Holiday do-ahead gift: chocolate pudding mix

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Disclaimer: No one likes holiday creep. Thanksgiving has no right to be hanging around in October. And Christmas, don’t get me started. Eggnog at the supermarket before Thanksgiving? Wrong. Boxes of peppermint sandwich cookies? Oh so tempting, but oh so wrong in October. Holiday creep is to the December holidays what DVDs were to The Wizard of Oz. Watching The Wizard of Oz used to be special because it was only on once a year. Now that you can watch it any time, it’s still a classic but it’s not an event. So while posting a holiday-do ahead gift recipe might feel a little bit like holiday creep, this is shelf-stable and mixing it up now will give you a little breathing room later.

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Cecily Brownstone's Associated press CookbookCecily Brownstone is not exactly a household name now. But for 39 years, she was a syndicated columnist and the food editor at the Associated Press (from 1947 to 1986). She was the cooking equivalent of Dear Abby, a household name that provided recipes and cooking information. Influential cooks James Beard and the Joy of Cooking authors were among her friends. She was a titan in the cooking world for most of her life. Which makes one wonder why she is so little known now.

In one of her published weekly columns, reader Quick Cook asked for an chocolate pudding recipe she could make up in a flash. Ms. Brownstone provided her with this recipe for a homemade instant pudding mix.

Times may have changed, but it’s hard to imagine a world where your friends and family wouldn’t flap their flippers over a gift of instant chocolate pudding mix. Just add mason jar, bow and snazzy label with directions. To really dial it up, add vintage pudding or parfait glasses.

(You also get a bonus salad dressing recipe, but not one you can make and store for months.)

Cecily Brownstone's chocolate pudding recipe

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