Just what is comfort food, anyway? Wikipedia defines it as "...typically inexpensive, uncomplicated, and easy to prepare. Many people turn to comfort food for familiarity, emotional security, or as a special reward. The reasons a dish becomes a comfort food are diverse but often include pleasant associations of childhood."
One of the things on my list of comfort foods is tapioca pudding. I'm not talking about the Minute Tapioca, but the large pearl kind. My great-grandma used to make it and bring it for Christmas at my mom's house and for other family gatherings. Hers was unique, because she went heavy on the yellow food coloring. I don't put any coloring in mine.
Winter can be a depressing time when you live in the Great White North. With wind chills at -35°F to -40°F, who couldn't use a little comforting? I have my microfiber fuzzy jammies, a soft blankie, and a kitty or two to snuggle up with, but that's made all the better by tapioca pudding.
I've made it twice in the last week, using this recipe:
Large Pearl Tapioca Pudding
1 cup large pearl tapioca
2 cups water
5 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1¼ teaspoons vanilla
Soak tapioca for 12 hours in water. Over medium heat, heat tapioca, milk and salt to boiling, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, beat eggs with sugar. Gradually stir in a small amount of hot tapioca mixture. Slowly pour egg mixture back into tapioca mixture, stirring rapidly to prevent lumping. Cook for about 5 minutes more until mixture thickens. (Do not boil.) Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla.
Makes 8 servings.
This is a Swedish recipe from Bishop Hill Heritage Cookbook and was published about 30 years ago in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette.
Tapioca is made from the processed root of the cassava plant (Manihot esculenta). It's an odorless, colorless, tasteless starch and is used not only for pearl tapioca, but as a thickening agent.
Tapioca is gluten-free and nearly protein-free and is opaque until it's cooked, when it becomes translucent. The plant is native to South America, but is now cultivated throughout the world.
What is your comfort food?