This is a story about triumphing over adversity. Sorry to give it away, but there’s a happy ending.
The tale begins at work, where I’m a receptionist for approximately (exactly) 20 hours and 40 minutes a week. What do receptionists do? They talk. They say the same things over and over. ”Hi, how’s your morning so far?” ”Please fill out the front side of this paper.” ”Do you need to schedule a follow-up appointment?”
I can do that. Usually. Some days, though, I stumble over every phrase. Is it that hard to enquire about someone’s day? For me, apparently it is. I find myself saying phrases like, “I hope your day, the rest of your day, have a good afternoon, evening!” ”Good morning, how’s your morning? Going? Today?” ”Happy, um, afternoon!”
Other days, I try too hard. I want every client to know how much I care about the status of their day, how it brightens my own day to see their face, how pretty their shirt looks with their eyes, and how clever and funny they are. These are the days of emphasis. I laugh too loud at their minor jokes and nod too deeply in sympathy for their stories.
This is true. Earlier this week, a client said, “Is it ok if I pop back to the restroom before my appointment?” To which I replied, “Yeah, oh yeah!” like she’d spouted out the best idea of the century. Too much emphasis. I need to simplify.
After one of my especially emphatic days on the job, I came home and wanted blondies. Real bad. We were out of eggs, but I needed some simple chocolate comfort to ease my embarrassment. This is the triumphing over adversity part. Our fridge was egg-less but contained an entire gallon of milk. Rice Pudding with Chocolate Chunks happened.
The rice pudding is simple enough–barely sweet and only dressed up with vanilla bean, which makes it the perfect canvas for add-ins. In this case, as in most cases, the only add-ins I need are chocolate chunks. When you toss them on top of a warm bowl of rice pudding, they melt just right. Comfort food for my emphatic days.
Rice Pudding with Chocolate Chunks (rice pudding recipe adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini)
Yield: four servings (or more, depending on size)
1 quart milk (I used skim and I’m cool with that)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
3/4 cup short-grain white rice (I used one that’s similar to arborio and the texture was fantastic)
1 cup chopped chocolate (I like milk chocolate, but dark would also be wonderful)
Add the milk, sugar, salt, vanilla bean and its seeds 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 medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes, covered, stirring frequently. Remove the lid. If you plan to serve this later, remove from heat and let the pudding cool in the pan, then refrigerate. If you’re serving it immediately, continue to cook uncovered until the liquid is absorbed to your liking, perhaps another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Serve topped with chopped chocolate. Jam would also be nice.