Everybody has their favourite way of making porridge. Purists will tell you that porridge has to be cooked long and slow to develop the correct consistency, stirred with the attention usually only reserved for a good risotto. There’s no way I’m standing around doing that first thing in the morning, so to the microwave it is. Mind you, there is a way get some of that traditional creaminess into a microwave porridge and that trick is to soak the oats in the milk before you cook it.
Here’s how it works in our house: fall out of bed, stumble down stairs, pour oats and milk into a bowl while making obligatory cup of tea, put bowl into microwave out of way of the cats, go back upstairs and get washed and dressed, come back down, cook porridge, eat. If you are feeling crazily organised you can do the soaking stage the night before and leave the porridge mixture soaking in the fridge where it will become even creamier (I have even been known to eat this mixture cold without cooking it, on the train. Funny looks? Yes!).
Porridge is just made for experimentation and this fig and plum porridge is a joy (think christmas morning, every day). Dried figs are an excellent partner to porridge, keeping their texture better than most dried fruits because of all of those little tiny seeds (did you know that they also contain a surprisingly large amount of calcium and iron?). Allspice is this year’s winter spice of choice for me, having the requisite warm, mulled wine fragrance but with a bit more punch than cinnamon. And nutritionally there are pretty much only good things to say about oats; if you would like to read more about these good things I highly recommend Canadian Dietitian Leslie Beck’s Featured Food article on oats. Scratching around, the only thought close to a criticism I have ever managed to come up with is that oats are a little lower in insoluble fibre (the roughage sort) than some other cereals. The addition of fresh and dried fruit boosts this and I also throw in a teaspoon of flaxseeds at the soaking stage (these are also called golden flaxseed, flax and linseed). The finishing touch to the porridge is a decadent sprinkling of dark muscovado sugar crystals that melt into the top in an irrestibly fudgy way.
Because porridge itself is so easy to prepare this is a good opportunity to get in a portion of fruit or veg (yes, porridge and veg, all will become clear in just a moment!). These are some of my other favourite porridge combinations (complete with silly names):
- The bircher – Grated apple, chopped dates, cinnamon and honey
- The gentle start - Grated pear and honey, cooked with three cracked cardomom pods
- The store cupboard – Dried cherries, chopped mixed nuts and flaxseed
- The carrot cake – grated carrot, sultanas and a pinch of ground ginger topped with maple syrup (put the carrot in at the start of the cooking)
The next step in my quest for speedy porridge making perfection will be to try out cooking porridge overnight in a thermos so that it is ready to grab and go. I’m just searching for my perfect thermos, preferably one that is light and wide rimmed for eating porridge and stew type dishes, if any of you would like to offer a recommendation? Thanks to Cassie at Veggie Meal Plans for pointing me towards the thermos tip. If you have any pureed squash left over from the Butternut squash, oat and ginger cake bites check out her take on the thermos porridge recipe; Overnight Oats with Pumpkin, Raisins and Walnuts.
This recipe is for Weekend Herb Blogging, staying at home this week in Kalyn’s Kitchen, Utah, where it is seriously cold porridge-eating weather.
Recipe for Fig and plum porridge
Rolled oats are easy to get hold of and cook quickly. If you are making the porridge on the hob in the slow, traditional way then try pinhead oatmeal, the Rolls Royce of porridge oats. Any milk of your choice is fine (I use organic semi-skimmed cows milk)
3 Tbsp rolled oats
1 tsp flax seeds
end of tsp of allspice powder
1 Tbsp dried figs
1 fresh plum
Half a cup of milk
Soak the oats, flax and allspice in the milk for between twenty minutes and overnight.
Cook the mixture in the microwave for two minutes.
Remove from the microwave and stir. Use a small, sharp knife to cut the plum in half and then slice chunks of plum directly into the porridge.
Cook the porridge and plum for another thirty seconds (or longer, depending on your microwave)
Stir in the dried figs. Add a splash of cold milk if the porridge needs cooling or loosening up. Sprinkle with the sugar and serve immediately.