A Great Winter Porridge Recipe

December 4, 2014

To be clear, this was our fourth move in one year; from Berkeley into storage then to Portland. From Portland – and from storage- into moving pods. From moving pods to Boulder, and then from our little rental four doors down to a place all of our own.  Through all this, we’ve cultivated an intimate understanding of the exact weight, heft, and spacial requirements of all of our belongings, and just how much emotional, physical and psychological energy it takes for us to situate them. The more we come to understand this, the more we strive to cut this “heft” and edit the contents of the space we live in. And all of that is quite satisfying. Less satisfying is the inherent nature of little inconveniences everyone experiences in moving belongings, packing up and reorganizing life, and the way that – even though we’re trying to reduce our general economy – these inconveniences are magnified with each move. I’m pretty over buying more hangers. Of digging through suitcases to find my underwear. Of measuring, pondering, and executing the organization of closets. Of waiting for the cable guy, or the installer guy, or having to make the phone call when they don’t show, do their work improperly, and generally of things not running smooth as effing silk.

I should have known (even without some wise sage pushing the point) that when the place is YOURS you care that much more about how smoothly it all goes down. That no matter how hard we tried, moving into this new place couldn’t be easy-peasy because we would notice the road bumps that much more. Because we care about the vehicle we’re driving – the journey we’re on. Everywhere we look in our new little place, we see something we want to fix, little projects we need to tackle, and little investments of time and sweat equity that we want to make now to settle in our own little nest. Between the lines, you might be reading that those magnified inconveniences nearly swallowed me up this week. Nearly being the operative word.

Uncooked Porridge

Almost Porridge

I’m taking deep breaths, and its all coming together. I may have wandered around the house singing profanities when the range was malfunctioning and the we couldn’t cook or bake those first few nights in the house – because making dinner your first night in your new place is the BEST way to make a place your own right?! We managed to pull something together with our rice cooker and the grill. We may be endurance athletes, but when it comes to decisions on life and what’s next we’ve enjoyed the luxury/curse of living in this moment now, without much concern for the long road. As we’re settling in, I’m finding myself pretty stoked to see the road now – stretching out in front of me. I feel more able to appreciate the little things; the way the cookbooks look all organized (and color coded, ahem) above the cabinets in the kitchen, the way I can start to imagine our garden outside, or the anticipation of getting ourselves elbows deep into carpentry projects next summer. I’m the type of person that cannot ignore the details, and hates straying from the goal; but putting a few goals on the shelf for later is different. There’s something to the process here and it’s actually a comforting strategy that’s reminding me we’re almost home. As funny as it may sound (and as miniscule as it seems,) this great winter porridge recipe in my hip pocket is another one of those little strategies (especially on those days when all we had only a rice cooker to cook in!)

Those of you following me on Instagram might have noticed that, for weeks, I’ve played with porridge and have shared photographs of my bowls full. Underneath all the accoutrements, the *recipe* is the same, and I use that description with a caveat because there isn’t really an instruction guide to follow, or a method to employ; just a few ingredients you need to work into your kitchen, simply cook them as you will (or however you can!) and then jazz them up with whatever other good stuff you have on hand.

Winter Porridge w/Bananas + Dates

Winter Porridge w/Pomegranate Seeds

Savory Winter Porridge

The basic porridge concoction is simple: rolled oats, millet and chia. Add water (or milk, or your favorite alternative) and maybe some salt, cinnamon and any other spices you want to cook into the grains. You could use a microwave (as I do for a single bowl,) a rice cooker, or a pot on the stove to cook it all up. In a microwave, a single bowl takes about 2 minutes to cook and this is absolutely the way that I tackle porridge for breakfast most days. If you’re cooking for a crowd, the rice cooker or stove top method is preferred. Cooking the porridge in a rice cooker will take more like 25 minutes. On the stove top, somewhere between depending on how many you’re cooking for. Point being, without too much brain damage, you have a healthy, hearty breakfast in a hot minute. And, as you get more comfortable, maybe you stir in a tablespoon of quinoa, cornmeal, or another favorite grain you have hanging around the pantry.

The biggest “secret” I can share with you with regards to this porridge are all the special ways I’ve been dolling it up. No two days have been the same – sweet, savory, and even a little of both. I typically have a bit of fresh fruit or veggies, some dried fruits, nuts, seeds, a dollop of something sweet, a little splash of almond milk and a sprinkle of sea salt. I always try to have some sort of protein, a bit of fat, and an element of crunch; porridge just isn’t satisfying for me unless there’s something crunchy (and not just mushy) in there. I add everything to taste, typically just a spoonful of this and that. Here are my favorites bowls of late: 

  • 1/4 of a Fuji apple + a couple tablespoons pomegranate seeds + a few dried figs + a dollop of coconut butter + a small handful of toasted pumpkin seeds + a dollop of maple pumpkin butter + splash of almond milk + sprinkle of sea salt
  • Banana slices + a couple of dates + a few tablespoons of cacao nibs + a big spoonful of honey sesame spread + a dollop of coconut butter + a sprinkle of cinnamon + a drizzle of maple syrup + a handful of sprouted almonds + a sprinkle of sea salt
  • Chopped kale + a poached egg + a spoonful of miso + a drizzle of olive oil or truffle oil + a handful of toasted walnuts + a sprinkle of dukkah + a chopped green onion

There are a few photos of a bowl of the banana + date bowl being composed in the gallery below.  

One more thing; I don’t typically like this porridge reheated so, while it might seem to make sense to make a big batch in the rice cooker and then eat from it for a few days, there’s something lost in the texture. I’d sooner suggest measuring out single bowls full into baggies for easy transport on the go, than I would the big batch approach.

I can’t wait to hear how you’re eating your porridge and hope that this recipe serves as a jumping off point for other hearty, homey, healthy, comforting breakfasts as winter – and all its crazy wonderfulness – surrounds you! Enjoy! -xo L

A Great Winter Porridge Recipe
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to make one bowl of porridge
  1. 1/3 cup rolled oats or gluten free rolled oats
  2. 3 Tbsp millet, uncooked
  3. 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  4. 1 1/3 cup water, milk or your favorite substitute
  5. a sprinkle of sea salt, cinnamon and any other spices you wish
  6. *multiply the above ingredients to scale for more servings*
Instructions
  1. The porridge you're about to make can be scaled by serving; the ingredients list you see above is scaled for just one serving.
  2. You can make the porridge in a microwave, which is easiest for a single serving, but could also use a cooktop or rice cooker. A single serving prepared in the rice cooker will take 30 minutes or so, depending on your model, so this is a good idea if you're headed out for a run or ride -- your breakfast will be waiting for you when you return! Cooking for a crowd will, of course, be easier on the cooktop or in the rice cooker.
  3. To make a single serving in the microwave: combine the oats, millet, chia, liquid and spices in your bowl and give it a good stir with a spoon to ensure that there aren't any millet or chia seeds sitting at the bottom untouched by the liquid. Pop the bowl into the microwave for 2 minutes, covering the bowl to avoid little messy explosions. In the meantime, gather your other favorite accoutrements - fresh fruits, nuts, spreads. To really make a balanced bowl, be sure to add a little bit of protein and fat (a dollop of almond butter, coconut butter or oil, a drizzle of olive oil, etc.) The porridge is ready when the chia seeds have absorbed enough liquid that they look like little eyeballs (I know, eww) and the oats are cooked.
  4. To make porridge for a crowd in the rice cooker, add all of the ingredients in the bowl of the cooker and then cook according to your appliance directions. The rice cooker will let you know when your porridge is done!
  5. To make porridge for a crowd on the cooktop, add all of the ingredients in an ample pot. Bring to a simmer and allow the ingredients to simmer until the liquid has been completely absorbed and the oats are cooked through. The chia seeds will have absorbed enough liquid that they'll look like little eyes, though the millet seeds will still be a bit crunchy. Add your favorite ingredients to the top - whatever you have on hand - and enjoy immediately.
LentineAlexis http://LentineAlexis.com/

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