Apple and Spice Porridge: In the Woods

 

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This wolf spider and I had a disagreement about where I should tie my laundry line.

There’s nothing like a hot breakfast after crawling out of your warm sleeping bag on a crisp morning at the crack of dawn. While we abandoned our rainy campsite with dampened spirits and dampened everything else, I wanted to continue on with the camp menu, seeing as I had everything ready in any case.

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This creamy version of our traditional porridge is adapted from The Camping Cookbook and adds a nice bit of luxury to a morning spent in the woods. Even a super rainy one.

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Dump 1 1/4 cup milk into a saucepan and bring it to a low boil.

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Add in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2/3 cup oats and cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to thicken.

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Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and reduce the heat a little bit.

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Grate up 1 large apple. I’ve never grated an apple before. It’s oddly satisfying.

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Tip that into the mix and stir until it’s heated through.

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Serve with honey drizzled over top. Perfect.

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Plain ol’ Porridge

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Plop those in a pot and then pour over that 1 1/3 cups water.

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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.

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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!

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EAT IT FOR BREAKFAST: Quinoa Oatmeal

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I love, LOVE reading Thug Kitchen.  Believe it or not, this is actually how I cook most of the time.  With very colourful language.  I tend to tone it down so as not to offend your more delicate sensibilities.  However, you may find that sometimes the tenor of my writing changes a bit.  Usually you can blame that on a binge reading of Thug Kitchen, or a quick episode of Epic Meal Time.  If I had my own internet cooking show, you can bet there would be lots of yelling and throwing of things.  And probably more dropping-things-on-the-floor-then-picking-them-up-and-putting-them-back-in-the-bowl than you were really prepared for.  Because that’s real life for me.

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Anyway, I’m a firm believer in breakfast.  Yup, I’m one of THOSE.  Don’t even argue with me.  And I love me my parritch, so this quinoa oatmeal with steel cut oats appeals to the hippy highlander in me.

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Start with 1/2 cup quinoa, and give that a good rinse in a sieve so that you wash off all the bitterness.

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Put 4 cups water in a kettle and set that on the stove to come to an almost boil (you’ll thank me for the shortcut later).

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Now you’re going to plop a bit of olive or coconut oil (1 teaspoon) in a saucepan, followed by 1 cup steel cut oats.

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Stir that around on medium heat until the oats start to smell nice and toasty.

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Chuck in the quinoa and the water and bring it to a boil (which will be almost immediately because you already almost boiled the water, remember?), then lower it to a simmer and let it cook as it is for about 20 minutes.

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Stir it occasionally so it doesn’t burn, but don’t fret too much about it.

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Add in about 1/2 cup of whatever kind of milk you like and turn off the heat.

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Serves 4, garnished with fruit and nuts or raisins and brown sugar or whatever floats your boat!

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