Almost exactly 11 months ago, I wrote a post entitled Delicious Seasonal Confusion. I’m glad I did, as I have been sitting here feeling all hard done by in the midst of “the worst summer ever” (weather-wise). I’m not sure if it’s reassuring or not to know that summer was as un-summery last year… But at least now there’s one less complaint I can use.
So, yes – it’s June and I’m getting back into porridge. And writing about it, because really when a late spring day boasts highs of 16-18ºC, there are more shameful things than curling up in a dressing gown with a bowl of porridge. Such as the time of day at which I tend to have my breakfast when I’m at home, a piece of information I will keep to myself lest you turn away in disgust.
But then again, it is June, and my Instagram feed is full of berries and citrus. Also – I got really hungry as I was making my porridge, and ate the banana that was destined to be stirred into it, so well… that wasn’t going to happen.
I think the first time I ever made my own porridge (much less fun than when my mum used to make me porridge during a brief phase in primary school, which I distinctly remember was accompanied by generous spoonfuls of brown sugar), I used blueberries. They always looked so pretty in photos, but they offered no flavour beyond the odd tang of juice.
I then thought apple and cinnamon would be nice, as I do love some good stewed apple. Again, mistake – not having stewed them first nor added any additional sweetener, porridge that day was just a watery disappointment.
When I’ve ordered porridge for a breakfast or brunch outing, it has usually come topped with fresh berries. It always sounds luxurious, and it always looks so refined. Thank goodness most places are so stingy with their berry offerings though, as they always reaffirm to me that berries and oats don’t really work well as a team.
Until yesterday of course! Having dispatched that poor banana ahead of its time (I’m convinced it’s how it would have wanted to go), I turned to the bag of frozen strawberries in the freezer. I can’t really sit down to a bowl of porridge without fruit or, frankly, there just wouldn’t be enough of breakfast – I need my fibrous bulk! Also, that bag was almost empty and I hate almost empty bags of things cluttering up my cupboards and freezer. (Don’t ask.)
Oats and berries reunited. In a big party at my house!
A few things I believe made the difference:
- I used half porridge oats, half quinoa flakes. I’m not a fan of quinoa flakes on their own as they do just cook into watery quinoa mush rather than porridge. But I have them and I will use them – and frankly, I think the slightly earthier flavour of the quinoa flakes paired well with the strawberries, whilst the watery nature of both ingredients covered each other up rather than contrasting them as creamy oats would.
- I added some soy milk rather than using all water. More creamy, more flavour. Any other milk would be great (and, frankly, better).
- I stirred in some coconut oil. Fat helps keep me full, and it brings all the flavours together. Plus, as I have some extra virgin cold-pressed in the fridge (still from my Viridian freebies!), it adds a lovely coconut breeze to the background.
- I also drizzled in a little vanilla extract for the warmth it brings to anything it touches.
- Porridge is all about the toppings! I topped with some chia seeds for crunch and nutrition, cashews for extra crunch and creaminess, a sprinkle of cinnamon for sweetness and blood sugar regulation, and then a swirl of blackstrap molasses because I seem to be the only person on Earth who likes it and someone has to eat it. Oh and also it’s sweet without being cloyingly so, low calories, and full of iron.
No recipe because I don’t want to mess with how people like their porridge; thick or watery, heavy handed with the cinnamon (guilty) or boasting steadier morning hands, generously served or a gentle wake-up call to the digestive system. Also, I just can’t get myself to slow down and work for better lighting, more appropriate angles, more appetising colours and textures, and more dainty sprinkles and swirls. This is my food, I’m hungry and I like it hot. This is real life.
What quirky and underestimated combination should I try next?