HEALTHY COMFORT Porridge is a healthy start to the day, slowly releasing its energy to keep you going for longer.
Is breakfast good for you? Like all food discussions, there are several sides to consider. Eating in the evenings in our over-indulgent lives means that breakfast sometimes is not an absolute necessity. Your body and stomach may still be working off our intensive dinners from the night before, and a gentle cup of warm water and cider vinegar are often enough to do you till lunchtime. This should be unusual though – breakfast is the first meal of the day and it is important to set yourself up well for working hard with some good sustenance in your body.
The answer for me, as often with food, is to employ the principles of fresh produce and moderation. Too much of any one thing is not good; even of that thing in itself is good. Therefore too many greasy fries, overladen with heavy or processed meats, are not helpful to one’s body and mind. Still, there are times when a fry is the perfect start.
This is how it goes in our house: Weekdays, I try to get everyone to eat porridge with my yearly stocks of apple butter, a splob of yogurt and whatever fresh fruit is to hand. I like the naturalness, the efficiency, the simpleness, and the cost, of this breakfast. Those who must be obeyed, however, have a fondness for pancakes, thinly cooked and sprinkled with our old friend sugar, the saving grace being freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice.
At the weekends, we love nothing more than the time and freedom to awake later, laze around with tea and kids and chats, and have a more substantial breakfast. More time equals more breakfast! We simply have eggs fried or poached, beans from a can, some sausages perhaps, plenty of toast and plenty of butter… oh yes, the butter….
Like making a cup of tea, making porridge appears simple on paper, but of course everyone has his or her own nuances. My regular porridge is with Flanagan’s porridge oats. I don’t rate presoaking it, because the flaked oats cook out easily enough (but would try presoaking with some of the rougher, more-rustic pinhead porridges).
I empty in the required amount of porridge, add water and a pinch of salt. I only add about three-quarters of the required liquid for full cooking, in the form of water (some use milk, some use half and half).
Over a medium heat, bring the porridge to the point where it starts to bubble, stirring all the way. After a minute, I add the last quarter of liquid in the form of milk, and give it a good stirring for about a minute. Then I turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot and leave it for four to five minutes. My sister-in-law has similar but different quantities and places a tea towel over the pot for resting period. We both agree it settles into a lovely creamy porridge, and it also comes off the bottom of the pan like magic after that steam/settle. There is nothing worse than over-cooking porridge to a cement and then scraping the bottom of the pan to clean it.
If you want to make the porridge your own, add some fruit, honey or yoghurt – you can never go wrong with a twist of cinnamon or a sprinkling of nuts.
Penny’s morning pancake
Pancakes are definitely family food. People like making them, cooking them and eating them. And everybody has his or her own twist – you should see me flipping pancakes to the best Midwest morning tunes!
What you require
> 1 large free-range egg
> 50g plain flour
> 100ml milk
> 1 lime halved
> Brown sugar
What you do
Some recipes suggest adding melted butter to the mix, but we don’t. We melt butter on the pan and cook the pancake on that, instead of using oil. Oil for cooking pancakes is a BIG no-no for little Penny!
Break your egg into a steel or glass bowl, pour in the milk and using a whisk, beat this well, then add the flour slowly and mix to an even consistency. Obviously, more liquid makes a runnier batter, less equals stiffer. Fry to your preference and serve the pancake on a warm plate with a sprinkle of sugar. Squeeze the lime over it to wet the sugar – always a good game.
> Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.