Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Put the kettle on.

I always wondered why it was so often said that making risotto was difficult. All that standing around stirring.

Then I realised. I grew up on porridge and have been making it ever since. Making porridge properly makes cooking risotto look like boiling the kettle. For a start, you're not cooking risotto at six in the morning half asleep and still trying to figure out what day it is.

I suppose it's a similar principle. Like rice, the oat grains need time to absorb the fluid, slowly, so they expel their gluten or whatever it is before taking up some more fluid and so on until the whole mess becomes creamy porridge.

Sometimes I still get it wrong and the grains remain discrete and chewy instead of melting into creaminess. Soaking overnight is meant to help and is it really too much trouble to put them in the pot and cover them with water before going to bed; along with putting out the cat and the bins, locking the back door, switching off the heater, turning off the lights and checking the baby? Yes, well maybe it is. There's nothing like running through checklists before going to bed to keep you awake until three in the morning.

Porridge purists might serve it with nothing but milk and maybe a little sugar, with a pinch of salt in the mix; but I add all sorts of things to it, after cooking, such as bananas and sultanas; sliced peaches and chopped walnuts; wheat germ, plain yogurt and honey; stewed apples and cinnamon. My favourite is just with honey and milk. And six cups of tea to wake me up.

When I was growing up it was always stewed apricots because of the tree. It gave millions of apricots each summer and there we would sit at the breakfast table at the height of summer eating hot porridge with chilled stewed apricots and I can taste it to this day. Exotic, sweet, homely and totally delicious.

What's your breakfast?


Anonymous said...

now here,s a dreadful thing, it,s even caught on in scotland, making porridge in the microwave,eeecchh, even me ma does it now, i put salt and black pepper in me porridge, love the look on the sassenachs face when i do it, :)


Sarah said...

I used to eat my porridge (called "podge" in my family) with brown sugar, or with dried fruit and nuts (dried cranberries and almonds are nice), but then my friend introduced me to the idea of golden syrup on the porridge, and I've never looked back. :)

I have yet to make my American housemates understand why my stovetop porridge is so much better than their microwaved oatmeal/gruel, though...

kitchen hand said...

Barry, my mother warms up her tea in the microwave, as in cup of tea, not dinner. Drives me nuts. Salt and pepper? My older brother, in a childlike imitation of the pie floater, used to place a slice of vegemite toast in his bowl and pour the porridge over that. Salty and not half as bad as it sounds.

Sarah, stovetop anything is better than the microwaved equivalent. Golden Syrup topping sounds great.

neil said...

We make ours with milk instead of water like the canny Scots. It seems to be even creamier, or that also maybe because of the little dollop of cream that goes on top!
I feel a bit tricked, there are all these posts after you said you were going to post less and work a bit harder for the bank.

kitchen hand said...

Neil, you feel tricked, I feel embarrassed.

Know why? I'm posting from work. They book me and then there's not a HUGE amount to do so I get to squeeze in a little posting!