Hey Laura, I need congee and millet recipes

Becky writes:

Hey Laura,
My husband’s acupuncturist has been a godsend to him this summer as he’s dealt with some incredible post-heart surgery pain. Yesterday he told Lee that he should eat lots of congee and millet to help build back his energy. I’ve made both once or twice, but could use some ‘tried-and-true’ recipes to expand my repertoire. Do you have anything that could help?

For those of you who haven’t had this comfort food pleasure, congee is a simple rice porridge common in almost every Asian country. It’s a light yet hearty breakfast food, easy on the stomach for little ones and sickies, and all around a wonderful, healing food.

Well, Becky, until I got your email, I actually hadn’t made congee firsthand. My Singaporean college roommate made it for our house once, but she laughed at me when I asked her for the recipe, claiming that she must have just done a botched job of cooking rice and passed it off as a new recipe! I remember really loving her congee (although there was a remarkable amount of it!), so I was excited to give it a go myself.

Since you asked about millet, too, I thought I’d look for a millet congee recipe to kill two birds with one stone.

One of my most trusted sources for healthy, nearly-gourmet vegetarian recipes is Heidi Swanson, over at 101cookbooks.com. She cooks the way I would if I didn’t have two kids and a house to manage. Maybe I’ll be like her when I’m retired. :)

Sure enough, Heidi’s forums had a recipe for millet congee - for the crockpot, no less! I really loved the addition of fennel in this congee, but I definitely would have cooked it with a bit of salt - not much, because congee is supposed to be very, very mild. But just enough to bring out the earthy flavors of the millet and brown rice.

I put pickled ginger and sesame oil on my first bowl of congee, but the second one got the royal (and much more Americanized breakfast) treatment of almond butter and a teaspoon of maple syrup. That was good! I can see the latter becoming a winter breakfast favorite. :)

(Asian-style with ginger and sesame oil.)

There’s another millet recipe on her site that looks very good: Mark Bittman’s Autumn Millet Bake.

On a whim, I ran a search for congee on Tastespotting.com and got a bunch of returns. I love Tastespotting because you get to see a picture of the final result before you commit and click through to the recipe. They all look pretty much the same; I’m not sure there is much variation in the making of congee, just the vegetables, oils, or other condiments you might choose.

I checked Tastespotting for some millet ideas and got some good returns. This Curried Millet with Browned Onions looks divine for a chilly fall day. You can also mix it up with your leftover Roasted Veg. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the top. Mmm.

When you are looking for millet recipes, just remember that millet can be a substitute for just about any grain - rice, quinoa, bulgar wheat, cous cous, etc. - and it’s gluten-free, to boot. You can easily cook it in the rice cooker and season afterward. Think about what grainy recipes you already love, and just switch them out for millet; in most cases, this will be perfectly delicious!

Hey Laura, I think... Hey Laura, I need congee and millet recipes

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