Feeding fireworks night with Porridge Lady Parkin

Parkin recipe

Parkin cake is a classic recipe, a traditional Yorkshire sweet and spiced cake that has oatmeal at its heart. Whilst its a favourite bake of mine, I have only recently found out that it has a link to fireworks night. Whilst you may think of the 5th of November as Guy Fawkes night, in Leeds the celebration is ‘Parkin Day’. So as fireworks night approaches I thought it was time to share my Southern take on the Northern classic. 

Parkin is a robust cake which is traditionally eaten with either a slice of cheese or an apple. Because it is quiet a dense cake I have developed the recipe to bring in moisture from fruit, by using Pears. I absolutely love pears and am lucky to have access to traditional orchards across the South East, which grow fantastic varieties that influence my autumnal recipes, and Parkin is no exception. This recipe takes customary foods of the North and the South, then adds English oats to make a truly Great British cake.

Parkin 3 recipe

A ‘cut and come again cake’, Parkin its the kind of cake that can be baked and eaten on fireworks night, then stored in a tin to enjoy for several days. 

Ingredients

240g plain wholemeal flour

1 scant teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

2 generous teaspoons of ground cinnamon

2 generous teaspoons of ground ginger

120g coarse oatmeal

120g medium oatmeal

180g barley malt extract (molasses or golden syrup can also be used)

120g lightly salted butter

100g Demerara sugar

125ml organic milk

1 large organic egg whisked

1 firm pear

A little extra butter and sugar for coating the pears.

Parkin 1 recipe

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170C.

Grease a loaf tin.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger into a large mixing bowl.

Then mix in the oatmeal.

Place the barley malt extract, sugar and butter into a saucepan and melt into syrup. Be careful not to boil the mixture.

In the mixing bowl make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Slowly pour in the syrup and mix thoroughly.

Then stir in the milk.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg.

Add the egg to the mixture slowly, making sure to fully stir it through the ingredients.

Pour the mixture into the tin.

Wash the pear and cut it into 4-5 vertical slices or enough to cover the length of the loaf tin.

Then carefully place the pear slices onto the top of the Parkin mixture. Push them into the mixture a little, but don’t let them sink into the cake.

Rub or brush a little butter onto the pear slices and sprinkle with a little sugar. This will caramelize the pears in the hot oven.

Cook for 25 minutes at 170C.

Then turn the Parkin and reduce the heat to 150C.

Cook for a further 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted into the Parkin comes out clean.

Parkin 7 recipe

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Wild Porridge

Porridge Recipe

I’m not the most rugged person, as any of my friends will attest, however I do enjoy getting outdoors and even occasionally camping (although the photo above was taken over three years ago, so not too often!) I am a keen forager and also enjoy a late summer scrump of unwanted apples and pears. So its been particularly hard for me this year to be stuck on crutches, watching from the sidelines as my friends go wild swimming, cross country running and generally making the most of the beautiful British countryside.

To make amends, over the weekend I got the opportunity to live vicariously as I met the Bushcraft expert Ray Mears. Out on tour to promote his latest book ‘Out on the Land‘ Ray Mears provided an evening of folk tales, practical advice – including starting fires on stage! And very personal insight to lives of First Nation communities.

After the show I met Ray Mears and we talked; biodiversity, cherry orchards and knee surgery. Warm hearted, fascinating and inspiring, it was one of those rare moments when you meet a hero who actually turns out to be a hero.

Porridge Recipe

Ray Mears new book strikes a good balance between beautifully printed coffee table accessory and useful book that you can take tips from, that could save your life. Although I am full of praise I am disappointed by the lack of Porridge! What do I mean? Well the book has a great section on food in the wild that includes how to prepare fish, make bannocks and pancakes but not a Porridge recipe in sight. To add insult to injury there is a recipe for rice pudding, made and served to look rather like Porridge 😀 So to set the record straight I have written my own simple recipe, for the best camping breakfast….

Wild Porridge

Serves four campers or two grizzly wild explorers.

Equipment

  • Stove and fuel – For my wild cooking I use a Kelly Kettle but Ray Mears uses a spirit stove. Or you could use techniques from the book to create a real camp fire.
  • Sturdy saucepan.
  • Long handled spoon, spatula or spurtle.
  • Camping mug (for measuring ingredients).
  • Water tight containers to transport and store ingredients.

Ingredients

Quick cook oats

Milk powder

Sea salt

Dried fruit (flame raisins are my favourite) or in summer berries

Clean water

Method

  1. From your dry store take two large cups of quick cook oats.
  2. Place in the saucepan and add 4 cups of water and 2 dessert spoons of milk powder.
  3. Give all the ingredients a good stir then place the saucepan over the stove or fire.
  4. Cook the oats for 2 mins stirring constantly, then add a pinch of salt.
  5. Add the dried fruit for a final minute of cooking.
  6. If you are using fresh berries add to the cooked Porridge, but make sure you know what you are eating. The ‘Out on the Land’ book provides a simple identification guide to berries.
  7. Pour the cooked Porridge into bowls, serve hot and enjoy the best outdoor breakfast.
Porridge recipeFor advice on fire safety and avoiding fire damage refer to ‘Out on the Land’ chapters.
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The Perfect Porridge Mug? Lakeland launches a new Porridge range

Porridge Mug 3

I’m a big fan of Lakeland, what’s not to love about a store dedicated to cooking, with great products and fantastic customer service. I didn’t think I could love Lakeland more until the weekly newsletter popped into my e-mail box showing off new Porridge cookware. Very excited I began to tweet and very quickly I had a response from Lakeland asking me if I would like to test the new products. YES! was my simple answer. 

From the new range Lakeland sent me; the Perfect Porridge mug, the overnight oats jar and the ‘Red Porridge to go, Klip it microwave pot‘. Without delay, next day, I tested the Porridge mug and here is what I think….

Porridge Mug sml

The design of the mug is great, both its colorful style and ergonomic shape. The instructions for making ‘Porridge that’s just right’ are clearly laid out across the mug; quantities, timings and topping ideas. What I liked best about this mug was the option to make either a big or a small portion. As I was off for a grueling physiotherapy session the day I tested, I opted for BIG Porridge. I was pleasantly surprised that even though I added what looked like a lot of milk, water and oats, the Porridge did not boil over in the microwave. BIG bonus as this is the biggest reason I avoid microwaved Porridge. 

Porridge Mug 2

It took three mins to cook the oats in the Porridge mug, rather than the recommended two, but then I was using jumbo oats. And all importantly how was the flavour? Good. For me not perfect, not as creamy as cooking oats on the hob, but for microwaved Porridge it was ‘Just Right’. 

As you know from previous posts I advocate using a Porridge mug for making the ‘Perfect Porridge’ but how did this Porridge mug match up?

Pros

  • Never! Have a Porridge explosion in the microwave again!
  • Always gets the ratios right,
  • Colorful design and nice shape,
  • Wasn’t too hot to hold,
  • It’s obvious it’s your Porridge mug so hopefully your colleagues won’t nick it to make coffee in.

Cons

  • Expensive. Yes I am a fan but Lakeland products are pricey and at £9.99 the Porridge mug is no different.
  • So…. I think you would have to use this mug a lot to get your money’s worth. 

So who is it for? I think it would make a perfect, and dare I say it…. Christmas present. It could encourage someone to keep their New Year’s resolution to have a healthy breakfast, beyond January. It would also make a good present for the Porridge fan who has everything. I was certainly happy to receive it, thank you Lakeland :-) 

Just right_

P.S. Once summer returns I will test the overnight oats pot with maybe a few new recipes too. 

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Trolley Dolly Porridge Lady?

Trolley Porridge 1

You might think from the title of this post that I’ve taken up serving Porridge at several thousand feet! No I haven’t taken on the glamours, yet tough, job of cabin crew for an international airline, instead I’m serving ‘Trolley Porridge’ thanks to a knee brace.

Several weeks ago I underwent knee surgery in an attempt to repair an injury sustained when I was knocked off my bike. I knew it was serious but I didn’t know I would be leaving hospital bound up in a brace. Not being about to stand, or walk unassisted, has made life difficult and I am relying on crutches to get around. However cooking and crutches don’t mix and I was getting pretty frustrated, and rather hungry! Until this mobility trolley came into my life.

Trolley Porridge 3

Not glamorous but a real workhorse, this trolley allows me to prepare and then make my Porridge portable. I would really recommend one of these trolleys to anyone about to undergo similar surgery.

So if you’ve been seeing my Twitter pics and wondered what the trolley is all about, I hope this post has answered your questions :-) and you never know there my be a Trolley Porridge recipe soon! 😀

Trolley Porridge 2 sml

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Porridge Lady on the radio this weekend

Date & Pistachio Porridge

Welcome to Porridge Season! It’s that time of year again when the temperature drops, snow arrives and my phone starts ringing with media requests. Its the most wonderful time of the year for a Porridge Lady!

This Sunday I will be on BBC Radio Berkshire talking to Bill Buckley about Porridge. From how to make the perfect Porridge to why its the best breakfast to eat, we will have a lot to talk about as the snow tumbles down outside. I will also be talking about different types of oats and how to cook with them, so if you don’t know your jumbo oats from your Porridge groats, tune in this Sunday from 11am.

You can listen on-line here. 

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Glad tidings of comfort, joy and Porridge!

Christmas 2016

Seasons greetings! I hope you had a lovely Christmas full of festive food, fun and hopefully some good Porridge too :-)

Sorry my blog has been really quiet over the last few months. It has been a really trying year and I’ve had neither the time nor the energy to dream up and write up new Porridge recipes. Roll on 2017! However I have been sharing lots of cracking Porridge recipes over on my Facebook page from Mince Pie Porridge to Gingerbread Porridge, Christmas Pudding made with oats and perhaps the most elaborate, most fantastical Porridge I have ever heard of…. Santa’s Flaming Porridge!

I have also been cooking up an old favourite of mine… Chocolate Orange Porridge that is full of nostalgic flavours for me.

Choc Orange Porridge3

Christmas has been a perfect break for me to recharge my batteries, put my feet up and rest my injured knee, and to eat some wonderful foods. So what Porridge did I have on Christmas day…. Figgy Porridge made with cream and topped with cream. Well it is Christmas!

Christmas Breakfast

However you are enjoying your holiday, I hope you are having fun, and here’s to 2017!

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Make a ‘Porridge Smile’ with your oats for Mary’s Meals World Porridge Day

Stoats Porridge Smile

October the 10th is the most important day in any Porridge fan’s calender as today is Mary’s Meals World Porridge Day!

This year World Porridge Day has got even happier as Scottish charity Mary’s Meals has partnered up with Scottish Porridge company Stoats to release the campaign of ‘Porridge Smiles’ onto to social media. Porridge eaters like me and you! Are being encouraged to add a smile to our Porridge bowls and donate to Mary’s Meals.

By donating £2 via text we can help Mary’s Meals provide daily Porridge to more than 1.1 million of the world’s poorest school children. In Malawi Mary’s Meals provide school children with a nutritious mug of maize porridge (likuni phala) every school day, just one of the practical projects to fuel education.

It’s really simple to donate, simply text OATS16 £2 to 70070

Porridge Smiles 1

This was my Porridge smile this morning and I was joined on Twitter by stars such as Lorraine Kelly, Adventurers, International Athletes and lots and lots of Porridge lovers. So please join us to make Mary’s Meals smile.

P.S. Stoats are donating 20% of their on-line Porridge sales to Mary’s Meals so there has never been a better time to stock up!

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Stop Press: Winner of the 23rd Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship is announced

Bob Moore 1

The news, hot off the stove from the Golden Spurtle, is Bob Moore, founder of Oregon based Bob’s Red Mill, has just been announced as the new World Porridge Making Champion. My congratulations go to Bob whose company makes such great oatmeal that they have now won the competition twice! 

Lots more news from the competition to follow soon!

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Fuelling Swallows and Amazons fun with bun loaf, a recipe for adventure

Bun Loaf 3 sml

Have you seen the newly remade film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’? I was lucky enough to see this wonderful adaptation during the heady days of summer.  Full of ‘daring deeds of do’ the film brought back nostalgic childhood memories and also fuelled my enthusiasm for some new summer water adventures.

Summer Boaty sml

Its hungry work being a Swallow, more so an Amazon!!! So where can you get all that energy? In a form that’s suitable for a picnic….? The answer comes in the shape of a bun loaf, the classic recipe from the Arthur Ransome book that’s been given the Porridge Lady treatment. Now this isn’t a light weight recipe; it’s not a fluffy, sticky, kind of bun. Instead it’s a hearty, stick to your ribs or sink a pirate ship kind of recipe. It’s a bun loaf that’s made to last for a few days of adventure, as long as it’s safely stowed in a treasure chest (or biscuit tin)

Bun Loaf 2 sml

Swallows and Amazons Bun Loaf

Ingredients:

300g Wholemeal Flour

50g Oatbran

75g Butter

75g Brown sugar

1 Teaspoon ginger

1 Teaspoon of cinnamon

1 Teaspoon of nutmeg

1 Teaspoon baking powder

300g of Raisins

100g Mixed peel

1 tablespoon of molasses

250ml Whole milk

Method

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  • Place the flour and oatbran into a deep mixing bowl.
  • Then take room temperature butter, add to the bowl and mix thoroughly with the tips of your fingers until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  • Add the ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and with a big wooden spoon stir in, adding in the sugar too. (I don’t like adding too much sugar to my cakes so if you have a sweet tooth you might want to add more).
  • Add the raisins and mix peel and stir again.
  • Then take a big heaped tablespoon of molasses and a little teaspoon of baking powder and add to the bowl.
  • Pour over the milk and give a final hearty stir.
  • Grease a medium sized loaf tin (about 20cm x 10cm),
  • Then evenly pour in the bun loaf mixture.
  • Young deckhands should ask for the help of an older sailor at this point…
  • Carefully place the loaf tin in the oven.
  • Cook at 180c for twenty minutes then turn the thermostat down to 150c and bake for a further 40 mins.
  • Take the loaf out of the oven and gently insert a knife into the middle of the bun loaf. If it comes out clean the recipe is ready, if not cover with kitchen foil and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
  • Once cooked place on a cooling rack, cover with a tea towel and leave to cool for at least one hour.
  • Once cool place in a tin, pop in in your picnic and head out for the high seas!

Bun Loaf 1

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Key Lime Pie, an oaty recipe for a clean eating dessert

Key Lime Pie 1I love looking at recipes on social media; the gorgeous photos and the drool-worthy descriptions, but it’s been a while since I rushed to make one of them.  Then a tweet from @hedihearts popped into my stream that had me hooked!

I’m a big fan of ‘Key Lime Pie’ a truly American dish that uses the limes grown in the state of Florida. Whilst delicious, the recipe is laden with sugar, and the commercial versions filled with hydrogenated fats. Whilst it is a favourite dessert it’s one I rarely eat, that is until I caught sight of Hedi’s version that is packed with natural goodness.

HediHearts

Not only is Hedi’s recipe bursting with vitality, the base is packed with oats – yes you guessed it oats would have to come into the post somewhere :-) The base is cleverly made with; soaked dates, ground almonds, a little bit of coconut oil and a lots of oats. With a super healthy topping too, this recipe is a winner if you are following a clean eating plan.

I made up Hedi’s recipe last weekend and served it as a special Saturday night dessert. It got rave reviews from friends who had no idea how healthy it is, or how it is made without refined sugars. So if you would like to make the perfect lime pie, without compromising on your nutrition have a look at Hedi’s recipe here.

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