I teach music appreciation and one of the first questions I pose to the class is, “have you ever been in complete silence?” I always get a trickling of raised hands who name times they’ve thought they were in silence (and only once has a student actually been in complete silence-vacuum chamber). From there, I question as to why they think I disagree with their silence. What sounds do they hear? What sounds are they conscience of and what sounds do they have to seek out to hear?
I’ve been out of sorts recently. It always happens this time of year but feelings felt different this year. I felt like my equilibrium shifted and I couldn’t find my balance. I cry at random times, both sad and joyous (this Ted Talk by Eric Whitacre about his virtual choir left me bawling in my car). I get angry or upset at news and politics (this article about Walmart’s cheap groceries and then an address by the IL governor about job loss sent me on a mental economic excursion of inferior goods/cheap labor). I’ve emotional blogged because my feelings are too much to keep to myself (see examples here and here– plus I had a rather lengthy diatribe about over-sharing and social media that I stopped myself from sharing, funny-no?).
What’s does my lack of equilibrium have to do with silence? Everything. The weather finally stabilized enough for me to go hiking Wednesday morning. I’ve found that when I spend time in the wood, by myself, I never return the same. Any feelings of sadness, confusion, jealously, anger, or stress leave and I come back feeling refreshed both mentality and physically. The woods are my sanctuary and the rhythm of feet are my meditation. I don’t hear the geese clamoring in the distance, the dog’s tags clanking together, or even the dried leaves fighting the wind. It’s my own personal silence. It’s just me, my feet hitting the dirt, and my breathing.
This porridge is another outlet for me to bring myself back to center. I’ve been really honing in on my body and how it feels. I’m moving things like coffee, alcohol, and eating out into the “special occasions and every once in awhile” category and getting back into the habit of cooking nourishing foods (don’t let this blog fool you, I don’t eat all my recipes all the time). Amaranth in itself has a bit of healing power and brought together with bananas and pecans- it feels like the perfect breakfast.
Banana-Pecan Amaranth Porridge
- 1/2 cup amaranth
- 1 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup pecan pieces
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup*
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 bananas
- Milk (whole, almond, or coconut), to serve
- Soak Amaranth over night (if possible.)
- Drain and rinse amaranth. Combine with one cup water and salt. Bring amaranth to a boil, and reduce to a simmer (all the way to low.) Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 more minutes to thicken amaranth. Add a bit of milk/water to thin the texture out if desired.
- Add pecans to a dry skillet and toast over medium-low heat, stir often. Toast until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Heat walnut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon over medium-low heat. Cut bananas in 1/2" slices and add to skillet, cook until bananas are extremely tender and maple syrup has absorbed into the slices.
- To serve, stir together 3/4 of the bananas and amaranth. Pour into bowls and top with remaining bananas, pecans, and a drizzle of milk.
by Erin Alderson