Hello from Vermont, where the hills are rolling, the foliage is edging itself into autumn color, and the rivers run clear. There are no billboards. There are no sky scrapers. There is pure, sweet nature. Everywhere there is blue sky, and an ease of being that belies the fragile state of the American psyche at this (post-multi-hurricane, post-mass shooting) moment in time. Indeed, Vermont is the geographic embodiment of this incredibly cozy hot chia seed porridge.
It should be noted, I’m still high off New York—charged by its polar opposition to all the purity of Vermont, its constant movement like a drug of pure possibility. New York, where I got to flit from extra-sensory moment to extra-sensory moment, a Facebook Live here, an Instagram Live there, a book party to cap it all off. I spent mornings finding my way through the labyrinthine Time Inc. headquarters and afternoons kibitzing with my favorite Jews from Tablet Magazine. I cooked from Kale & Caramel cookbook in the Real Simple magazine test kitchen (and have the bloopers to prove it). And spent the evening celebrating the book with friends and blog readers at my favorite tahini wonderland, Seed + Mill in Chelsea Market.
It was a week full of sweetness and discomfort—I felt at once deeply energized and terribly anxious about all the media appearances. When I’m in the throes of the busyness, I often wish I had a team to fall back on or a partner to kvetch to. Sometimes, when I’m feeling extra dramatic, I start to feel like a lone astronaut in free fall, with no space station to return to. And then I remember that you all are my space station. We’re traversing outer space together. Ok? Ok.
And then, and then, and then. Puerto Rico. Las Vegas. My heart aching, my breath coming in fits and starts. And it’s been this way, hasn’t it? It’s been a sleepless, breathless, confronting kind of month. A month where everything feels hung in the balance—lives, homes, weather patterns, the world pressed up against the precipice of its humanity, waiting to sink back into the comfort of itself or topple over into the unknown.
My heart is heavy, hopeful, heavy, heavy. I look at small wonders that seem disproportionately miraculous by contrast: the changing leaves here on the east coast, the delicious apples at every turn, a piercing blue autumn sky, and out of the carnage, humans helping humans, humans helping animals. Part of my mind quiets in the feeling of helplessness, then riles up again in the knowing that even feeling helpless is a kind of privilege.
Apropos of last week’s post, my friend Suzanne texted me yesterday morning: Kindness is so vital in the world right now. I keep thinking of how desperately we need each other, how our tenderness with each other dissolves the harsh edges of separation and otherness. Kindness in small packages, donations, flowers, a bottle of water, a touch, a breath, letting someone go first in traffic instead of cutting them off, making a meal for a friend who’s hurting, listening more actively than talking, making a nourishing, warm breakfast. In so much rigidity of heart, kindness is a solvent. Gentle. Gentle.
And then, of course, I think of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, Kindness.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
The line I return to, always, is this: You must see how this could be you. You must see how this could be you, how you are that person who lost their home in the fire or the flood, who is sick, who is marginalized. How you are not better than, separate, above, more worthy.
We are all suffering, or all free, but not one before the other. There is no way out but through the collective hurt, into the collective power of our kindness.
Today, I begin with porridge. Filled with the rich fiber and minerals of chia seeds, the healthy fats and omega fatty acids of coconut oil, hemp seed, and walnut, and the warm flavors of vanilla, almond, and black tea. My friend Savannah first introduced me to chia seed porridge, and the concept stunned me—that much chia? hot? really?? Yes, really.
It took one single bite to make me a convert. Chia porridge was everything I looked for in grain porridges, minus the heaviness and the quick burn-off and depletion of energy. Plus: texture and crunch and an infinitely customizable flavor palate. Here, I infuse a quick-blended plant milk with earl grey tea before adding the chia, but I encourage you to try any flavors you like. Let me know what combinations you dream up.
And the best part: It doesn’t require a long soak time to reach maximum deliciousness.
Sending blue sky love from Vermont.
HOT CHIA SEED PORRIDGE WITH HEMP WALNUT MILK.
A cozy, plant-based, grain-free hot porridge made with chia seeds and a tea-infused hemp walnut milk.
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1/3 cup raw walnuts
- 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon loose leaf earl grey tea, if desired
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon raw virgin coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice, plus more to taste
- 3/4 cup chia seeds
- fresh fruit, as desired
- cacao nibs, nuts, and seeds, as desired
Place the water, walnuts, hemp seeds, vanilla extract, and sea salt in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Alternatively, use 3 1/2 cups pre-made plant milk of choice.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the hemp walnut milk to top the porridge. Transfer the remaining 3 cups of the hemp walnut milk to a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat.
Place tea, if using, in a reusable or discardable tea pouch, seal, and place in the hemp walnut milk to steep for 5-10 minutes. Cover and let steep. When steeping is finished, squeeze out the tea leaves to extract all that good flavor, and discard.
Return the saucepan to low heat. Add the almond extract, coconut oil, and honey or sweetener as desired. Whisk to combine, and continue whisking as you pour in the chia seeds. Whisk until evenly combined, then switch to a wooden spatula.
Stir the porridge until it's smooth and beginning to thicken. Remove from heat, put on the lid, and let the porridge sit for 5-10 minutes, until it's reached your desired thickness.
Serve hot, with the reserved hemp walnut milk, fresh fruit, nuts, cacao nibs, honey, and any other toppings desired.