And now, before today’s recipe, a confession. When we created the Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA in 2008, we knew that we wanted to bake with locally grown flour, and we knew that we wanted a variety of grains, for nutritional health and for the health of the land (rotation of crops is important). When we first got our share last winter, it was clear to us that this gorgeous grains deserved to be eaten as they were, not just cracked or ground into flour.

But we had no idea how to do that.

The closest thing to whole grains I grew up eating was oatmeal (like many of us, I’m sure). It seemed like a very big hurdle, to suddenly learn how to cook all these different grains and incorporate them into our family’s diet. This is often what other families express to me, also, that they want to eat whole grains, but they’re intimidated.

So that’s why Whole Grain Weekends is here. I’m going to be beside you in the kitchen, sharing some of the delights we have discovered. What we found is that cooking whole grains is actually incredibly simple. It’s delicious, and very filling in a way that flour products or even rolled or flaked grains are not. A bowl of oat groats will satisfy you much longer than a bowl of rolled oats. And, because they are so dense and packed with goodness, you also eat less. Whole grains are an incredibly economic way to eat – you need to eat less of them, so you can buy less, and you can usually find them in bulk, saving on the packaging and processing costs.

Are you ready? We begin with the super super simple. I’m so glad to share this journey with you.

Ready and Waiting Warm Cereal

(aka Awesome Porridge)

1 cup whole grains (oat groats, spelt berries, wheat berries, barley, etc . .. or a mixture!)

3 cups water

1 tsp salt

After dinner, while you’re cleaning up, rinse your grains, then throw the above ingredients into a crock pot and turn it on low. In the morning, a warm and nourishing breakfast is waiting for you and your family. Yes, it’s that easy.

Serve with a pat of butter and a drizzle of local honey or maple syrup, or some warmed fruit (we had ours with warmed blueberries from the freezer this morning). Serve with yogurt if desired.

Variations below:

* Need a simple breakfast for Christmas morning that will hold everyone until the big dinner? Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries, substitute 1 cup cider or orange juice for some of the water, and you’ve got a hit.

* For a creamy treat, use 1 cup water and 1 cup half-and-half or soymilk, and add 1 tsp vanilla extract.

* For a classic warm breakfast, add 1/2 cup of raisins or other dried fruit. You can also add nuts, or fresh fruit such as diced apples or pears.

Bon Appetit everyone! Can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up. Blessings on your weekend.