Food Cooked in a Pillowcase? Suet Pudding Recipe
With a fair amount of youngster shock, I remember one morning finding my mother stooped over a boiling pot of water on stovethe , poking and prodding what looked like a bubbling, frothing pillowcase. At first, I thought she was trying to coax some nasty old stain out of the fabric, as Mom was quite particular about the white of her bed linens.
Nope! She was opening up the tied off neck of a cotton bag to taste test the gooey gray mass that resided in the “pillow” case interior, while trying to not burn her fingers on the heated bag or boiling water. Lying on the kitchen counter next to the stove, I spied a recipe card. Written across the top was “Mom’s Suet Pudding” (meaning this recipe had originally come from my gramma’s recipe box). The ingredients read like HEART ATTACK CITY…flour, white sugar, rendered lard (suet) and spices! The hard sauce topping at the bottom of the card was a minor footnote, a witness to hard times and hard scrabble living.
This sweets recipe was a real and all too rare treat for lifers on the early western frontier. Gramma cooked this pudding at the old home place where she and my grandfather homesteaded, raising four children in a two-room, packed earthen floor cabin that they built by hand. It comes from an era when fresh food came from your own carefully tended garden and you raised and slaughtered your own table meat. Staples (sugar, flour, salt, soda) were bought during the four times a year trek by horse and wagon, at the town store – 50 some miles away. When my Mom tells me stories of the challenges and hard times of her youth….she’s not laying walkways for guilt. She’s simply stating facts (well ok….maybe once in awhile she was trying to make me behave by wielding the guilt stories – lol.)
I’m tickled to write that I inherited that old, nondescript, worn-smooth cotton bag – formerly a woven flour sack. When my Mom handed it off to me, she said, “Now, this was your Grandmothers Suet Bag. She gave it to me and I’m giving it to you – hang on to it!” I’m also proud that once every few years, I pull that suet bag out and whip up my own gooey, slimy gray ball of Suet Pudding with the sweet, cakey, crumbly fruit dotted, rich center. “Once every few years” being the key phrase here. This is dangerous, proceed at your own risk, artery flow stopping food.
DID YOU KNOW?
The first printed evidence of the phrase “spotted dick” or suet pudding as it relates to food, is attributed to Alexis Soyer, the chef of London’s illustrious Reform Club, 1849.
The Oxford English Dictionary confirms an 19th century colloquial use of the word ‘dick’ meaning pudding. Spotted is assumed to be alluding to the visual effect created by the fruits.
Gramma’s Suet Pudding Recipe
Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.
Scoop into woven white cotton bag. (Do not use dyed cotton fabric.)
Tie the neck of bag tightly closed with string.
Cook in pot of boiling H20 – hot water bath that covers entire bag – 3 hours.
Optional – Serve with hard sauce topping
or puddle the pudding into bowls of cream. Garnish with fruit bits.
HARD SAUCE RECIPE
Mix all ingredients together until smooth. In a large pan heat 1 quart milk until bubbly.
Stir in the above ingredients and continue to stir until thickened. Pour hot sauce over suet
pudding in a large bowl. Garnish with nuts and fruit bits.
ITEMS WE USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE