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Banana Pudding Reminds Me Of Granny 

Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding reminds me of Granny. At each family gathering of our large extended family, Granny (my great-grandmother) would whip up a large pans of banana pudding. This happens to be one of my favorite desserts (next to King Cake and McKenzie's cinnamon rolls)! A few weeks ago a friend came by to watch a movie and sip on red wine. When she pulled out banana pudding from her bag I immediately thought of Granny and felt a tiny bit of New Orleans here with me in Chicago.

I have the fondest of memories growing up in my great-grandmother's house. That's right, she raised me! I didn't go to daycare or two-year old preschool. I grew up in a house with plenty of other grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We picked vegetables in the garden with Papa, sat around her kitchen table everyday for lunch with our grandparents, aunts and uncles, played outside in the yard and were yelled at my Uncle Medric (Granny's cranky old brother who lived next year). Have you seen the movie, "Grumpy Old Men"? Yes, that's exactly what it was like spending our days next door to Uncle Medric!

The best memories I have of Granny all go back to being in the kitchen. She made the best white beans, chicken stew and every other down home dish that you could think of. Her recipes were not fat free, but they were made with plenty of love. The only picture that I have of Granny in our house is proudly displayed on the side of our refrigerator as inspiration and a reminder that we all add a bit of love to our recipes. I have one of her aprons that I keep in my kitchen draw and hope that one day I can pass that along to a daughter or daughter-in-law who shares the same passion for bringing love to her family at the dinner table.

Here's the recipe for Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding that I made this weekend for my family. I hope it brings a little happiness to your table!

Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding

One 14-ounce can sweetend condensed milk

1 1/2 cups ice cold cater

One 3.4 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)

3 cups heavy cream

One 12-ounce box Nabisco Nilla Wafers (no substitutions)

4 cups sliced ripe bananas

In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5 quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping in necessary, the one-third of the bananas and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafers or wafer crumbs on the top layer of the pudding. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refirigerator for 4 hours - or up to 8 hours, but no longer! - before serving.

Serves 12-15


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