On Eating and Loving Food

Nothing lovey-dovey, but something creamy and chocolate-y, for Valentine’s Day

Posted:  Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 10:15am
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“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” – George Bernard Shaw

That was the first quote I borrowed for my first column, on Feb. 23, 2016. It was all about my love of food, and pretty much everything related to food.

I figured I’d probably burn out within a couple months and then start freaking out every week trying to come up with a fresh new idea.

Now it’s been almost two years! Yikes!

Little did I know it would be so much fun, and educational (for me anyway!). I’ve learned a lot about food over the past 102 weeks, through researching origins of food, talking to great cooks and chefs, interviewing business owners, and trying out new recipes.

So far I haven’t freaked out – much. There has been the odd Friday afternoon when I’ve realized I had to come up with an idea, cook something, take photos of it, and write a (hopefully fun, informative and/or inspiring) story by Monday morning, at the latest.

Anyway, here it is — Valentine’s Day — and I should be talking about something chocolate and lovey-dovey. So I will. At least chocolate.

My first column started like this: “I love food. I have an obsession with food and anything food-related. From the time I wake up and start thinking about what I’ll have for breakfast to the time I finish my last morsel of whatever I dreamed up for dinner, there’s probably not a full hour that goes by without at least a thought of food.

“I love looking at pictures of food, talking about food, and watching people eat food.

“And I love reading about food. When I'm reading a novel I want to know what the characters eat. Note to authors: Don't skip over mealtime.”

Am I the only person who feels this way?

Whatever. Blah blah blah. Anyway, I do have a delectable, if simple, recipe to share this week. And it’s the perfect, if not exactly gourmet, (around) Valentine’s Day dessert: Mini chocolate cream pies.

I used to go to a little bakery on Main Street in Sanford with my bestie, Lisa Deschenes. Her mother was one of those very French Canadian motherly mothers who made tourtierre during the holidays. She also made donuts and scones that were always warm out of the oven whenever we dropped in after school.

When we weren’t being served warm pastries in the Deschenes’ kitchen, Lisa and I would wander Main Street, stopping at Thayer/Diggery’s to see my father and grandfather, and possibly score enough cash for one of the mini chocolate cream pies from the little bakery a few doors down. I swear to god I can still taste them.

Chocolate cream pie has always been my NUMBER ONE FAVORITE DESSERT. Take note Sue Witt :-).

My nephew, Wendell, loves chocolate cream pie, too. He usually makes it for Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert, when he’s not off galavanting around Las Vegas, as he is now. He’s not just galavanting – he’s working, too. But I wish he’d galavant and work around here. We could eat chocolate cream pie together.

Anyway. What’s not to love about chocolate cream pie? Nothing. Flaky pie crust, creamy chocolate pudding, and whipped cream. Hello.

I used to cheat and use Jell-O chocolate pudding – not instant – I’d never stoop that low. I did just google instant Jell-O chocolate pudding though, and there’s a recipe for chocolate cream pie that calls for instant pudding and Cool Whip. Ugh.

The last few times I tried using the cooked pudding, it didn’t thicken. It was weird. I finally gave up and opted for homemade chocolate pudding.

Here’s the recipe: Combine a scant ½ cup sugar with 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tbsp. (packed) cornstarch, 1 tsp. flour and a pinch of salt, in a saucepan. Add a cup of whole milk and whisk to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in another cup of milk. Cook over medium, whisking, for 5 or 6 minutes, or until it begins to thicken and simmer. Continue cooking and whisking for another minute or so. Stir in a tbsp. butter and a tsp. vanilla. Voila!

Just to be sure the chocolate pudding was chocolate-y enough I threw in a small hunk of unsweetened Baker’s chocolate. Do it!

Bake a pie crust, or a few little ones in custard cups, as I did this time (they’re wicked cute). When crust and pudding have cooled, spoon pudding into crust(s). Whip up some heavy cream with a little sugar and vanilla, and put a dollop on the little ones, or throw a massive pile on a whole pie.

See? So simple, yet so ridiculously delicious, and very fattening!

As for my penchant for watching people eat food they love, I wrote this in my first column, too: “Remember the diner scene in ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ when Faye Dunaway took a big bite out of a greasy hamburger? I have watched that movie 10 times, and it never fails: I want a hamburger afterward. Preferably greasy.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

See ya next week!