Banana Pudding ... Nana Puddin

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Last night, I made banana pudding - you know, nana puddin - for everybody. Ooooh it was so good. This is my recipe, but I borrowed the idea from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea to serve it in Mason jars. Thing is, it didn't occur to me how big those Mason jars were until I started filling them and realized "oh wow I think this is enough for like two or three people!". Next time, I'll use those cute little Mason jelly jars.

I've heard from a bunch of people that bought the Screen Doors cookbook - if you turn to her recipe it exchanges flour for cake flour and adds cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as calls for fancy cookies. Oh, and meringue on top. That all sounds nice, but I like my nana puddin a little more traditional. So no nutmeg, cinnamon, and nothing fancier than Nilla wafers. If you like meringue, that's easy, but this one's pretty humble.

This is for my PawPaw, who loved nana puddin. I miss him and think of him every time I eat a little bowl of it.

He grew up and lived his whole life in the same little town except for the years he was off in Europe fighting in WWII. He came home and worked at the steel plant. He married my sweet Nanny. He taught me to ride a bicycle ("okay PawPaw you can let go now" and he had let go at the other end of MawMaw's backyard).

When he spoke, it would take forever because he had this delicious Southern drawl and any sentence would take two minutes to finish...at least.

He had one of those laughs that was so good - and it was just this great-big belly laugh - that even if you were a stranger and didn't know what was funny, you would have to laugh along too.

My sweet PawPaw.

This nana puddin takes no time to make and it's perfect for picnics.

6 bananas, sliced
1 package Nilla wafers (you won't use them all but they're good for snacking too)
1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tbsp. butter
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash or two of salt

Slice the bananas. Bananas that are unblemished and perfectly yellow are a little unripe for this. The ones that have a few freckles are a bit softer and do really well:

In a pan, add the flour, sugar, milk, and beaten egg yolks:

Cook on medium heat, stirring the whole time with either a whisk or wooden spoon. Really, you do have to stir it the *whole* time:

For a long while it will seem very liquidy, then at a certain point you can see it changing - and from there you really have to keep an eye on it. Stir, stir, stir. When it coats the back of a spoon like this:
...you know you're getting close.

Just a little while longer (stir, stir, stir) and it will turn right into pudding:

Take it off the stove the minute it gets to this stage and add the butter, vanilla, and salt to taste:

This recipe serves 5-6. If you're using a small baking dish (like 8x8) just layer it wafers/bananas/half of the pudding/wafers/bananas/other half of the pudding. I've been to a little luncheon where it was served in mismatched teacups too. So pretty.

Here's my too-big-for-this Mason jar. I put Nilla wafers and bananas on the bottom, a spoonful of puddin, then another layer of wafers and 'nanas. Looks pretty good!
Really, though, I'll use the little jelly jars next time.

Some people like nana puddin warm and others like it cold (I love it warm). You can serve it the minute it's ready if you like or put it in the refrigerator and it will be nice and chilly in just a couple of hours. There's a meat-and-three that Av and I go to that only serves it warm and even brags that they are the only place in town that does it that way. Yum!

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