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Friday, January 17, 2014

All aboard the congee train: Guest post from Anne!

Yay! The very gifted Anne Convery blogs at, and kindly shares her congee-making experience here in our very first guest post. Her congee sounds absolutely delicious. Like, I'm drooling a little right now.

Tried congee and want to share about it here? I'd love that! Shoot me an email at

Here's Anne!

I go in and out of eating healthily, or at least of having the sense I’m eating healthily.  I don’t think this is so uncommon, and I think a lot of us are still coming down from our holiday high – which may feel more like clawing our way back up from a holiday low, into the light and our “lighter” selves, depending.

I try not to put undue pressure on myself and make a bunch of resolutions out the gate at the start of the new year because I don’t like creating a set-up for failure or beginning any enterprise with the undue stress of announcing it to the world or burdening it with fifty pounds of self-help books or cluttering it with fad exercise equipment.  I like to go small.  Test stuff out, see what I like, and then maybe share the ideas that pass the picky, picky “Will Anne do this/eat this/stick with this for more than 48 hours? Test” with friends and like-minded folk.  Something it is not hard at all to get me to stick with is eating, especially if it tastes good.

And I do think that incorporating a nourishing breakfast into a daily routine is one of the simplest and most comforting ways to have a big positive impact on how you feel physically and mentally each day.  

Emphasizing the importance of breakfast has become a cliché, something I remember as far back as this PSA from in between my Saturday morning cartoons: 

But just because it’s cliché doesn’t make it any less true.  And the times I’ve felt my best – most consistently energetic throughout the day as well as most inclined to make nourishing food choices from morning into the evening – are the times in my life I’ve chosen to start with a warm, healthy(ish) breakfast.  Oatmeal with apples and raisins and a leeetle butter and brown sugar, eggs scrambled with spinach and goat cheese on toast, cream of buckwheat with blueberries and toasted coconut.  I like to keep it in balance and give myself things I want along with things I need, and isn’t it a wonderful surprise when those happen to be one and the same thing?

So I was pretty intrigued by Lorelle’s congee blog, and I really wanted to try making some.  I also wanted to get back on the breakfast wagon after a hectic holiday season filled with travel and too many peppermint mochas masquerading as meals.  I really like the idea of a savory breakfast, since for whatever reason, sweet breakfasts – cold cereals, pancakes, breakfast pastries – always leave me feeling simultaneously sluggish and like, “When’s lunch?” 

I found this pretty simple and yummy-sounding recipe for Ginger Chicken Congee (or jook, as I found out it’s called in Cantonese – thanks, Internet! You’re not just for cats ‘n’ boobs, after all!), and decided to do it up on the first day I got my kitchen back after my house having been in general upheaval for the installation of some new windows the last couple weeks. 

I made a few changes as I saw fit, and my slightly modified ingredients and instructions are below:
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 leeks chopped 
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, skin removed and trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, skin on and sliced into 4 pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus more as needed
  • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

Melt butter over medium heat and sauté chopped leeks in it until fragrant and just starting to become translucent in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven.Place the rest of the ingredients except the scallions in the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has completely broken down and the mixture is creamy, about 1, 1 1/2 hours.Turn off the heat and remove the chicken to a cutting board. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding the cartilage and bones. Return the chicken shreds to the jook. Stir to combine, taste, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls and top with scallions.  


I am the child of a mother who came of age in the late 50s and early 60s.  My childhood meals were typified by concoctions created using the magic of Campbell’s “Cream of…” soups.  I think my palette’s come a little ways since then, but what I LOVED about this is that it kinda looked, smelled and was tastefully reminiscent of (though definitely better than) this chicken and rice dish my mom would make using just some onions, salt and pepper, Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and chicken, served over some Uncle Ben’s quick rice.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not slagging on my mom, here.  If I’d had to cook for me and my brothers and my dad and whomever else my ingrate children had in tow, I’d be all about the convenience too.

Plus, you know, it was the 70s.  The early 80s.  We still thought there’d be better living through food chemistry!  But for reals, this was easy and awesome.  And made me all nostalgic and cozy feeling in the way that only foods which comfort us with their delightful aromas and tastes really can.

Anyway, this is a dish I could happily eat in all its limitless variations for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  In this case, I couldn’t wait ‘til breakfast, so I had it for dinner, topped off with some steamed and lightly seasoned kale.  Aaaaand a little bit of chicken skin I removed from the chicken parts I used, and which I may have lightly dredged in flour and seasoned with black pepper, cayenne and turmeric and then MAYBE crisped in a little bit of bacon grease.

Oh, and how'd that poached egg sneak in there? EVERYTHING IN MODERATION. Delicious, delicious moderation. That's a resolution I don't think it'll be hard to keep this year.

Don't worry. Cody totally got some. 

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