Emma hates baby cereal. But she loves homemade rice congee! Congee is a chinese rice cereal more traditionally made with white rice, and is cooked for long periods until the grains of rice begin to dissolve. I think it is traditionally quite runny, though I make it thicker — like a thin oatmeal or cream of wheat. It is easy to make, and tastes great! We find it a good alternative to oatmeal (and baby cereal!!!), and you can add yummy things to it like dried fruit which help give it more flavor and a touch of sweetness. Emma is just starting to get the hang of the spoon, and will now sometimes lunge at it when I hold it out loaded with congee. She also loves to feed herself with the spoon, which is a messy proposition, but mainly the way we do things around here…
Slow Cooker Brown Rice Congee (non-traditional)
Now, my recipe is not very exact, so bear with me. It makes a LOT, so I often half it. The water is fairly dependent on how long you are cooking it (obviously the longer the cook, the more water you need to add) and if/how much dried fruit you add. Also, if you mix the brown rice with different grains, you may have to adjust the water.
- 1 cup brown rice (short grain is what I have been using). You can also try steel cut oats, quinoa, teff, barley, or other whole grains.
- 9-12 cups water (not exact, I tend to start with less and add more as it cooks)
- 1 cup (more or less if you wish) of chopped dried apricots, or another fruit (prunes, raisins, dried cherries?)
- I have also been known to add dried coconut, vanilla, coconut milk, cinnamon and/or nutmeg, but these are all quite non-traditional for congee, of course!
Put the rice and water in the slow cooker. Cook overnight on low, or for 4-5 hours on high. Check and stir occasionally, if you are able. Add the dried fruit halfway through cooking (unless you are doing it overnight, then just toss it in at the beginning). Add more water if the congee isn’t soupy enough or if the grains of rice haven’t started to dissolve (we like it with some texture, but pretty soft with grains just starting to dissolve), cook longer if it is too liquidy for you. I like mine a little soupier than oatmeal, but not as thin as the traditional Chinese method. I think using brown rice makes it a bit more textured than white rice would, but we like it that way!