Monday, October 29, 2007


Porridge - provider of individualised central heating. Traditionally made with oats, it has been cold climate breakfast for thousands of years. It's very good for you apparently - the carbs release slowly keeping you cheerful for longer and they contain a good smattering of vitamins as well as lots of fibre. When I start making porridge on a weekend it means autumn is here. The clocks changed this week.

Crofters in Scotland used to have a porridge drawer. At the start of the week they would cook up a big pan of porridge then, when it was ready, tip it into the drawer. The idea of performing this act makes me laugh out loud. (I have a vision of doing this and then someone coming to visit and, because neither they nor I are crofters, not realising what awaits and putting an unsuspecting hand in searching for cutlery and finding ...) What the crofters did was let it cool and set and then cut big squares of it to take out with them to work in the fields.

Production and cooking methods vary. Scots - or pinhead - oats are chopped rather than rolled and so are much smaller and therefore cook faster. At its most basic though - whatever the size you choose - it is oats to liquid at a ratio of 1:2.

My preference is rolled oats - 1 mug, whole milk - 2 mugs and a pinch of salt, heat to a simmer, reduce the heat then stir with a wooden spoon for ten minutes. This way the porridge will be creamy and smooth and won't stick to the bottom of the pan creating a nightmare for the washing up fairy. It's a Sunday thing - stirring round and round when still half asleep, maybe attempting to read the magizine from the Observer at the same time, just gentle and quiet and at the same time creative. The result of so few ingredients and such a small, contained amount of effort, is a bowl of porridge, smooth and creamy. The creation of contentment.

I like it served with butter and light brown sugar. The man likes his cooked the same way but served with milk and dark brown sugar. Goldilocks was definitely on to something trying before finding the one that was not too hot, not too cold but instead just right-and scoffing the lot!

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