We barked and waved as the last of our guests headed off, leftovers in hand, into the star-filled October night
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It's always in those moments when I'm reminded that this little community of people who gather each month is the reason we started, and the thing we love most about Spaghetti Saturdays
A tradition that began nearly two years ago, when a brave group of (mostly) strangers came together. It wasn't long before name tags were abandoned, and friendships were formed. How we look forward every month to catching up on each other's kids, vacations, and gardens. A chance to celebrate even the
tiniest of milestones
— — —
Admittedly, for the longest time, I wasn't very good at hosting dinner parties
What if I've left someone off the guest list and hurt their feelings? What if nobody talks to each other? What if one of the pets throws up on the carpet? Or a wave of social anxiety comes upon me, and I can't think of anything to say?
What if I end up chatting with someone, only to realize the tomato sauce is burning? What if everyone's hungry, but meal prep is woefully behind? What if there isn't enough to go around, or the meatballs fall apart?
“Order pizza,” says a friend, “Problem solved”
But of course, these weren't the real fears. The real fears can't be solved with pizza, because the real fears are
What if everybody thinks it's a terrible idea?
What if nobody wants to come?
What if I'm not someone they'd like to hang out with?
— — —
In my office is a chair that came from my great-aunt's house, over which is draped a striped afghan knitted by my Granny. It's the chair Z sleeps quietly in every evening while I work. It's the afghan he nuzzles his way underneath when he's chilly, or he's
hiding from the cats
It took me a while to get it, but for him, it's all about the holes. He can see everything while still hiding out (mostly)
We're similar he and I. At some point for me, Spaghetti Saturdays have become my way of lifting-up-of-the-afghan. The final realization that all this time the holes really weren't doing me any good
No one remains truly unseen, after all.
This past weekend, it was so nice to pause
There was wine, evening sun, and meatballs that held their shape. There were friendly faces, dancing candles, stories, laughter, and music.
(The tomato sauce didn't burn. God bless the crock-pot)
We shared stories about trips to Germany and Peru, new kitchens, jobs, and side projects. As the orange sun lowered, and blue jazz swelled, it occurred to me
The goal isn't to live a life worth celebrating
The goal is to celebrate a life worth living
They're different things, are they not?
While I don't think I'll ever be entirely comfortable as a hostess, I'm getting better with practice. Another tiny milestone to add to the list of things that night worth celebrating.
And although it's certainly nice to have a few cheerleaders, it's just as nice learning to
become your own
This recipe isn't necessarily the direction I see The Veggies heading, but there's a time and a place for everything.
In this case, an incredibly delicious twist on a family favorite, brought by a friend to Spaghetti Saturday.
Earlier that day, I'd been paging through cooking magazines in search of inspiration. Who knew it would come walking through the front door instead? Sometimes it's nice to have a treat that isn't made of oats or date paste.
With all of the hosting we do, I've found it causes me far less stress when I plan a menu with things that are familiar versus trying a lot of new recipes. Certainly, it's fun to try something new, but freshly baked cookies or rice pudding are crowd favorites.
I have a couple of recipes for rice pudding; my Mom's (which I've never been able to duplicate fully), and Cinnamon Raisin Coconut Rice Pudding from Cook's Country. It's as close as I can come on my own to utopia.
Now I add this version with its combination of Indian spices. Take it from all of us who passed (and re-passed) it around the table that night. It's SO good
ps: More fun recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturdays
— — —
~ Adapted from Alton Brown
Indian Rice Pudding
- 1 cup uncooked long grain or basmati rice
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup coconut milk, canned
- ¼ cup natural sugar
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ⅓ cup golden raisins
- ⅓ cup unsalted pistachios, chopped
- In a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat, combine the rice and milk. Heat until to a slow boil
- Decrease the heat to low and cook at a simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently ( ~ 5 minutes)
- Increase the heat to medium, add the heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar, and cardamom and continue to cook until the mixture just begins to thicken again (~5 to 10 minutes). Use a whisk to help prevent the cardamom from clumping.
- Once the mixture just begins to thicken, remove from the heat and stir in the raisins and pistachios.
- Transfer the mixture to individual serving dishes or a glass bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.
This stuff was wonderfully additive.
Looks Great and your story is even better !
Socializing is about sharing, and you share so well – out from under your afghan.
This is kheer, and it’s really tasty, as an Indian I can guaranty that haha 🙂 Loved this always!
This looks so cozy and warm. My grandma made rice pudding for my sister and me when we were kids and always served it with little spoons. What is it about them that makes everything SO inviting?
I always stress out when I am hosting a party, I want everyone to have a good time. Which means sometimes I am the one not enjoying myself because I am so worried about how it is all going and trying to make it all go well. It is a tough balance to figure out. I think your dinner party with good friends and meatballs under the candlelight sounds great!
I’m from India and I love rice pudding. Whenever I take my mother out for Indian food we both skip the free dessert and go to town on the rice pudding. They usually add peanuts so they boil and get soft – I may try that with this for a different texture. Either way, a great recipe. You never disappoint.
I hardly ever eat rice pudding anymore, but I remember my mom made it for us when we were kids and I just adore it! Yours sounds (and looks) lovely!
Celebrating a life worth living is something we all need to do. There is a big difference between living a life to celebrate and living a life worth celebrating. Getting together with friends or neighbors is something we all need I believe because it is a reminder to how blessed we all are in our life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recipe.
Lovely read!! I struggle when it comes to cooking for family and friends. Probably because I’m not very confident in the kitchen, but at least they’re a forgiving crowd. I’ve never heard of Indian Rice pudding, so think I may have to try this on them soon!
I’ve never had rice pudding before. Reason being is because it scares me, I think it’s the look of the rice along with a creamy consistency. I don’t really know, but you make it look so pretty 🙂
I have actually never had rice pudding before. My ex-husband was from a big Portuguese family and they made it a lot, but I never tried it. I need to fix that.
I’m from India and I read your blog religiously. Can you believe it? You have a loyal reader in India! I just love it. Over here, nobody really bakes at home. But I’m getting my own place soon and plan to get an awesome oven! Oh also, rice pudding is India’s favorite dessert.
This dessert is called ‘payasam’ in India. It’s a childhood favorite and the rice can be substituted with semolina or vermicelli. Payasam is made for any special occasion and the grander the occasion, the grander the ingredients that go into it!
I saw this recipe, stood up like a zombie, walked into the kitchen and cooked this for tonight’s dessert. Oh my gosh, it’s out of this world.
Love rice pudding! I always make the Spanish version: Arroz con leche and I could bathe in it!
In Germany, we can buy a rice which is similar to risotto rice and which is called rice pudding rice. So this is what I use, obviously 😉
Oooooooh…I am sooooooo looking forward to making this. I’m going to have to think about the raisins, although everything else sounds divine! Hopefully, my hubby will be able to stop at the grocery on his way home because we’re in for an ice storm later tonight. It seems like a perfect thing to have while holed up at home. 🙂
I’m officially no longer a lurker. It took a rice pudding recipe to get me out of lurk-dom. I’m going to have to make this for my lunches when I head back to school! I always end up buying some in the student union when I need a treat. Thank you! Love your blog, by the way.
I love Indian rice pudding it is so flavourful. It is nice that you had some time to pause this weekend that is great!
This recipe is called “KHEER” in India. It is a traditional dessert served on the festive occasions. This is one of my favorite desserts. What I hate about this recipe is the continuous stirring of the rice in the boiling milk else it becomes very sticky.
Oh man, this looks so good. My grandma just turned 86 and a few months ago I wrote her a letter. Yep, hand-written/old school, and I asked for her rice pudding recipe. Growing up, every time I’d visit she would make it. I’m still checking my mailbox every day, but she and my grandpa are too busy ballroom dancing every night. One day I know she’ll give it to me, in the meantime, this looks like a really close second. xo
OH, this screams to be made and I can only imagine how good the aroma must fill up the kitchen. AHHH now I want to run and make it, let’s see if I can this weekend! Thanks for sharing…
Spaghetti Saturdays is a wonderful tradition. Rice pudding id such a comfort food for me. I will have to make this recipe on the weekend.
I love that you took a leap and began this tradition! The fear of putting yourself out there is always intense, but when it pays off it is so wonderful! If you ever need another body for your dinner parties, I’m always open to tasting your delicious food. 🙂
I can’t wait to try your recipe, I haven’t had any of this since I was a child. After reading your post, I want to start having Spaghetti Saturdays here. The kids are always asking me to make it and having a day of the week to do that would be nice.
This looks pretty good! That’s cool that you have a night where everyone comes over and hangs out. I wish I could do that more often, but my work schedule laughs at me when i try to make plans.
I am making this rice pudding right now and it smells so good, I just love your blog
I love rice pudding! Like, love, love, love rice pudding! Especially when its warm and right from the pan – oh my is it good. Thanks for the recipe!
Indian rice pudding sounds delicious. You write so well that I’m almost convinced to bake…
It’s a beautiful way to come together with familiar faces and just enjoy good food. We will always be worried at first, especially when it’s your first time to throw a party. Will people actually come? It’s a thought that’s been on everyone’s head before. I think it’s nice that you pushed through with it.
Looks like a really interesting recipe! I am going to try making this because I love coconut milk and the pistachios. Let me get all the ingredients together and make this the soonest!
I really enjoyed this, and it has a lovely sentiment. The first time I threw a dinner party I worried so much about the evening that I didn’t actually enjoy it! The second time we bought in take out and had the best night I’ve had in ages. This recipe sounds great!
Indian spices are a tricky thing I think. And I can undersand the anxiety of hosting. I can do all the cooking and prep but then going out and hosting the party and getting everyone to integrate and mixing the right people… that’s hard.
This looks delicious and I have milk that I don’t want to go bad. This and banana pudding should solve my milk problems and dessert for the rest of the week
I love that “The goal is to celebrate a life worth living.” Oftentimes we get caught up in focusing on what we lack when in fact we are more blessed than many others. Hosting a party is a tough job. I too have the same level of “what ifs” as you. Thankfully, I have never come across those scenarios that I fear.
I spent all day fighting the urge to make rice pudding (I even still have a browser window with this recipe minimized on my laptop.) I keep telling myself it’s summer and bikini season. Then I get back from the gym and see your rice pudding recipe and it sounds absolutely perfect. Clearly, this is a sign that I need to stop fighting my craving and just make it already.
Oh wow. I could use some comfort after the day I’ve had. Don’t tell my trainer at the gym. 🙂
I’ve loved rice pudding since I was a kid and my mom made it for me whenever I wasn’t feeling the best. I’ll have to give this one a try, it’ll make me think of her
Thank God! Your tomato sauce didn’t burn…lol! I loved the quote about goal and life. It has such a deep meaning!
This Indian Rice Pudding is one of my favorites desserts and it made me nostalgic about childhood days. This is my grandma’s wonder recipe. She also adds saffron in it. We call rice pudding recipe as ‘Kheer’ in India and it is a must during all the festivities and celebrations.
P.S. – I’ll be on cloud9 if I’ll get an invite for your wonderful dinner parties!
I don’t know why I only discovered you a week ago but I’m sure glad I did.
I have been fantasizing for years about how to turn my favorite meal (anything with rice) into my future favorite dessert and now I have a clear plan instead of a wild dream that involved condensed milk… Which probably wouldn’t be too much of a bad thing.
Tonight I have a date with a pot and a spoon! Woop!
YUM! This looks delicious. I work at a cafe that serves Coconut Rice Porridge/Pudding. It is my favorite thing on the menu. This looks like it might trump it! I’m excited to give it a try! xo
I just got done making this. I must say, it rocked my socks off! In fact, I ate nearly half a pot myself as I was making it, little by little with a tiny spoon. (I’d never share that information with anyone but you, Ali) Love your site and all of your recipes. xx
I am picturing hiding from the cats and must admit it made me smile a bit. My Dad loves rice pudding, but he likes his pretty plain (and bland).
Ali …. You are killing me!
But somehow I’m still alive and managing to lose weight although every week I make at least one of your recipes. This one is for my free day on Sunday. xx
The Spaghetti Saturdays is a lovely idea and it’s awesome that you dove in despite having hesitations. I think this rice pudding is a must try! It reminds me so much of my childhood.
I thought Ina Garten’s rum raisin rice pudding was the Holy Grail of rice puddings (yes I have stood over the pot and eaten almost the entire thing), but now I have got to try it cardamom and golden raisins.
Hmmm … that looks just as gooey as I feel inside whenever I see the new barista at my favorite coffee shop and his big brown eyes 🙂
I actually love this dish…I could eat rice pudding all day long. I also really liked how you incorporated your story, such skilled writing my friend! <3
We do a big Sunday dinner (as opposed to Saturdays, which is take-out day around here) and we are Italian, so there is always a big pasta dinner going on around here. I’ve never had Indian Rice pudding, but it sounds tasty!
I can understand being wary as a hostess. I personally don’t like to be one. I prefer to go to someone else’s house and bring a dish.
This rice pudding looks scrumptious. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it before!
My youngest son loves the afghan we have, he is fascinated by the holes and particularly loves looping fingers with me through them. I don’t mind hosting at all but like things super casual.
This is something new for us to try out. Haven’t heard about this before and can’t wait until it is time to make this. Have to get everything first.
I’ve never really been keen on the rice puddings I’ve tried before but they were store bought and didn’t go well with any of the family – this recipe I would love to try, it looks amazing!
Ummmm, can I just skip work today and go home to make this right now? I love rice pudding and for whatever reason never considered making it with Indian flavors. Yum!
I have had rice pudding at Indian Restaurants, but have never tried making it at home. I would love try making this homemade version. So pretty, too, with the pistachio topping!
I know that you’re showing a delicious recipe here and I really it looks great, but what I love most about what I read here is that line about a “life worth living”. You just made my day!
I would love to go to India, as an adult – a real dream of mine. This rice pudding recipe certainly would bring the Indian flavours into our home in the interim x
I always love getting together and taking things slow with friends. Just enjoying each other companies and stories. This rice pudding sounds so good too!
I would get so anxious holding dinner parties you do so well!
I love the sound of this pudding as well, I used to adore my Mum’s rice pudding when I was a child.
The pudding looks delicious- something for ME to celebrate when I make it (have not attempted rice pudding before). You are so right – celebrating a life worth living is a valiant goal indeed. Blessings <3
This is one of my favorite desserts and now favorite of my kids too. The toppings or garnishings on this can totally change your experience with it, I love sliced-almonds on this.
This looks wonderful! Perfect for a day when you’re feeling a bit fragile. Going to put this recipe in the emergency need some comfort food box. xo
Any day is a little brighter with the addition of rice pudding! A pot of something creamy on the stovetop is the perfect de-stress method, and anything with cinnamon is my favorite thing to eat. Thanks for sharing… I’m saving this recipe for my own “rainy” day!
You are loved.
Your writing is such a joy to read! Rice pudding is yummy…never thought to make it with Indian flavors. If you’re still in a rice mood, sweet and warm sticky rice with a scoop of coconut ice cream on top is delightful. The combination of temperatures and textures is so good!
Spaghetti Saturdays sound so fascinating. I can identify with the apprehensions and pangs of social anxiety, but it is all worthwhile in the end. Need to start something similar. The rice pudding looks tempting. We make a similar kind of pudding where we put in lots of Cashew nuts and raisins.
Those are valid fears and I feel the same when hosting a party which I only do on a very rare occasion because I am not good at it. I pretty much invite people that I am close with when we have a party. I’d like a taste of that pudding.
I love greatly your recipe as being veggie I like each vegetarian recipe because I can try and taste that myself. And being Indian I like Indian delicacies most because I like spicy foods too.
I haven’t had rice pudding since I was a kid! Seeing this post makes me want some. I might try to create a dairy-free option!
I love your writing style! I’ve never tried indian rice pudding but definitely want to! It sounds fabulous and your photos are wonderful.
Yum! I just adore rice pudding but I’ve never tried it with these flavours before. Definitely going to give this a try. (And fortunately none of my family likes rice pudding so I don’t have to share!)
Oh, how lovely…I feel warm, (stomach and heart, both) after reading that. Thanks, Ali.
Keep entertaining and the hosting thing will get better. Love the rice pudding recipe!
I have a question about the recipe. In the ingredients list, it says to use one cup of uncooked rice. However, in the first paragraph of the instructions, it says to combine the milk and cooked rice. Must I cook the rice before adding it to the saucepan with the milk?
Hi Sharon .. Nope, don’t cook the rice before adding it to the saucepan. I updated the instructions. Thanks so much for letting me know!
This looks really delicious, i like indian cuisines which they have a lot here in Saudi Arabia. They are full of flavor and spices.
Unless I did something wrong, my first attempt was a fail. The rice did not cook fully and the end result was chewy and unpleasant. I loved the flavors, so started over with precooked rice, and it was great. I also did fresh ground cardamom seeds. These Indian flavors are magical.
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