It’s officially porridge season. Despite some recent sun, I’m still feeling the effects of the long cold, dark winter. The frosty mornings are great for walking but I’m not keen on the rainy days. So we took the train (alas just before the new Born in the Borders coffee hub opened at Tweedbank) to Edinburgh a few weeks ago to meet friends for lunch. We had a great lunch and a nice warming bottle of red wine at Fishers in the City on Thistle Street. Lunch ran well into the afternoon, as it sometimes does. This left little time to browse the shops on George Street. But however short the shopping time I always manage to find a new book, this time in Anthropologie: Porridge: Oats + Grains + Seeds + Rice by Anni Kravi. Now I’m a bit of a purest – nothing but oats, water and a wee bit of salt. In recent times we have added some berries, banana or honey. At a weekend we may occasionally have added cream and a wee drop of the uisge beatha. (whisky) – a habit picked up after a trip to the fabulous Greywalls in East Lothian. But that has been the extent of my experimentation.
Finland, a porridge loving nation
Anna Kravi is Finnish and the Finns seem to love porridge even more than us Scots. Her book is a feast for the eyes as well as the imagination. Instead of thinking just about cooked porridge she offers baked, raw, and savoury porridge; snack bars; porridge with rye, spelt, rice buckwheat and amaranth. She has recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, smoothie bowls and dessert. Anna turns our humble national morning bowl, into a complete meal with the addition of berries, nuts, seeds, coconut, spices and even edible flowers.
Porridge for all seasons
Anna offers sweet cooked porridge for the dark days of winter. As the weather warms up she suggests going sweet and raw, using apples, carrots spices and nut milk pulp. And then there is the savoury variety, akin to risotto. Using ingredients like sweet potato, beetroot, tofu and ‘chia eggs’. These are easy and quick to make, a nourishing meal, that can be packed and taken with you. For inspiration take a look at her Instagram account @anniskk.
Now you may be thinking that all of this takes more time than you have available. But Anni’s food philosophy for a healthy balanced diet, sees her daily porridge making as an integral part of her mindfulness routine. So for the last week I’ve been following that routine and I am smitten. I have filled up my jars with a variety of flakes and seeds and every morning is a new adventure and a new combination. It’s not just the Finns who are exploring using all kinds of grains – here’s a recipe or two from Nigel Slater . Try the warm porridge cakes with banana and chocolate granola. The creativity with the humble porridge continues.