Only our resident reporter, Sonya, could link porridge and spinning. Here is another delightful piece from her:
Like methods of hanging washing on the line, the making and serving of porridge is marvellously varied. I allude to washing as I simply cannot walk past our clothesline without correcting my husband’s pegging out. We all have our systems, techniques, and eccentricities when it comes to both of these activities. But for today, let me share with you the porridge making quirks of the Seaford Spinners and Weavers.
Take Cathy for instance. She hasn’t made porridge since her daughter was a child, 25 years ago. However she has a definite prescription, with its musts and must nots still intact after a quarter of a century of non-use. The oats must be steel cut. Quick oats must not be used. Porridge must be cooked with half water and half milk. Near the end of cooking, and no microwaving of course, add a few sultanas and a little honey. Then there is her ultimate must. A circlet of thin cream should always decorate the plate of porridge. Yum yum Cathy, you’d better start up again after the decades of inertia! Cathy has redeemed her reputation by providing her Flapjack recipe, which is a great way to have one’s oat-quota. Good for inner health, and all that… She brought a plate of them to Spinners yesterday and we all declared them nutritious and delicious.
3c oats(regular or quick)
1c s.r. flour
¾ c brown sugar
1 Tbs honey
1c almond meal
125g melted butter
Mix all together and pat into lamington tin
Cook 20 mins @ 180C
Maria and Marina in their full blown German-ness use oats entirely as muesli. None of that slop known as porridge for our Fräulein. Maria toasts up her oats with a little bit of sugar, a kilo at a time in a large pan, stirring all the time to make sure the oats don’t scorch. When it cools she adds almonds, sultanas and currants etc. For her morning meal she scoops up a cup of this delight and pours boiling water over it. Yoghurt or fresh fruit can be served with it.
Alan, our token male, is a sachet man. Couldn’t be more easy and quicker than that. Open the porridge sachet, add water,cook and eat. He needs speed and efficiency to enable him time to pursue his unique craft. No time for being a creative porridge person. He is our all-time needle felter. As a breeder and shower of his standard poodles, Alan has perfected the art of making doggie pictures and/or 3D figures, of his and other peoples’ favourite pooches. All with needle felting. Sometimes actually using the hair of the dog in question. Also he does cats in the same way. A true artist, is our Alan.
Wendy has the right idea. Her husband makes the porridge! He uses Uncle Toby’s oats, cooking them with half milk and half water. And of course a dash of salt, in the traditional Scottish way, of Wendy’s ancestors. They’d be proud of you Wendy but I’m not sure they’d have put honey or strawberries or slices of banana on their oats, as you do !
Marj is another husband only porridge person. Its good to see some representation of men-in –the-kitchen, all thanks to Marj and Wendy and Alan. However the division of labour is still rather entrenched according to this survey!
Annette has done a complete stall on the matter of porridge. She is a Weet-bix stalwart. Well one can be forgiven for that if one could spin and knit as beautifully as our Annette.
Hilary is a porridge lover, making it with half milk and half water a pinch of salt and into the microwave for exactly 7 minutes. She likes it fairly thick and sturdy, pouring it on to prunes , adding a knob of butter with yoghurt and honey on top. I’d call that Porridge with the Works, Hilary! She says her father always ate his, with a knob of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper (!), and no sweeteners.
My father had his ways, too Hilary. He was a salt and butter porridge maker (which he always called burgoo) with a big veto on stirring it, He cooked it gently and allowed a smooth watery gel, to form around the oats. Rather nice actually. And he always had to have golden syrup on top.
Pam has definite notions on how to cook and dress her porridge. None of this quick and easy stuff for her. She uses only steel cut oats which must be cooked gently ,on the stove of course, and for a special treat she sprinkles demerara sugar on top. Yes, she says it MUST be demerara.
Jan favours Uncle Toby and makes her version with quickness and efficiency. She pours milk on to the oats, and cooks them in the microwave for 2 minutes. A heat, eat and enjoy job, leaving her plenty of time to pursue her utterly divine creations of yarns,felt,dyes and gorgeous garments.
Sheila has the gentle touch for her formula. Cover 1/3 cup of rolled oats or quick oats with just enough water and microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds, then let it stand for 1 minute. Put milk and honey on top. Sweet stuff , Sheila.
Christine adds a unique touch to her porridge. 1/3 cup of oats and just enough water to make it thick, stirring so it doesn’t stick. Then she serves it up with a topping of a slice of buttered toast cut into small squares. Well, as Kath and Kim would say, “its dufferent”, Christine. Very dufferent. Psst! I must try it sometime.
Janette has her recipe for Easi Oats. Soak rolled oats in water overnight. Cook, stirring. Serve with cold milk. Here’s determination for you: Janette used to add salt when cooking, with a sprinkle of sugar on top. It took her a long time enjoy her porridge without these two things, but it is better for health reasons and now she enjoys her sugarless, saltless porridge. Onya girl!
Joanne, our newest member, says her reason for not making porridge is that nobody in the family likes it. (Ah, but they will, after reading our blog, Joanne!) Instead she has shared her never fail breakfast eggs recipe. Saute sliced mushrooms in 1 Tbs of butter. Add 2 beaten eggs to the mushies and stir/cook for a minute or so.Then add salt /pepper and enjoy!
Margaret makes a no nonsense porridge. “Throw water and rolled oats into a pan and cook. Sometimes I add fruit and bananas during or after cooking. “ Such a minimalist except when it comes to making incredibly clever and beautiful items for our show and tell, each week !
Alexis thinks we might enjoy this recipe from her old recipe book from the North-East of Scotland. She says (and I wish you could hear her unadulterated Scottish burr) “My grandparents and parents always used fresh oatmeal and added only salt. NEVER sugar or honey. They would have been horrified to see that added. I still add only salt to mine which I make every morning. I use quick oats ½ a cup to one cup of water (with a little salt of course). Simmer for about 10 minutes and eat with cold milk. “I still use a wooden spurtle to stir the porridge.” Alexis says their farm dogs were fed entirely on oatmeal and milk. Absolutely no meat. Good old veggo doggies! Also she told us about her grandfather who was in The Gordon Highlanders contingent during WW 1. The soldiers had part payment of their wages in oatmeal, which they would store in their sporran. Then when an opportunity arose they could pour boiling water over it (ouch! Not over the sporran) to make a sustaining meal. Farm workers in the same way, were partly paid in oatmeal, back in the day.
Here’s an excerpt from “A Taste Of Scotland” which Alexis has brought along:
” ‘Chief of Scotia’s food’ as Robbie Burns described it, is eaten all over Scotland and indeed many parts of the world. There are many traditions to porridge-making and porridge eating; for instance, it must be always be stirred when cooking, with the right hand, clockwise. The stirring is done with a straight wooden stick, like a wooden spoon with the spoon part cut off, known in various parts of Scotland as a spurtle or a theevil. Porridge is always spoken of as ‘they’, and an old custom demands that ‘they’ are eaten standing up. It is usually made with oatmeal, but in Caithness, Orkney, and Shetland bere-meal (a kind of barley) is often used. Porridge has various names in different parts of the country: Gaelic brochan in the Highlands; milgruel (Shetland) and tartan-purry is thin porridge made with the liquor in which kail has been cooked. Traditionally porridge was eaten from a birch-wood bowl with a horn spoon. It is served with cold milk or cream, sugar or more often salt, and as with all foods the fresher and better the oatmeal, the better the porridge. Many Scotsmen like a glass of porter, stout or beer with it.
Recipe for one person.
¼ cup medium oatmeal
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
Boil the water in a saucepan, and when bubbling, add the oatmeal in a constant stream with the left hand stirring all the time , with the right hand. When it is boiling regularly, pull to the side of the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Serve piping hot in cold soup plates, and dip each spoonful into individual bowls of cold milk or cream, before eating. This is the method which has been used for centuries. Porridge served in Scotland is much thinner than in Ireland or England. Also the large flake oatmeal used in other countries is nothing like as good as the medium-size variety in Scotland.”
Which goes to show that we are diverse as individuals, creators and porridge makers. What about you? Send us a note and we’ll publish your version.