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Bookish bites : Peepo porridge

Until I started thinking and researching this post, porridge had been a simplistic thing for me. 1 cup rolled porridge oats to 2 cups milk, over the hob stirring until you get the consistency that you prefer. In the case of my little household, runny for the other half, for me, so thick you can stand a spoon up in it or use it as some kind of breakfast cement and somewhere in between for Milo.

But one quick google search later and it seems that everybody has their own way of making it and that mostly involves water. No milk. Just water. Apparently that’s how it should be made?!

"Here's a little baby 1-2-3. Sits in his highchair, what does he see?"

Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Puffin Books) is a huge favourite in this house and feels like another of the Ahlberg’s wonderful books that is growing with Milo. He loved and still loves the rhythm and rhyme in the book but is now questioning a lot of what is going on in the background and who all the people are. When he was younger he was completely content with listening and pointing out the buses and cars, but now he needs to know where they are going, why is the little girl upset, whose dog is that, are they sharing the fishing rod? And, like the other Janet and Allan collaborations, there is just so much to look at and talk about.

Peepo porridge looks like the somewhere inbetween consistency that Milo has, but I wonder where it would have fallen on the milk/water debate. The book is set in London not Scotland where porridge is traditionally made with water, but this is World War Two and so rationing would have been in place. Young children were entitled to about a pint of milk per day but in a big family this may have had to go a long way.

When I told Milo that in the morning, for breakfast we would be having Peepo porridge he was instantly excited. We read the book before making it together and turned an ordinary breakfast into a lot more fun for all three of us. Our recipe (for three) was:

2 cups rolled Scottish porridge oats
3 cups whole milk
1 cup water (as a nod to the more traditional way of porridge making and because we were low on milk)

Pour oats, milk and water into a heavy based saucepan, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer until you have a consistency that you like. If you are making this for a child, when you serve up add a dash of cold milk to cool down. Do not serve until it’s a happy temperature and encourage blowing the spoonful of porridge before eating. Not only is this hilarious with a toddler, but also a great way of teaching them to understand temperature and how to control it. Add your topping accordingly.

Porridge is so wonderfully versatile in that way. You can pick and choose whatever you’d like to go with or in it. We normally opt for raisins, cinnamon and little brown sugar. I’m going to try making it a different way next time we have porridge, with water, a little salt and soaking the oats the night before (not the Clarridges method of soaking the oats three hours before cooking as that would mean a 4.30am start, no thank you very much!).

I am absolutely sure that you all have your own opinions and recipes for porridge, so please do share. And what do you normally have on your porridge?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. “. In the case of my little household, runny for the other half, for me, so thick you can stand a spoon up in it or use it as some kind of breakfast cement and somewhere in between for Milo.”
    You could be the bear family from Goldilocks and the Three Bears!
    I am not fan of porridge I have to say (especially made with porridge), but I think it is my French-ness coming out here. That’s probably why I don’t like “plastic” bread or jelly either. You have to be British to like these things LOL. although I do like Marmite!
    Fab book though, and a great piece of historical fiction too!

    July 20, 2011
    • natashaworswick #

      We are indeed the bear family from Goldilocks and the Three Bears! I think porridge (like marmite) is one of those things that you either love or hate! I always had it as a child and I loved having warm cereal for breakfast in winter. Plastic bread is not nice unless there’s a fried egg or chips between two slices (that’s a British thing I think!). And jelly. Sorry, love jelly!

      It is a fab book. We read it to Milo before his bath tonight and at the end he said “oh. we’ve run out of Peepos!”

      July 20, 2011
  2. “He sees his mother pouring hot porridge in a bowl, and his father in the doorway with a bucketful of coal….” One of my favourite books (and used to be Maisie’s). I’ve tried it with Bertie, but he’s not quite ready for it yet. Dan tried to read it to him the other day and he just couldn’t get the rhythm right…it was really annoying me, him stumbling over the words! Ha. We always make porridge with milk, but we’re the opposite to you and your man…I’m as lump-free as possible (more of a, dare I say, readybrek girl, and Dan is thick and coarse)!

    July 22, 2011
    • natashaworswick #

      Readybrek was an absolute favourite breakfast of mine when I was younger. My mum made it absolutely perfectly, but, and this is a bit weird, I would happily eat it as you should with milk and warm and all of that, but I loved a spoonful of it raw also. I know, weird. Traditional porridge should be thick and lumpy for me, Readybrek must always be smooth. I have no idea why that is! Am sure Bertie will be ready for reading Peepo soon, so much fun ahead 🙂

      August 6, 2011

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