from the kitchen of RoseMary Diaz
My grandmother Saya was a potter from Santa Clara Pueblo. (“Saya” is a Tewa word referring to the eldest woman in the family; Mary Cain was her given name.) She was a SWAIA Indian Market Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and an honorary Kentucky Colonel. Her hands were strong and knew the clay well, having shaped hundreds of vessels over a lifetime that spanned nearly a century—a lifetime during which she rode in both a covered wagon from the pueblo to southern Colorado, on trails that skirted the soft, sandy banks of the Rio Grande, and on the Concorde from New York to Paris.
At Christmastime, in her warm, cedar-scented kitchen with its view that breathed in the white-tipped peaks to the east, where winter katsinas live, she set her hands to creating something of varying but equal value, which also kept us tied to tradition: her breadpudding.
Today Saya is present only in memory and spirit. But at Christmas, when I make this pudding, I can almost hear her gentle voice floating near me: “Eat plenty, my children, eat plenty…”
¾-1 loaf plain old white bread, lightly toasted and torn into small pieces (may also use gluten-free or any other kind of bread)
2 cups brown sugar
½ pound extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
½ pound raisins
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup water (may also use ½ cup water and ½ cup brandy)
Spray sides and bottom of a 2-quart Crock-Pot or casserole with cooking spray. In four equal parts, layer ingredients in order given. Pour water/brandy evenly over entire pudding. Cover Crock-Pot and cook at medium to high heat for 45 minutes, then turn heat to low, add a bit more water (about ½ a cup) and cook an additional 30-40 minutes. Or bake in casserole at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours, adding a bit more water about halfway through. To serve, invert Crock-Pot to remove pudding in one piece or scoop out of casserole.