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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There is porridge smooshed into the couch, cat sick on the carpet and poo in my hair – it is going to be one of THOSE days…

There was no indication when I rose at 5:30 to see my husband off as he left to throw himself out of a plane, nor when I collected Miss R from her cot so she could snuggle in the big bed with me and Master A until a more civilised hour, not even as I lay unable to go back to sleep due to the 3.8 equivalent shaking of the house caused by the trucks rumbling past to the nearby housing development, that the day was going to hold so many, gag inducing, EW moments.

I should have had a clue upon rising again at 7:30 when my 2-and-a-half-year-old son exclaimed cheerily over the biscuit coated fur-ball in the middle of the hall carpet. I didn’t, instead I wrangled my 1-year-old daughter away from it, preempting her desire to pick it up and dutifully cleaned the mess (thank goodness for carpet shampooers).

I could not however avoid the slap in the face that was my next clue. Having finished his morning cocoa Master A had, as usual, filled his nappy. As it was a very cold morning I had prepared oats for all of us and carried them down to the living room for a cozy breakfast in front of the heater and morning cartoons. Unwisely (in perfect 20/20 hindsight) I put the porridge bowls on the couch in order to take care of the aforementioned full nappy. It is my opinion that the nappy companies have it all wrong, it seems that no matter what brand you buy they will inevitably be printed with some loveable furry creature or a quartet of colourfully clad men who sing about over-heated tubers.

They should, in fact, be printed with a bio hazard label and a warning –  Caution! Contents may cause retching, enter at own risk! – To my intense displeasure I found that the chronically mislabeled nappy had leaked and there was fecal matter all over the inside of my wee man’s pyjama pants and on his legs, EW 2. As I am cleaning this and him up I am unfortunately unaware of darling Miss R’s steady progress toward the couch and the waiting breakfast. Catching sight of her last-minute I lunge for her in an attempt to avoid the inevitable mess that will result in her successfully making her goal. I miss. As my triumphant girl happily massages what was supposed to be our breakfast into the fabric of the sofa I look back to discover that, in my frantic reach, my long, untied hair has swiped across my boy’s shitty backside and THERE IS POO IN MY HAIR!!! Cue intense dry heaves… EW 3.

Three shampoos and a deep condition later, seated on a freshly cleaned couch (lucky that shampooer works on furnishings too!) I feel somewhat human again and have a pretty fair idea of how the rest of the day is going to go.

I was not wrong…

I have a bit of time after breakfast before the rubbish truck is due to arrive so I take the opportunity to empty any uneaten leftovers and squishy fruit into our yet unfilled bag. As predicted I reach into the fruit bin and immediately plunge my thumb into a partially rotten cucumber, EW 4. As I carry the now nearly full bag outside to check for rubbish blown into the yard (or brought in by my kleptomaniac cat – he doesn’t care what he is stealing so his most common night-time acquisitions are trash) I stumble while swerving to avoid the sludgy remainders of what appears to be an apple dropped from our tree, drop the rubbish bag and scatter rice and vegetable peelings all over the path (I did mention in my bio on the “about” page that I am clumsy) EW 5!

EW’s 6 and 7 came in the form of further shitty nappies and although they were expected it didn’t make them any more fun. Thankfully I am given a reprieve and there are no more cringe worthy events for the rest of the afternoon or during dinner, bath time or even baby bed times. As would be expected I let this seeming calm lull me into believing that my icky moments were over (for that day at least).

Wrong!

As our bed time came Hubby and I readied ourselves for bed and proceeded to the bedroom. Shimmying Master A into the middle of the bed from his usual sideways position we climb in too, one on either side of him (yes we co-sleep – more on that in another post) and start to settle in for the night. Enter EW 8… emitting a loud groan our boy opens his mouth and out gushes a fountain of vomit! My husband (bless his strong stomach) grabs him up and holds him while wave after wave of half digested dinner comes pouring from our son. I would like to submit here that this be considered EW’s 9, 10, 11 and 12 also, as not only did he vomit on himself (EW 8) which is revolting enough but it was also all over me (9), hubby (10), the bed (11) and our pillows (12). What followed was a blur of showers, bed changes, pillow hunts, soothing cuddles and a very tired mummy grateful that finally, at 1:30am the day was finally over!