I woke up smiling this morning. It was rather early, the sun was up, birds were singing and I was surrounded by this mesmerizing lush green as far as the eye could see. Early summer bliss in the middle of the city. Very very quiet. For you see, it's a holiday today. The first long weekend of the season. And city folk are rejoicing, you might say. Some went to cottage country, some went camping while others chose to stay put and enjoy the peaceful pace of the first holiday Monday. I belong to the latter category. Just lying here on a checkered blanket, reading a very old edition of The Dickens Digest, "four great Dickens masterpieces written for the modern reader" it says. I bought it at a yard sale not long ago. As I open the book I find an inscription written on the very first page: "From Frank Whitmore, Christmas 1943." It was someone's Christmas present during the Second World War. That makes it all the more special to me. I am going to escape today. To another world. Then maybe take a nap al fresco. My favourite. Don't even have plans for cooking. Some cool garden pea salad with feta and yogurt will do. And maybe some minty lemonade to wash it down.
Breakfast was simple and comforting as well. Some rather robust stalks of rhubarb have crossed my way the other day. So I made some stewed rhubarb and strawberry jam to go with my semolina porridge for breakfast. Utterly delicious, if I do say so myself.
Semolina porridge with strawberry rhubarb jam
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of honey
60 g semolina
20 g butter
slivered pistachios to serve
For stewed rhubarb preheat oven to 325 F. Add about 400 g rhubarb (cleaned and cut into 2 cm pieces), 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 2 cinnamon quills to a baking dish. Mix it all together, cover the dish with foil and bake for about 1 hour. Remove dish from the oven. Let it cool a little. Transfer stewed rhubarb to a pan. Discard cinnamon quills. Add 2 cups of strawberries and sugar to taste. Quickly boil for a few minutes, until strawberries have broken up and given the jam a wonderful rich pink colour. Cool.
Combine milk, vanilla, lemon zest, honey in a bowl. Bring mixture to a boil. Add semolina in a steady stream and cook until thick, about 10 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Transfer porridge to 4 individual bowls ans serve with strawberry rhubarb jam and pistachios scattered on top.