I’ve been wanting to show you the rest of photos from visiting Lucinda in East Sussex. I was thinking to myself, now how will I ever show them AND fit in a recipe like I had promised? I’ve been telling you for weeks that I had a recipe to share with you, after all, and I do – my new favourite breakfast porridge . And then I realized that nearly all of the photos I took in East Sussex involved apples. And it all came together. Quinoa porridge with apples and spice and a little journey through the South Downs. Seemed fitting.
An unexpected perk of having a blog is that you get to connect with so many incredible people passionate about the very things that inspire you. And some of them even become your very close friends as a result. Lucinda and I became friends over elderberries, for instance, which is a very good way to become friends. We quickly discovered an almost uncanny amount of similarities, including but not limited to: an obsessive affection of cats; an immense love and skill for activities that some might consider laziness; and a good solid love of cake eating. She and her husband (who like mine is also a Capricorn with a name starting in M. that she also married three summers ago after ten years of being together – goosebumps yet?) had come to visit us in Vermont last summer. And as soon as we knew that we’d be coming to the UK for a year, we immediately started planning a trip to visit her.
Lucinda lives in an area of England known as the South Downs, a series of rolling chalk hills that plunge down into the sea in dramatic chalky cliffs like The Seven Sisters you see pictured below. And by chalk, I do mean chalk. The pathways meander over the green hilly landscape like white chalky rivers. And if you happen to pick up a piece of the white rock scattered all around – you only need find a slab of slate before you have the instruments in place for tormenting school children.
It is a most beautiful landscape that seems to have the best of all things – woodlands, dramatic escarpments and rolling hills, the ocean. Everything gentle and soft as autumn sunshine. And the villages and towns nestled amongst the downs with their sloping streets, red brick houses and thatched roofs make one feel they have stepped into a Jane Austen novel, which is just how Lucinda described them to me. Of course, I could never do the countryside justice as Lucinda does – so I would most highly recommend you read her Love Letter to the Downs to get a better sense of this very special place.
And back to the apples. On Saturday morning we took a trip to The Middle Farm and milled about in the Farm Shop and then the Cider Room. Everyone very patiently waited for me in the cold autumn sunshine while I, enchanted with every nook and cranny, took picture upon picture. I was of course immediately taken in by the crates of apples in the front room, writing down the names in a little notebook (D’arcy spice, Ashmead’s Kernel, Cox’s Orange Pippin) while the others picked out a bottle of cider to mull for the bonfire festivities. Outback a sunlit patio and greenhouse filled with autumn flowers lead into the timber-framed cider room. Barrel upon barrel for the tasting, and I will admit to you that perhaps my step was a little less stable on exiting than it had been when I had gone in.
And now autumn is sliding away into November, and back in my own kitchen again I find myself craving something warm and humming with spice in the cool cloudy mornings. Something with spice and the sweet tang of apples as well. Can food hold a memory? Can it bring to light a thousand sensations and colours and smells? If it can, I hope that this porridge will taste of East Sussex and the rolling downs so that I can experience it all again every morning, as we sit at the breakfast table and eat with the cats laying at our feet, the whole of our life feeling like a strange and wonderful dream.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 2 cups milk of choice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup dark muscavado sugar
- 1 tart cooking apple, grated
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- Toasted flaked almonds
- a few shakes of cinnamon
- Place the quinoa into a saucepan with the milk, salt, and spice and bring to a boil. Turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the quinoa grains are fluffy and the liquid is mostly absorbed.
- Stir in the sugar, grated apple and grated ginger and mix until the sugar is dissolved and everything is evenly distributed.
- Pour into bowls, top with additional milk, a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds and a few shakes of cinnamon and serve hot.