My health seemed in tip-top shape last night—I ate a hearty dinner of shepherd’s pie and hummus, gave the Ferry kitchen a good scrub-down, and hopped in the sack by my preferred bedtime of 9:45. By the wee hours of the morning, however, flu-like symptoms seized my being and rendered me both pajama-clad and relegated to eating primarily oatmeal and bananas for the rest of the day…or so I thought.
While fathoming alternative easy-on-the-stomach foods, I recalled the traditional rice porridge called congee—first introduced to me via Kim at Affairs of Living—that Chinese and other Asian cultures have long employed to boost longevity, heal the ill, and strengthen the digestive system. Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends congee for boosting the body’s qi energy, which depends upon the proper functioning of the spleen and stomach, since it fortifies the former and harmonizes the latter.
Both immensely comforting and astoundingly simple to make, congee requires no more than cooked rice, spices, veggies, water, and time. For variations on the recipe I’ve offered below, switch around the herbs and spices, add a different grain such as millet or amaranth, or substitute the veggies of your choice (grated carrots, cubed squash, garlic, etc). I can guarantee that any mix of ingredients you choose will aromatize your entire abode nicely.
Wild Rice Congee with Sweet Potato and Kale (Soy Free, Oil Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat)
Makes a whole lot.
1 cup cooked wild rice
2 heaping cups cooked brown rice
2-inch piece kombu seaweed
2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled
2 star anise pods
A dash of turmeric
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large leek, white part only, halved and sliced
5-6 medium leaves of kale
8 cups water
Crock Pot Variation: Combine all of the ingredients in a large crock pot. Turn on either high and cook for 4-6 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. Add more water as needed.
Stovetop Variation: Combine all of the ingredients in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1-2 hours, adding water as needed.
Serve as is, with a sprinkle of flax/pumpkin/sunflower/hemp seeds, a cupful of cooked beans, or a dollop of nut butter.
Until next time, Ali.