Thursday, November 17, 2011


I made myself porridge for breakfast this morning, a sure sign of winter, and it was marvelous. These days most people refer to the hot cooked cereal as "oatmeal" but it was always porridge in my house and it'll always be porridge to me. I grew up in semi Northern Ontario where the winters are cold and porridge was a staple for breakfast, often three or four times a week, but never on Sunday. My mother is of Scots heritage so her porridge was thick and salted and that's still the way I like mine. As a child porridge was always served with warmed milk and brown sugar but these days I prefer mine with honey and fruit, or apple sauce.

Instant oatmeal is not a substitute for porridge, I'm sure it's a fine product but it's not porridge and it's not going to be on my breakfast table. Porridge requires a time commitment and if you aren't willing to make that commitment then just toast a bagel and be done with it.

There are dozens of varieties of cereal grains out there that can be turned into porridge but my preference is for steel cut oats, rolled oats tend to make a porridge that is lacking in texture. Steel cut oats are easy to find, the ones from Quaker are fine but I prefer those from Bob's Red Mill, they are available at IGA Marketplace and, I believe, Whole Foods.

I earlier alluded to the time commitment porridge requires, set aside half an hour to do it right, so if you're dashing off in the morning then porridge isn't for you. The cooking of porridge is simple and requires little attention, here goes. Bring water to a boil, you'll need two parts water for one part oats and I need 3/4 of a cup of oats for my breakfast, once the water is boiling add the oats and bring down to a simmer, stirring occasionally . After about five minutes add a three finger pinch of salt and stir well to incorporate it into the mash, mean while set half a cup of milk on to warm at low heat.

Porridge texture is very much a personal thing but it will take at least fifteen minutes for the porridge to be fully cooked, I cook mine exactly eighteen minutes, but once it reaches the desired texture remove it from the heat and cover it. Leave the porridge, covered off the heat, for three to five minutes then ladle into a shallow bowl, warmed in the oven is a nice touch, and top with brown sugar or honey before pouring the warm milk around the outside of the porridge. You may add fresh, or canned, fruit or my personal fave, home made applesauce and breakfast is served.

Please note you should not drink coffee if you are having porridge for breakfast, it's just wrong, make a pot of tea and linger after the porridge is finished. After all, if you are having porridge for breakfast it's not like you are in a hurry.

As a side note it is extremely frustrating for me to post these days as wife decided a couple of weeks ago that my keyboard needed cleaning and as a result I have a wonderfully clean keyboard with a space bar that routinely sticks. This is, apparently, my fault .

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