When I was 5 years old my Grandma Bean came to live with us. She was a quiet woman. Tall. Quite slender by then, although I have seen pictures of when she was a rather large woman.
She taught me to find dandelion greens and make wilted greens. “They’re good for your blood,” she would tell me.
She made me creamed eggs once, which I absolutely hated as I recall. I told her I didn’t like eggs and milk together at all! But then, she made the most absolute wonderful thing from eggs and milk I had ever eaten.
I usually reserve making this until the fall of the year. And I love having it for Christmas breakfast. However, whenever I make it, I can almost feel my Grandma near. There is never a time when I smell the scent of nutmeg that I don’t first think of Grandma Bean.
She’s been gone 37 years now. And it only takes making this simple dish to bring her right back here with me.
Thank you, Grandma.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups milk, heated until very hot
Ground nutmeg or ground cinnamon for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to center position. Lightly butter (or use non-fat vegetable spray) six (6-ounce) custard cups and set them into a large baking dish. If cooking custards in a metal pan, cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of newspaper to ensure an even temperature on the bottom.
In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly; add sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until dissolved. Mix in hot milk until blended. Pour egg mixture into prepared custard cups. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon.
Bring the water for the water bath to a light simmer on top of the stove; carefully pour hot water into the baking pan to come half-way up the sides of the custard cups. [NOTE: The most common mistake people make in baking a custard is not putting enough water in the hot-water bath. The water should come up to the level of the custard inside the cups. You must protect your custard from the heat. Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the custard cups.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until set around the edges but still loose in the center. The cooking time will depend largely on the size of the custard cup you are using, but begin checking at 20 minutes and check back regularly. When the center of the custard is just set, it will jiggle a little when shaken, that's when you can remove it from the oven. Remove from oven and immediately remove cups from water bath; cool on wire rack until room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Makes 6 servings (depending on size of custard cups).