My recent trip to America opened my eyes more than I ever could have imagined.
Here in Australia and back home in NZ we are surrounded by all things American from a very young age, much to my Dads disgust (he wouldn't let us watch trashy US shows on telly when we were little!). I've grown up knowing all the American terms for things such as 'trunk' (boot), 'cilantro' (coriander) and 'cab' (taxi) so in many ways America already felt a little familiar to me before going (it's also the first English speaking country I've ever travelled to, other than Australia which made it nice and easy), but there was something that really took me by surprise. I'm not exaggerating when I say that each and every person I had contact with (except maybe that homeless guy in Union Square, who yelled abuse at me. I didn't take offense. He yelled at everybody) was so ridiculously polite, helpful, generous and respectful. Even the people at customs had a smile on their face and I gotta say, I kinda loved being called ma'am all the time! I only had to stop for 5 seconds on the street and look lost before someone would come up and offer help, and it was funny, even when my friend (a local) was mapping out a route for me to walk to get to dinner in a neighbouring suburb, within seconds a lovely lady had stopped to ask if we needed help! It really is so sad that the government and big corporations can taint the view of a nation.
Vegas was mad! Every bit as opulent and over-the-top as I'd imagined, and I only just got to scratch the surface in the sleepless two days I had there. I am so grateful to the team at Saveur magazine
and all their sponsors for flying me all the way over from little ol' Australia for the awards and it still kinda blows my mind that I got to meet and hang out with so many of my online blogging buddies! It really was the trip of a lifetime.
I'm not gonna bore you with all my tales from afar (mostly I just ate and talked!), so instead I'll just leave you with a few photos (no really, this is only a few
of the many! Haha!) that will hopefully give you a glimpse of my time in Las Vegas and San Francisco. I've also got the recipe below for this beautiful American-inspired hearty winter millet porridge. It's a riff on a lovely one I have in my cookbook
with a little nod to my mate Bryant Terry (who I was lucky enough to hang out with in SF!).
Spiced pumpkin + millet porridge
I often have leftover cooked millet hanging around in my fridge, which is perfect to use in this recipe. You can also cook it specifically for this recipe, there's a link below for cooking instructions. Pumpkin puree is another thing that I always have at hand, it stores well in the fridge for a good few days or can be frozen in portioned zip-lock bags for later use. You can use it straight from frozen in this recipe, just allow a few extra minutes cooking time.
Serves 2 but can easily be doubled etc.
1 cup cooked millet*
1 cup almond milk (preferably homemade)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree**
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg
toasted pumpkin (Pepita) seeds, cinnamon + maple syrup to serve
Place all the ingredients (except toppings!) into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Cook whilst stirring for about 4-5 minutes or until creamy and thick. Serve topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, a dusting of cinnamon and a drizzle of maple.
* See this post (or my book if you have it!) for instructions on how to cook millet. Any leftovers will store happily in the fridge for 4-5 days.
** Steam or roast chunks of peeled pumpkin (or use butternut squash for my US readers!) until soft, then mash with a fork until smooth or blend briefly in a food processor. Excess will store in the fridge 4-5 days or can be frozen in zip-lock bags for later use.
Inspired by a millet porridge recipe in my cookbook My Darling Lemon Thyme- Recipes from my real food kitchen with a nod to Bryant Terry's new book Afro Vegan (he does one with sweet potato puree).