Friday, September 30, 2011

Oatmeal Pudding

My mom has a number of champion signature creations for which she is well-known, the most original probably being her cottage cheese pudding. I still embrace its deliciousness, even though I can no longer eat it. The pudding is made from a pint of cottage cheese, 2 cups of milk, 1/2 c. flour, cherry, lemon, or orange extract, 2 eggs, and a not insignificant amount of sugar, which are all pureed together in the blender and then baked for 50 minutes.  It has a light cheesecake-like consistency.  My mom told me once that the pudding was one of few recipe successes she had back in her teenage dieting days when she experimented with a number of "healthy" creations that were better-suited for use in a game of tennis than for food. (I think any honest kitchen-experimenter would admit that we've all had our share of insipid rock-like creations!)

When Sawyer was a baby, before soy allergies were a concern, I tried to make a dairy-free, egg-free version of Mom's pudding using tofu instead of cottage cheese, but the texture was not dense enough, and it just had too much of that tofu taste--perhaps because I wasn't willing to add the gobs of sugar necessary to mask it.

I had given up on making a vegan version of the much beloved baked pudding until I stumbled upon a replacement a few days ago. I was trying to make some flour-less blender pancakes and the batter turned out way too thin. Once I had doctored it up, I knew that I no longer had pancakes on my hands, so I turned on the oven, poured the batter into a pan and baked it for 50 minutes. When I unveiled it from behind the oven door, by George I had an oatmeal pudding with a cottage-cheese pudding-like consistency! I am the first to admit that, no, it is not the same, but it is delicious in its own right. I hope that it will hold the same fond place in my children's hearts when they grown up as cottage cheese pudding does in mine.

2 cups rolled oats, soaked overnight and then squeezed dry
1 1/2 c. cooked white beans, or 1 can drained
1/2 c. cooked quinoa
1/3 c. pumpkin seeds
1/3 c. shredded, unsweetened dried coconut
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. canned pineapple
1/2 c. pitted dates, soaked in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, until soft
1 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (I have used oat and hemp)
1/4 tsp. stevia powder (optional, for a bit of extra sweetness) 
1 tsp. imitation almond extract, coconut extract, or orange extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8 in. square baking dish. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. It will be jiggly, but will become more firm upon refrigeration. 

My kids have liked it both warm and cold, so go ahead and try it both ways! A sprinkling of raisins is a good addition, as well as sliced banana smeared with sunflower seed butter.  Be sure to not leave your child alone with the sunflower seed butter if you decide to go that route (See right. And, yes, I let my kids eat honey. I believe we need to cultivate bees to avoid their extinction and that of our crops.) It would have been good with raspberries as well, but Sawyer ate them all.

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