We’ve had our fair share of rain and thunderstorms in these parts lately. It’s been good for setting the mood when developing some recipes for fall and such, but more importantly it’s made for some cozy , very high quality mornings. Once we get into spring + summer, my days of sit-down breakfasts promptly come to a close. Sometimes I like to fix up a raw chia pudding or buckwheat porridge, but generally coffee/tea is just fine right away, and then maybe I’ll have a smoothie or some fruit (or a pastry, cuz sometimes you got to) later on. Something about the heat and umpteen million things to do outside pulling me away from those solitary early moments.
Every week there are more things to do with new challenges, and in this season of life it feels like that notion has exploded times a thousand. Taking moments for simply being leads to better awareness as a human that can say and do out in the world. More opportunities for stillness lead to better connection with the presence of capital-G-good in other forces. I’ve developed an acute sense of how much I need that lately.
Years ago, I used to work at a sometimes stupidly busy café/lunch/brunch spot in Toronto and when I came home after my 40-minute, million miles an hour walk home, I needed to have solitude in the most critical of ways. Even now when I pull up to my porch after a Saturday night service or whatever, it’s weird that someone in my house is still up when I just expect all lights out and the still quiet of night. I guess I’m still adjusting to it. Full absorption in a body + mind decompress/daily moment of simply being has historically been my scene out of a certain social necessity, so I’m trying to reclaim that.
I don’t think it’s simplistic to observe that breakfast helps with that process either. When I think of that morning meal, I think of grains and mindfully stirring them or soaking them prior to the whole process. Even my super quick morning smoothies feature some soaked oats or raw buckwheat most times. There’s an elemental quality to these hearty stores from the fields, a notion that we can hardly be, much less go about our day without them. It’s a foodstuff you can lean on when times are tough, literally and figuratively speaking I suppose.
I feel like most if not all of you are familiar with Erin Alderson’s blog, Naturally Ella, at this point. Erin is an expert at making delicious, vegetarian, whole food recipes feel approachable, and her new book The Homemade Flour Cookbook is most certainly an extension of that. A book focused on making your own flour from grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, and then incorporating that flour into your cuisine was a challenging thought to me at first–I don’t grind too much of my own flour really. Mostly chickpeas and oats if I’m gonna go there. But Erin makes some serious arguments for better taste and nutrient value throughout. She also details different routes for milling flour at home–including a coffee grinder technique that’s within anyone’s reach.
My first go was a sweet version of her ground millet “polenta” for my re-established breakfast routine and whoa! Seriously so good. I wound up eating mine mostly cold and still enjoyed it so much. It’s kind of wild to see a grain that you know and love in a new and delicious light. Her version in the book is savoury with chickpeas and a spicy tomato chutney, and gosh doesn’t that sound just too good? I’ve always liked strawberries combined in a baked good with cornmeal, and since millet has a bit of a corn-vibe, I knew this combination would work. The vanilla warms it up a bit and I just really enjoy lavender with berries, so that got plucked from the backyard right quick. Bonus: once I had the millet ground up (which wasn’t even a big deal), this was ready in about 15 minutes. I’m also interested in trying her quinoa-crusted cauliflower steaks, hazelnut pumpkin muffins, and the zucchini and corn empanadas with spelt dough really soon. Nice work, Erin!
Hope you’re all starting summer on a strong, solid foot of serious being :) xo
vanilla bean millet porridge w/ lavender strawberries + super seeds
lightly adapted from The Homemade Flour Cookbook
notes: I don’t grind the millet all the way into flour because I prefer to have some cracked bits of grain for texture.
1 cup diced strawberries
1/2 tbsp maple syrup (+ extra for serving if you like)
1-2 tsp lavender buds, crushed with your fingers
super seeds (makes extra!):
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted (or not)
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted (or not)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or ground cardamom
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup filtered water
heaped 1/2 cup of ground millet (in a coffee grinder, food processor or blender)
1/2 tsp sea salt (I used fancy pink salt)
seeds scraped from a 1/3 vanilla bean OR 1/2 tsp extract/paste
Place the diced strawberries in a small-medium bowl and stir them up with the maple syrup and lavender buds. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together all of the seeds for the super seed mixture and set aside.
Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground cinnamon and stir it up until fragrant, about 30 seconds. You should have a cinnamon oil of sorts. Add the almond milk and water and stir. Bring the mixture to a light boil, add the ground millet along with the salt and whisk. Continue to whisk the mixture as it cooks. Once it’s thickened up to the consistency of polenta, pull it off the heat. Allow the millet porridge to sit for a moment, add the vanilla, and whisk it again lightly and serve with lavender strawberries, super seeds and extra milk or maple syrup if you like.