How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups of the whole milk with the water and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice grits and a pinch of salt and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until the rice is tender and pudding-like, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Cover the saucepan and remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, combine the black tea, cinnamon stick pieces, crushed cardamom and the remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat until the mixture is syrupy, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk and simmer 5 minutes longer. Strain the sweet milk tea.
Put the pecans in a pie plate and bake for about 8 minutes, until toasted. Let the nuts cool, then coarsely chop them.
In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the diced squash and cook over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir in the diced apple and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and apple are just tender, about 3 minutes longer.
Reheat the rice pudding until it is very warm. If it is too thick, thin it with whole milk, about 1/4 cup at a time. Spoon the rice pudding into small bowls and pour the sweet milk tea on top. Spoon the squash, apples and pecans onto the pudding and serve.
Rice grits are available online from ansonmills.com.