Does anyone else feel like this is the summer of Steve Miller? Not the Steve Miller Band that currently tours at casinos and has a website on the new-fangled internets, but the old Steve Miller Band whose hits enjoyed their heydays before I was alive and cognizant.
Shut up. I know I wasn’t the only one obsessed with Steve Miller in high school.
In fact, I know I wasn’t the only kid listening to the Steve Miller Band when I was 17, because my husband and I both happened to attend the same Steve Miller concert at the Oregon State Fair a good decade before we met each other. My dad brought me to the show, and I remember thinking it was so cool and way better than the Moody Blues.
Here’s the thing. Their music is tied up with a whole ball of memories and a formative swath of my life, so I can’t separate it from those recollections. Is “Take the Money and Run” the best driving song ever, or did that CD just play on repeat in my truck as soon as I got my driver’s license?
“Dance Dance Dance” abruptly hauls my brain back to my parents’ kitchen, learning to cook on warm summer evenings while the song, the food, and the lights held off the black night outside the screen doors. My friend and I walked along the river, planned our lives from the bench seat of my truck, and spent whole nights drinking coffee and sharing one order of jalapeño poppers at the 24 hour restaurant during our school vacation. “Rock ‘N Me” means summer in a small town.
Even though Steve Miller hasn’t entered my playlist in many years, those songs have been buzzing around my ears for the past couple of weeks. There’s a restless expectation, a thrill, and there’s me, fiercely trying to throw my arms around the summer and love it so hard before the next thing begins.
Try this Coconut Rice Pudding With Mango. The tropical flavors in a familiar format will make you feel like a small town teenager, embracing summer with all your might because the fall (and change) will inevitably follow. Crank up the Steve Miller Band, drink your favorite before-it-was-legal beverage, and spoon up some rice pudding. Oh man, rum and coke, “Wild Mountain Honey,” and windows shut so the neighbors can’t hear. I’m pretty sure Steve Miller must be awesome, but I can’t really tell.
P.S. This recipe was born out of frustration because sticky rice with mango is such a pain to make. Instead, this is a relatively easy process that mimics those flavors.
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 can light coconut milk
Enough milk to make 1 quart when added to the coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup short-grain white rice
1 large or 2 smaller mangoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Pour the coconut milk into a large liquid measuring cup, then add regular milk until you reach 1 quart total. Add the milks, sugar, salt, and coconut flakes to a medium saucepan and cover. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. As soon as the milk simmers, stir in the rice. Bring back to a low simmer, then reduce heat to low.
Cook for 30 minutes, covered, stirring frequently. I use my smallest burner because I don’t want the mixture to spill over. Remove the lid and let the pudding sit for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with mango chunks. Refrigerate the leftovers, which are also lovely cold.