There are a lot of reasons I need comfort food at the moment, but at the very top of the list is the number of people still missing in Japan. The live footage has been unforgettable, imprinted on my brain and inside my heart. If you would like to help the relief efforts in Japan: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 or click this link to donate online.
The first thing I think about when there is a natural disaster, selfish as it may be, is what would I do if I were separated from my children and something like this occurred. My answer is always the same; I don’t have the foggiest idea. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to see your entire city being swept away by mass amounts of water, knowing that your child’s school is possibly somewhere under water. It’s more than I can handle trying to imagine and yet so many people around the world have lived through disasters that are beyond comprehension to someone like me.
As a young person or as someone without children, you mentally list all of the things you want to do or see in your lifetime. You think of far off countries that you have not been to or one of the Wonders of the world that you’ve only seen in photographs, but once you have children, your perspective is never the same.
When it boils right down to it, all you really want to do in life is to raise your children, watch them grow and be there for them when they need you most. You could really care less about what you haven’t seen in that big world out there. You just care about what you haven’t seen in your tiny little universe you call your family; that you haven’t seen them graduate from high school, go to their prom, get married and have their own children.
A blog seems immeasurably inconsequential in times like these, but real food is never inconsequential. Fussy food, yes…but food that sticks to your ribs, keeps you sustained and fills your soul is never trivial. I guess everyone has a different version of comfort food. It depends on your culture, what was cooked for you when you were growing up and what gives you peace and satisfaction. Macaroni and cheese, noodle Kugel and puddings of any sort make me feel comforted.
So when I want to share comfort, I logically think of making a beautiful, creamy banana pudding. This one is light on calories but so packed with flavor and richness that you will forget it’s not sinful. The vanilla wafers soak in the luscious pudding, softening them up a bit and if you get your bite just right, you end up with a nice little slice of banana, a creamy dollop of pudding, a spongy cookie and a bit of the sweet meringue. This pudding is heaven on earth and that’s pretty much what anyone needs right about now when the earth is far from heavenly.
I wish desperately I could package up some comfort food for all those who need it. I guess my best bet is to continue to give to the Red Cross, make donations when needed and give my time to my local community which also has individuals who need my help. To those of you out there who reach much further than that I am so grateful. Here’s an “e” bowl of creamy Banana pudding from me to you.
Banana Cream Pie Pudding
Taken directly from Cooking Light
Makes approximately 10 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 c. 1% milk
1 14oz. can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 t. vanilla extract
3 c. sliced ripe bananas
45 reduced-fat vanilla wafers
4 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 c. granulated sugar
For the pudding: On the stove top, set to medium-low heat, dump the flour and salt into a medium-sized sauce pan. Whisk together to disperse salt. SLOWLY, add the 1% milk, whisking as you go, gradually incorporating all the flour as you pour the milk. Next, pour in the sweetened condensed milk and whisk together. Add your egg yolks and whisk. Once the ingredients are smooth and mixed together, you can use a wooden spoon to CONSTANTLY stir the pudding mixture, scraping the sides of the pan often. Turn up your heat to medium now and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir so no solidified clumps end up anywhere in your pudding.
Once thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Using a 2 quart baking dish or several smaller dishes (like mine above…made four large-sized individual dishes), layer the sliced bananas to cover the bottom of the dish. Spread 1/2 of the pudding on top of the bananas and layer the vanilla wafers over the pudding. Repeat the bananas and pudding. I did not repeat the cookie layer, but you can if you wish to. I wanted more pudding and less cookie in mine.
Turn your oven on to 325 at this point. Place the four egg whites into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. On medium speed, at first, beat the egg whites, gradually increasing the speed until soft peaks form. Slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time, add your sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread your meringue over the pudding and using a back of a large spoon, create “waves” or a little peak at the top. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes if baking a large casserole dish or if making smaller ones, bake for about 10-12 minutes, checking on the puddings and looking for your meringue to turn a little golden and a bit light-brown in areas. Let the puddings set for 30 minutes cooling before serving. Ideally, these can be refrigerated after fully cooled and eaten later. The puddings really develop more of the banana flavor if left in the fridge over night.
March 16, 2011 at 10:41 am
Ive been thinking a lot about what I would do if an earthquake hit here too. Its scary.
That pudding looks amazing though. 🙂
March 16, 2011 at 11:28 am
Thanks for the donation link! What a horror.
Your pudding looks fantastic!
March 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm
I don’t know if banana cream pie pudding is the same as banana pudding but I grew up on my mothers homemade from scratch banana pudding and I love it. This recipe is a little bit different but I will definitely be trying this out. Wonderful post.. brought back memories.
March 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm
I would love a pudding with bananas actually cooked into the pudding. I was actually looking for that when I found this. This turned out warm and wonderful so there are no complaints, but if you want to share your recipe, please do so! 🙂
March 16, 2011 at 4:39 pm
wOw the meringue on top is such a good idea!
March 16, 2011 at 7:01 pm
It is very sad to think of all those poor people 😦 You are so sweet. The pudding looks amazing and I love that meringue on top!
March 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm
You are so sweet for posting the link..if every person give a little bit it would help to so many!
Your banana pudding look amazingly delicious! And photos are fantastic too!
Thanks for sharing!
March 16, 2011 at 7:57 pm
Thank you so much for spreading awareness about what is going on in Japan, and providing a link to donate.
I have immediate family members living in Japan, and I cannot even explain the fear that I felt when I spent all of last Friday trying to find out if everyone was safe, or the heartbreak I feel knowing that my family is safe but so many others have suffered through so many losses.
All I can say is that I’m thankful for people like you, who are trying to make a difference, because believe me just through this one post you have made a difference to me, so thank you.
March 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm
Omg I know what you mean..what happened in Japan was just absolutely devastating and I pray that everyone over there is safe…you’re such a sweetheart to be thinking about them in such a deep way
On a happier note, your banana cream pie pudding looks so perfect that I would have never guessed it to be reduced fat 🙂 Wonderful job!
March 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm
I’m with you Geni, I was in tears every time I watch the news, it’s so sad to see they lost everything, some including family members. Only if you could ship your comfort food to them, that would be wonderful.
March 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm
It’s so unbelievable what some people in this world have lived through! It’s overwhelming to imagine something similar happening in our area, and my heart goes out to everyone in Japan.
This pudding sure does look comforting!
March 17, 2011 at 3:21 am
I’m just as much of an emotional cook as you are-I’m one of those people who think that a cup of hot tea can solve world crisis, so i understand where you are coming from.
and i wish wish wish i had an oven in this godforsaken rented apartment so that i could make your pie.
March 17, 2011 at 6:01 am
If you skip the meringue and use a can of the spray-style whipped cream, you can make the pudding on the stove only and trust me, you will have missed nothing. Whipped cream would be lovely on this instead of meringue.
March 17, 2011 at 8:30 am
Yum!! My husband’s fav pudding.I have to recreate it today.I guess I ll skip meringue coz its about to rain here and top with cream as you said!
March 17, 2011 at 9:00 am
These are adorable in individual cups! Smooth and creamy is my type of comfort food. Geni, I so agree with your thoughts of being separated from family and children during a natural disaster. I worry about Hurricane Season here in Florida and keeping contact with my kids.
March 17, 2011 at 10:10 am
Geni, what a great post. A bowl of comfort goes along way for the soul during times like this. Your pudding looks perfectly delicious. Banana pudding is one of my top 5 favs, have not tried a banana creme pie pudding yet. Love your bowls, too!
March 19, 2011 at 6:39 am
I definitely do NOT think food is trivial, especially at times like these. It’s something that can bring people together, unite us all, and give so much comfort. Like this banana pudding. That tastes like a warm hug.
March 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm
That pudding really looks delicious. On and serious note I hope calamities like these stop like the earthquakes in Japan and Christchurch
March 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm
I totally agree. Both disasters were horrendous as well as Haiti and unfortunately, the list could go on and on. Our earth has been unforgiving these last few years.
March 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm
Banana pudding is of the simple joys in life. always with nilla wafers. Sometimes with whipped cream. Always comforting. Thank you for this recipe!
March 21, 2011 at 12:07 am
Oh wow, these puddings looks and sound delicious and comforting! I want one so badly as the weather gets so cold with the rain…..Thanks for sharing.
March 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm
Our hearts go out to those who’ve suffered losses to the disaster in Japan. Rice is my comfort, and banana right after that. If only baking could bring about world peace, that would be fantastic 🙂
March 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm
Seriously, that would be awesome if bananas could fix the world.