The weather chills. It's the bone-numbing chilly breeze that sweeps in unseen but its presence signalled by the ruffled curtains. It's the ominous grey clouds which loom overhead, which pelt those raindrops down in a manner akin to hailstones - mercilessly and relentlessly.
Despite that, I've been going out, relentlessly and rebelliously (because, rain). I've been out, boots, hat and all, armed with umbrella and coat. I've been out with friends and with the self alike, 谈天说地 (talking about everything and anything).
I've been reconciling with memories, to be exact.
When I was in childcare, lunch always was served in red, orange or yellow bowl-plates, and was usually rice with a vegetable + meat, spaghetti, or fried rice. Fruits were in a tray by the side, along with chrysanthemum tea or barley.
Barley, oh, barley.
I remember always the lunch lady, kindly eyes and permed hair, always doling out an extra mug for me with more barley beans, and sometimes an extra mug. 100% beans.
There was something so satisfying about the chewy and tender texture of barley, coupled with its naturally sweet flavour. And so, here begins the recipe. Barley, wholly barley, warming and filling barley, ideal for cold mornings when all you want to do is burrow deeper into the covers. Of course, a little wake-me-up comes in the form of fruits, both for the eyes and the palate, as well as the dry crunch of toasted coconut. Thickened milk binds everything together in the end, and the story comes full circle.
Barley Porridge with Cream
1/4 c pearl barley
2/3 c water
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. maple syrup / other sweetener
2/3 c almond / other milk
1 tbsp. maple syrup
Desiccated coconut, lightly toasted
Fruits - berries, peaches, strawberries
1. Soak the barley overnight in a container with water 1-cm above the grains.
2. In the morning, rinse the barley again and pour it in a pot with 2/3 c water.
3. Bring the water to a boil over high heat before lowering to a simmer.
4. Cook for 20 minutes or so, until the water has been mostly absorbed.
5. Stir in salt and 1 tbsp. maple syrup. Top with coconut and fruits.
6. Meanwhile, warm the almond milk in a small pot over low heat until it thickens - about 10 minutes. Add in the maple syrup and pour over your barley. Serve and enjoy.
- to be continued -