If Rilke Made Rice Pudding

Becoming a writer is one thing (see Christine Marie Attardo’s fantastic blog for inspiration on becoming a creative human being). Trying and waiting to get published is something else – extremely distracting from, while being inextricably dependent on, the first thing.

Ever read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go? It’s a traditional graduation gift, I never usually make it beyond page 5, but after having recently read the book in its entirety, I suddenly noticed an eerie inner resemblance to the zombie-like characters in The Waiting Place. Waiting to hear back from editors about manuscript submissions can be a long linger of checking email, pacing floorboards, sitting by the phone with a “happy meal” (a feast of stupor-sized with a side of bleary-eyed). It blocks brainstorming and all the creative channels – nothing comfortable about it. Yet I’m wondering now, after returning to my Rilke, if this is a part of my comfort zone – to linger in a place, laden with inertia, not expecting much of myself, and not being surprised when others don’t expect much either.

So it’s time to make that heroic Seussical jump-from-the-slump and say, “NO! That’s not for you!” – walk right out of The Waiting Place and continue in accordance with this necessity – I must write. It is especially for those times when I’m slumped and stuck that I need to dig into the depths of my own creative reserve. Comfort zone can be cozy, to be sure, but it can also be stagnant and stale and confining.

And speaking of getting out of one’s comfort zone, I decided it was time to try rice pudding again, as a good-faith culinary gesture of my new resolve. Anne taught me to make sütlaç over twenty years ago, but I allowed my early attempts, which all ended in gooey disaster, to keep me confined to my culinary comfort zone of easier dishes. Happy to report, I tried it last weekend and found the strength of ten-grinches-plus-two! (or it was just the sugar rush…)


  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup broken rice, kΙrΙk pirinç
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ rice flour
  • 2 tbspns corn starch
  • 1 tbspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt


  1. Bring to a boil 1 cup of water and ½ cup of rice, cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed, ~20-25 minutes (this step can be done in advance and put into refrigerator overnight)
  2. To the cooked rice, add milk, sugar, salt, bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring frequently
  3. Add vanilla extract
  4. In a separate bowl, mix ¼ cup water, warmed, rice flour, cornstarch; add to rice and milk mix
  5. Continue to simmer and stir frequently for about ~20-25 minutes, until it starts to thicken
  6. Pour into dishes (oven-safe dishes, if you want to broil the tops of the pudding, which makes for fun fΙrΙn sütlaç!), cool in refrigerator

broken rice, kΙrΙk pirinç

Pizzelle per Natale

Today is the Festa di Santa Lucia…and, now brace yourselves, I’m certainly still in a bit of shock:  my Turkish husband is actually comprised of almost 35% Italian ancestry. He spit into one of those test tubes, sent it to an ancestry.com DNA lab, and…BAM! Seventeen years later, like something out of a fable from the Roman poet, Phaedrus:  things are not what they seem! (Of course, thankfully no one’s rolling in flour, awaiting a tragic ending…but perhaps that’s for the eighteenth year of marriage…).

The best way to embrace this unexpected curve is to insert un po’ d’italiano into the blog today, turning temporarily from Turkish food to nibble one of my family’s per natale traditions: pizzelle making.

Combining my insatiable appetite for cookies and my intense love affair with rum, these rum-and-orange-flavored pizzelle are a delicious variation from the anise mainstay – and Santa’s quite fond of them, too.


  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar (I usually do ½ cup raw, ¼ cup white)
  • ½ cup melted butter, cooled
  • ¼ cup rum!
  • 2 tbspns orange juice
  • 1 tbpsn vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fiori di sicilia extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1 tbspn orange zest (lemon can be substituted)
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbpsns baking powder
  • ½ cup milk for thinning, as needed only


  1. Beat eggs and sugar
  2. Slowly add cooled melted butter
  3. Add rum, extracts, and zest
  4. Add sifted flour and baking powder
  5. Batter should be gooey but should drop easily on to maker, pizzelle should be light and crispy; thin with milk as needed and bake according to your specific pizzelle-maker instructions
  6. Cool on wire racks, dust with powdered sugar for fun!

I am fortunate to have a sister who would stop at nothing to make me happy, so I have a painstakingly acquired “vintage” cookie jar (a story for another time…) that perfectly fits ~5″ pizzelle rounds. But tupperware works well, too, and these keep beautifully for a month…even longer…by the time you take your Christmas tree down…in late February…