In this week's The Willowbee Tree story, “A Gift in the Thin Times,” Little Ty is being a picky eater. He often eats only one thing on his plate and refuses the rest.
But when the Willowbee children are taken to the far north of Norway, they encounter a pair of reindeer and an arctic hare who reveal the blessings of light, warmth, and food during a season where all of three are scarce. After that, food never tasted quite so good!
This week's recipe is risgrøt, a Norwegian rice porridge that is often served at breakfast on Christmas Eve. As with most traditional recipes, there are as many ways to make it as there are stars in the winter sky. On the first truly cold day of fall, I tested a few and discovered three things:
- First, while some recipes suggest using long grain rice, I found that Italian arborio rice (the kind you use to make risotto) was the creamiest.
- Second, you can use cow's milk or almond milk, but coconut milk adds a lovely bit of sweetness.
- Third, fruit and jam are traditional toppings, but I liked mine best with just a pinch of extra cinnamon sprinkled on top.
However you tinker with this recipe to make it your own, I suggest making it on a slow, chilly morning, when you can enjoy lingering by a warm stove as you stir. Cup your bowl in your hands and enjoy the soothing scents before you eat. Be just like Little Ty, and take a moment to realize the blessings of light, warmth, and food, during this colder, darker part of the year.
Risgrøt (serves 2)
- ½ cup arborio rice
- 2 cups coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for dusting on top
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon butter
- honey (optional)
Add the rice, coconut milk, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla to a medium sauce pan, and bring it to almost — but not quite — boiling, stirring constantly.
Turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook for 30-45 minutes, continuing to stir at least once every few minutes so that the bottom doesn't scorch.
When it's done, the rice pudding should still be a little loose, but most of the liquid should be absorbed. At that point, turn off the heat, and stir in a tablespoon of butter. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes, then add a swirl of honey, if you like, for sweetness. Dust with an extra pinch of cinnamon before serving.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.