When we were growing up, porridge was a warm breakfast treat in the mornings that my mother could whip up in no time at all. We weren’t limited in the amount of raisins we could apply to the steaming cereal. It was heaven. When I met the Pie I learned that HE had been allowed to put brown sugar on his porridge in addition to raisins, and this level of indulgence is my favourite to this day.
Some people don’t like porridge (or oatmeal, as you Americans seem to call it), and that’s fine. I remember reading somewhere that Scots can take anything horrible and turn it into a practical virtue, and eating porridge was one of those things.
Because porridge is so easy to make, though, it always kind of blew my mind to see the varieties of “instant” breakfast oatmeals available at the grocery store. When I tried them, they always tasted gluey and artificial. And really, two minutes in the microwave is not that much faster than five minutes on the stove. Granted, you have to remember to soak your pot afterwards, but that’s not really a big deal.
Let’s get to it, shall we, so I can show you how easy it is? I tend to add all sorts of other grains to my oats to jazz them up, but today (and because we just moved and I haven’t restocked my pantry yet), I’m just doing regular plain porridge. For this, you will need rolled oats (I’m using quick oats here but I don’t find them much faster-cooking than regular ones), water, and a pot.
Oh, and a spurtle. If you don’t have a spurtle (basically a glorified stick), you can use a spoon for stirring but you will find it less satisfying.
The magic ratio for porridge is the same as it is for making basic rice: two parts water to one part grain. The magic serving size for the Pie and myself is about 1/3 cup each uncooked. Once cooked of course the oats expand considerably. So for a serving for two, start with about 2/3 cup rolled oats.
Plop those in a pot and then pour over that 1 1/3 cups water.
Heat on medium, stirring frequently, until the porridge begins to thicken and bubble (this can take between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on what kind of oats you have and how many you are making — for quick oats it’s about 5 minutes). Make sure to keep stirring or the whole mess will stick horribly to the bottom of the pot.
Serve in bowls, garnished with a bit of milk or cream, and a sprinkling of brown sugar. We topped ours with fresh raspberries because we don’t yet have any raisins. Some people like their porridge buttered and salty, but I prefer mine sweet. I also like to toss dried coconut and fruit into the pot when I’m cooking the oats (just add a little extra water), together with some ground flax and cinnamon. Yum!