Springfield Woman Honors Her Swedish Great-Grandmother's Memory With Risgrynsgröt
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Christine Temple, of Springfield, shared her great-grandmother’s recipe for
Risgrynsgröt, a Swedish rice pudding in which the predominant flavor is cinnamon.
“My great-grandmother was born in Sweden and she came to the United States through Ellis Island in 1912 when she was 16 years old,” Temple said.
“My mom was pregnant with me when she passed away, so I never got to meet her,” Temple said.
To prepare the rice pudding, she begins by melting one tablespoon of butter in a Dutch oven. Then, she adds the rice and coats it in butter.
“And once you coat the rice with butter, then we're going to add one cup of water. I'm actually going to turn the heat down now to kind of let the water soak into the rice,” Temple said. She waits for the rice to absorb the water.
Her father, Scott Temple, is standing nearby.
“I'm enjoying the smells of Christmas picking up right now. ‘Mom Mom’ was very special to me. I gave her her name. She was Julia Johnson. But I called her ‘Mom Mom’ because she's my mom's mom,” he said.
“She was the only one that traveled. She came by herself at 16 years old. Went to Ellis Island. Met my grandfather in the Swedish American Club in the Bronx, New York City. And she had three sons and my mother, one girl,” he said.
All three sons served in World War Two, he said.
“Uncle Carl traveled across North Africa in the army. Uncle Hank was in the South Pacific. And Uncle Harold, who was in the Navy, whose ship was lost at sea. The amazing thing about Mom Mom—she said that two weeks before she got the telegram, she had a dream of her son, Harold, in the ocean crying out, ‘Mom! Mom!’ And that's part of our heritage,” Scott Temple said.
He said he asked his grandmother once why she made the arduous journey to America. She simply said she did it because she “wanted a better life.”
Christine went to Ellis Island, where she saw her great-grandmother’s name etched in the wall.
“I thought about how brave she must have been to, at 16, move to a totally different country where she didn't know the language and didn't have anyone here. So making her recipes does connect me with her,” Christine Temple said.
Once the water has absorbed into the rice, she adds add four cups of milk, a tablespoon of butter and half a teaspoon of salt. She throws in two cinnamon sticks and brings the heat back up, stirring it occasionally for 30 or 35 minutes as it thickens.
A promise of good things to come
“My mom would put a blanched almond in the Risgrynsgröt recipe. So it's blanched, so you can't see it, obviously. So then, you know, you spoon out the Risgrynsgröt and whoever gets the almond is said to be the next person that's going to marry in the family,” Temple said.
Early in her relationship with her now-husband, Ryon, the family was enjoying the traditional dish.
“And of course, he got the blanched almond,” she said, adding that it appeared to be a good “Swedish stamp of approval.”
After the rice has thickened further from absorbing the milk, she adds a can of sweetened condensed milk.
The thick, creamy, steaming hot pudding is served in small bowls.
“And then of course, you have to put the cinnamon sugar on top,” she said.
“I imagine my great-grandmother making this in probably a very similar way that I am right now, probably on a gas stove like this and probably in a pot and stirring it and waiting. There's just there's a lot of memories, I think, that I don't even have that I can create in my mind when I make her recipes,” Temple said.
Recipe for Risgrynsgrot
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of butter (separated), 1 cup rice, 4 cups milk, 1 cup water, one half teaspoon salt, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and cinnamon sugar for topping. Traditionally served with an almond.
Begin by melting one tablespoon of butter in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. Add the rice and coat in butter. Add one cup of water, then lower the heat and let the water evaporate, stirring occasionally. Add milk, second tablespoon of butter, salt, and cinnamon sticks. Cook uncovered on low heat, stirring for 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and add a can of sweetened condensed milk. Serve hot in small bowls, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and milk (optional).