Hell and Vanilla Pudding

"When you're going through hell," Winston Churchill said, "keep going." And once in a while the planets align just enough to allow you to do that, to keep going.

After the myriad emotions, stresses, and physical changes of going for my yearly mammogram in November, to the follow-up mammo, the biopsy, the diagnosis, the mastectomy, the port surgery, to chemo.....the wedding's off. Well, chemo is anyway. And this all happened in only 2 short (only 2??), but incredibly long, months. I still have to remind myself to untie my shoulders from over my head.
Sometimes things happen in rapid-fire succession; we struggle against currents, pant and gasp for breath, reach "the other side," and laugh/cry that we've survived. Sometimes things happen so slowly that we don't realize we've drifted way off course; we go with the flow, then slog our way through the bog of "life" and live to tell about it. And sometimes it's a combination: things are happening rapidly, we realize we're drifting way off course, we struggle, we rant, we nurse our wounds, and pick our battered selves up. War is hell. Maybe we're no longer physically whole, but we're all the tougher for it all.
And we realize that life is still good. I realize that life is still good. And that it's still the little things that make it so "ah, that's beautiful."
Or sweeter. J says my bottom looks all the better for the few pounds I worked to put on before I started chemo. (Thank you, Dr. O, for telling me the words every woman wants to hear: "You're too thin." Now I get to work those pounds back off.)
Or nicer. Thank you, Nini Belle and Mama, for a lovely celebration dinner at Daniele Osteria! Why do we always wait for big stuff to celebrate? I think the Lederhuber Dirndln should celebrate the everyday stuff more often, and together!
Or tastier. When I went gluten-free, I was virtually despondent that, besides my daily bread and pasta, I had to give up Maggi, the "taste" behind nearly every dish in our home. It's like soy sauce in the Orient -- food just is NOT food without it. So I'd been seeing these ads for Bragg Liquid Aminos in my veg magazines, in some food blogs, and decided to buy some. Lo and behold, it tastes just like Maggi!! I was so excited!! About a food seasoning. See how little things truly make the world go round? And this prompted me to make my all-time favorite lunch today: spaghetti with ketchup, parmiggiano, and the secret ingredient....Bragg Liquid Aminos. I called my mom and told her about it while I was chowing my second plate. Hah, gluten-free gets easier and tastier all the time.
So, now that I'd finished off a package of pasta for lunch (OMG, did I really polish off the whole 12 ounce package myself??), I had to think of something for dinner. Leftovers, I guess: Baghali polo (dilled rice with baby limas), smoked salmon for J, yogurt, tomato salad, sliced avocados with lime and salt, and a little something for dessert. Been jonesing for something sweet, so I whipped up some vegan vanilla pudding -- the best. Topped it with some un-vegan dulce de leche and will serve it up with some fresh blackberries. Yum!! Life IS good!! And what tastes better than homemade vanilla pudding when you're going through hell??
Note: This pudding is delicious just as is, warm or cold. I also use it as the base for banana pudding or banana cream pie; add some grated dark chocolate for delicious chocolate pudding; flavor it with cardamom and a dash of rosewater; layer it with fresh orange caramel and/or raspberries; top it with mocha ganache; "unveganize" it by using butter and/or milk and/or cream....the variations are absolutely endless and I think I've tried most of them. Suggestions for some new variations? I'm game....
Vegan Vanilla Pudding (gluten free)
1/2 cup sugar
scant 1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch seasalt
2 cups soy milk (or your choice milk)
2 tablespoons coconut oil*
1 1/ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
2. Slowly whisk in the milk, dissolving any clumps.
3. With heat set to medium, stir until the pudding thickens.
4. Once it starts "bubbling," remove from heat and whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla.
5. Spoon it into little bowls, goblets, or whatever container you need for your dessert, or do as I do most often, eat it right out of the pan. Mm, enjoy :)
* Be sure to use only organic virgin, unrefined, coconut oil. The rest just tastes like oil.

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