I’m pretty sure that 2015 is going to be one crazy ass rollercoaster of a year.
It’s only six days into January and already most of our weekends in the summer are booked up with weddings and birthdays and other celebrations. For both of us, work looks set to continue at the frantic speed of 2014, there’s my boyfriend’s first marathon in April and there is, of course, the not inconsiderable matter of our wedding at the end of October.
Despite this – or maybe because of it – my watchword for this year is ‘less’. Like a lot of people seemed to do, we spent the time between Christmas and the New Year engaged in a mass declutter, getting rid of 20+ bin bags of clothes, books, old paperwork, broken plates (why had I been keeping them?!) and all that general crap which seems to breed if you leave it unattended. Spending the second half of 2014 living out of a suitcase definitely gave me a new perspective on what I actually need on a daily basis vs what just happens to be there.
‘Less’ doesn’t just apply to physical stuff though; I want to make this a year of less stress (despite the aforementioned wedding) and less guilt, less time wasted on doing nothing, perhaps a little less sugar and meat and booze and all those things that we know we’re supposed to cut down on. Hopefully, by cutting out what I don’t need from my life, I can focus more on what I do need. Like more time with friends + family, more ridiculous adventures and, above all, more stupid life-affirming fun.
In keeping with the mantra of less, I’m really enjoying taking a slightly more simple and pared down approach to what we’re eating at the moment. I’ve never been one for lumping thousands of random components together but more and more, I find myself turning to recipes with just three or four ingredients and rediscovering the joy of familiar flavours, like this creamy vanilla-bean flecked brown rice porridge that I’m pretty obsessed with at the moment.
I cut this recipe out of Bon Appetit last summer – it didn’t really appeal at the time but I filed it away for the colder months. I’m not generally a fan of oat/grain porridges but this is something completely different. It’s warming and rich and creamy and comforting, like a loose rice pudding or risotto, although without the need for constant stirring. It’s everything that I want on a grey January morning.
I use regular milk in place of the almond milk of the original recipe as it’s what I generally have on hand and play around with the toppings as I see fit. Here, I’ve swirled a spoonful of a quick redcurrant chia jam (based on this recipe from Alex + Sonja) through the porridge, topped it with a little tart yoghurt and a scattering of flaked almonds and cocoa nibs for crunch. It’s not exactly a quick weekday breakfast as it takes a good hour, if not more, to cook but the hands on time is pretty limited and I quite like a bit of time for my stomach to wake up in the morning anyway.
Here’s hoping that 2015 is the happiest of years, for all of us.
This is one of the very few recipes which I make in cups - weighing out the rice seems more hassle than its worth. I tend to make individual portions as and when I want them but the comments on the BA website suggest you can make a bigger batch and keep some in the fridge - I'm always very wary of leftover rice so never do this myself. As mentioned above, the original recipe uses almond milk if you want to substitute that here. I imagine you could also make it with coconut milk but you might not want to use a 1:1 ratio of milk to water. Just as a note, it seems like a lot of liquid to use for the amount of rice but it's perfect. Really.
- 1/4 cup brown rice
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar (I use whatever's open - anything dark will give a more pronounced flavour which I really like)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- A pinch of salt
- Jam, yoghurt, nuts, seeds, cocoa nibs, whaterver
- Put all of the ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the porridge for about an hour or so, stirring every now and then, until the rice is tender and cooked through. It might take a little longer than an hour to get your rice completely done - sometimes I end up leaving it with a little bite because I'm too impatient.
- Swirl through a little jam and top with whatever else you fancy.
Barely adapted from Bon Appetit. I've topped this with a quick redcurrant chia jam, loosely based on this recipe. I put 6oz of redcurrants in a pan with a splash of honey and water, cooked it down for a little bit and then added a tablespoon of chia seeds and let it thicken.