Woke up to a long overdue autumn air (Florida-style). With that cool and refreshing air banging on my doors, I decided to fling open the windows and doors. I did a few stretches and a jog.
After I completed my work out, something comforting was on my mind. Decided on an old favorite from my childhood (cornmeal porridge. It didn’t take me long to whip up same. In a stock pot, I added:
medium grain cornmeal, whole milk, water, cinnamon, nut meg, pinch of salt and vanilla.
I stirred all ingredients and simmered same on low to medium heat for approximately 20 to thirty minutes. After porridge thickened to the right consistency and grains cooked, this was sweetened with condensed milk. Porridge was sprinkled with additional cinnamon on top.
Each spoonful was warm, creamy, not overly sweet and satisfying. I felt that I had replenished what I had lost during my work out. I was super happy.
It’s back to basics for yours truly. It’s so ironic how certain things can bring back nostalgic feelings and memories. You see, a few mornings ago, a gush of cool and refreshing air brought back childhood memories of the culinary type. I guess I wanted something warm and comforting for my stomach and palate. It has been quite sometime since I last enjoyed a creamy dish of cornmeal porridge and I decided to pay a revisit.
As a child growing up in my domain (Jamaica), rain or sunshine, sizzling temperatures (well, most times) or Blue Mountain and Caribbean cool breezes, a pot of cornmeal porridge was up front and center on our stove early in the morning. When you have multiple mouths to feed, this hot cereal was the way to go. Like it or not, that was the cereal doled out by Beryl, my dear mom.
They say that mothers know best. And, my mother was on top of her culinary ‘game’ and knew how to stretch a dollar. Cornmeal has ‘legs’. As such, a little goes afar way. Mom knew it; and she made it happened. Any given morning, a stockpot simmered with a golden/light yellow goodness.
Cornmeal porridge is one from the grassroots in Jamaica. My siblings and I were brought up on the hot cereal. Most Jamaicans will state so as well. Cornmeal is a meal that is milled from maize (corn) with a fine, medium and coarse finish.
When it comes to nutrients, cornmeal is loaded with a very high amount of carbohydrates which includes fiber. It is no wonder our bellies were satisfied for hours. Iron is also another beneficial nutrient that is found in cornmeal which provides great energy. And, without a doubt, we (siblings/playmates) needed that energy to play for hours on the outskirts.
So, it was with warm nostalgic feelings that I made my morning’s cereal. I tried to replicate my mom’s recipe by incorporating fresh coconut milk. My mom used mainly the medium and coarse texture of cornmeal; however, I used the fine counterpart.
Cornmeal (1/2 cup)
Coconut milk (1/2 cup)
Water (21/2 cups)
Nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon)
Vanilla (1 teaspoon)
Cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
Condensed milk (sweeten to taste)
In stockpot, add coconut milk, water, salt, and cornmeal.
Use whisk or bamboo spoon to dissolve meal in liquid until smooth.
Slowly bring to a bowl and simmer under low heat for about 20 minutes with lid on.
Add spices and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Whisk or stir occasionally to prevent lumps.
Sweeten with condense milk or any sweetener.
Ladle in bowl and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Most times, my dear mom used to sweeten our cornmeal porridge with brown sugar. There was no need for condensed milk as the coconut milk produced a silky and creamy finish. I’ve decided to use condensed milk as the sweetener. Like many dishes, everyone brings a different spin and make it their own. It’s no different with cornmeal porridge. Some cooks do thicken their porridge with the addition of flour. I didn’t.
Oh, by the way, it was close to the eighties on the outskirts, (quite a warm day for Fall, but, it’s South Florida weather). As I spooned my fiber and iron-rich porridge, I was brought back to a sweet, satisfying and mouth-watering place. I will be revisiting very soon.