Sunday, 1 July 2012


PORRIDGE!!!  A dish made by cooking oats in boiling water and milk.  Add some type of sweetener, maybe a little fruit as well, and you're in business.  You have a super breakfast.  In England this is porridge.  In the US it's oatmeal.  Here are some quick facts about porridge or oatmeal:  Eating a bowl of oatmeal every day can lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.  That's because oats are high in complex carbohydrates and water-soluble fiber.  They also contain more protein than any other cereal.  
Oats ready for harvesting

Oats are processed by de-husking oat grains to get to the oat groats, the seed inside the husk.  The groats are then milled to produce oatmeal. To make rolled oats (also called old-fashioned oats), whole oat groats are steamed and flattened.  Quick oats are rolled oats that have been cut into small pieces.  Instant oatmeal is oatmeal that is pre-cooked and dried.     Steel-cut oats (also called Irish oats), are whole grain groats which have been cut into pieces or have been broken during the de-husking process.  They are chewier and have a nuttier flavor.  Gruel, is a thinned-out porridge made by mixing oatmeal (or other cereals) with cold water. The oatmeal is then strained out and the water is heated and sipped.  Gruel was used for medicinal purposes and was also a staple food during hard times.     

I have oatmeal for breakfast several times a week.  I prepare it much the same way as in this recipe.  The difference is that time doesn't permit me to add the apple topping every day.  Instead, I top my oatmeal with a splash of milk and a dash of cinnamon.  It's a perfect breakfast to start my day with. 
Recently, I read a study which convinced me of the importance of breakfast. Research presented at a scientific session of the American Diabetes Association, showed that there is a relationship between morning eating habits and development of type II diabetes.  The research revealed that people who ate breakfast 5 times or more per week had a 31% reduction in type II diabetes risk.  They also gained less weight.  So make sure you eat breakfast, and choose oatmeal often.  Breakfast, and oatmeal for breakfast have too many healthy benefits to pass up.  
Here's my recipe for PORRIDGE or OATMEAL with RAISINS and FRUIT:


1½  cups 2% lactose free milk (I am lactose intolerant, Lactaid brand milk is lactose free, available in most all supermarkets.  I recommend it)

1½  cups water

Some salt to taste

1/2 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1 tablespoon honey

1 banana, chopped in small pieces

stewed apples


Make the stewed apples:
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup water
a pinch of cinnamon
a few raisins 

Mix all the ingredients and add them to a medium sauce pan.Cook on low heat stirring frequently.  In about 20 to 30 minutes the liquid should be absorbed, the raisins will be plump, and the apples will be soft and done.
Now cook the oats:
Into a medium pot add the the water, the milk and salt to taste.  Bring to a simmer, add all the oats and lower the heat.  Cook the oatmeal for 20 minutes, maintaining a slow simmer and stirring frequently.  Near the end of cooking the oatmeal will start to thicken and bubble.  That's the time to add the banana. Mix until the oatmeal is cooked, and turn off the heat.  Add the honey and mix again.  Spoon the porridge into bowls and let it sit for about a minute.  Add the stewed apples on top and drizzle with a little more milk and some cinnamon to decorate. Ready to eat! 
*One tablespoon of honey is enough for me, but then I don't really have a sweet tooth (I have more of a potato-chip tooth). The fruit and raisins will provide additional sweetness.   

This is my contribution to NOVEL FOOD, the culinary/literary event hosted by Simona from BRICIOLE.  For this edition of Novel Food, I reread Jane Eyre, and decided to cook a porridge that little Jane would be happy to eat on a cold morning in Lowood school.