Chilled Summer Porridge

I love porridge oats…any sort of porridge, really. Steel cut are my favorite. I prepare them the evening before so they can soak overnight in water, dairy milk or my current personal favorite – cashew milk. Sometimes I go rogue and combine ½ steel cut oats with ¼ kasha and ¼ quinoa flakes for the earthy taste and layered texture.

But hot porridge and warm summer mornings don’t mix. Instead I make ‘chia porridge’. Prepared the night before so the seeds can expand, all it needs in the morning is a bit of sliced fruit and maybe a sprinkling of crunchy walnuts or almonds.

This recipe is an amalgam of several chia puddings I’ve tried over the past few months as an after-dinner dessert. I was surprised at how delicious it was for breakfast. Plus this porridge is packed full of energy and Omega-3’s.

Chilled chia porridge with sliced mango and strawberries, a drizzle of soy milk, fresh pressed juice and matcha.  Set for the day (or at least until lunch!).
Chilled chia porridge with sliced mango and strawberries, a drizzle of soy milk, fresh pressed juice and matcha. Set for the day (or at least until lunch!).

Chilled Chia Porridge for Two (prepare the night before)

  • 6 tablespoons chia seed
  • 2 cups liquid: choose your favorite dairy milk OR non-dairy milk OR use ½ water with ½ your milk of choice.
  • 2 sliced figs or 2 sliced dates (I prefer dates)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey: optional – especially if you use the dates
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
This is how the chia seeds will look when you whisk them into the milk.
This is how the chia seeds will look when you whisk them into the milk.
  • Whisk the ingredients together.
  • Set a timer for five minutes and whisk again. Repeat at least one more time. As the chia seeds expand, this step will help to incorporate the seeds through the liquid.
  • Chill overnight.
  • Serve with your choice of sliced fruit.
  • Enjoy!

The Little Gardener Who Could…or…How I Don’t Follow Recipes

I wasnt born with a silver set of measuring spoons in my mouth and a copy of The Joy of CookingIMG_0811 cradled under my arm.  I recently discovered, however, that I like to cook.  But Im not a great cook.  Cooking is less a culinary challenge and more a moving meditation.  It relaxes my mind and clears my head of chatter – especially when the results fill my home with sounds and smells and textures that wrap all my senses in comfort.

The problem is I tend to view recipes as simple rough outlines.  If the recipe calls for lemon I might choose lime.  If it asks for one cup of walnuts but all I have are a few almonds and some hazelnuts then what choice do I have?  If my measuring spoon is dirty Im happy to guess-timate in the palm of my hand.

This is all well and good for an experienced chef.  Theres nothing wrong with being adventurous.  But up until a year-or-so ago my idea of cooking involved a can opener, a tin of tomato soup and a nice stack of saltines.  Oh.  And cheese.  So it should be no surprise that at times I am responsible for some unmitigated kitchen disasters.

My most recent batch of hummus is a good example.  I pride myself on my ability to crush a garbanzo bean with lemon, tahini and garlic. We know I can make hummus.  I proved it here.  But somewhere along the way I lost my hummus mojo.  Even my beloved, who is single handedly responsible for building my culinary confidence, passed on a second bite of the hummus I served last night (although he took three helpings of my barley salad).  I blame the tahini that I attempted to make with my Omega Juicer – but thats another story.

Meanwhile…Do you remember refrigerator pickles from childhood?  Or piccalilli?  Just thinking that word made my mouth water.  And who says theres not a mind/body connection?

IMG_0966Im leaving on a well-deserved weekend break with my beloved but weve too many vegetables just past their prime.  So today I decided to try Ted Allens recipe for refrigerator pickles from this months AARP magazine.  Maybe its fairer to say I decided to try my version of Ted Allens recipe for refrigerator pickles.  I didnt have white vinegar and so I used apple cider.  I was missing a few of the herbs he called for and substituted my own.  I didnt even have the vegetables he suggested and instead filled my two-quart jar with my about-to-wilt veggies that stood no chance of surviving the weekend.

The kitchen smells good and the vegetables, now drowning in garlic and ginger brine, look beautiful.  But it will be three days – the length of our little break by the ocean – before we know if well indulge in a second bite.

Heres hoping.

IMG_0968Meanwhile, the little garden that could has produced cherry tomatoes that taste like candy and our first heirlooms.  Ive been slicing the heirlooms and serving them with a drizzle of balsamic and fresh basil.

Health and Wellness

CIMG2922What is the difference between being in good health and being well? It seems a simple enough question to answer. Good health is all about the body, isn’t it? Good health is being free from disease; it’s keeping those things that diminish our health – high cholesterol or blood pressure, furred arteries and rampant glucose – in check. But wellness? That’s not as easy to pin down. Being ‘well’ – as the word implies – has a soulful depth to it that is beyond blood results and heartbeats.

For me, recognizing the difference between health and wellness is similar to realizing there is a difference between being cured and being healed. We can be cured from an illness in the physical body yet still need emotional healing. We can have our physical health and yet not feel emotionally well.

I want both, of course. Who doesn’t? Health and wellness. Always. Is that possible? I don’t know. As certain as there are times when we experience the peak of health there will be times when illness finds us. And as much as I would like to believe that I embody wellness, it simply isn’t true. There are times when we are ill. Times when we are the picture of health. Times when we our hearts beam with wellness. Times when we feel spiritually broken.

Our health and wellness swing on two graceful continuums that, from time to time, intersect. When they do – oh! – when they do! Those moments are the reason why we take the stairs instead of the elevator, watch in awe the setting of the sun, enjoy deep insights with dear friends and choose broccoli over bacon (sometimes).