Our friends, Luis and Keiko are visiting her family in Japan. Thankfully, they are in the south and not in the north where most of the devastation took place. Sachiko emailed and told me that she and her family are okay, and she is holding her head high. As for my little friend, Nakita . . . well, I have not heard back from her yet.
Somehow, it's hard to breezily tell you all about arroz con leche as if nothing has happened. In a few days it will be the first day of spring. I will sit in my little peaceful corner with this bowl of comfort and I will pray for my friends. I pray that Luis and Keiko, Sachiko and Nakita and their families feel soft cool breezes and rays of bright sunshine. May they tend to their azaleas and enjoy good food and drink pure water. I wish them sakura—sweet cherry blossoms—and a life filled with indescribable beauty, the kind I found when I visited their country.
Arroz con leche
Mexican Style Rice Pudding with Tequila Soaked Raisins
I used medium grain rice by mistake. Your arroz con leche will look slightly different. If you prefer not to add canned evaporated milk, replace it by using your own homemade version by simmering 3 cups of milk in an uncovered medium sized saucepan until it is reduced by half.
Ingredients:3 cups water
1 ½ cups long grain rice
1 big fat stick of cinnamon
a 2 ½ inch strip of lemon peel. Remove the white pith.
a pinch of salt
up to 1 ½ cups of sugar, brown sugar, piloncillo or any kind of sugar you prefer
1 can of evaporated milk (12 fluid ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla 1/3 cup of dark raisins, or more to taste (optional)
¼ cup or more of tequila, brandy, or rum (optional)
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the tequila.
In a covered medium sized saucepan, bring the water and the cinnamon stick to a boil. Turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes to an hour to bring out the full flavor of the cinnamon stick.
Bring the cinnamon water to a boil. Add the rice, lemon peel strip and the salt. Cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
Add the evaporated milk and the sugar to taste and stir until well blended. Add the raisins and the rest of the tequila if you want. When it is heated through, turn off the heat. The rice will continue to thicken on its own.
If you want to thin it a bit, just add more milk.
Serves about 6 to 8 people.