“Mmmphm!” said Mrs. Bug’s voice, grimly satisfied at having routed the rioters. The door closed, and the clang of wood and clang of metal from below announced the commencement of the day’s activities.
When I went down a few moments later, I found that good lady engaged simultaneously in toasting bread, boiling coffee, making parritch, and complaining as she tidied up the men’s leavings. Not about the untidiness — what else could be expected of men? — but rather that Jamie had not waked her to provide a proper breakfast for them.
“And how’s Himself to manage, then?” she demanded, brandishing the toasting-fork at me in reproach. “A fine, big man like that , and him out and doing wi’ no more to line his wame that a wee sup of milk and a stale bannock?”
Casting a bleary eye over the assorted crumbs and dirty crockery, it appeared to me that Himself and his companions had probably accounted for at least two dozen corn muffins and an entire loaf of salt-rising bread, accompanied by a pound or so of fresh butter, a jar of honey, a bowl of raisins, and all of the first milking.
“I don’t think he’ll starve,” I murmured, dabbing up a crumb with a moistened forefinger. “Is the coffee ready?”
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (Chapter 22)
I had my first major fail in the Outlander Kitchen a couple of days back. It involved steel-cut oats, my slow cooker and it was ugly in the extreme. I’ll save you a picture or even a detailed description — after the 2012 Resolution Diet, I’m scared to show any more nasty photos — lest we forget this is actually a TASTY food blog.
What was I thinking? Mrs. Bug certainly wouldn’t have had a slow cooker…I can just hear her saying: “What are ye doin’? All you need for parritch is a kettle!” (This from a woman who keeps a gold bar in her knitting bag. If she could have had a slow-cooker, she would have bought 3.)
But after the crock-pot disaster, I went old-school and, well…I phoned my Mom. She told me a wonderful story I’d never heard before, about how she made guerilla porridge in her room at nursing school, with just hot water, oats and a bowl. (Food in the rooms was strictly forbidden.)
And so, instead of parritch made in a slow-cooker brought through the stones (it was quite a story, I tell you), we have my Mom’s overnight porridge from Vancouver General Hospital’s Nurses’ Residence. But I suspect Mrs. Bug probably did something similar, to make her mornings go more smoothly. She had a lot of mouths to feed.
Oh, and I added the butter. It’s my classical french training. I couldn’t help it.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
Yield: 2+ Cups (Serves 3-4)
Start it just before you go to bed, and finish it in the morning for the creamiest, most nutritious & delicious breakfast you can make in 5 minutes.
- Rolled Oats – 1 Cup
- Butter – 1 tsp
- Salt – pinch
- Boiling Water – 1 Cup
- Milk – ¼ to ½ Cup
- Cinnamon – ¼ Tsp
Combine the oats, butter and salt in a small saucepan. Pour in the boiling water, stir once, then cover the pot and leave overnight.
In the morning, add the milk to the pot and heat gently over med. low. Cook, stirring regularly, until hot and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and serve, garnished with butter, honey and dried fruit, if desired.
- I don’t think for a minute that Mrs. Bug ever made a 1 cup batch of parritch in her whole life, but let’s get real: her batches would have fed an army. This recipe serves 2 adults and 2 small kids for breakfast. If you’ve got a bigger bunch to feed, it’s easily multiplied.
- Raisins, apricots, cranberries and dates are some of my favourite dried fruit garnishes.
Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)