Porridge

IMG_7047It may seem like a simple recipe, however, it is a reminder of how we can easily make the right choices when it comes to eating. A bowl of porridge will feed you well to make it through the morning, with a wholesome whole grain that has saved populations from starvation, and only takes a few minutes to make from scratch, and costs about 25¢ a serving, including milk & a bit of brown sugar.

My relationship with porridge (oats) started at a very early age. We had a certain pot that Dad used to make porridge in every morning. It was thick walled aluminum, a type probably not even sold today. When the handle went, he carved a new one and bolted it on. When the pot lid knob went, he carved a delightfully threatening little totem to replace it.

Every morning through our school years, Dad would get up and make a big pot of porridge for us all, even though we were all still sound asleep. It would be cooled and congealed by the time we would be eating it. But, that was breakfast. This was also at a time prior (long prior) to microwaves being a common kitchen tool for reheating. One morning Dad taught me the trick of frying leftover porridge with a bit of butter and brown sugar in a cast iron pan. Amazingly delicious. It may sound like we were “down on our luck”, but our family always took pride in being thrifty. But never to a fault.

Today the health virtues of starting our days with a bowl of large-flake, old-fashioned oats, made into porridge, has been well documented. We might now add a handful of berries, or a chopped apple & some spice, but it still is able to satisfy us well until lunch. So here’s to putting your porridge pot back on the hob, and starting your day with a great, easy, and thrifty breakfast! Continue reading

Shirley’s Family Meatloaf

IMG_5163This is real, old-school meatloaf.  It is the actual meatloaf mentioned in my sister’s 1993 movie The Lotus Eaters, and our family did take wax-paper wrapped packets of meatloaf sandwiches while sailing with our parents.  We probably ate this once or twice a month during the school year while growing up.  It is an ultimate comfort food in our home, usually served with baked potatoes, which cook in the oven alongside the loaf.

Several years ago I tried to replace the soup with a homemade thick & creamy mushroom stew, but even though I felt better about serving and eating it (the purist I am), condensed mushroom soup seems to be essential (the only reason I usually have a tin in my pantry).  Even using the tinned soup, this is a pretty healthy meat dish.

Who knows where this recipe came from, probably torn out of a newspaper sometime in the 1950’s?  Our family had lots of love but not lots of money, so thriftiness was instilled in us all, and I am sure this was one of Mom’s ways of stretching the food dollar.  This makes fabulous meatloaf sandwiches, and if memory serves me right, we used to be served this on a Friday night and then be fed it in sandwiches over the weekend.

If you want to up the amount of meat used to 2 lbs. the recipe still works well.  Just be sure that the internal temperature is 80° c before removing from the oven.

Also, if you want it to be gluten-free, you’ll need to be sure you use GF oats and GF condensed mushroom soup (Campbell’s isn’t).  Continue reading

Struan Bread

Bread making is a passion for some, while for others it’s a way to have in-home made bread.  Then there are those that like to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labour. There are still millions of people who do it simply because they need to feed their families.  I get pleasure from the sight of uniform loaves that have an aesthetic appeal, that smell great and can be enjoyed just as is.  I used to hand knead all my bread, and while doing it would fondly remember the maple bread counter that Dad built Mom when they redid their kitchen in Vancouver about 40 years ago.  It was the perfect height for Mom to knead on.  It was secured on three sides, and made of 2” thick boards.  Although it was a wee bit too high for me at the time, it would be perfect for me now, as I ended up to be the same height as my mom.  We didn’t consider it an essential when planning our kitchen, and now, with the Kitchen Aid, I can cope well without it.  Before the arrival of the Kitchen Aid, I would stand at a broad expanse of the kitchen counter faithfully kneading for 10 minutes, or however long was required, all the time wishing I was just a couple of inches taller.  But the view over our front meadow was always worth it. 

The original version of this recipe is from Peter Reinhart’s Brother Juniper’s Bread Book.  It is a favourite of mine, as it is good on its own, with a smear of butter, toasted, or the start of a great sandwich.

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