I find the deeper we get into winter, the later I sleep. I had this professor once who told me that your sleeping patterns go through phases–and that it’s common that you’ll wake up within 10 minutes of the same time every morning for a while, and then it will just all of the sudden shift. All summer, I’m up before dawn, baking for the cafe or making chocolate before it gets too warm. I find that I don’t even have to set my alarm. My eyes open automatically within a minute or two of 4 am, every day. In winter, true to my professor’s theory, my eyes open automatically at 7 or so, but then I loll in bed until 7:30 or 8:00. In the summer, I’m lucky if I’m able to eat a piece of toast before noon, and exist primarily on coffee and crumbs from the morning bake. In the winter, breakfast is a major part of my day–an event that could take hours, and very rarely consists of the same dish in the same week. I LOVE breakfast.
About a month ago, I ran out of oatmeal, a favorite morning meal at Chez Shaffer (say that 5 times fast), and, desperate for something warm and creamy, was forced to consider the cereal potentials of the other various grains in my pantry. I remembered a favorite breakfast of mine whenever I went over to my friend Ann’s house when I was growing up in California–a warm “cereal” of leftover white rice, milk and cinnamon. Or sometimes the leftover rice as it was, scooped up with pieces of nori. Having leftover rice in the fridge, I sat down to an attempt to relive those summer mornings at Ann’s. Apparently tastes change.
So the next morning, still sans oatmeal (the island store is open only 2 days a week, 2 hours at a time in the winter), I set out to discover something new. After several weeks of experimentation, I’ve come up with a porridge-style polenta that satisfies.
- 1/2 c coarse polenta
- 1 13.5-14 oz can of coconut milk
- various garnishes, including but not limited to: raisins, vanilla, nuts, banana, butter
Pour coconut milk into a glass measuring cup and add water until the mixture totals 2-1/4 cups. Pour this mixture, along with the polenta, into a saucepan and cook on the stove (or on the wood stove), stirring often, until the grains have bloomed and the cereal is the consistency of very thick gravy (20-30 minutes). Garnish with desired accoutrements.
I find, that if made with coconut milk, the cereal does not need to be further sweetened, but experiment to your own taste.