German Rice Pudding

German Milchreis. That's the word for German Rice Pudding. It's sweet rice with milk and cinnamon and dried fruit, and often was served to the kiddos in Germany as a main dish. I grew up with a German Meme who baked non-stop all day long (except for the hour break she took at noon to watch her 'stories'), and this was one of the dishes I remember her making the most. Except we called it that sweet rice dish with raisins...as in, Meme, can you make some of that rice that has the cinnamon and raisins in it? That stuff is gooooooooooood (we stayed summers with my Meme when we were wee little tykes).

She made this rice dish as a way of using up any rice leftovers from the week. The German settler in her wouldn't let her throw anything out. She always topped it with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. Her cinnamon came from a special ceramic cinnamon jar. I think my love for cinnamon was born in her kitchen, and I still use her cinnamon jar to keep my beloved cinnamon in. It's one of the few keepsakes of hers I have and it holds memories I will forever treasure. I always double the amount of cinnamon called for in any recipe. I'm happy to say my two girls have the same affection for it. They like cinnamon sprinkled on their peaches, topped on blueberry muffins, in their ginger cookies, in their oatmeal, in their pancakes and waffles, and now, on their Milchreis.

One regret we have in our family is noone ever asked my Meme to write down her famous sweet German rice recipe. She always just threw it together from memory; like she was born with the recipe in her head. My father tried for years to reproduce it and could never quite get the consistency right. I've decided it doesn't matter exactly what her recipe was; what matters is the tradition of making it.

So I picked a recipe, altered it a bit and gave it a shot today. I'm sure you can google and finds lots more, but here's the recipe I used. This one is vegan and easy and made the house smell divine. Some traditions are worth passing down, even if changed just a bit.

Slow Cooker Rice Pudding with Raisins
1 T Earth Balance or soy butter
2 1/2 cups cooked brown or white rice
1 1/2 cups soy, almond, hemp or rice milk (I used rice, but any of these will do)
1/2 cup brown sugar (or natural sweetener of choice)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/3 - 1/2 cup raisins (depending on how much you LOVE raisins)

Combine all in the slow cooker. Stirring to mix. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Stir at least once every hour to keep from sticking. I like mine to be like the consistency of oatmeal. Add more milk if you like it creamier. Can serve warm or cold, with toasted almonds or another sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Enjoy!

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