Cooking With Myra: Rice pudding makes delicious ending to any meal

By Myra Starkey
Jan. 14, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 13, 2014 at 7:14 p.m.

Rice pudding with clementines

Rice pudding with clementines

"This is a bright new day, complete with 24 hours of opportunities, choices and attitudes. It is a perfectly matched set of 1,440 minutes. This unique gift, this one day, cannot be exchanged, replaced or refunded. Handle with care. Make the most of it. There is only one to a customer."

I was looking through a stack of catalogues that was in the discard pile by the mail. In one of them a sign or plaque was for sale, and it had this saying on it. It caught my eye.

It reminded me that I have 1,440 minutes in each 24-hour day. For some reason, this fact surprised me. I can do simple math. When I went to school, we had to learn it because they had not yet invented portable calculators.

Maybe I just never stopped to consider the time I have at my disposal each day to be used well or wasted. I need to sleep about eight hours to feel well rested, so in reality I have about 960 minutes to spend. Regardless, there never seems to be enough time.

Most days, I run around trying to accomplish too many things in the 480 minutes at my job. The minutes before I leave for work are spent with Taylor eating breakfast, drinking a cafe latte and getting ready for the day. Then, I drive the seven minutes to my workplace and start my day. There, the minutes fly past me.

Before I have finished my day, nearly 500 minutes have been gobbled up by talking on the phone, completing paperwork, managing personnel issues and gazing into my computer screen. These minutes are not generally wasted because my job as a clinic manager is fairly demanding.

Hopefully, the time is well spent helping patients get the care they need or assisting employees with their tasks when they could use an extra set of hands. I sometimes, leave the clinic wishing for more minutes in my day, so I could sort through the stacks of junk on my desk. Still, I doubt I would ever totally catch up.

I am not alone with this overwhelming feeling of not getting everything finished. Many of my friends share this feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to get it done.

But I wonder if the problem is that I try to put too much in my day. This concept of slowing down has been introduced to me more than once by my husband, Taylor, but I persist in the frenzy of busyness figuring that eventually I will catch up.

Last weekend, I did get a chance to rest. Patti and Randy, the in-laws of our daughter, Hannah, came to visit us in Rockport, and we all spent the weekend together eating, shopping, doing outdoor activities and resting. We have been with them fairly often over the last five years since our children fell in love and married. They are like family, which makes hosting them very easy.

We spent Saturday out on the boat because it was fairly warm, and there was little wind to stir up the waves. Our plan was not to fish but to simply enjoy the scenery and look for dolphins. These marine mammals are not afraid of humans and are somewhat curious, so if they are slowly approached in a boat, they are fairly easy to observe.

The water was so clear we could see them as they swirled along and under our craft before jumping or rolling on the surface of the bay. The dolphins got so close that it seemed like they were looking at us and smiling.

As we rode around for a couple of hours, I could feel my body relax and my mind clear of the things I needed to accomplish. I was simply enjoying the moment with friends. Laughter came easily, and the minutes slowed down as we enjoyed the nature and beauty around us.

Having some time to slow down and relax allowed me to think about what is important in life. Allowing ourselves time to sleep, we each still have about 1,000 waking minutes every day to use. It is what we do with this time that counts. We can fill those moments with television, surfing the Web or other mindless pursuits, or we can savor them, knowing that once they are used, they are gone forever.

We can spend them on being kind to those who are put in our path. We can be diligent in our work although I know there is more to life than just chasing after more money. We can invest them in friends and family or waste them on ourselves.

At the end of the day, the minutes are gone. It is not about just making it through the day but rather making the most of each day. I'll likely have another day tomorrow, but I don't want to take this one for granted.

I grew up eating rice pudding. Being from Louisiana, where rice is generally served with every meal, southern mothers get creative with the holy grain. On a recent trip to South Carolina, I ordered rice pudding for dessert and was delighted when it was served with Clementines, or baby oranges, as we called them when we were kids.

It's the new year, so dessert is probably not allowed in your diet. If your resolution was simply to enjoy each moment, a small ramekin of the pudding makes a delicious end to any meal.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email



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