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

Home & Gardens

The British Garden Center

British garden centres are so much more than 
places to buy flowers or plants. Flowers are only
the beginning. There's wonderful food, homewares, 
books, gifts, lovely smells and even antiques.

Its the English answer to an American mall
and unlike malls, where I can happily spend hours.

There are wonderful foods
 and produce to be found.

The Burford Garden Company
has antiques scattered throughout
the store as well as a section of
antique pottery and dishes.

 I've been collecting blue and white since 1976 and
it's not often that a piece is unusual and catches my 
breath, but this darling teapot did. It came home with
us after our last visit to the Burford Garden

.....along with these shredded wheat dishes,
perfect for the fruit we serve our guests every morning.

Delectable and elegant sweets.

Odds and ends for the kitchen.

Anything and everything you can
think of for your garden.

Beautiful smells and gifts and clothing.

And then there are the books.
This David Austin book on
'English Roses' came home
with us as well.

Once you make it beyond all of that,
beyond the door is everything
you could possibly need for the
perfect English garden.

The garden is a love song, 
a duet between a human 
being and Mother Nature. 
~Jeff Cox

My garden is my favorite teacher. 
~Betsy CaƱas Garmon

I always leave inspired and excited,
ready to get back to my own little
garden and make all of my 
garden dreaming a reality.

In almost any garden,
the land is made better
and so it the gardener.
~Robert Rodale

A Garden Tour

"A garden is a grand teacher.  It teaches
patience and careful watchfulness; 
it teaches industry and thrift; 
above all it teaches entire trust."
~Gertrude Jekyll

A David Austin 'Brother Cadfael' rose with fresh, June blooms.

Before we begin the tour of our garden, let me preface by saying that I have no formal training as a gardener, other than the school of trial and error.  I am no master gardener; I rarely can remember the latin name for a plant, other than maybe Lavatera, and I've never once tested the pH of our garden soil. I just love to garden--pure and simple.  In The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame wrote, "there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."  I understand that sentiment completely, except I would replace the word boat with dirt, because for me there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in the dirt.

"I say, if your knees aren't green by the 
end of the day, you ought to seriously 
re-examine your life."
~Bill Waterson,
'Calvin and Hobbs'

Master digger, Jack.
I've read that there are microbes in the soil that somehow act on the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is a compound in our bodies that among other things regulates our moods; in other words these microbes that are in the dirt that's stuck underneath my fingernails at the end of the day are a natural Zoloft or Prozac. It's a positive feedback loop of the best kind--the more I dig and plant, the happier I feel, and the more I want to dig and plant.

"Gardening is cheaper than therapy,
and you get tomatoes."
~Unknown (but a very wise person).

So that's one reason why I garden--it just makes me happy.  Another reason is the urge to create--I can't not do it.  It has never mattered where I live--a farmhouse, a two bedroom apartment, or a cottage--I've nurtured flower pots, planted lavender, created an herb garden, or added a window box.  It doesn't matter where you are, you can propagate beauty in some small way. There isn't anything that feels quite like creating something out of nothing and for me, there's nothing better than creating beauty.

So welcome to our garden.  It's a little bit wild, it's unmanicured and natural, and it's a sanctuary for people, puppies, birds, bees, and hedgehogs in the middle of a bustling city.  You enter through a little garden gate, that opens onto small stone steps, taking care to duck underneath the archway in the 10 foot tall hedge.

Jack is at the top of the steps, waiting to show 
you around what he now believes to be his garden.

There's a Cotswold stone bird bath in the 
middle, surrounded by Hidcote Lavender.

The 'Brother Cadfael' rose is named after Ellis Peters'
sleuthing Shropshire monk.  It's a medium pink, with
a rich myrrh fragrance and a prolific bloomer.

Because I don't have hours a day to spend in our garden,
I grow things that are easy and don't need a lot of special
 care--hardy roses, lots of lavender, forget-me-nots, 
geraniums, hollyhocks, sage, and Lavatera, to name a few.  
St. Francis, who came along with Max and I from the U.S.,
watches over it all throughout every season, in sunshine or in rain.

I prefer to grow Hidcote Lavender because of it's deep
purple colour that holds it's rich tone even after it's dried.
An apricot climbing rose grows alongside the summerhouse.
An old garden spade serves as a rustic trellis.
This is our summerhouse and my inner sanctuary. 
A place to sit and read, a place to dream and breathe,
or sometimes just a place to get out of the rain.

This is our wild corner, reserved for hedgehogs, and there are three
hedgehog houses buried under fresh cedar and ivy clippings.  We 
have plenty of gaps in the hedges too for hedgehogs to slip under, 
since they're known to travel up to 2 or 3 km a night.  A large 
butterfly bush and a quince protect it all from wind and rain.

A teacup bird feeder hangs from the quince bush.

Peek over the brick wall that's the backdrop for my roses,
and you can see our neighbour's lovely garden, her white roses blooming against a canvas of green. The black
and white house in the background to the right is
No. 1 Mansfield Rd. where C.S. Lewis lived when 
he first came to Oxford.  He must have looked out
of that little window and saw the same black walnut tree
that I look out onto from my  kitchen window. The Harris Manchester clock tower is to the left of it, and tolls the time
for Jack and I as we work and play in the garden.

There are benches to sit and drink Pimm's and watch Jack play.

Who turned out the lights?!
The chicken coop in the background is fortified and ready 
for the two Burford Brown hens we've ordered, 
Mrs. Catherine de Bourgh and Mrs. Havisham, to move into in July.

We even have apples, quince, blackcurrents, and gooseberries.

A quince blossom.

We have a bumper crop of apples this year.

Tangy gooseberries.

And that's about all there is to show.  Our garden will never be
 on a garden tour or win any awards; it's the place we 
find sanctuary, a place I can get my hands dirty 
and create beauty.  It's where our dogs can play, 
hedgehogs can find shelter, bees can feed off lavender, 
and birds have food year round--and those are things 
that can be created anywhere, no matter where you live.

"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of 
things growing in the soil, getting dirty 
without feeling guilty, and generally taking 
the time to soak up a little peace and serenity."
~Lindley Karstens

Jack will show you the way out because he likes to show
off how he can bound and leap down the steps now. Thanks
 for visiting and don't be afraid to get a little dirt under
your fingernails--
just grow what you love and the rest will follow.

"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth."
~Dorothy Frances Gurney,
Garden Thoughts


Growing up in the 1970's, like most people, I lived in a world of gold, avocado green, tan, brown, and more gold--or 'goldenrod' is what I think my mom called it back then. Our house was a haze of autumnal colours and blue was never anywhere to be seen.

My introduction to blue and white was through my mom's best friend, and her farmhouse in South Dakota.  It was everything I loved.  It was old farmhouse with wooden floors, no shag carpet anywhere, and she decorated her windows with clean, white curtains and the windowsashes with blue and white dishes. It was a revelation, even at the tender age of 7 or 8.  She was also the person who started me on the road to my own blue and white collection, giving me a beautiful Royal Copenhagen plate as a gift. Even though I was only 18, I was thrilled.

My first blue and white plate, on the bottom
shelf, is still in my kitchen and has
travelled many, many miles with me.

My next introduction to blue and white came as a young bride, in what seems now like another life, who married a Dutchman--and with that came Delft. Glorious blue and white delft, straight from Holland.  I didn't care much about the fondue pots, the crock pots, or the Corningware casserole dishes, it was the blue and white Delft I most proudly displayed in our little apartment.  And I was by then, at the age of 20, completely in love with blue and white.

As I raised children and lived on a budget, there wasn't much money left over for collecting anything, much less blue and white china. Antiquing with girlfriends was a favourite past-time though and I soon found something I could collect and the "budget" would never be the wiser--antique crescent spice cans.  They were only a dollar or two each, but each one was brought home as a treasure.

And then I came to England.  My very first trip was in 1994, and I still have the blue and white treasures I brought home with me.  I'll never forget walking into the Crabtree and Evelyn shop on Cornmarket Street, here in Oxford, and seeing the blue and white transferware, which they don't even make anymore. I think I nearly fainted, or at least stopped breathing for a few seconds. A perfectly proportioned Crabtree and Evelyn teapot came home with me, carefully wrapped in my suitcase--and it's still in our breakfast room today.

Through the years I collected blue and white china, pottery, transferware, whatever--I just bought what I loved.  I added to my Crabtree and Evelyn transferware collection each trip I made to England, along with treasures I found back home.  Then one day I discovered a dusty cardboard box full of Denmark dishes--enough place settings for 10 people, and even better, it was only $25.  Stuart wondered aloud if we'd ever use them, but being the kind man he is, he's happy if I'm happy, he didn't question me beyond that.  I just knew I had to have them, even though I had no idea where I'd put them in our little cottage home.

My kitchen sideboard.
And then we moved to England. And bought a bed and breakfast. The Denmark dishes I found in that dusty cardboard box are now the breakfast dishes we use every morning for our guests.  And all of the blue and white treasures I carefully packed in my suitcases over the years, came right back over the Atlantic Ocean in a container, most of it now living happily in the breakfast room.  I guess you never know what treasures lie in dusty boxes or where one little plate can take you, but looking back I know my blue and white plates and teacups, teapots and jugs, along with me, are right where they're supposed to be.

"Unless you leave room for Serendipity,
how can the Divine enter?"
~Joseph Campbell

It isn't a South Dakota farmhouse,
but I love my blue and white window
in Oxford. 


There's a phenomenon going on in Britain called 'The Great British Bake Off.' It's a baking competition that starts out with 12 contestants, doing three different challenges/bakes in the hour show, with one person voted off at the end of each show. It's taken Britain by storm and it's just as popular with men as with women.  Last year's final was on the same night as an England championship football (soccer) match--and more men watched the Bake Off than the football, including Stuart.

The Bake Off (#GBBO for Twitter followers) has added baking terminology to the everyday British lexicon, as well as sparking in-depth discussions about the merits or pitfalls "creme pat" (creme patisserie), soggy bottoms and how to avoid them, or the difference between a short-crust or a hot-water crust.  Five years ago not many people knew how to spell choux pastry much less how to pipe it.  There are even Bake Off scandals discussed on morning television, the most recent being 'freezergate'.  One of the contestants took someone's ice cream out of the refrigerator, on a very hot day, making his show-stopper challenge a complete disaster.  Words flew, hackles were raised, and Tweets raged--just what the producers where hoping for, and it's made for some great TV.  Who knew watching 12 people bake Florentines could be so much fun?!

The producers tried to export the GBBO to the U.S. last year, but it just didn't work. Outside of the context of the English countryside, a marquee decorated like a village fete fell as flat on the American audience as a cake that's fallen in the oven.  On British soil though, the Bake Off has become almost an institution on Wednesday night, especially since it's come of age and moved from BBC2 to BBC1.

Our supplies laid in for tonight's doughnut challenge
Tonight is Episode 8, 'enriched dough' week, including doughnuts, and Stuart and I are already salivating. Being a daughter of the midwest, I love a good doughnut, and I know there's no way I'll be able to sit for an hour and watch people make sweet breads and doughnuts without having a one myself--or at least two, maybe three doughnuts, but definitely no more than four.  You can see we're fully prepared.

The mixing bowl used for my first cake
and my first and only rolling pin.
What I think Stuart loves most about the GBBO, is that the next day I usually try my hand at one of the recipes.  He gets to come home after a day of giving tours to the sweet smells of something baked, fresh out of the oven.  I've always loved baking--cooking not so much, baking is what I do best.  I'd much rather be outdoors, working in my garden, growing beautiful things, than indoors cooking, but baking has always been a pleasure.  I still have the same mixing bowl I used to mix my first cake (from scratch) when I was 8 years old, and my original rolling pin and cake tins from when I first had a kitchen of my own.

If you're not British but you've seen the
movie 'Calender Girls', you'll know just 
what a Victoria Sponge is.
Baking in my adopted country hasn't been without it's pitfalls though, and I've baked a few disasters in the past six years.  I've had to get used to using Celsius rather than Fahrenheit, weighing ingredients with the metric system rather than using 'cups', and a fan-assisted oven. Terminology is different too.  British cake baking usually involves baking a 'sponge', what Americans would just call 'cake'. A sponge to me is like an American chiffon or angel food cake that uses air to give it structure, while a British 'sponge' is a mix of an American 'yellow' cake and a pound cake.  But I've prevailed and I bake a mean sponge now, and there's nothing I like better than baking a Victoria Sponge.

If you'd like to try baking a Victoria Sponge, here's the BBC's own recipe. American's can just use plain sugar rather than the British castor sugar, which is finer and used for baking.  Good luck, enjoy, and I'll let you know how the doughnuts turned out!


This is the original recipe for the first cake 
I ever baked, out of the old 
Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

It's still a classic cookbook and no self-respecting
housewife in 1950's America would have been without one.

One of my favorite pages in Betty's cookbook
is this helpful Short Cuts page.  You'll see your classic 50's
housewife gaily going about her dawn to dusk routine of 
cooking, cleaning, dish washing and laundry--being told 
to "Harbor pleasant thoughts while working. It will make 
every task lighter and pleasanter."  I wonder if that even 
worked while rinsing and washing loads of baby diapers/nappies.

My very favorite tip is this little gem.
Of course a proper 1950's housewife 
would never actually go sit in a chair or
lie on a bed to rest from her drudgery.  The 
best she can hope for is to lie in the middle 
of the kitchen floor, collapsed in exhaustion
and hope no one walks in on her.  Oh, and no
more than 3 to 5 minutes!

The American version of 'sponge', which
is a type of cake that uses air beat into
it to give it it's structure.


Nancy under the watchful and
highly disapproving steely blue
eyes of Paul Hollywood.
Last night's Great British Bake Off brought doughnuts and drama, as only an episode of 'enriched dough' can.  We were met with the burning questions of will the dough prove (rise), even though it's heavy laden with sugar, butter, fruit, and is the size of a "small labrador"?  Will the controversy of Nancy proving her dough in the microwave be her downfall and will she survive the steely arrows of Paul Hollywood's blue eyes when she told him her plan to do just that?  Will we ever get the memory out of our minds of Mary Berry being slightly sozzled as she sipped Luis' "cocktail doughnuts"?

Luis' "cocktail doughnuts" featured
a shot of Bailey's in each one, and changed the
landscape of the doughnut world forever.

Beside Stuart and I making ourselves thoroughly ill on our own doughnuts, the best part of the episode for me was Richard's 'signature bake', a Swedish Tea Ring.  I've been eating Swedish Tea Rings at Christmas since I was about two, when my mom made them every Christmas by the dozens.  I started baking them myself about thirty-eight years ago, so you might say it's my signature bake as well.

Our original recipe from the 1950's, and yes it is spectacular.

Betty Crocker's Swedish Tea Ring
I fill the center of my tea rings with lots of cinnamon & sugar, and of course butter.  I never followed the margarine craze in baking, when everyone was touting the evils of butter. I've always liked to use good quality butter in my bakes, especially in sweet or enriched dough, and it makes a difference as Paula Dean knows--she starts nearly every recipe with a "stick of buttah."  Richard's tea ring had more dried fruit and nuts in it than the Betty Crocker recipe, and it was a big success, helping him become 'star baker' for the fourth time--a GBBO first.
Our Martha

We were so sad to see 17 year old Martha leave the tent last night--her doughnut dough had over-proved and her technical challenge was raw as Paul Hollywood's 'thumb of doom' proved. An entire nation was rooting for this tender, young baker and we're all sad to see her leave the GBBO tent.  There are only two more episodes to go, so stay tuned, and now if you'll excuse me I think it's time to bake a Swedish Tea Ring of my own.

Our family's classic Swedish Tea Ring


"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel 
the bone structure  of the landscape.....
Something waits beneath it.  
The whole story doesn't show."   
~Andrew Wyath 

A soggy, drippy morning.
When I went out to pick herbs this morning, the rain was coming down in buckets, streaming down windows, and clogging up drains and eaves, so I had to make a run for it with my umbrella.  When I came back into the kitchen I heard part of the M25 had collapsed from rain and I thought, 'Here we go'!  The winter of 2014-15 is well under way.  I looked at my sodden pansies and all the moss making headway again and knew it was truly time to tuck the garden in for it's winter's sleep. It was time to say goodbye to my flowers and get those bulbs sitting on my garden bench planted--they were definitely not going to plant themselves.  But how to do it in the kind of deluge that collapses motorways?

By noon though the trifecta I had been waiting for finally happened--the skies cleared, the sun came out, and I had an afternoon free. I couldn't get out to my garden fast enough.

Our garden is separate from the house, surrounded by a tall hedge and accessed though a little gate, so there are days I don't even set eyes on it.  I also hadn't done any garden clean-up since Gonzalo blew through, so I had no idea what would greet me.  But I pulled on my wellies, scooted Max out the door with me, garden gloves and daffodil bulbs in hand.

What greeted me when I opened the
gate and walked up the flagstone steps
wasn't so bad.  Max and I would have
it sorted in a couple of hours.

My pineapple sage was in full
bloom, with it's beautiful red spikes.

And now with the trees stripped of their leaves,
one of my favorite things about our garden
was shining there, in it's full glory--
the college towers that surround our garden.

New College Tower backdrop
and an ivy geranium heading
into it's second winter.

As I raked and Max patrolled the 
garden, the Harris Manchester 
clock tower kept time for us.

"The Spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and joy, with pinions light, 
Roves round the gardens,
Or sits singing in the trees"
~William Blake

It didn't take long to rake up a gargantuan pile of lavatera, hollyhock stalks, allyssum skeletons, rose thorns, and lavender, along with the millions of leaves that fell from overhead, down from the ancient walnut tree that is the master caretaker of our garden.

Then it was time to clean out my summerhouse and close it up for the winter. Lingering spiders were banished, my desk tidied up, garden tools tucked away neatly in their basket, and windows shut tight.  

There used to be several, small, 17th century cottages standing where our garden and parking area is today. Because of this, every time I dig to plant flowers or bulbs, our garden actually gives back!  I'm always finding small pieces of transferware and pottery, and even an ancient, encrusted door hinge that must be several hundred years old.  Each one is carefully wiped off and added to my growing collection in the summerhouse. 

Last winter we had a guest come and stay with us whose grandmother was born in one of the cottages.  I love it when history comes alive, even in our back garden.

As dusk fell and the shadows lengthened over the college towers, Max and I finished up.  The garden is now put to bed for the winter, the bulbs are planted, and the summerhouse is clean and tidy.  It will be out there all winter safe and snug, quietly waiting for the spring~which always comes.

"Winter is in my head, 
but eternal spring is in my heart."
~Victor Hugo


Today in North America, Mexico, France, the Netherlands and the UK, it's Father's Day.  I couldn't help shedding a few tears this morning, as I flipped the pancakes at breakfast, since I was taught the art of pancake making by the master himself, my dad.

*Photo to the right: my dad and I, circa 1964, during his 1960's Mad Men/Author/Spy phase.  He wasn't smuggling me out of Eastern Europe, we were on a family vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, in the eastern United States.

My Grandpa (2nd from the left) and great-uncles
at the Godin/Gordon Lumbercamp,
Ocqueoc Michigan, June 22, 1907
My grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great grandfather were all French Canadian 'lumberjacks', which is a North American word for hard-working men's men, who cut down trees--or in fairy tales called a woodcutter.  They also ate pancakes. A lot of pancakes.

North American pancakes evolved from French crepes into a much heartier breakfast version, that sustained the men as they cut down virgin timber using just axes and saws. Lumberjack pancakes were the size of dinner plates and the men ate them in stacks, covered in maple syrup.  That's how Dad grew up eating them in northern Michigan and that's how we ate them.

Dad's pancake making skills were showcased on our epic camping trips, when mom and dad would pack five kids and enough supplies to feed a small army into a station wagon, towing a camper, for 4 to 5 weeks at a time.  Even in the middle of the woods, with only a small camp stove, Dad would flip stack after stack of pancakes until the five of us were stuffed, and in a maple syrup fog.

Lake Champlain, Vermont
A pancake flipping/eating session that stands out was while we were camped overlooking Lake Champlain, in Vermont. There was a gale blowing off the lake and we were all huddled around the picnic table, under an awning that was trying hard to become airborne. Even in the wind and rain, Dad still managed to keep the camp stove burning and the pancake griddle hot.  We feasted on pancakes that covered our plates and were smothered in Vermont maple syrup, played Authors, and waited for the storm to blow itself out.

Don't flip the pancake until the top is
 covered with air bubbles--and no
peaking underneath.
The secret of dad's pancakes started with a good griddle, perfectly seasoned and well-used, both in the kitchen and the woods.  Even though it was big and heavy, it got hauled on our camping trips, along with the rest of the supplies.  He made them from scratch or he used mixes like Aunt Jemima or Hungry Jack--it didn't really matter, since he made them all taste great.  

The one thing dad always told us, as he passed along his pancake skills, was to never beat the lumps out because pancake batter should be lumpy just like any other quick bread batter.  The griddle is hot and ready when a few droplets of water bounce and sizzle off of it, and a pancake is ready to flip when bubbles cover the top of it.  There can't be any cheating though, peaking under the pancake to see if it's brown, it needs to raise and cook undisturbed to be fluffy.

Rev. Robert Gordon, Pastor Bob,
Uncle Bob and our Dad.
Dad has been gone ten years now, and Father's Day never gets any easier--we miss him every single day.  He had such a love for life and knew how to make anything a celebration--even a simple stack of pancakes in the middle of the Michigan north woods. We felt safe and were well-fed in the middle of a fierce Lake Champlain storm and our camping trips, that resembled a troop movement, never seemed a burden to him, only a joy. So thank you Dad for always having our backs, always making us feel safe, and teaching us that something as simple as a pancake shared with those you love is a cause for celebration.

The tradition carries on at Holywell Bed and Breakfast,
but not quite lumberjack sized.

*You might wonder how the name Gordon can be French Canadian, but thanks to I discovered that my Grandpa changed his name from Godin to Gordon when he moved from the lumber camp into town.  Imagine our surprise, thinking all the while we were Scottish Gordons and making pilgrimages to Scotland, finding out we are actually French Canadian.  It was a nice surprise though and I'm very proud of my heritage, which I've been able to trace all the way back to 16th century France, to Maurice Godin, born in 1530 at Givet, Namur, Pays Bas, France.

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