Porridge is something that only came to me in later life. I shunned Ready Brek as a kid and breakfast altogether as a teenager, unless you count tea and biscuits at Munch (me and my school friends favourite haunt, conveniently opposite school!).
For years I’d been put off by the consistency, colour and blandness of it all (I mean who doesn’t want bacon every day?!). But, then I went to uni. And at uni I discovered my love for cooking and eating was having a dramatic battle with my love of vintage clothes, charity shops and going out (constantly).
Although me and my housemate, who’s still one of my close friends, subscribed to our own little private members’ club in second year, known as “Gourmet Thursdays”, corners had to be cut somewhere. And it is the same girl I have to thank for getting me into porridge. She convinced me it wasn’t all bad, “just try it’. She was, of course, right. I’d just been scarred by early experiences of glue-esque gunge masquerading as porridge.
And once my love had been ignited, there was no stopping me. It became my saviour once I started working after uni. Those little sachets you can cook in the microwave = desk breakfast = more time in bed = my kind of heaven.
It’s been about six years since this love affair began, and I’ve had plenty of time to try out different toppings and cooking methods. One thing’s for certain, how you prepare your oats is a matter of great debate, and I think entirely personal, but if you have time to cook them on the hob then you’re already winning in my opinion. I use a 50/50 ratio of water and semi-skimmed (organic) milk – if you give it enough love and stir a lot, your oats will be creamy anyway without needing to use 100% milk. Of course, you can use any dairy alternative. I like Koko Coconut milk if I don’t use cow’s milk. No salt for me, thank you. If I wanted a savoury breakfast I would have some aforementioned bacon.
If you don’t like one of these three porridge combos, then you might as well give up now; there’s no hope for you.
1) Sultanas, currants or raisins and cinnamon
I’m indiscriminate about which of the small dried grapes you use. I normally chuck a small handful in with the oats as they puff up during cooking. Make sure you go wild with the cinnamon.
2) Berry compote
No brainer. Berries are most definitely my favourite fruit – raspberry normally wins for me, but in the bowl above the compote is a combination of frozen blackcurrants, blackberries, redcurrants and raspberries, cooked down with minimal sugar and a dash of water – compotes keep for a week or so in the fridge.
3) Grated apple and natural yoghurt
This one couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is pick your favourite apple, wash it, grate it. Stir through cooked porridge and dollop some yoghurt on top. I really love Yeo Valley’s natural yoghurt. If you like it sweeter, drizzle on some honey. As a total aside, use honey from local beekeepers if you can, it tastes nicer and is kinder to the bees!