THE RECIPE BOX - Greek rice pudding is a traditional family favorite

THE RECIPE BOX - Greek rice pudding is a traditional family favorite

CUMBERLAND - They've fasted for 40 days - no dairy, meat, eggs or any fish that has blood, only shellfish is allowed. May 8, according to the Julian calendar, was Easter for the Greek Orthodox Church and the celebration of Christ risen, began.

Anastasia Kaufman, her husband Brian, daughter and son, traveled to their church in Mansfield, Mass., at around 11 p.m., for the Easter celebration. It's a tradition Anastasia has had in her life since she was a baby, Brian converted since their marriage and is quite involved in their church as well.

"I think it's totally strengthened us as a family," said Anastasia. She described what seems like a beautiful service where the priest comes out in a white robe with a large candle that he'll use to light all the parishioners' candles in the church. This is after a period of hymns, and chanting. "We receive the light," Anastasia said. It's a symbol of the risen Christ. It's called "phos" the word for light.

Once the candles are lit, a procession takes place around the outside of the church. The liturgy takes about two hours, children can sometimes be seen sleeping in the pews and the aroma of myrrh fills the church.

Because Christ has risen their fasting will end. "When the bridegroom is with us you don't fast," Brian said. When the service is over, a feast takes place downstairs in the church. "We're usually too exhausted to eat, but we do," said Anastasia.

One thing she is asked to make, is her Greek Rizogalo (Ri-Zho-Gha-Loh) which is Greek rice pudding, a straightforward simple dish. Her recipe came from her mother's husband, her step dad Elefteriuos, known as "Lefty." He owned Kip's Diner in Pawtucket on Newport Avenue and he served this favorite to his customers.

Said Anastasia, "My YaaYaa (grandma) made a Greek rice pudding in water but Lefty uses whole milk." Her mother, Irene, is an extremely good cook and Anastasia was brought up with the Greek traditions and foods, she shared. People often ask her for this recipe so she chose to share it with The Breeze. She loves cooking, especially baking, and enjoys entertaining as much.

Once the feast of Easter is over, the families will drive home with their lit candle - yes lit candles - and make the sign of the cross in soot over their entryway when they get home. "All of these traditions build values, they are always there and they keep you strong," said Anastasia.

As for the Rizogalo, it is a versatile dish you can serve warm or cold and with homemade whipped cream for a real treat. "I serve it to Miles ( her 9-year-old son) for breakfast," she said.

Rhonda's Note: Happy Mother's Day to all who nurture and teach. Don't forget to acknowledge your mom this week for Mother's Day. Who has done more for you in your lifetime? Treat her special and tell her you love her.


Rizogalo: Rice Pudding

(Greek Style)

Ingredients:

1/2 gallon whole milk

1 cup rice (River brand)

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

cinnamon

Directions:

1. Boil together rice and milk and stir constantly for about 45 minutes on stovetop.

2. Beat 2 eggs and 1 cup sugar and temper this into the milk/rice mixture. (Temper: mix some of the egg/sugar mixture with a little of the hot milk then add it to the hot saucepan gradually.) Lightly bring to a low boil for 1 minute.

3. Remove pan from heat and add vanilla.

4. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch glass pan and let cool.

5. Sprinkle with cinnamon and refrigerate. Enjoy!