A porridge by any other name would taste as sweet


I grew up on porridge. We ate it the traditional Scottish way: with water and salt. That was it.

I remember my mum and dad telling us that everyone they knew had a porridge drawer in their home.

Apparently, this was simply a wooden drawer into which hot porridge was poured and left to become gelatinous. Then, a slice was cut from it whenever someone needed a snack.

Who said the Scots can’t cook?

Having experienced cold, rubbery porridge on several occasions, my sister and brother and I were incredulous.

But porridge, dismissed by recent generations as boring fare, is making a comeback. In the UK, for example, sales have almost doubled  since 2008.

Good thing, too, because oats are such a super food. Not only are they super nutritious but they’re super easy to make.

Especially easy if you choose the instant sort that goes in the microwave. (I will admit to having succumbed on numerous occasions to plaintive begging by children for instant oats with multi-coloured ‘dinosaur eggs’ in them.)

But we’re not here because we like to eat instant oatmeal. Right?

Actually, I don’t know. Maybe you do like instant. If you’re doing basic instant, not one of those flavours that are laced with sugar and colours like the dinosaur eggy ones, then you could do worse for breakfast.

In any case, it’s the good stuff  we’re looking at today. The whole rolled oats. The steel cut oats. They’re amazing!

And these days, there’s no shortage of ideas out there for making ’em into whatever you want. (I read somewhere recently, and I wish I knew who to credit with this, that oats are especially tasty if you toast them, like nuts, in the oven first, then use them in recipes.)

We’re treating oats the way we used to treat bread, piling stuff on so we hardly taste the grain. It’s just a delivery device for sweet and savoury toppings. Great fun, really!

Look here. In the last week I’ve made some yummy bowls of Bircher’s muesli. No cooking required. It’s almost as easy as microwaving!

Bircher’s muesli with strawberries and bananas, pecans and hemp
Bircher's muesli with blueberries, bananas and walnuts, and hemp
Bircher’s muesli with blueberries, bananas and walnuts, and hemp
Bircher's muesli with dried blueberries, (ran out of fresh) more bananas and hemp.
Bircher’s muesli with dried blueberries, (ran out of fresh) more bananas and hemp.

I got the recipe from Skye Gyngell How I cook.  It’s a lovely little cookery book with pretty ribbon place holders. One of those cookery books I like to visit again and again, because it’s so charming.

The Bircher’s museli Skye uses dates back to the original 1890’s recipe created by Dr Bircher-Benner a very forward-thinking dude who was into raw foods when it wasn’t cool to eat salad.

Once I figure out how to insert recipes I’ll do it properly. For now, here’s all you’ve got to do: Open a drawer and dump in — I’m kidding! Use a bowl.


a cup of steel cut or whole rolled oats (depending on how much chew you like)

the juice and grated zest of two oranges

zest of  a lemon

100 ml water

That’s it. Put it together in the evening, pop it in the fridge and you can have some in the morning.

I like to take about three tablespoons at a time- it’s filling! – and then add whatever. Clearly, banana and hemp with everything is my favourite. But I’ve heard a fried egg works too.

The point is it’s so flexible. There’s tons of room for creativity in the kitchen here.

Give it a go, and, if you’ve got a minute, share your results here. I’d love to hear what you think of Dr. Bircher’s recipe.

And if you’re a Skye Gyngell fan, let’s hear from you. Have you made any of her recipes that I ought to try?

Thanks for popping in! Talk to you soon!

6 thoughts on “A porridge by any other name would taste as sweet

Jane McDonald says:

I tossed my head back and howled at your line, “Who said the Scots can’t cook?” Just like sitting across the table from you!

Please, can I have some more? 😅

Heather MacDonald says:

Next time you visit, Jane, we’ll make some porridge in a drawer. Then we’ll saute it with some onions and garlic and smother it in mushroom gravy and call it vegan steak. You heard it here first! 😀

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