And no, not that mush you might be thinking of. We’re making glam porridge.
Every morning, I come downstairs and see my flatmate sitting at the table eating straight out of the pot – his traditional porridge breakfast. To me, porridge seems like such an English thing. US oatmeal is different (though technically not at all), and on the continent I see muesli before porridge. I used to laugh at the meal; it just seems so bland ! Until one morning, he made me a serving and I was changed.
My partner makes his own overnight oats, and when I stay with him I am treated to his daily breakfast. Since we have been quarantining together, we have transformed into porridge eaters. Every morning, he is up and out of bed long before me, in the kitchen creating the most delicious mixtures of porridge, with the Moka pot on the stove.
One of the first stomachless meals I ate was steel-cut oats from the cafeteria at Stanford. (In the UK, you can buy “porridge oats”. In the US, its equivalent would be “steel-cut oats”.) They were honestly delicious. I think that changed something in me. I used to love a bowl of sugary cereal every once in a while, and that has become an impossible luxury for me now (my body just hates it). Porridge has sweet, salty, smooth, creamy, delectable aspects that have made it overcome sugary cereal in the lineup of things I want to eat. It is so easy for me to digest, and a small bowlful is enough to power me through the morning until my 10am second breakfast (ha, stomachless problems).
I am ashamed to say, I have made porridge only once. I am in no way the expert and I will admit it. However, I have eaten porridge plenty of times. And its simplistic beauty makes it the perfect breakfast food. Hearty, though not too, and healthy. Versatile. Delicious.
To begin, pour some oats in a pot. Again, no measurements here. I would say one serving is probably equivalent to a mugful. That’s as scientific as I will get. Cover with water, and put it on the stove at medium-high heat. Adding a pinch of salt adds a nice complementary flavour to the mix ins you will add later. Stir it, watch it, add more water as needed, and see it all come together. An option is to cook the oats in milk, or any alternative of your choice, and follows the same principles, offering a heartier version. This is not scientific, where soft boiled eggs and sourdough seem to be ultra-scientific.
Now, your porridge is done and you are looking at a bowl of mush. It does not look amazing. You might not want to eat it. It is time to add… mix-ins !
So much freedom here. My personal favourite porridge is the following: half of a sliced banana, chia seeds, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries or goji berries, a tiny bit of peanut butter, and maple syrup. If maple syrup is hard to come by or too sugary, agave syrup is an amazing alternative. Some mornings, I use both. As summer berries come into season, I am excited to incorporate these as well.
Pile it all on, and serve!
Some other toppings worth trying:
- sliced pear
- sliced apple
- any other nut butter
- any nuts or fruits, honestly. Use your imagination and try things !
Porridge is not, as The Guardian called it, “gruel best left in the past”. It is in fact probably the best way to start the day. I wish it were morning again just so I could taste some warm oats, mixed together with maple syrup and fresh bananas…
For the porridge:
1 mug-full of oats per person
a pinch of salt
water (or milk, or milk alternative)
Pour the oats into a saucepan, and cover with water (or milk, or milk alternative). Put on stove at medium-high heat, add a pinch of salt, and stir so the oats don’t get stuck to the bottom. Add water (etc) as needed. Cook for about 5 minutes total (depending on how much you’re making).
spoonful of peanut butter
seeds or nuts
Serve ! Straight out of the pot, or in a bowl, mixed together or with the additions sprinkled on top. Best enjoyed with fresh coffee.
I will leave it to you to try, friends ! Tell me what combinations work for you, what didn’t, and what I should try !