Cold rice pudding

old-young-handsI’m not really very good at this living alone business. Not on a practical level anyway. I have no problem wielding a screwdriver or drill, brandishing a paintbrush or whizzing around with the lawnmower. The house is clean and tidy, apart from when the dog has emptied her toy box and wrestled the cushions to the ground. Or killed the rug. It falls apart at the supermarket.

I am a good cook. I love baking. I can whip up a meal for ten with no qualms, a family lunch or a classy dinner. So why, when I went to the cupboard tonight was it bare, again?

I’d done the supermarket run this morning, bought food for the dog, collected the ingredients and cooked dinner for my son and friends. Yet me? No.

I forget, you see. It’s no fun cooking just for myself.

The only thing left in the cupboard tonight was a tin of rice pudding. And that made me smile with fond memory.

me1When I was a very little girl I remember my grandmother telling me that cold rice pudding was an infallible cure for a broken heart. I cannot remember why my heart was broken at that early age, but it obviously was, because she served me a bowl of the stuff. It made me giggle. So as a cure it was, at that point in time, pretty effective.

It had to be the tinned version, of course. Real rice pudding, baked with cream and butter and freshly grated nutmeg was serious and the thought takes me back a further generation to my great grandparents’ home, with the square, Deco crockery painted with daffodils. As an even littler girl I had to clear my plate enough to see those daffodils… which was one way of getting a child to eat her greens.

daffodil-art-deco-plateMemories of food, the smells and tastes that come back, visual memories of scenes and rooms, tiny details almost forgotten, intricately linked with those moments in time shared with loved ones. Remembering the daffodil plates I can see my great grandfather sitting opposite, his hair white as snow, cheeks traced with tiny spider veins. Behind me is grandma’s treadle sewing machine with the drawers stuffed with treasures and the brass inkstand shaped like one of the setters.

Most of the small room was taken up with the great carved mahogany dresser with grandad’s treasures from India. Opposite was the big, black-leaded Yorkist range with the bread oven, where the fire burned always and sometimes we made toast in front of the flames or watched strange landscapes in the embers of the coals. And always there were the three red setters, Bonnie, Rory and Meg and great grandma, seated in her chair in the corner with her beautiful long hair bound around her head in a coronet of plaits.

grandad-doughnutsThey taught me to cook. All of them, one after another. A simple, homely thread of loving that even now can take me back to their hearths and homes. I was luckier than many and remember most of my great grandparents. There were photographs of five generations together. The threads of learning went back in time for me in a very vivid way.

So the child that grew learned much first hand that in many families she would have missed. I sat at my great grandmother’s knee as she told me of her own childhood in the 1800’s and of her courtship with her husband to be. And she taught me to pray. Not the written prayers we learned in school, but as she did. Simply and from the heart.

Until her death in her very late nineties, she chatted with her God every night, shared the day’s joys with Him, because, she said, they were His and He should know how glad they made her. She took Him her sorrows and fears and laid them in His lap. She taught me never to ask for anything for myself because He knew best and would give what was needed. But to ask instead for blessings on everyone else.

great grandmaHer relationship with God was a very personal one. She spoke to Him like a friend and that memory stayed with me. My own journey has been convoluted perhaps, my image of Divinity has shifted somewhat from that childhood vision, but the simplicity of those prayers remained. So did something she told me when I asked her where God lived. She smiled at me very gently and said, ‘In your heart.’

Smiling at that memory, it seems the cold rice pudding has worked magic again tonight.

Jan 2013

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in Life, Memories and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Cold rice pudding

  1. jenanita01 says:

    It must be really special, to remember your childhood with such fondness. So many wonderful memories…It definitely makes you a better person, I’m sure…


  2. jenanita01 says:

    Reblogged this on Anita & Jaye Dawes and commented:
    The past can be better than the present…


  3. evelynralph says:

    Wonderful images, I firget most of mine. They were not bad images (apart from the wartime) but only certain things are well remembered. It is good to have even those images remaining.



    • Sue Vincent says:

      Memories are part of who we are… both the ones in the mind and the more tangible things. I had no photographs until fairly recently. perhaps that’s why I take so many pictures.


  4. I often think about my childhood and all the happy memories it brings, Sue. I remember my Grandmother making Rice Pudding as well, and how I always battled with my sister over who was going to get the skin from the top of the rice pudding because it always tasted so nice with the sprinkling of nutmeg she always put on top. She passed the recipe to my mother who was not such a good cook, but it always brought back happy memories of tea at Grandmother’s when ever we had Rice Pudding.

    This was a a beautiful and heart warming post which bought back many happy memories for me as well. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

    Oh, and as for empty food cupboards and an empty fridge, I often see a picture of an empty fridge on social media sites with the words “You know you are passionate about writing, when you’ve got no time to go to the Supermarket.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Noah Weiss says:

    Great post. Indeed, because taste and smell are not as pre-processed before hitting the brain, they can form the strongest memories. I’ve never had rice pudding before, but your description makes it sound like it would indeed be good comfort food.

    (Then again, it’s probably something that is unheard of across the pond from your perspective :))


  6. Warm and beautiful memories, Sue. How extremely fortunate you were to get to know your great grandparents. What a lot of really old memories they helped you store away. My mother used to make good rice pudding also. Thank you for sharing in this piece. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂


  7. roweeee says:

    I’m with Hugh on spending time writing instead of the practicalities of life such as shopping. I love this heart-warming post and I personally love that thing of family recipes which have been passed down and I have cooked with my mum and grandmothers and am passing these skills onto my kids. I love your discussion and photo of the daffodil plate and needing to eat your greens to see the daffodils. I collect vintage china, particularly tea cups or “trios” is the name. Whenever I’d go to my grandmother’s house we’d each pick out cup out of her stash of china collectables. Just magic. My son is particular fond of rice pudding but I have to use lactose free milk or its healing balm become counterproductive.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oo rice pudding with a nice brown skin fresh from the Esse cooker! I never manage to cook for myself but a feast i can do in a trice – legacy of a big family 😊


  9. I’m not enthusiastic about cooking for myself either. I’ll inevitably grab whatever doesn’t need preparation. Cold rice pudding (does anyone eat it hot?) is a favorite. Tapioca, too. We NEVER run out of dog food, though. Human, maybe, but the pups gotta eat. Ask them. They will agree.


  10. Eliza Waters says:

    I so enjoyed this post, Sue. (You were such a cutie!) Your gran sounded like a very spiritual woman, what a gift she was to you! I can see that she lives on in you.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Grandma was not what most would call spiritual… there was nothing overt about it. Just a deep and personal relationship with her God. That shaped a lot of things for me, I think.


  11. Ali Isaac says:

    Beautiful nostalgic post!


  12. Adrian Lewis says:

    Beautiful post, Sue, a joy to read. Adrian


  13. noelleg44 says:

    What a wonderful memoir, Sue. I never thought rice pudding could be that powerful.
    It brought to mind AA Milne, whose poetry I adored growing up.
    What is the matter with Mary Jane
    She hasn’t an ache and she hasn’t a pain
    And it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again…
    And I didn’t have to look this up!


  14. Wonderful! I, too, was lucky enough to spend lots and lots of time with my grandparents. It changed my life. Beautifully written and lovely ending.


  15. Sue Vincent says:

    Thank you, Ellen. Mt grandparents were a big part of my childhood.


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