – I never saw or felt that there was butter on the handle of my whisk!)
After you have beat in the flour etc., you will have a smooth, almost velvety batter. It’s quite lovely.
Now add the milk.
(I still didn’t see the butter on the handle!)
Mix that milk in. Notice I did not say beat it in. Mix the milk in carefully or you will have splashed milk all over your counter. After it is nicely mixed in, add the corn. The recipe calls for 2 cans or the frozen equivalent, neither of which I was using (fresh being far superior), so I judged that 2 cans would be about 3 cups. It worked out fine. Go with three cups.
Then pour this into a buttered dish, using a rubber spatula to get every bit out of the bowl. Before it went in the oven, mine looked like this.
After 40 minutes or so (so sorry! I did not time it exactly because I was distracted by stitching fake corn kernels onto a fake cob while waiting), it looked like this.
That part around the edge where the batter met the butter and they made the darker, crispy part is oh so good! I took a corner piece. Along with the wonderful salad Samuel made, it was a fine meal.
He, of course, took a larger portion, Oh, to be able to eat like that!
If you want to, you could add other things to this pudding: chopped spinach, onions, pepperoni, ham, tomatoes (well drained) – your call. Play around, have fun. But maybe start with the original. And enjoy!
* Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow with pictures by Maurice Sendak