It has recently occurred to me that while I frequently wax lyrical about rolled oats and quinoa flakes and kibbled dust and the like, I rarely consider them in their most natural state: porridge. I have a few childhood porridge-memories – my late maternal grandfather making it for me when I stayed with him, having a bowlful at Nana’s place and bemusing her (I distinctly remember this bit for some reason if you’re reading Nana!) by sprinkling over white, instead of brown, sugar. To be frank I wasn’t the biggest fan of its blandly creamy flavour, I ate it more out of an early-indoctrinated sense of politeness than anything else. But, as you may have gathered from my endless praise, I’m having something of a porridge revolution. I guess that would make this Revolution 1 (as opposed to “number 9…number 9…” get thee to the Beatles White Album if you don’t know what I’m on about. Not that I know what they’re on about.)

Even though it sounds faintly vile, I tend to have cold ‘porridge’ in the mornings – just oats, and whatever other kibbled and ground bits I have to hand, with cold water stirred in, and a dash of cinnamon. The oats soften remarkably quickly – I usually leave them sitting wetly for about five minutes – and the fragrant cinnamon makes me feel like I’m actually eating something more than paste. The ratio usually goes something like; 2 1/2 T oats, 2 1/2 T quinoa flakes, 1 T wheat bran, 1 T ground linseeds, 1 shake cinnamon, water to cover. What you see in the picture above though, is actual porridge…after a Swiss Ball class at uni on Wednesday I felt like something a little sustaining and warm, as it was inevitably raining again. So I microwaved the bowl of oats for a bit and added a swirl of golden syrup – perfect! It’s funny, even though I was not, as aforementioned, a massive fan of it as a child, there seems something so wonderfully comforting about eating it now.

Forget what the Milo and Cornflake and Nutella ads tell you about sustained energy for today’s kids, oats are so filling it’s ridiculous. When I wasn’t having them for breakfast, I always would end up feeling all light-headed and incompetent around 10am, and now I just feel incompetent (sh-k-boom!) but in all honesty, I can putter along quite happily till 1 or 2 without really needing to eat a thing, I realise this is hardly a new revelation – I’ve mentioned it before on this blog in fact – but until you try – she says wide eyed and evangelically – you have no idea of the difference it makes.

Before you run away in fear from my Flanders-like enthusiasm (“it’s less fun that way!”), I present you the dairy-laden spectre of cheesecake.

In the name of journalistic integrity, I can’t tell you toooo much about this cheesecake, as I made it for the September issue of Tearaway magazine. I was getting a bit freaked out because it has been raining nonstop here in Wellington (and most of NZ in fact) for the last couple of weeks – oh, you think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. Utterly, utterly mercifully, it eased up on Tuesday afternoon and I had a window of opportunity to take some photos in natural light. Thank goodness, otherwise who knows what I would have done (my deadline is a-looming!). Anyway, I won’t show you all the rather nice photos I took, because they’re for the mag, but I couldn’t resist just one, especially because it is such a great recipe, and absolutely fuss-free – no gelatine to deal with (which, in my case, inevitably turns into gooey strings instead of folding coherently into the mixture) and no baking. Five points if you guess who the recipe is from. Oh that’s right…

Cherry Cheesecake from Nigella Express.
By the way, this is only ‘cherry ‘ by way of the conserves that she specifies you heap on top of the finished cheesecake. I’m sure you could use anything you fancy without the Cheesecake Police coming after you.
200g plain sweet biscuits (Nigella says 125g but friend, I like a thick base)
75g soft butter (I tend to trust Nidge’s instinct for butter, and didn’t add any more)

Blitz the biscuits in the food processor with the butter, press into a 20cm Springform.

300g cream cheese (At room temp, unless you have serious guns)
60g icing sugar
Juice of a lemon
250mls cream

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice. In another bowl, whip the cream, then fold, about quarter at a time, into the cream cheese. Pile onto the base, smooth…refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight…and that’s it. It does hold together, despite not having much to it, and is coolly, creamily, tangily delicious. I don’t know if it’s just me – do all family parties have a buffet table? – but it is just begging for a can of drained, crushed pineapple to be folded through the mixture too.
By the way, thanks for the suggestions regarding the brisket, I cooked it tonight (didn’t photograph, as I still find it difficult to make stews look anything other than sloppy), slowly with canned tomatoes, garlic, onion, cumin, nutmeg, a pinch of…tumeric…twas delicious! As I said before, natural light is a bit of a rarity here. Not only does it rain whenever I leave the house, it also seems to be particularly deluge-inous whenever I leave the house for Swiss Ball class at the uni rec centre. Maybe someone up there is trying to say something. We don’t have it so bad though – Mum and Dad have been repeatedly without power, their driveway was flooded and a tree fell over, and Tim’s parents’ farm is a complete mess, with several sheds absolutely smashed. It’s scary how quickly it all happened.

Next time: might be a little while off as I am getting freaked out with assignments for uni. However, I absolutely excelled myself as far as time management goes by mixing and kneading a loaf of bread this morning before work (at 7.30am). I left it to rise in the fridge, and baked it to go with dinner when I got home at half five, and I will blog about it when I get the chance, should the photos be useable.

Finally – finally – Tim and I splashed out on tickets to see the marvelously hilarious Bill Bailey (of the intensely funny Black Books show, etc) when he comes to New Zealand! They were pretty expensive but we run a fairly tight ship most days of the year and it will coincide with his birthday. Tim’s, not Bill’s. And we are totally going to wait at the stage door for him! Squee!

14 thoughts on “Grainspotting

  1. Boffcat says:

    Hooray, porridge’s moment in the spotlight has come! Though I think I may undermine some of its health benefits by eating such obscenely large portions.Just out of curiosity, is reproducing Nigella recipes in a magazine kosher? That cheesecake looks gorgeously billowy, though, <>and<> would handily justify the purchase of a new cake tin – win-win!


  2. Adam says:

    Ah, the infamous Nigella Cheesecake. I know exactly what you mean, it looks delicious. No baking and without gel too, so that’s a def plus.I like your serious guns plug. Who needs to work out if you just make cheesecake all day? šŸ™‚


  3. Neen says:

    Cold Porridge is new to me. However, the hot version, or Oatmeal as we call it over here, is a staple in my parents’ home. My Mom (who is from Northern U.S.) has it every morning for breakfast and my Dad (who is from Alabama) calls it her “Yankee glop” behind her back!


  4. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Boffcat: Billowy is just the right word. Hmm, I hope it’s okay. It’s not like it’s Elle magazine or anything, and I do credit her (I wonder if she has Tony Soprano-type heavies that will come after me :/Adam: Exactly!Neen: Well, the hot version is nicer, but the cold version is quicker. Hee, Yankee Glop šŸ™‚Om!Ap!: Thanks, we’re really looking forward to it!


  5. Kay says:

    My grandfather (your great grandfather) used to make us porridge – with cream and it was delish! Except, he usually only gave it to us in butter dishes when we could easily have demolished bowls of it. There was always salt in it too. I’ve been making rice porridge recently (gluten free) and it’s rather nice and sticks to the ribs far less.Seem to have weathered the storm better than most. Only other casualty seems to be the tv aerial and Lynn’s lime tree in a tub, which I’m plant-sitting (*waves to Lynn*) and which I discovered horizontal in the garden this morning. Should perk up when I set it vertical after the wind dies down. Veeeeeey soggy all around the district and the septic tank is sorely tested by the high water table and damp ground. Our water tank is overflowing – and it’s od thinking back to late summer when we were recycling our sweat because we were so low on water. How quick we forget!The cheese cake looks delish!


  6. Glossy says:

    You’re quinoa-mad! Never tried it might do after seeing how many dishes you’ve made with it. I do Bill’s banana and maple syrup porridge when I’ve got the time, delicious and lovely and filling.I won’t pass judgment on the cheesecake because, believe it or not, it is the only sweet food I don’t like – random but true. Not been on the blog for ages so got loads to read – your photos are fab!!


  7. Anonymous says:

    I have cooked porridge every morning, done in the microwave, no gluggy pots to soak LOL. But what is even better than brown sugar, is….. maple syrup. Devine. Very sustaining, more of a cold weather winter type thingy though. love and hugs, Nana


  8. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Mum: Cream in the porridge would be amazing šŸ™‚ Hope the lime tree perks up! Glossy: You don’t like cheesecake??! (more for me lol)Christie: Sultanas would be great (especially because I prefer them to raisins) and yes, brown sugar is deliciously caramelly in the porridge šŸ™‚Linda: Thanks! šŸ™‚Nana: Yes, the microwave is so handy for that…and I never thought of maple syrup! Genius šŸ˜€


  9. Ann says:

    At first, I was all “she’s cooking something healthy, how dare she” – and then I sighed with relief and respite at the cheesecake. The evil, evil cheesecake. Love that saucy little Nigella.


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