One thing I love about the cooler months is making creamy, hot porridge for breakfast.
I remember when my brother and I were very young, on wintry mornings before school my mother used to stir steaming hot oats, milk and a pinch of salt in a well-loved saucepan over her stove top as we sleepily dressed in our school uniforms (which my mother had sewn- She has always been a Jack of all trades and a master of, well all of them). She would scoop large gooey spoonfuls into three bowls, set them down in front of us at the table, then drizzle each creamy porridge with honey, thick cream or sprinkle with soft brown sugar before returning to the kitchen to pack our lunches.
I usually poured whole milk over mine and would savour every mouthful, whilst my brother gulped his down, virtually inhaling it as many boys tend to do.
Following breakfast, my mother would wrap us up tightly in our thick jumpers and hats to prevent the cold sea air from chilling us when she opened the front door for us to walk across the road to the bus stop. The first blast of salty air always seemed less daunting when Mum had carefully cocooned us in our protective coats.
Some mornings if she wasn't working, my mother would wait for the bus with us and if it were raining, she would stand with us under the cover of the balcony, holding my hand and asking about what I liked best about my teacher or what my friends and I played at recess and lunch time. With such wonderful memories and soothing breakfasts, it is no wonder really that I think humble porridge is one of the ultimate comfort foods.
When I first moved away to university, I distinctly remember waking abruptly one morning to my alarm clock that I had set to a local radio station to sound at 6:30AM. The radio presenter, a male who I imagined was in his fourties loudly boasted about how wonderful the day would be. Annoyed by the overly-cheery tone in his voice at six-thirty in the damn morning (I mean the sun would have barely broken through the sky above the hills of farmland oustide my window), I hesitantly slipped out from the warmth of my tiny bed, squinted in fear of the flicker of my bedroom light as I wrapped my beautiful blue dressing gown around my shivering body and pulled my tall ugg boots over my mismatched socks. I made my way slowly to the kitchen and made a beeline to the red box of rolled oats to make a bowl of porridge before packing my gym bag and text books for the day ahead. After stirring and inhaling the wholesome, hunger-inducing aromas of the glorious creamy oats, I ventured into the loungeroom, bowl and spoon-in-hand and drew the curtains. With my heavy lids barely open I sat in a chair overlooking the adjacent farm, only to discover it was snowing. Light, fluffy snow was descending slowly and magically from the morning sky and I suddenly realised at that very moment, with utter happiness that it was in fact Saturday.
Now that I'm in my twenties I have developed slight intolerances to some foods. Determined not to let cramping and discomfort deter me from feeding my porridge addiction (literally), I now make gluten free quinoa porridge. It takes roughly the same time to make and tastes simply delicious.
1 cup Rolled quinoa
2 1/2 cups soy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp vanilla paste
1 pinch salt
Cinnamon or nutmeg
1 lady finger banana, sliced
Soak the quinoa for five minutes in water, then rinse and drain before adding it to a heavy based saucepan. Pour in the soy milk, add the vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg (I tend to prefer nutmeg with banana and cinnamon with stewed apple toppings), and salt, then stir over low heat until the quinoa thickens into a beautiful porridge.
Serve immediately with freshly drizzled honey and perhaps a few slices of a sweet, ripe lady finger banana. I sometimes like to add more soy milk to my bowl too, it's entirely up to your personal taste.
Oh, and a little side note... I've used up the perishable soy milk in the fridge now so that's one less thing to worry about when I fly out of Sydney this Friday destined for Malaysia...
Porridge makes everything better.