Be like a train; go in the rain,

go in the sun, go in the storm,

go in the dark tunnels!

Be like a train;

concentrate on your road

and go with no hesitation!
~Mehmet Murat ildan

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

***Unfold your own myth.***

I hope you will go out and let stories,

that is life, happen to you, and that

you will work with these stories . . .

water them with your blood &

tears & your laughter till they bloom,

till you yourself burst into bloom.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Friday, 4 March 2011

Perfect Porridge

The days may be getting longer and a wee bit warmer, but I still get requests for porridge for breakfast.  Sadly, I do not have this Highland Hottie here in my kitchen to help cook the porridge, but I have learned a few tips over the years about cooking oatmeal.

Porridge oats are often thought of as being particularly Scottish, but a form of porridge is eaten throughout the world, with different types of grain.  Oats are the easiest grain to digest, so in the past they were often given in a thin gruel to people who were ill.  Gruel is like porridge, only much more watered down, and was also given to prisoners or people in Victorian workhouses--as in Oliver Twist's, "Please sir, can I have some more?"

Porridge was a mainstay in the Scottish diet and eaten throughout the day, and as Samuel Johnson once snarkily pronounced, it is "A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people."  A big pot would be cooked in the morning, poured into a drawer and left to cool.  It was then sliced up, wrapped and taken by working men to eat later in the day.  Since I have some Scottish blood in me, it might explain why I love cold, thick porridge.

Our guests get their porridge hot and steaming though, and I usually use either Scottish or Irish oats, never the instant kind.  I even have my trusty wooden porridge stirrer, with the Scottish thistle on top, which came straight from the homeland in Edinburgh.  The biggest trick in making a creamy porridge is starting with cold water and milk, and then adding the oats while the water is still cold.  I usually use a little bit less oats than the recipe calls for at first, because I add some more oats just before it's done cooking to give more texture and 'oatiness' to the porridge.  Adding a few shakes of salt also makes the oats taste oatier, and a touch of brown sugar in the last 10 minutes of cooking makes the porridge sweet without tasting heavily of brown sugar.

If you've cooked the long version of porridge, you'll know that the pan can be a bit stubborn to clean.  My top tip for that is to soak the pan in cold water and then the porridge will slide right off, in fact I have a pan soaking right now.  So here's my recipe, which makes about 3-4 servings, of which I've probably had 3 of the servings today.  It is for rough cut or steel cut oats, like Scottish or Irish oats, not the more processed kind with the Quaker on the front

2 cups cold water
1 cup cold milk
1 cup oats + 1/4cup to add near the end
A pinch of salt
1 or 2 T. of brown sugar
Gently cook for 20-30 minutes--it shouldn't 
come to a full, rolling boil and stir 
often with a wooden spoon.

"Good love is like a bowl of oatmeal."
~Robert Johnson, Jungian Psychologist

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Today is St. David's Day, which commemorates the patron saint of Wales, in Welsh, Dewi Sant.  It's customary on March 1st to wear a small daffodil or leek, which represent Wales, but the daffodil is a little bit more celebratory than a leek.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be in Wales on St. David's Day and was in awe of not only the beauty of the daffodils in bloom, but also by the sheer number of them.  They were everywhere.  I began the trip by taking pictures of them, but early on I realized I couldn't keep up and I'd end up with 2000 pictures of daffodils.  They were blooming on roadsides, on the banks alongside the sea and in parking lots.  They dotted village greens, were outside pubs and of course in peoples gardens.

Daffodils are prolific in England too, although not on the Welsh scale.  They grow wild as well as in gardens.  I've always wondered who planted the wild ones along the roadsides, mile after mile.  I picture little Miss Marples in their woolen skirts and sensible shoes diligently planting bulb after bulb--a little grey-haired road crew.  In any case I'm awfully glad they are everywhere and in Britain at least, they are the best harbinger of spring there is.