On-the-spot sold

A year ago, I was eating a breakfast that looked like this:

Of course, I was also on my honeymoon, and in Paris. Today, I am at my dining room table with a mug of cold tea. Life is rough.

Except that actually, it's not. Buttery croissants and flaky baguette are all well and good, but really, if we're being honest, they're not what I need right now. After the turkey, and the creamed onions, and the grapenut pudding, what I really want is some whole grains, a few leafy greens, and a long walk.

That's where Ancient Grains comes in. I first had Ancient Grains at the Scottish Bakehouse on Martha's Vineyard with my friend Ali. It was early, and it was cold, and I'd just flown over for the day to do some interviews. Ali told me that what you're supposed to order at the Scottish Bakehouse is the egg sandwich, but I had already told the girl in line I wanted the hot spelt and quinoa, and so I got a steaming mug of whole grains, cranberries, pecans, and milk instead.

It was, hands down, one of the best mistakes I've ever made.

There was something about the combination—the way the spelt was big and nutty, the way the cranberries were at once sweet and tart, the way the quinoa swam around in the hot, sweet milk—that made warm cereal magical. There were undertones of cinnamon and hints of maple, and I was instantly, on-the-spot sold.

It took some fiddling, and some trial and error, but just in time for the cold weather and the annual interholiday health-food kick, I've finally figured out how to make Ancient Grains at home.


I'm not sure how close this is to the version I had at the Scottish Bakehouse, but it's easy to prepare and I think that taste-wise it comes pretty close. The key is to pre-cook big batches of spelt and quinoa—I keep bags of the cooked grains in the freezer, so that they're ready to go when I roll out of bed. This recipe makes two bowls.

1 cup cooked spelt
1 cup cooked quinoa
milk or cream to taste
1 tablespoon maple syrup, or more to taste
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, halved
1/4 cup crushed pecans

Combine the spelt and quinoa in a small pot. Add milk or cream to taste—depending on how thick you like your breakfast cereal—and the maple syrup, and stir well. Warm over medium heat until just steaming—you don't want to overheat the milk. Pour the cereal into bowls, top with cranberries and pecans, and serve at once.

Note: I haven't been able to find quinoa locally (or pecans, for that matter!), but I don't think any other grain complements the spelt as well. If you have local suggestions, let us know!


Jess said...

I totally agree with needing to get back to whole grains after a celebratory weekend of thanks. I thought I'd start this morning with a bowl of something whole grain, but the last of the walnut sticky buns were calling my name. How could I not? I'll have to try again at lunch...

How have I never heard of the Scottish Bakehouse? Sounds great!

Elspeth said...

Jess, these things happen. (More frequently than I'd like to admit.) As for the Scottish Bakehouse, if you're on the Vineyard, it definitely deserves a visit. It's a little bit off the beaten path, but well worth it.

andrea said...

Mmmmmmm...now if only I had some spelt. :)

Anonymous said...

..just wondering, where are you finding local spelt? Is it grown locally? I'd like to try that recipe, sounds like a good variation on what i mash up already. As pecans and nuts I usually stock up at Trader Joe's, they seem to have the best deals if you select carefully. cheers

Elspeth said...

hi anonymous!

we got our spelt through the grain csa that we joined (pioneer valley heritage grains...in amherst and online over here: http://www.localgrain.org/). the pick-ups just happened, so it's too late (i think, although it's always worth asking!) to get in on it this year, but sign up for their mailing list if you're interested for next year. this is our second year doing it and so far it's been a great experience.

sorry not to be more helpful in the here and now...

all the best,

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