On Mamaw’s Heavenly Rice

While Frankie & I were enjoying our time in Buffalo, we decided to have an early Thanksgiving because my mom decided that, especially this year, if you can’t celebrate with everyone on the day, who cares? Pick a day that works for all, and call it Thanksgiving since being with family and expressing your gratitude for them in your life is really the whole point of the holiday anyway, so that’s what we did! Of course, we’ll be back in Chicago for the actual day of Thanks, but for the early Thanksgiving go around, my mom made a dish from my beloved Mamaw. This will mark the first Thanksgiving without both of my grandparents, and while that makes the celebration a little bittersweet, it doesn’t detract from the gratitude we all had for the time we got to share with them. SO! As I wipe my eyes because I’m a sentimental marshmallow (it truly doesn’t take a lot to get my waterworks going) I’m thrilled to share my Mamaw’s annual tradition of serving Heavenly Rice.

They say sugar, spice, and everything nice is what we lady folk are made of (though I think some hair of the dog got mixed into me since I’m always finding fur on my person at all hours of the day), but that’s actually true for my Mamaw. She loved, and I do mean LOVED, anything sugary, and frankly was likely made of sugar herself. Sweet to a tee, a pinch of sass, and just the nicest woman in the world…literally. I mean, you may come back at me and say, no my grandma was the sweetest person in the world, yeah no, sit down before you hurt yourself. My Mamaw WAS the sweetest person in the world. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body, had a prayer list longer than me that she recited nightly without fail for ANYONE who needed it, and could never say a mean thing about anyone. And I’m not kidding either. I’d vent to her about one thing or another, and without fail she would find something nice for me to say or think…so this dish is a quintessential Mamaw dish because it’s basically all that she was in a bowl.

Heavenly Rice, or as many of you in the Midwest/Minnesota region may know it as “Glorified Rice,” is basically a summer kind of salad that originated in Scandinavian immigrant communities. While my family is actually Welsh, this is a recipe that my Mamaw grew up with (think Depression-era) and had a larger following in the 1950s. Now, this may at first glance look like the worst dessert ever, it really isn’t – it’s not as cloyingly sweet as you might think, and it’s a little reminiscent of a tapioca pudding texturewise. I know this recipe won’t be a winner for everyone, but I hope you do give it a try (the old don’t knock it till you try it)!!

Hoping all of you reading this are staying safe and well! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

— Cooking Maggie

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