Before I had children, I’d never dreamed of eating porridge for breakfast. I mean, it’s all gooey, soft, and bland-looking. Old people’s food, was my impression. I much preferred good old toast with lots of butter and jam. When I first started making porridge to feed my children (as everyone does in Australia), sometimes I’d have a little taste, and still found the taste bland and texture unpleasant. My kids didn’t care for it much, either. We all ended up eating toast most of the time.
But everything changed when I was browsing one of my favourite cookbooks, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything one day. He recommended that we should always choose normal rolled oats, not the instant kind. He also suggested throwing a bit of butter at the end to enhance flavour. Intrigued, I gave it a try.
And oh my, what a difference real porridge was from the instant kind. It had beautiful, soft-but-chewy texture, like al dante pasta or rice. It only took 5 minutes or so on stovetop to cook, I don’t know why people bother selling the instant version in the first place. And butter! Who knew butter in porridge would be so lovely (well, I should have known because butter in everything is lovely – we Japanese people even put butter in a warm bowl of rice and eat it with soy sauce when there is nothing else to eat – and it’s delicious).
Encouraged, I started adding more goodies to the porridge mix bit by bit – more for my enjoyment, but also to entice my reluctant little eater Miss M. A handful of coconut here, cinnamon and brown sugar on top, yoghurt…. And now I have perfected it.
An unbelievably yummy, steamy bowl of porridge on cold winter mornings!
For me and my kids, I cook about 1 cup of rolled oats with 1/3 of dried desiccated coconut and dried mango strips (so nice!), with about 2 cups of water. When cooked, add about a tablespoon of butter. Serve in a bowl, with sprinkles of cinnamon and brown sugar (don’t need much because of the sweet dried fruit), top with (dreadfully expensive) banana slices, and a quenelle of yoghurt on top.
I eat it faster than my kids, but surprise, surprise, my kids now totally eat this up. A nice big bowl each. Do you know how precious this is? That porridge fills their tummies up so well, they don’t come back an hour later begging for unhealthy snack. If you are the kind of person who equates butter with guilt, I assure you, these benefits far outweigh the cost.