Colonial Kitchen | A Twist on the Porridge Breakfast

The truth is, I have been slightly avoiding Colonial Kitchen because I really haven't been diving into my family tree much lately. What with the garden, our embroidery club becoming more and more popular, and the drop of our new course, it's been difficult setting aside time to spend hours on the internet searching for deceased relatives. Even though it's one of my favorite hobbies, it is definitely one that works best on rainy days or when the Midwest is covered under a heavy blanket of snow. Nonetheless, I have been thinking quite a bit about history and about winter activities. The weather has been teasing us with a taste of autumn, and I am already beginning to think that it's time to start up some new knitting projects for our winter wardrobe. I am excited to begin saving autumn leaves again and dipping them in beeswax, to work on weavings again, and to start some new projects that we are really excited to share, but we must keep secret, at least for now! 

Have you ever looked up the history of porridge? It sounds rather boring, but I somehow find interest in researching the tiny tidbits of everyday life. While some may find battles and political events more fascinating and easier to remember, I really struggle with finding any liking towards those kinds of things. Rather, I am completely fascinated by mundane historical events: when did we start weaving fabrics, who was the first person to enjoy painting landscapes, how did babies sleep at night before we had cradles, and what were we eating for breakfast over 300 years ago? It's really those things that fascinate me because they somehow affect what we do today and how we live, how we've changed, and how we can feel connected to our ancestors. If ever I get asked the question, time travel or the past or future? I would always choose the past. 

How did porridge begin? When we think of it now, most of us immediately think of oatmeal. And I know quite a few people who cannot stand to eat the stuff. It's called "hot cereal," a dish made of plants, mostly grains, boiled in water or milk and served with sweeteners like brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey. We now purchase it in tiny pre-made, portion sized bags, and it's mixed with who knows what. Have you ever actually read the ingredient list on the back of a package of oatmeal? I remember standing in our hotel lobby on our trip to Nashville's Country Living Fair staring like an idiot at the ingredient list: calcium carbonate, guar gum, caramel color, niacinamide, reduced iron, vitamin A pamitate, pyridoxine, thiamin mononitrate... the list goes on. And I thought it was just oats and sugar. That was when we were in the beginning stages of our journey into cutting out processed foods, and I had to decided against what could have been a simple breakfast because I had no idea what any of those chemicals were. 

Before processing existed, porridge was a staple meal in Northern Europe and Russia. Most often, it was made from barley and eaten as a savory dish rather than a sweet one. With root crops, meats, vegetables, and herbs it must have been an interesting flavor. I can't stay I've ever mixed oatmeal with meat and vegetables. Like my now Scottish roots, it is a favorable breakfast in the British Isles. Even if you do not read the Outlander novels, you might remember the scene from season 2 when Jamie suggest that Louis XV eat porridge every morning to keep his bowel movements regular. Yup - it happened! And it's true; a good bowl of grains in the morning is a perfect start to your day. But while we're on the topic of Scotland, and since I am 10% Scottish and well, this is a series about my ancestral roots, why not talk about some Scottish porridge traditions? 

In Scottish history, it wasn't unusual for a household to have a "porridge drawer" in their kitchen to keep used porridge until it solidified into bars. How about a fermented granola bar, anyone? It's also believed that porridge should only ever be served in a wooden bowl with a wooden rod called a spurtle as well as eaten standing up to respect the dish. Perhaps this helps with better digestion? Don't forget to add some whiskey to your oats as well!

Today I'm putting a twist on the porridge breakfast by making some use of my quinoa. Not exactly Scottish, right? No, quinoa is native to South America and while quinoa breakfast bowls are trending and completely not new to the world of the blog, I still wanted to try my hand at making some. My parents brought home a giant bag of organic quinoa a while back thinking that I would enjoy it, and while I did enjoy their gift, I had hardly ever cooked with the stuff! The only time I had used it was back in high school while trying to make a Mexican bowl dish, which just didn't turn out well, and I gave up. But, like all good things, I stumbled across a post on Pinterest about quinoa breakfast bowls. While this dish is not at all original and there are a million like them out there, I wanted to share because this is the easiest thing I've made in a long while and it tasted REALLY good. I loved it! And will probably be making this for most mornings from now on.

INGREDIENTS | 

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • blueberries for topping
  1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions. This often leaves you with around 2 cups of cooked quinoa, so you can double this recipe to fit. I decided to just share an amount for one person!
  2. In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into a bowl and top with the cooked quinoa. Mix in the blueberries. That's it!

See how easy? Just under 20 minutes for this yummy meal that makes you feel alive and well. I must admit, I feel great after eating that, and knowing that I can enjoy a yummy, plant based meal. If you wanted, you could swap out the milk and sweeteners for other things, like almond milk or coconut sugar. Or perhaps you just want to use plain old brown sugar! I really don't think it matters, as long as you know exactly what's going inside your meal. The more you know! (:

xoxo Kayla