Vegan Congee, or ‘Jook’ & Celebrating One Unreal Year Together

It’s been “Congee this, Congee that”, the last couple weeks in the foodie’s blogosphere where I spend a good amount of time; fantasizing. And here is a big plus, you can eat this porridge for dinner or breakfast. I’m already thinking I’m going to make a huge pot of the stuff and see how long I can get away with serving it with maple syrup in the morning, and then 10 hours later serve it disguised with a bunch of vegetables and see if Rick notice’s 🙂

If you’re not familiar with *Congee or in Cantonese, Jook, I would describe it as a kind of risotto. And like so many dishes, congee is a blank canvas giving you the opportunity to get creative by which direction you’re headed. I went savory with toppings of mixed vegetables leaning towards the east. But, I’m dying to make a batch for breakfast and top with maple syrup and a healthy sprinkle of colorful cranberries, blueberries and walnuts. So let’s get to it, and get in the congee line….

* Congee is typically made with long grain white rice and I bet it’s fabulous. But, I use brown rice because there are more nutritional benefits.

Vegan Congee Ingredients:

Serves: 6

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours (brown rice)


Vegan Congee Recipe:

  1. Heat sesame oil in a medium pot and cook rice and garlic 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable broth, bring to boil and turn down the heat to a simmer.
  3. Partially cover and continue to simmer 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until thick or water is gone.
  4. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  5. Towards the end stir more often to make it creamier.
  6. Add more broth if needed.

Toppings Recipe:

  1. Chop pak choi in chunks in four steps:
    1. Cut off the bottom of the stem,
    2. Lay sideways and cut off about two inches of top.
    3. Turn the bunch lengthwise and cut all the way through length.
    4. Turn sideways again, and chop all the way across.
  2. Add to the pan with about ¼ cup water and with a lid and steam pak choi for around 3 minutes. Season with a splash of soy sauce.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp. sesame oil in skillet and add the Seitan (sah tan) to the pan set a medium.
  4. Heat edamame per instructions on package (microwave High 2-3 min.)
  5. Garnish with sliced green onions (a must).
  6. Rick got a wild hair and grilled some pineapple; delish

Second night: we ate our congee with steamed pak choi, and stir fried in sesame oil: cauliflower, cashew nuts, red bell pepper and pineapple chunks. I might add, the green onions pulled it all together into one scrumptious and *colorful meal. Actually, night number 2 was even better.

*colorful meal; in a previous blog, Ahhh! Delicata I mentioned;  Washoku, “the harmony of food” or the Rule of Five; the meal should represent the Five Colors; red, green, yellow, white and black. I think we nailed it 🙂

We are celebrating an anniversary today. It’s been one year, since I posted my first vegan blog. What a year to take on an weekly endeavor 90% of which takes place in my kitchen. Enter the circus or simply put, an epic roller coaster. Not the little guy at the fair, but the one you have to be 5ft. tall to strap yourself in. A pandemic, unemployment of staggering proportions, a never ending fire, and cancer begging for attention. When you think of it, life is a roller coaster, but 52 wild weeks of not knowing where the bottom is or how many tight turns to expect and slopes literally taking your breath away; the only comfort that could be found was knowing you weren’t alone; the rest of the world was on the same ride.

Fifty-two weeks, over three-quarters of which were spent in a total shut-down. We had never heard that term before. Shut-down. Never.

I couldn’t believe it. The nightly news, nightly showed us what it meant, by covering here, and the global “shut-in”, across Europe, and the rest of the world. We were brought to tears watching the Italians singing opera from their balconies, and more tears watching from their balconies, New Yorkers banging pans at sunset in support of the medical workers. And the unimaginable numbers of death. Weird to get up in the morning and check those, and hope our own elderly parents were smart enough to adhere to rules, for once, they didn’t make.

And zooming with our family and friends like Hollywood Squares where each of us had our own box floating in and out to whoever was talking or yelling or laughing hysterically. We were desperate for each other, to see and visibly be reassured by just being able to look at the faces we love so…

But we soldiered on. And spent countless hours making grocery lists and time spent lining those groceries up outside to be wiped down. At one point Rick offered our neighbor, two cans of olives, a box of quaker oats, and a roll of paper towels for a four pack of toilet paper. 🙂  I was proficient at putting on latex gloves, and then came the masks. And gone were the smiles.

Ironically, the day the shut-down was announced, Rick was formally retired from his job by a phone call, and that night was told in a video appointment ( a new thing), with his doctor, the prostate cancer was not the “lucky kind”, but the aggressive kind needing treatment. Three months after the shut-down Rick started hormone treatment and planted the garden.

So, life got serious, weighty and sober again. A call to thought, and devotion. Never too far away from the loss of Andrew the previous year, I was back on my knees. And back to the kitchen where all the magic happens.

Ah the kitchen; my church; my place of inspiration. Where you, my guests have enjoyed along with me whatever it was I could get my hands on. Did I tell you, I’ve fallen in love with celery? Also, I’ve ended a long affair with polenta to make room for farrow. Don’t get me started on yams, chickpeas, or watermelon served with chili. And remember the Swedish Cardamom buns? How about Inspector Bruno and his fennel cod stew? Or that Rick has had a 30 year crush on Martha Stewart…yup..

Fifty-two Fridays fresh from my casa to yours. Thanks for letting me inspire you to live better, take chances in the kitchen, stay healthy and remind you to make sure you, or your husband, father, or son, get their prostate PSA test done…. Because that’s the real meaning and purpose behind Cooking for You My Love.

Thank you Pete Kremer for lighting the fire. Mucha Gracias Gwen Woltz @ Wahine Media for championing the cause, and Isa Wilcox for weekly bringing the beauty to life. Peter, Clare and Anni and the rest of this wonderful tribe I belong to, and by tribe I also mean friends who have given immeasurable support; a thousand thanks… 

And of course Rick, without you there is no story. 

Ciao for now 🙂

  1. Beautiful Clio…an incredible recipe of new experiences, new ways of bonding with family and friends, and new ingredients sprinkled with generous amounts of sweet memories and lots of Love and Laughter!…TGIF-CFYML!!!

    1. Kelli, You made the zoom fun; disappearing and reappearing when we thought you had left, your face started to float up from the far right corner and then disappeared again..we dying laughing right now 🙂

  2. Congrats on one year. I am sure it has felt like a rocket ship and also like walking thru molasses. Thank you for all the beautiful writing and work.

  3. Wonderful narrative about it ALL. Each day (each moment!) is a gift.
    Thank you, Muirs~

  4. Clio, usually you make me laugh. This time you made me cry. What an insightful recap of a truly crazy year. And I’m trying Congee soon!

  5. A beautiful heartrending synopsis of a year none of us could have imagined. Such a joy being invited into your kitchen each week and sharing in your creative talents!
    Thank you, Clio
    Great picture of you both!

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