More than just oats in the pot.

I know rolled oats/oatmeal/porridge/whatever you want to call it is not everyone’s idea of a yummy breakfast but around here they are pretty much staple morning fare. I guess because I was not made to eat it as a child (my Mum hates it because she was) I don’t mind it and certainly with a bit of tweaking it can be really tasty. I never knew this before, my husband always made it, and well, it was porridge, boring oats cooked in water and needing a ton of brown sugar to make it palatable. When he wasn’t home we had cereal from a box because it was easier and frankly, nicer. Then I saw Alton Brown on his show Good Eats saying that if you weren’t eating oats every day you were probably dying. I think that is probably a bit melodramatic but who am I to argue, I am certainly no food scientist. Anyway now I make it almost daily and have been having fun seeing how far I can take it from your run-of-the-mill gruel to something I want to eat.

The current favourite with the kids is as follows:

To serve 2 (or 1 adult and 2 children)
1 cup rolled oats
small pinch of salt (trust me it makes a big difference)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
about ¼ cup of sultanas or raisins
1¼ cups milk
1¼ cups cold water

combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer over a low to medium heat stirring often until thick and creamy, the slower you cook it the smoother and creamier it will be and the plumper and juicier the sultanas, approx 5 – 10 mins depending on how fine your oats are. If it has been cooked a bit long and has become too thick simply stir in a little more milk until you achieve the consistency you desire, or make a porridge float by allowing it to sit in your bowl for a minute before adding milk, the porridge will float like an island in the bowl (fun for older kids). Garnish with a sprinkle more cinnamon or if you are feeling extra decadent, a swirl of cream.
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This is still kinda boring to me though the addition of cinnamon and sultanas means I don’t need to add any sugar which is a bonus.

My current favourite however goes like this:

To serve 2 (or 1 adult and 2 children)
1 cup rolled oats
small pinch of salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup of sultanas or raisins or any other dried fruit that you like (I prefer mango, strawberries and papaya but apricots, cranberries, apples, figs etc will work just as well).
1¾ cups cold water
1¼ cups milk
small handful of chopped nuts and seeds(I like brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and sesame seeds roasted but use raw if you prefer and any mix you like, if using roasted, salted nuts omit the salt in the beginning).

This step is not necessary but makes for a delicious change and adds a bit more texture… combine the first 4 ingredients in a clean, dry pot and stir continuously over a medium heat until the oats and coconut are golden brown (about 2-3 mins – do NOT leave it as it can burn in seconds if you stop stirring) and the cinnamon is fragrant.
Carefully add the water first (this will boil and puff up the oats almost instantly) then add the milk and dried fruit. Cook as in previous recipe though it will take less time, about 5 mins. As before add extra milk if needed and garnish with the nuts and seeds. Yummy!

Oh and here is a tip to avoid the horrible task of scouring out the porridge pot… when the porridge is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 2 mins before serving. Dish it into your bowls and then rinse the pot immediately, no scrubbing needed, it will come clean easily.

Next time I make my toasted porridge I will post a pic but as we are all full of a head cold here today, grumpy children meant I didn’t have the extra time to toast the oats first – I had to keep them from beating up on each other instead.

Do you have any other flavour variation that is popular in your house? I would love to try them.

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Toni’s “can’t get it wrong” White Cake

So as promised here is the recipe and photos for the birthday cake I made in celebration of Miss R turning 1 two weeks ago (tardy I know, sorry). I am also going to be lazy and not even write out the recipe here as, lucky for me some friends of mine, who have a fabulous blog that chronicles all of their crafty Pinterest endeavors, featured the cake I made for mine and my Mum’s birthday celebration as a guest post and I had included the recipe there. Since the basic recipe is the same you can check it out here… in fact this blog was one of the main inspirations behind me starting my blog and one of its authors, the wonderful Holly, was the first person I turned to for advice when setting up my own.

Here is the adult version:

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and the kiddie version.

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Stupidly I forgot to take photos as I was making it but the modifications I made to the recipe this time are as follows…

To ensure I had enough cake to work with I mixed 1½ the usual quantity, intending to bake one batch worth in a 23cm circular pan and a half batch in a standard loaf pan (to form the body of the butterfly). After mixing the basic cake batter I split it in half and tinted one half of it pink and added some raspberry essence. Then, using a spring-loaded ice-cream scoop, I put alternating coloured dollops of batter into the two pans. I used a fork handle to create a few swirls resulting in a basic marble pattern.

When baked and cooled (I left it over night) I cut the circle cake to look a bit like an inverted peace sign (pattern here) and did just a bit of extra shaping to create slightly curvier wings.

Then using this butter-cream recipe:
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter
3 – 4 cups icing sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbs vanilla essence
up to 4 Tbs milk or cream
beat together until light and fluffy

… I gave the whole thing a crumb coat and piped the different colours (tinted with food colouring) on.

I had intended to create a lovely smooth finish and embellish it with detail piping, candies and shiny cachous however it turns out that icing a cake with two very interested toddlers hanging off your arms is really hard! I opted for the much easier, and actually faster, piping bag option and I think it looked ok – not quite what I had in mind but it got eaten just the same!