My grandfather was a farmer who spent most of the year in a tractor or combine, tending to thousands of acres west of my hometown. I remember him from my childhood as the quiet, but friendly giant we visited every weekend. He was well over six feet tall and had a wicked sense of humor.
Whenever my brother or I were sick on a school day, my mother would drop us off at our grandparents’ house. My grandmother would let us spend the day on the couch, watching game shows, and drifting in and out of sleep. By 4:00 in the afternoon, my grandfather would come in from the fields or the barn and make us rice pudding. He loved rice pudding, and a sick grandchild was enough of a reason to get him to stand in front of the stove after a long day of hard work.
My freshman year of college, I convinced him to give me his recipe. This is what he dictated to me from memory:
Grandpa’s Sweet Rice
- 3/4 cup of rice
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 cups whole milk (only whole milk)
Cook for 45 minutes to an hour in a double boiler with lid. Stir every five minutes. At first, to keep rice from sticking and getting lumpy. Bring to a boil, then turn to low. Stir occasionally until done. YOU’VE GOT TO KEEP STIRRING!
My grandfather wasn’t kidding with the “keep stirring” advice. If you don’t tend to the pot every five minutes, the milk burns, the rice sticks to the double boiler, large clumps form, and not every piece of rice is coated in sugary, milky goodness. The work is worth it, though, as this dessert is perfect warm and cold.
I recently came upon my grandfather’s recipe at the back of my favorite recipe binder. His beloved words had moved to the back of the folder because I stopped eating and buying white rice about a decade ago. I had some millet in my cupboard, though, and wondered if I could recreate the recipe with a more nutritious grain.
I fired up my double boiler, added the milk, sugar, salt, and millet, and started stirring. The recipe worked perfectly and tasted as wonderful as it did when my grandfather had made it for me.
It might not look like much, but the flavor is truly delectable. But, as wonderful as the dessert is, I can’t imagine making it very often with a toddler running through my house. An hour of stirring is difficult, even without a toddler afoot. So, I decided to try the recipe again, but in the crock pot. Much to my surprise, it worked perfectly.
Sweet Slow Cooker Porridge
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 3 cups Whole Milk (skim milk and soy milk also work)
- 3/4 cup Millet (use 1 cup Millet if using skim or soy milk)
Set crock pot on high and add Sugar, Salt, and Milk. Stir, cover, and warm these ingredients for 20 minutes. Add Millet and stir well. Return cover and cook for an hour. Stir and check consistency. Return cover and cook for half an hour. Stir and check consistency. The sweet porridge might be finished at this point. If it’s not, return cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
A word of advice, from a lesson I learned the HARD way, don’t abandon your sweet porridge for three hours. Bad things will happen. Very bad things:
Cleaning burned sweet porridge out of a crock pot is a horrible way to spend half an hour.
When cooked appropriately, this recipe is also great with additional ingredients, added to the crock pot at the same time as the millet. The optional ingredients can also be added as toppings when serving.
You may enjoy one or more of the following:
- Crushed pineapple
- Banana slices or mashed banana
- Vanilla-flavored soy milk (instead of whole milk)
- Unsweetened almond milk (instead of whole milk)
- Maple syrup or agave juice (instead of sugar)
- 1 Tbl rum
- 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Toasted almonds (as a topping)
- Granola (as a topping)