This bright, beautiful Monday afternoon finds me in a rather playful mood. So, let’s play a little game, shall we? Faith, femininity, and multi-grain hot cereal. What do these three things have in common?
Any ideas? No? Allow me to explain.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a strange and unshakeable faith in things. It’s not the faith of any particular religion, and it is not contained by any one set of spiritual or behavioral doctrines. I can only describe it as a knowing–a firm, fixed, and unwavering knowledge that something far, far greater than me exists in this world. It is only through that being, or force, that I survive, and so it is only to him/her/it that I am bound by duty to live my life the best way I know how: to love and to give with all of my heart whenever and however I am able. I also believe that the realm of the spiritual, that which we do not see, exists in this world. That it can be found working within and through each one of us. And that it is, in many ways, far more real than the world our eyes can see.
This faith of mine, which I’ve had ever since I was a little girl, has allowed me to take some pretty big risks in my life. It also forms the foundation for The Cook to Love Project. You see, about four years ago, after having served just over five years of what felt like prison time working in the financial services industry, I abandoned my budding sales career. I just left.
I didn’t have a lot of money saved, and I had no idea where I was headed next. There was only one thing of which I was certain: I was sick and tired of feeling like a slave. Of performing tasks day in and day out that made me feel small. And that very often violated my conscience. I hated myself. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually unhealthy. In so many ways, I had rejected myself.
When I left my last sales job, I resolved, at whatever cost, to make my way in this world by doing work that came from my heart. Because to do anything less was to do myself a grave disservice. And to turn away from all that is good and divinely possible in this world. For me, leaving a career that I hated was the ultimate act of self-love.
Since then, I have located my soul’s passions. But, none of it came without sacrifice. Trust me when I tell you that plunging oneself into the unknown is a wholly terrifying experience. Although, I’ve found that, in time, fear and worry lessen until they nearly disappear. And you begin to realize that you will, in so many ways, be carried. From place to place. Experience to experience. Relationship to relationship. Until you become the person you are meant to be. And you grow to possess a kind of knowledge that you never, in your wildest dreams, would have thought possible.
What’s funny is that living by faith, including the tremendous risks it appears to entail, actually feels more natural to me than living any other way. I’ve had different jobs along the way, earned a Master’s degree, and in all likelihood, will return to school sometime very soon. I’ve met some incredible people and had some wild and wonderful adventures. And I’ve received a number of blessings. Many of them in disguise. Especially the moments I’ve spent virtually impoverished. (I’ve also had more than my share of bad luck over the last several years!)
But, interestingly, it is during those moments, in which I have very little or no money whatsoever, that I seem to learn the greatest lessons. I have learned to always be thankful for what I have. And never, ever to complain about what I don’t have. I’ve also learned to locate my greatest sources of personal power. And they don’t reside where I once thought.
I don’t find my strength in the realm of the intellect, or the abstract–in my ability to create with words, images, or through the combination of ideas. Rather, I find my greatest sources of personal power reside in the physical. Through acts of nurturing, self-preservation, and self-protection. By using my creative capacity to strengthen those I love and myself. In very literal ways. Through food, exercise, and other acts of care, I derive a great deal of strength and satisfaction. All of those behaviors conventionally considered feminine. I am, in fact, a fiercely feminine creature.
Of course, everyone is different, and we all find satisfaction and strength in different pursuits. (How boring would life be if we didn’t?) But, we don’t often attach to traditionally “feminine” behaviors or energies the value they deserve. And I believe we can all benefit from embracing more of the feminine in our daily lives.
So, what does all of this have to do with cereal, you ask? (Fear not. I have not forgotten about the recipe portion of this post!) During the times when I have the least in the way of material resources, I discover the breadth of my own creativity. I rely solely on myself and my own ingenuity to survive. On those days when I don’t have the money to go to the grocery store and buy what I want, I am forced to make something from what I have. (And trust me, even during my darkest, sparsest moments, I am resolved to eat healthy, delicious food! After all, that’s part of the challenge.) This breakfast cereal was born from one such moment.
On one of those mornings when I realized I only had scraps of different grains left in my pantry, not enough of any particular one to create a meal, I put them together. In a blender. And made a mighty tasty porridge! You could, of course, use any grains you have on hand to make this cereal. I typically use oats (rolled or steel cut), brown rice, buckwheat, polenta, and flaxseeds. Blending the grains first not only combines their individual flavors and textures, but, in pulverizing them, also makes a very, very quick-cooking and cozy little porridge.
Multi-Grain Hot Cereal
Makes 3-4 servings
1/4 cup long grain brown rice
1/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 cup rolled oats or 1/4 cup steel cut oats (I actually prefer steel cut because of their texture.)
1/4 cup yellow corn grits or cornmeal
2 tbsp whole flaxseeds
Pour all ingredients into a blender, and blend until powdery.
Slowly whisk 1/3 cup cereal into 1 cup of lightly salted, boiling water. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 3-5 min, whisking frequently to prevent clumping. Add more water, as needed, to reach desired consistency.
To serve, top with fruit, nuts, spices, and nondairy milk of choice.