Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Cozy Bowl of Porridge

I grew up on porridge. Hot cereal in the morning was an economical way to feed five hungry children before school without breaking the bank every week. It also was much easier on The Mom than being a short order cook and serving up whatever everyone really preferred. And the "fancy" breakfast food like pancakes and french toast were reserved for dinners to stretch the grocery budget to it's max. So it was the many forms of porridge for us every morning before school. Most often it was oatmeal- sometimes flavored with apples or raisins. Sometimes though it was Cream of Wheat (my personal favorite) or Malt-O-Meal- both the plain and chocolate variations. I also clearly recall The Mom making a breakfast porridge once out of rice and we were all so excited to be eating something different...

As a result, I love porridge in all it's forms. (Well, now I do, then not so much.)It's comfort to me. When I am under the weather, the first thing I reach for is a bowl of oatmeal. A close second being a bowl of Cream of Wheat with plain buttered toast. And while oatmeal is my hands-down favorite, there are so many different forms of breakfast porridge, that I could probably eat a different one every day of the year and still have tons left to try out. Porridge can essentially be made with any grain- oats, barley, quinoa, millet, and polenta to name a few. Some forms of porridge cook slowly on the stove, some cook in the microwave, and still others cook overnight in their own special way. So today's trio of recipes is dedicated to hot steaming bowls of porridge. But before I get to that, an honorable mention needs to go out to recipes in the Recipe Trove that I also love, Baked Quinoa, and Oatmeal with Pineapple & Golden Raisins. Both delicious- be sure to check them out too.

First up, is a recipe you are going to LOVE. It's for a homemade oatmeal mix. So much better for you than those pre-portioned flavored oatmeals, but with the convenience of the preservative laden packets. Switch up the fruit to whatever you have on hand- I'm partial to dried blueberries or snipped apricots myself. Fruity Homemade Oatmeal Mix is quick to toss together, and quick to cook on a hurried morning.

Fruity Homemade Oatmeal Mix

6 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup dried apples or other dried fruit
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar -- packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
8 cups water -- 1/2 cup per serving

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients.
Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.
Yield 8 cups total.
To prepare oatmeal: Shake mix well and measure out 1/2 cup oatmeal into bowl, add 1/2 cup water, and microwave for 3 minutes.
Or on a stove top, in a saucepan, bring water to a boil; slowly stir in 1/2 cup mix.
Cook and stir over medium heat for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat.
Cover and let stand for 1 minute or until oatmeal reaches desired consistency.
"from Light & Tasty magazine"

This next recipe is a completely different spin on a bowl of oatmeal. Muesli is traditionally a Swiss breakfast dish that "cooks" overnight in the fridge. I think that most often it is eaten cold straight out of the fridge. The oatmeal softens overnight in the milk, creating a very creamy and delicious bowl of breakfast. No worries though, if you prefer your porridge hot, a quick zap in the microwave can turn a bowl of Muesli into exactly what you're looking for. And once again, you can vary the additions to whatever you have on hand.

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 apple -- peeled and grated
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans
1 cup low-fat yogurt (any flavor you would like, I prefer vanilla)

Combine oats, milk and honey and leave soaking in the refrigerator overnight.
Next morning, add the grated apple, hazelnuts and yogurt.

And finally this morning a porridge collection would not be complete without a variation of my Southern favorite-grits. I love grits! While my favorite way to eat them is with a little cheese and a fried egg, grits are also delicious with the addition of a few sweets. These Sweet Breakfast Grits are sure to charm you into loving grits if you don't already do so.

Sweet Breakfast Grits
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup quick-cooking grits
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
sliced fresh peaches, nectarines, strawberries, diced apples, or whole berries

Combine the milk, grits, honey, and salt in a saucepan.
Heat the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Once the mixture has reached boiling, lower the heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes or until nicely thickened.
Serve warm, topped with fruit.


Deborah said...

I am going to jump all over this oatmeal recipe. My husband loves to put one of those instant packets in with his old fashioned oats, but this will definitely save some budget room! His favorite flavor is banana, so I'm going to have to find some flavor somewhere since he won't touch banana chips.

Thanks for the recipe!

Erika W. said...

Deborah, how about stirring in some banana yogurt? Or you could mash bananas, freeze them in ice cube trays and then add a frozen cube to the oatmeal as well.

You can also portion this out into small containers or zipper bags when you make it if that's easier for you.

swirlingnotions said...

I love just the name of this post! It's a dreary, rainy day here--the first real one of the season--and I am absolutely craving oatmeal. So I'll be dishing up this recipe tomorow!

I made up a version last year with canned pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon and toasted pecans that was to die for. I'll have to revisit it later this week.

Claire said...

We never had "properly" cooked oatmeal. It's always in the microwave, though I have determined the best way to to Old Fashioned oats in the micro...six minutes on PL4! We also used those prepared packets. Somehow, I seem to remember some kind of cream of wheat (or something like that) with a jelly-type addition, it was my favorite!

Erika W. said...

Lia- pumpkin added in to oatmeal sounds heavenly!

Claire, everyday Mom would get up just a little earlier than us and get a big pot of oatmeal started. She did use the quicker cooking oats to speed up the process.

I wish my kids liked oatmeal, they'll eat it, but only under duress.