I know what you’re thinking, it’s May, why would I write about my favorite winter breakfast? On April 1st, my dad passed away while playing the congas. My father was a lot of things, an artist, a musician, a poet, but he was also a really great cook. My love for food has a lot do with him and his cooking. While he introduced me to so many dishes, it’s the memory of him making “atole” that I really hold dear. What’s atole? In the southern United States, you have grits. In Mexico and New Mexico, we have atole. It is usually made thick like a porridge or thin and drinkable. While you can make it using regular cornmeal, I grew up eating it made from blue cornmeal.
I am the youngest of 3 and by the time I was born, my mom was ready to go back to work, and my dad happily volunteered to be a stay-at-home dad. I was lucky to have this time with him. While I could go on for hours with memories and hilarious “dad-raising-daughters” mishaps (allowing me to dress myself – think polka dot shirts with contrasting striped pants and the ever present ” my dad did my hair” messy side ponytail) it is him making me atole that I will offer up today. After my sisters would go to school, my dad would make us breakfast and it was often our favorite – atole. No one else in the family liked it. My sisters were put off by the color, my mom didn’t like the flavor. My dad and I loved it, it was our thing. He would make it with milk, cinnamon and maple syrup (I would sneak extra sugar when he wasn’t looking).
As I grew up, he’d send me to school with a thermos of atole to drink until I graduated from high school. As time moves on, I find I am reflecting on “little” memories the most. The everyday moments we shared.
Every time I eat atole I will make a little extra for him.
So, here it is, an adaptation of my dad’s Atole:
2 cups water
1 cups atole (blue corn meal)
2 cups milk (less for a thicker porridge style. I subbed almond milk because reg. milk doesn’t love me anymore)
Maple syrup and cinnamon to taste (you can sub honey, agave or sugar)
Bring your water to a boil in a saucepan. Slowly whisk the Atole in, avoiding clumping.
Bring to a boil and add the cinnamon and syrup; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in milk as desired (no more than ½ cup for porridge style Atole).
You can flavor this however you want. Add vanilla? Sure! Make it savory? Why not!