A Stirring Experience

Above views out our windows after a light dusting of snow.

Mucky out today, so I promised David I would make ‘Mom’s Banana Pudding. My Mom made this simple recipe for any sick child who needed it.  Although sugar was rationed, we had our own cow and chickens when we lived in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina in the 1940s, so you can imagine the pudding was especially tasty and made the sick bed, where I spent too much time as a child, a better place.

Mom was a farm girl and it was she who nurtured the cow and raised the chickens as had her female ancestors for centuries.  I have located the immigration records for each of her four grandparents who left the Netherlands as children in the mid-nineteenth century to settle in Holland Michigan, later Grand Rapids. The Dutch government kept track of these emigrants and their descendants for several decades, so I have double the records in many cases.

Cousin Ankie writes that some of her ancestors left Zeeland because they were starving.  Those familiar with Van Gogh’s early paintings of the ‘Potato Eaters’ may realize the severe poverty that existed following the 1/ Napoleonic  war and occupation, and 2/ mid-nineteenth century potato famine that hit the Netherlands as hard as it hit Ireland.  (In fact, the famine affected much of Northern Europe.)

Records I found on my Dad’s tree (British descent Americans) indicate that midcentury, a year without summer affected New England as well.

The Dutch peasants who left the Netherlands sailed to South Africa where they were known as Boers by the British, as well as the United States and places in the East such as Timor where they settled and mixed with indigenous people.  Michael Ondaatje, the “Canadian” author of The English Patient, is an extraction from this period, having originally come from Ceylon (Sri Lanka).


Okay, David has walked through the living room five times now, so I better get onto that pudding.

22 thoughts on “A Stirring Experience

  1. OK… I had to go back and re-read this twice, because the first two times through, all I could think about was banana pudding … And thank you for the recipe which I see in your comment above. I did enjoy the historical info (eventually). It is so interesting how the Netherlands government kept track of their emigrees for so long. I wonder why they did that?

    I spent a lot of childhood days and weeks in the sickroom too… Apparently it strengthened me somehow because I’ve been a disgustingly healthy adult. Remember the RLS poem from Child’s Garden of Verses called “the Land of Counterpane”? I have a clear memory of my mother reading that to me when I had measles and couldn’t come out of my dark bedroom for days. She told me to play by myself the way this author did and stop ringing the sickroom bell just because I was lonesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can identify with everything you write, although I didn’t know what a counterpane was until I became an adult, or why when he went to bed in winter the stars hung overhead, whereas in summer he went to bed by daylight. Measles, both kinds, Chicken Pox, Mumps….those where the days!! Innoculations saved my kids from all that, and Polio, which a cousin had and why Mom made us take naps.

      RLS lived in Hawaii for a while and I seem to recall visiting the place where he lived. Loved all his stories, especially ‘Treasure Island.’ Pirates and Parrrots rock!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Both my mother and mother-in-law made scrumptious banana pudding. I, however, was more into cakes until Husband and I moved and changed jobs.He got home hungry and 2 hours earlier than I did. He started cooking. He was better at it and enjoyed cooking. From then on, I have cooked only occasionally, and now we are both watching our weight. and banana pudding is not on the menu, Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds delicious. My mother made homemade tapioca pudding for the homebound sick. I still remember how it smelled and tasted (or at least I think I do) not at all like the commercial stuff, much better. I’ll have to try your pudding recipe. thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The famous years without summer in the northern hemisphere were in 1816 due to the eruption of Tambora and again in 1883 due to Krakatoa. Some of my ancestors came to these shores as well, circa 1850, not for the weather, but as you suggest, due to paucity of potatoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the dates Tom, I think European wars caused much of the poverty. France and Germany as well as England rolled over the Netherlands with impunity.

      Some of my ancestors came on ships carrying the Irish both before and after the Civil War (the ships stopped in Ireland to load more people into steerage). Wouldn’t it be intersting if some of our relatives sailed on the same ship?

      My recollection is that the Irish migration occurred over several decades, as did the migration from the Netherlands.


  5. Have you read Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes,” a memoir of his childhood and adolescence in Ireland? It won the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a movie. Your post reminds me of that book.
    Maybe, you would like to share your recipe and post a photo of the results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I read ‘Angela’s Ashes.’ I thought it was awful and McCourt’s mother and one of his siblings disavowed the recollection.

      The recipe is simple: 2 cuos of 1% milk, 3 egg yolks, 2 T flour, 3/4 cup sugar (I use Splenda), salt and vanilla to taste. Mix the eggs with milk and stir into the flour/ sugar/salt mix. Add the vanilla after you remove the pot from the stove. Pour over 2 bananas sliced into four custard size bowls. I use a double boiler and cook until the pudding is thickened. I alter the amounts depending on how many servings I want to make.


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