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Riz Au Lait Vanille – Remembering A Grandmother’s Embrace

Rice Pudding

Type. Backspace. Type. Backspace. Type. Just keep putting one word in front of the other. Like your feet. That’s how life is. You walk, you run or it passes you buy. I run. I laugh. I breathe. I stand straight. My grandmother used to tell me that all the time. No kidding. "Just keep walking. Stand straight. Breathe". To make sure I’d get the day’s lesson right, she would sweeten the tone by giving me something sweet to nibble on. Most often it was her vanilla rice pudding. "Riz au lait" as we call it in France.

Today I am borrowing some of your time to pay tribute to my grandmother, Paulette. No tears. No drama. No long drawn out sadness on my part. I am over all that. I have been over it even before she passed, three years ago. Quietly. Softly. That’s how I am spending my day. Flipping through photo albums. Trying to sort emotions, thoughts and feelings about her. Smiling. Mostly smiling. And I am finding a bit of comfort by preparing some rice pudding like she used to make us when we had a rough time.

Like many of you, a lot of my memories evolve around food. Some bring me back to her apricot tart, some to her floating islands. And many colds, sore throats and heartbreaks to her rice pudding. There is something about the smell of milk and vanilla simmering on the stove that instantly calms me down. Its simplicity and the memories associated with the gestures of making "riz au lait" helps me focus on the important. It’s nothing fancy, but simply good and homey. Like Mamie Paulette.

Rice Pudding

I was here when my mom called me to tell me she had passed. We were actually packing our suitcases to go on a short vacation. I remember calling the airline to immdiately change my plane ticket and actually tell the agent on the other end "I don’t care if I am being a pain. No one messes with me today." She would have said it just like that too. A few hours later I was on a plane, doing what I had done just a few years before for my brother. Yep, August could clearly suck if I did let it get to me. But it does not. Not anymore.

There are birthdays to be celebrated. There are dinners and get togethers to be had. Most importantly there is plenty of sun to be enjoyed. And for my grandmother, if there was any of the above in her day, she was happy. I am like her in that way. In many other ways too as Bill likes to remind me constantly (some are not that endearing mind you!). I like that.

Today I am happy because I have all three. A good dinner is planned with friends and I am making another batch of rice pudding for dessert. It may not be a summer dessert per se but I know our friends will enjoy it. The slightly intoxicating smells of vanilla beans, the simmering of a good story to go along with it. I am also serving it with some citrus spiked caramel sauce tonight. I don’t remember Mamie ever making it like this but that’s my way of creating new memories.

Vanilla And Rice

I called my grandfather this morning (he’ll be 99 in wo weeks!). My mother was there too. As were my uncles and cousins. We shared a few chosen moments that defined grandma for us. We laughed and we smiled, exactly like the day we told her goodbye. All is well.

As bloggers, we are here for the good times and the bad. There are a couple of posts that struck a cord with me this week. We all are comfortable enough with you, readers, to give you the upbeat, the fun, the creative but also the truth that sometimes, we don’t really feel like jumping and down. But we feel enough at ease to tell you so because the good moments as well as the harder ones define our personalities and how they come throughout our blogs, throughout the days. Thank you for that.

We all celebrate the ones we love in different ways. That’s why we and they are unique. If you have a minute, leave a note to Marc who is paying tribute to his wife and blogger Bri from Figs With Bri (warning: I sobbed for a few minutes) and to my bad-ass chica, Jen from Use Real Butter who is remembering her lovely sister Kris. I also would love to hear about some of the memories you may have. Good or bad.

Here is one about my grandmother everytime I make Floating Islands. My space is yours.

Rice Pudding

One year ago: Roasted Apricot and Lavender Panna Cottas.

Riz Au Lait A La Vanille – Vanilla Rice Pudding:

Serves 4

For the rice:

1/2 cup (100gr) arborio rice
1 1/2 cups (315ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (60ml) heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split open and seeded
1/4 cup (50gr) sugar

For the citrus caramel sauce: (optional)
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 tablespoons water
zest and juice of one lemon

Prepare the rice pudding:
In a stainer, rinse the rice under cold water for a minute to remove some of its natural starch.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the rice, milk, cream and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally for about 20 to 30 minutes. Add the sugar, stir briefly and remove from the heat. Let cool for a few minutes and divide the pudding evenly among ramekins. Let cool to room temperature and serve with the caramel sauce.

Prepare the caramel:
Place the sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture becomes a golden amber color. Carefully add the lemon juice and zest (it will splatter so stand back a little). Stir the caramel until completely smooth again. Remove from the heat and let it cool until ready to serve.

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Anonymous August 6, 2009 um 7:36 pm

Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of your grandmother. Your post struck a cord with me because my grandma has not been well for many years now. I realize now that she has been this way for so long that I have a very difficult time remembering what she was like before.

But then I thought about her apricot jam, jam that my mother and I attempted making for the first time a few weeks ago. How a piece of her created a new memory for my mother and I. And that makes me happy.

Char August 6, 2009 um 7:55 pm

everytime I could something quiessentially southern, I think of my mom.


Heather @ chiknpastry August 6, 2009 um 7:59 pm

I agree w/ "bakeyourheartout" – your memories of your grandmother strike a cord in all of us who have those fond thoughts. my gramma just turned 94 and may not make it to 95, but no matter what the future holds, I have such wonderful memories. your story makes me think about and drool over her pound cake right now!!

Jamie August 6, 2009 um 8:04 pm

Such a sweet post…I love recipes that evoke memories and emotions! Beautiful photographs as always! 🙂

Anonymous August 6, 2009 um 8:07 pm

Beautiful post.

Jacky August 6, 2009 um 8:16 pm

What a wonderful post! Rice pudding is my favorite!

Eléonora August 6, 2009 um 8:29 pm

Je suis une grande fan du riz et au lait, c'est une petite touche plus qui ravit les papilles. J'ai visité une bonne partie de ton blog et j'ai vu les progrès que tu as eu en photos. J'ai pu voir sur un blog italien que la résolution était de 5.5 1.8 pour l'ouverture et la luminosité. J'ai acheté un nouvel optique, mais j'avoue que c'est plus difficile de travailler en manuel. Du coup, je prends le pied. Tu me diras c'est les premières photos que je fais. Donc, je suis de nouveau en apprentissage. Mais quand je regarde ton merveilleux travail depuis le départ de ta belle aventure, cela m'encourage très fort de poursuivre ce chemin qui est un énorme plaisir. A bientôt !!!!

pergolina August 6, 2009 um 8:40 pm

you have warmed my heart again. my gramie from Puglia Italy was an incredible baker she was my teacher Anna Bruna would say "don't cheat the bread" when we would butter toast and that generous attitude spread throughout our family to her great great grand daughter, Nina

pigpigscorner August 6, 2009 um 8:58 pm

A very heartwarming post =)

terri August 6, 2009 um 9:23 pm

i'm sorry for your loss. what a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman!

you're right about how so many memories revolve around food. when i was growing up, we used to have dinner with my grandparents every friday night. my grandmother made great japanese food, but her desserts were limited. canned mandarin oranges in jello was her specialty. every time someone brings it to a potluck, i still smile and think of her.

A Bowl Of Mush August 6, 2009 um 10:10 pm

I love to make my grandmas rice pudding as well 🙂

Ashbee August 6, 2009 um 10:50 pm

A great tribute to your grandmother …

Unknown August 6, 2009 um 10:58 pm

Hugs Helen! Your post made me remember the feeling I have every time I cook something from the Tuscan cousine and I would like to see the face that my father would put up especially when then I have to shoot that food for the blog. I guess he'd scowl a bit at me and then grumble a little more but with some laughter hidden under his mustaches.

Margo August 6, 2009 um 11:24 pm

I lost my grandmother February 7th of this year. She was 95. She lived by herself and cooked for herself – she was smart (an avid reader, she kept records of every book she read since 1970) and thoughtful (she bought gifts almost a year in advance sometimes), and I still miss her. I didn't get to say goodbye, and I'm glad that you had a chance to do so with your grandmother.

Helene August 6, 2009 um 11:48 pm

Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts. My heart goes out to you who have lost someone close or far.

Margo: I actually told her goodbye a few weeks before she died. She called and we talked. Made our peace with life and death. Or at least she helped me make sense of it. She was 93. She's had a good life and she knew it. She wanted to help me see passed the immediate pain and it helped the day of her funeral. Thank you and I hope things get easier for you with time.

sparkleaplenty | sharon rohloff August 6, 2009 um 11:55 pm

What a wonderful posting about a grandmother well loved. I too had a grandmother who baked her way into my heart. May you always remember the sweet times. Consider yourself hugged.

Barbara August 7, 2009 um 12:14 am

Such lovely memories to cherish Helene. My grandmother was very special too. She was 99 when she died and still knitting and crocheting baby clothes for the Red Cross charity shop she had supported all her life. HUgs to you.

Jennifer August 7, 2009 um 12:19 am

Such a moving post! I love how there are many foods that bring back memories of those we love.

K and S August 7, 2009 um 12:28 am

very heartwarming post!

Valérie August 7, 2009 um 12:32 am

This is a lovely, moving post. I am sure your grandmother is smiling somewhere.

I recently learnt that our taste buds are connected to our brain by more nerves than any other of our sensual organs. So it's not just a myth that taste evokes memories more strongly than our other senses. Il y a du vrai dans "la petite madeleine de Proust"!

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul August 7, 2009 um 12:48 am

Beautifully written Helen…I thonk you've really conveyed your emotions in this post and well said. Rice pudding is def one of those desserts that brings back childhood memories…thank you for sharing!

LyB August 7, 2009 um 1:02 am

Helen, you are the sweetest person ever. You write these posts in a way that makes me feel like I know you. I never get tired of reading these posts of yours.

Ma grand-mère, qui est toujours vivante mais ne cuisine plus depuis qu'elle a perdu la vue, me faisait toujours un gâteau Reine-Élisabeth comme gâteau d'anniversaire. Tu vois, je suis née le lundi 21 mai, fête de la Reine ici au Canada. 🙂

linda August 7, 2009 um 1:15 am

pretty new to your blog…yesterday's coffee chicory macarons were beautifully produced & the photography was exceptional…so i came back today to see if you posted…well…the steady stream of tears floating down my face noted that you struck an emotional chord….thinking about my grandmother & her friday nights cooking at our house filled my heart with great joy…she never cooked from recipes – all in her head & hands…her potato soup was the best & so was she…thank you for sharing…i feel your sorrow & joy…i think our grandmothers are very proud of us!

Elizabeth August 7, 2009 um 1:19 am

Such a moving post. My husband and I are about to move to be close to my grandmother and be able to care for her. The time I spend with her is so special, I'm glad I can do something to help her in her later years. One of my favorite memories of her is sharing a piece of the apple strudel she would make every summer when we came to visit.

Anna August 7, 2009 um 1:21 am

I lost my grandmother some years ago, but I have such clear memories of her cooking for us – nurturing us and spreading her love and care in the community. She used to make pickles and chutney and jams for the church. I can see her now, cutting up pounds and pounds of onions, tears pouring down her face, singing hymns under her breath. The memory still makes me smile.

Unknown August 7, 2009 um 1:31 am

just lovely.

i also lost my granny about 3weeks ago. i dream about her every night, and make her "granny muffins" each week now. cooking with her was so special to me.

thank you for sharing.

Anita (Married… with dinner) August 7, 2009 um 2:07 am

What a lovely remembrance, such a thoughtful gesture to reach out the Jen and Marc, too. Your grandmère would be proud. 🙂

kimberleyblue August 7, 2009 um 2:22 am

mmm…i love rice pudding. it's such a great way to use up leftover rice from a rice-filled dinner too.

great post!

Alexandra August 7, 2009 um 2:34 am

Last night I read the recipe for your 'riz au lait', via a previous post. It transported me to Christmas, I was about 6 years old. My Grandmama would make 'atole de arroz', hot rice cereal/pudding. She would simmer her milk with a cinnamon stick. It was my favorite and she knew it. She always made it with a knowing little smile. I now make it for my son, and it too, is one of his favorite comfort foods.

Though it's been 12 years since her passing, I still miss her very much…in fact to this day, I can't eat cabbage soup. It was one of her specialties, and I just can not consume it. Without the Love she put into it, I know cabbage soup will never again taste the way hers did.

Thank you so very much for sharing your strength and love!

Poorni Pillai August 7, 2009 um 3:21 am

I have always wished for grandparents who loved and supported me, wise fun people to grow up with….I'm glad you had that, and that you have beautiful memories to cherish. They are truly priceless 🙂

Jen Yu August 7, 2009 um 3:44 am

You are such a sweetheart. I know this month isn't easy for you. I wish I could come over and sit with you over a bowl of that amazing vanilla rice pudding (I am crazy about that stuff and I don't doubt your grandma's version is THE BEST!) and talk about good memories of the people we love. And then toss saffron all over the kitchen! I hope the day was filled with happy thoughts and the warmth of your grandma's love. Sending many hugs your way, my dear friend. xxoo

Irene August 7, 2009 um 3:57 am

Oh Helen. I am so sorry, my dear. To lose someone as dear as that, but how joyful that you have memories that you can bring to life with food! I have a lot of memories of my grandma, but most of all, I just love that sparkle in her eye when she's done something she's excited about – cooked something especially delicious, gotten a shirt under retail price (on sale! only $15!) or left some goodies in our refrigerator. Sometimes, I realize that I have that same spark and that makes me happy.

Rita August 7, 2009 um 3:58 am

I think there is a special place out there for grandmothers, they are special people. You made me think (and miss)mine too. And she used to make "arroz doce" too.

Susan @ SGCC August 7, 2009 um 4:37 am

I'm so sorry to hear this sad news, Helen. Your tribute to your Mamie Paulette is very touching and I'm sure she is smiling down on you right now.

I lost my dear grandmother many years ago, but I still remember the wonderful times we shared as if they happened only yesterday. She was my favorite person in the world, next to my father – and I've lost him too.

Yes, life goes on, but it isn't always easy – is it.

Helene August 7, 2009 um 5:08 am

Susan: I think I need to edit the post, my gma died 3 years ago today. Still recent but not *that* much.

Deeba PAB August 7, 2009 um 5:36 am

Sigh…I remember the post last year abouth your brother helen. May your sweet grandmother RIP. You are a beautiful family…The interwoven memories with food are just how it should be…enriching & heartwarming. xo

shaz August 7, 2009 um 7:13 am

I don't really know you Helen, but I'm sending a *hug* through cyberspace anyway to thank you for this post.

Science Bloggers Association August 7, 2009 um 7:30 am

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FANETTE August 7, 2009 um 7:53 am

Your pictures are so beautiful. I would like to eat a little spoon of it.

Rosa's Yummy Yums August 7, 2009 um 8:01 am

A beautiful post and tribute to your grandmother! Rice Pudding is delicious and yours looks fantastic!

Cheers et bon weekend,


kayenne August 7, 2009 um 8:12 am

Filpinos do something similar to this with chocolate, or rather, cacao cooking tableas/tablets, similar to what you can get in Spain. And instead of arborio, we use glutinous rice/sweet rice. YUMMY!

On good people and food memories, our former president Cory Aquino passed away last Aug 1. The entire nation mourned. Those close to her remembers her making her favorite chicken liver pate that everyone raves about. I hope someone shares the recipe.

Graphic Foodie August 7, 2009 um 8:20 am

Like you my family and food go hand in hand. Memories are made in the kitchen and around the table. I think it's lovely to have something so accessible and personal like a recipe or a taste to remember people by, living or passed.

Julia @ MĂ©langer August 7, 2009 um 8:59 am

Helen, just a lovely post. It brought with it memories of all the wonderful people I have lost in my life. The most important being my dear, dear father. I was only 24. He was only 62. It was sudden. I felt cheated. One day he was there, the next … gone. But he's always around me. And now he's keeping his mother (the only grandparent I knew), company. That's a heartening feeling. So great to hear you share many traits of your grandmother. The older I get, the more I realise how much like my dad I am. He is with me always. 🙂

montague August 7, 2009 um 10:36 am

thank you for sharing this sweet post about your grandmother. it made me miss mine so dearly. we just celebrated her 90th birthday. she lives so so far away, and yet i feel her close all the time.

Anonymous August 7, 2009 um 11:39 am

The smell of rice pudding is also one that reminds me of my grandma. She served it with raisins, or plum jam or apricot jam.
Still from my grandma I remember the apricot and sour cherry compote – we picked the fruit ourselves from the garden trees.
Thank you for bringing me back to her. It's been 5 years since she is gone but she will be forever in my heart.

Amy J August 7, 2009 um 11:58 am

Thank you for sharing and reminding me to celebrate those memories. My grandmother rocked it. As with you she left me many culinary memories. I was thinking as I was reading your post, that it's more than memories she's left you. She's left you recipes like these that are part of you and yes, you may tweak them here or there but that's the whole beauty of it – part of her and part of you. That's cool.

Thanks again for sharing. I'm brand new to the blogging world (like this week!) and am tickled that I found you through PW this morning to start my day.

♥peachkins♥ August 7, 2009 um 12:18 pm

Your post is full of emotions and strong memories.

Your vanilla rice pudding looks good.

Jeannette August 7, 2009 um 1:18 pm

i cried. i did.

thank you so much for sharing. you helped me think about memories that were too painful to think about. maybe someday i'll smile about them as you do.

you truly are a classy lady. 🙂

Jennifer August 7, 2009 um 3:18 pm

This post pays a beautiful tribute to your Mamie Paulette. I've never tasted Vanilla Rice Pudding, but now I must. Be well.

June August 7, 2009 um 4:29 pm

Oh you sweet come some hugs. My month is June, ironically since that is my name. The loss of two very close friends, my Mother's memorial service, and so it goes, but there's beauty in the memories so we must celebrate those. Enjoy your days. You have such talent!

Anonymous August 7, 2009 um 4:54 pm

Thanks for sharing about your gramma and food memories of her. I never knew my grammas and don't have any memories of them. They raised their families on farms during the Depression and food was a luxury, for sustenance only.

I was in my 40's before I learned that 1 of my dad's favorites was rice pudding. Now I wonder why mom never made it for him.

But as you say, all is well, or-my version-life is good. I always tried to make weeknight dinners and celebrations memorable for our family with food. Now our kids, in their late 20's, all love to cook and practice hospitality.

Unknown August 7, 2009 um 6:17 pm

A delightful post to read. Thanks so much for sharing, Helen. =)

simplesong August 7, 2009 um 7:13 pm

yum … oh how i love rice pudding.

Anonymous August 7, 2009 um 8:06 pm

What a timely post. I just wrote about my grandmother earlier this week. She made coconut cakes especially for me during holidays and at other family get togethers. My mother made a coconut cake for my birthday this week and while it wasn't grandma's recipe, it still brought back fond memories of her. Thank you for sharing with us!

Anonymous August 7, 2009 um 8:51 pm

What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I know how you feel about food bringing you back to a loved one…it happens all the time when I smell bacon. It immediately makes me think of my grandfather:)

Ann August 7, 2009 um 8:59 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. This reminded me of my great grandma who passed over 10 years ago. I still miss her dearly. She used to make something similar called "Arroz con leche" (rice with milk)and everything about the taste and smell of that dish brings back wonderful memories of her.

Jaime August 7, 2009 um 9:55 pm

What a beautiful post, Helène. You're a a very good writer. Thanks you for being so open and honest.

Hilda August 7, 2009 um 10:36 pm

Ah le riz au lait, how I wish I could have some of your Mamie's with you (I mean literally with you so I could give you a big hug too). It's one of my Dad's favorites but my grandmother didn't bake French things as you know. I've started to cook a lot of Persian things and when I made soup last time I was visiting my parents, my father described a soup that my grandmother used to make but that I'd never had and asked me if I could try and make it, so now I have to figure it out just for him. I remember my grandfather mostly with books and especially music, but there are certain things like eating madeleines and crepes which were some of his favorite French things to eat which always remind me of him. I miss him so. Lovely post Helene.

Shining Windows August 7, 2009 um 10:45 pm

so very lovely…I am thinking of my nana. she wasn't an adventurous cook, the crowd meant more to her than the recipe, but we all loved to crowd 'round here table. thanks for sharing.

rosemary August 8, 2009 um 11:31 am

Miam ! So simple and délicate.

I was wandering about a lemon tart in Tartelette ? But i find none …

harcoutbreton August 8, 2009 um 12:30 pm

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Emily August 8, 2009 um 8:27 pm

Absolutely beautiful post!!!!

Megumi August 8, 2009 um 9:07 pm

Bonjour Helen,
I am dreadfully sorry for your loss. I am Italian/Japanese & lost my Nonna when she was 104 years. I was born in Venezia, actually it is our ancestral home. My Mama died during childbirth & Nonna helped to raise me.

I commute to Paris every few weeks to care for my Papa who is in hospital.I too am a French citizen.

I know it is quite difficult to accept, but remember the joy & think of her often. It is better to pass on then to be in Papa's situation. Mine too, as I care for him, (I manage his business & properties all over the world).

When I see him, or speak to him on the phone, 5 minutes later he does not believe he either saw, nor spoke with me.

My friend,(I am Tibetan Buddhist, working for His Holiness the Dalai Lama), was on a plane with a famous Zen Master. This particular Zen Master would oft take 10 years to write a poem,(I do not know how to explain this word in English). My friend being Irish was quite persistant & the Zen Master looked at him & said: "Every moment, perfect moment, every day, perfect day"

Again, the joy, as you create this amazing desserts.

Namaste, Megumi

peasepudding August 8, 2009 um 9:23 pm

Thanks for sharing your memories of your Grandma and her cooking. My Nan, who passed away many years ago now, was the person who got me interested in cooking. My earliest memories are of making children's cookies and cakes with her for a birthday party when I was about 5. While back in the UK a few weeks ago my Mum asked if I would like all my Nan's old cake tins, tarts dishes and piping nozzels. I was so thrilled and will use and treasure them and think of her while I back. Alli.

Mariana August 9, 2009 um 4:20 am

I've tried this recipe and it's fantastic! I'm going to try to make it tomorrow with coconut milk and raspberry sauce, hopefully it'll work out just as well. Would you suggest I omit the cream and just replace the whole milke with coconut milk? or should I use the heavy cream and coconut milk?


Helene August 9, 2009 um 4:37 am

Alli: looks like your experience was like mine a few years ago when my grandad handed me my gma's recipe box and a few of her tart rings. Precious.

Aboutme: yes you can! Actually I did that the day after the batch in the pictures. I used straight coconut milk (whole -not light). Turned out great!

Peabody August 9, 2009 um 7:02 am

Looks wonderful and comforting.

Cannelle Et Vanille August 9, 2009 um 11:14 am

what a wonderful tribute to your grandma and family as well to others who have left us. Food is so much more than about eating. It's about memories and definitely nourishing the soul. Beautiful!

Barbara August 9, 2009 um 2:53 pm

Thank you for this beautiful post about your grandma. Mine wasn't specifically a cook, but it made me think of the mornings when I would visit her and she would put a beautiful bowl on the table and section an orange, juice and all into that pretty bowl. I remember thinking that it was so special that she went to all that trouble for me. And she did. It was an act of love to do it. Like her apple pie, which is one of the dishes I've handed down to my children now. Thank you for helping me remember her this morning. Beautiful photos!

Laura August 9, 2009 um 4:44 pm

My Grandmother used to make tapioca pudding for us. That to me is the ultimate comfort food. My grandmother passed away this past November just a few months shy of turning 100. I am going to visit her grave next Sunday with the rest of my family (for the unveiling of her headstone). She lived a full life, but I miss her terribly.

Linda Newton August 9, 2009 um 6:04 pm

WOW just found your blog…you are truly gifted, I could only hope to be as talented as you! Great pics, cant wait to try some of your recipes.

Manggy August 9, 2009 um 6:54 pm

Thanks for sharing, Helen. The bond between you and your Mamie Paulette is so clear through your lovely words and delicious food. I am glad that beyond the pain, you have found something to celebrate 🙂 To grandma!

foodcreate August 9, 2009 um 9:14 pm

Delicious ! I love the look of these recipes.

Thanks for sharing your recipe:)

Have a wonderful Day ~

ChichaJo August 10, 2009 um 12:48 am

Beautiful post and tribute to your grandmother! Thank you for sharing so generously…

Vicki Bensinger August 10, 2009 um 1:27 am

Hi Helen,
I am so sorry for your loss. I too was very close with my grandmother. She instilled my passion for cooking, which we did together all the time.

My grandmother has been gone since the 70s but we were very close. She lived with us and I shared my room with her as a child and teen. The one thing that I will never forget about her was when she had to have her leg amputated for an infection that had set in.

I guess 6 months or even a year had gone by since her surgery and every night before bed we would say our prayers together. That night she was cold and I said I would lay next to her in her twin bed and warm her up while we said our prayers. When I laid next to her in bed I vividly remember her saying to me, "You must really love me, because you are laying next to my bad leg." I looked at her and gave her a kiss and said of course I do. I don't care about your leg. You're still the same to me. I remember the look in her eyes and how wonderful that made her feel. I still can't believe she felt that way. I miss her. She was a wonderful person.

Grandparents are very special. I'm sure you will always treasure yours as I do mine.

Helene August 10, 2009 um 8:06 am

Thank you everyone for taking the time to write all these beautiful things about your loved ones, especially grandmas.

I have really enjoyed reading each and everyone of them!

MyKitchenInHalfCups August 10, 2009 um 1:46 pm

I do still read you Helen (even though I remembered the floating islands, I had to read it again), I just am so far behind I'm behind the behind 🙂
Gorgeous post (always), thank you.
Gorn's very favorite is rice pudding, I'll have to try this one on him.

Patricia Scarpin August 10, 2009 um 1:56 pm

Helen, I was raised by my grandmother after between my mother's death and my father getting married again (which was probably the second worst thing that has happened to me and my brother). I love her and know that I'll suffer a lot when she is gone. So, my dear, I can't imagine how you feel, but know that my heart goes out to you.

I love rice pudding especially because it's something that reminds me deeply of my mom (she loved it).


marianne August 12, 2009 um 8:15 pm

What a warm and thoughtful post…

My (also French) grandma passed on a little over a year now, and, like you, I often find myself remembering her in the kitchen. Her signature dish was "les pommes de terres sautĂ©es" – ah la la! I will never forget the smell of the potatoes cooking in butter, her tablier tied around her waist, pantouffles au pied… we're so lucky to have those memories.

Happy birthday to your grandpa!

Inne August 13, 2009 um 3:52 pm

There's something about grandmothers and rice pudding, isn't there. My gran makes hers with saffron, quite solid and the sugar goes on top. I 'place an order' for her rice pudding every time I go to Belgium and your post has left me craving rice pudding…

RosalieCorinne August 16, 2009 um 3:09 am

such a beautiful post. thank you. today is my grandmother's 92nd birthday and was so sad i couldn't join the party this year. she has the most beautiful garden in her backyard, chalk full fig trees, lemon trees, orange and persimmon trees. she makes the most amazing jams and her lemons always turn into delicious lemon meringue pies…things i hope to make for my grandchildren some day

Hilary Gallion October 28, 2013 um 5:55 pm

I was looking for a riz au lait recipe because I have been craving it since Christmas when my host mother in France made it for dinner when I was there last year. I came across your blog in the search and what beautiful words (and recipe) you shared.

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