Sunday, May 4, 2014

Creamy Brown Sugar Vanilla Polenta

Simple Pleasures. It is something that I have done my entire life but never put a name to it until seeing a Hallmark movie a few years ago called The Wish List.

The lead in the movie reminds me of so many people who are part of my every day life. The lead character is all about organization and focusing strictly on her goals in life. Then she meets this man -a barista- who is the opposite of everything that she is. Fast foward. They fall in love and live happily ever after. Typical Hallmark movie. But there is a scene where she is disgusted as he bite into this sloppy, juicy burger. He explains to her that it is his "simple pleasure" for the day. Every day he allows himself to have one thing that he enjoys and he takes the time to truly enjoy it.

What a great concept right?

I often find myself swept up in the chaotic mess that is American society. Let's face it, we all want perfection in our lives. I, myself am a highly goal oriented person. I however always take a few moments each day to do something that I enjoy and just remove myself from the craziness that typically consumes my world.

Yesterday my simple pleasure was driving off Raleigh with a friend for sushi. This morning it was enjoying this porridge on my front porch watching the sun come up over the trees and warm the earth.

Now this breakfast cereal is insanely simple to make. If you can boil water, you are set. There is nothing fancy, complicated or time consuming about this breakfast. It's just a bowl of comfort, perfect for a chilly spring morning.

Where I grew up in Virginia, we called this mush. A friend from West Virginia calls is coosh. Most people refer to it as polenta. Whatever you call it, it's delicious.

Creamy Brown Sugar Vanilla Polenta
serves 4

3 cups water
2 cups milk (or water)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup brown sugar (plus more for topping)
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
sprinkle with cinnamon (optional)
fresh fruit for topping (optional)

In a large pot, bring 2 cups of water, 2 cups of milk, salt, and butter to a boil. The milk makes the polenta creamy, but feel free to use all water. Combine cornmeal with remaining 1 cup of water. Slowly pour the cornmeal into boiling water/milk. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes, until beginning to thicken. Add in sugar and vanilla. Cook until desired thickness is reached.

Serve with a sprinkle of additional brown sugar, cinnamon, fresh fruit, nuts additional milk or other desired topping.

If you have leftovers, continue to cook until very thick and pour it into a loaf pan or other small pan. You can add fruit if you like. Cover with plastic wrap, pressed onto the surface of the polenta. Refrigerate. Tomorrow we will make Fried Polenta for breakfast....

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