My oldest son was recently scheduled for a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy - it was time to take care of his sleep apnea, and maybe even eliminate the need for speech therapy and chewing with his mouth open (we are still waiting to see results on the latter two). It was very difficult to leave my child in the hands of virtual strangers and to watch him being wheeled away into surgery, even one that is commonplace. I wondered if we were doing the right thing, if everything was going well, and why I hadn't had another cup of coffee before leaving the house at 6am.
Thankfully all went well, and he did great, however he had complained of a sore stomach early in the morning, which I attributed to nerves. Unfortunately it was the flu, which hit both my boys, and was a miserable set back to recovery.
I tried to make the mandatory soft diet interesting and varied, but despite my best efforts he had no appetite and no interest in trying to eat anything, not even this rich, creamy banana pudding, or the soft, sweet pineapple upside down cake drenched in whipped cream. Thankfully he kept his fluids up, and as soon as he was able to eat solid food, his first request was for Eureka Pizza - sausage, light sauce, extra cheese.
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
3 cups milk
8 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups vanilla wafers
4 ripe bananas, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Heat oven to 350F. In a large saucepan, combine 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt, stir until blended. Mix in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and boiling, boil 1 minute, then remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, then whisk in about 1/2 cup of hot custard until blended. Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan of custard, cook over medium heat, stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla until blended.
Place vanilla wafers on bottom of a shallow 2 quart casserole dish. Top with layers of banana slices and custard. Repeat layering, ending with custard.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar at low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar, increase speed to medium and gradually beat in remaining sugar. Beat until egg whites hold stiff peaks.
Spoon meringue over hot custard immediately, making sure that the meringue touches the baking dish on all sides (this prevents it from shrinking).
Transfer to oven and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove pudding from oven and cool 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, October 2004
QUICK PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple slices, drained
1 (18 ounce) package yellow cake mix
Heat oven to 350F.
Melt butter in an oven safe skillet. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over butter in the bottom of the skillet. Arrange 7 pineapple slices over brown sugar.
Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter over pineapple. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove cake and invert onto a large plate.
Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2013