Rice Pudding for Practical Dietetics

vintage cartoon about wearing suspenders

In Practical Dietetics: With Reference to Diet in Disease (1905), Alida Frances Pattee provides instruction for those entrusted with feeding men and women afflicted with various “acute diseases.” “The nurse,” she writes, “has a far better opportunity than the physician to judge of all the conditions of the patient’s digestion, and his likes and dislike for different foods.” In Practical Dietetics, she offers an impressive collection of recipes, many of which appeared on the daily menu for patients at Massachusetts’s General Hospital.

The most common dish in Pattee’s book is, in one variation or another, rice pudding. She suggests that the nurse boil the rice “steadily all day until it becomes a jelly.” “No cereal cooked in a double boiler,” she continues, “is ever over done.”

Whether rice pudding can ever be over done is certainly debatable, but Pattee’s advice to serve all such grain puddings with fruit is a welcome recommendation.

Rice Pudding

1 cup steamed rice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup scalded milk
1/2 saltspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup stoned raisins
1 egg

Scald milk and add butter. Beat egg, add sugar and salt and pour on slowly the scalding milk. Put in pudding dish with rice and raisins. Put bits of butter on top and bake in a moderate oven until custard is set. Serve with Hard Sauce.

Note.—Do not use raisins in case of bowel trouble.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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