Thursday, December 4, 2008

When I Make Custard I Think of My Mom

When our daughter was small and my mom lived 600 miles away in Illinois, she would frequently come up here to Minnesota for a visit and some serious grandma time with her only granddaughter. This particular visit that I'm thinking of was in the spring, several of our dairy goats had just freshened, and our hens were laying eggs like crazy.

One night I came in from chores with a full egg basket in one hand and a bucket of milk in the other. Mom said, "With all that fresh milk and those eggs you should be making lots of custards." I replied that I didn't even know HOW to make custard. Giving her head a little bit of a shake, she got up, went to my cookbook shelves, took out three or four books and sat back down at the kitchen table to come up with a custard recipe.

The following is the recipe she wrote down for me that night long ago and one I've made many, many times since. When we tasted it for the first time and everyone pronounced it a for-sure keeper, I asked her what we should call it. She said, "Well, it's just plain, good custard." So here's the recipe in case you've ever got an abundance of eggs and milk and want to give it a try. It's simple, easy to mix up and will be on our table this dark, wintry night as a smooth, wholesome bit of a dessert.


3 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk (scalded)

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Titch of ground nutmeg (optional)

Beat eggs, honey and salt with rotary beater. Slowly beat in slightly cooled milk and extract. Set 6 custard cups in a shallow pan with 1" of hot water in it. Pour custard into cups and lightly sprinkle with ground nutmeg, if desired. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes.

I've always used honey as the sweetener but I don't think sugar would do terrible/awful/bad things to it. And I love the flavor of almond so usually use the almond extract. You can serve it plain or with berries or (as in my case this year, some of my one batch of runny) jam on top.


Annie said...

Mom used to make custard pie quite often. Basically your recipe, but in a pie shell. Hmmm, I have about 8 dozen eggs in the ice box.

Mama Pea said...

Annie - I have to share a quick story about Custard Pie. My grandpa LOVED Custard Pie and requested it often. However, he would gobble up all the custard and leave the pie crust on his plate. Grandma tried making (the same recipe) custard in a dish for him but he said it never tasted as good as the custard in the pie. They had a cute little bicker-bicker relationship and this refusal of his to eat either the Custard Pie crust or the plain custard in a dish 'bout drove Grandma crazy.

Claire said...

This is NOT helping me shed those baby pounds!!! ;) Sounds delicious.

Fiona said...

This sounds so yummy! Perfect winter comfort food :) I don't have any of those custard cups so perhaps I'll just have to try this in a pie shell. Or can you bake it all together in a bigger dish? Yum!

Mama Pea said...

Fiona - I think you could put it in a pie shell as Annie suggested. And I don't know why it wouldn't work all in one bigger baking dish vs. individual custard cups. You'd just have to bake it longer. I think testing the center with a knife, like you do a pumpkin pie, would tell you when it was done. Roy snarfed up 2 for dessert tonight and I managed to stop at 1. They were goooood!

RuthieJ said...

I love custard--in a cup or in a pie. Thanks for the recipe Mama Pea.

Fiona said...

Thanks, Mama Pea -- I'll try it and let you know!

Mama Pea said...

Ruthie - You're very welcome. Good old-fashioned custard is one of those comfort foods, isn't it?

Fiona - Hope the recipe works in one bowl . . . would be easier than having the six individual cups to wash. But then it might be harder to stop yourself after only a one-sixth serving!