It has recently occurred to me that while I frequently wax lyrical about rolled oats and quinoa flakes and kibbled dust and the like, I rarely consider them in their most natural state: porridge. I have a few childhood porridge-memories - my late maternal grandfather making it for me when I stayed with him, having a bowlful at Nana's place and bemusing her (I distinctly remember this bit for some reason if you're reading Nana!) by sprinkling over white, instead of brown, sugar. To be frank I wasn't the biggest fan of its blandly creamy flavour, I ate it more out of an early-indoctrinated sense of politeness than anything else. But, as you may have gathered from my endless praise, I'm having something of a porridge revolution. I guess that would make this Revolution 1 (as opposed to "number 9...number 9..." get thee to the Beatles White Album if you don't know what I'm on about. Not that I know what they're on about.)
Even though it sounds faintly vile, I tend to have cold 'porridge' in the mornings - just oats, and whatever other kibbled and ground bits I have to hand, with cold water stirred in, and a dash of cinnamon. The oats soften remarkably quickly - I usually leave them sitting wetly for about five minutes - and the fragrant cinnamon makes me feel like I'm actually eating something more than paste. The ratio usually goes something like; 2 1/2 T oats, 2 1/2 T quinoa flakes, 1 T wheat bran, 1 T ground linseeds, 1 shake cinnamon, water to cover. What you see in the picture above though, is actual porridge...after a Swiss Ball class at uni on Wednesday I felt like something a little sustaining and warm, as it was inevitably raining again. So I microwaved the bowl of oats for a bit and added a swirl of golden syrup - perfect! It's funny, even though I was not, as aforementioned, a massive fan of it as a child, there seems something so wonderfully comforting about eating it now.
Forget what the Milo and Cornflake and Nutella ads tell you about sustained energy for today's kids, oats are so filling it's ridiculous. When I wasn't having them for breakfast, I always would end up feeling all light-headed and incompetent around 10am, and now I just feel incompetent (sh-k-boom!) but in all honesty, I can putter along quite happily till 1 or 2 without really needing to eat a thing, I realise this is hardly a new revelation - I've mentioned it before on this blog in fact - but until you try - she says wide eyed and evangelically - you have no idea of the difference it makes.
Before you run away in fear from my Flanders-like enthusiasm ("it's less fun that way!"), I present you the dairy-laden spectre of cheesecake.
In the name of journalistic integrity, I can't tell you toooo much about this cheesecake, as I made it for the September issue of Tearaway magazine. I was getting a bit freaked out because it has been raining nonstop here in Wellington (and most of NZ in fact) for the last couple of weeks - oh, you think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. Utterly, utterly mercifully, it eased up on Tuesday afternoon and I had a window of opportunity to take some photos in natural light. Thank goodness, otherwise who knows what I would have done (my deadline is a-looming!). Anyway, I won't show you all the rather nice photos I took, because they're for the mag, but I couldn't resist just one, especially because it is such a great recipe, and absolutely fuss-free - no gelatine to deal with (which, in my case, inevitably turns into gooey strings instead of folding coherently into the mixture) and no baking. Five points if you guess who the recipe is from. Oh that's right...
Cherry Cheesecake from Nigella Express.
By the way, this is only 'cherry ' by way of the conserves that she specifies you heap on top of the finished cheesecake. I'm sure you could use anything you fancy without the Cheesecake Police coming after you.
200g plain sweet biscuits (Nigella says 125g but friend, I like a thick base)
75g soft butter (I tend to trust Nidge's instinct for butter, and didn't add any more)
Blitz the biscuits in the food processor with the butter, press into a 20cm Springform.
300g cream cheese (At room temp, unless you have serious guns)
60g icing sugar
Juice of a lemon
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice. In another bowl, whip the cream, then fold, about quarter at a time, into the cream cheese. Pile onto the base, smooth...refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight...and that's it. It does hold together, despite not having much to it, and is coolly, creamily, tangily delicious. I don't know if it's just me - do all family parties have a buffet table? - but it is just begging for a can of drained, crushed pineapple to be folded through the mixture too.
By the way, thanks for the suggestions regarding the brisket, I cooked it tonight (didn't photograph, as I still find it difficult to make stews look anything other than sloppy), slowly with canned tomatoes, garlic, onion, cumin, nutmeg, a pinch of...tumeric...twas delicious! As I said before, natural light is a bit of a rarity here. Not only does it rain whenever I leave the house, it also seems to be particularly deluge-inous whenever I leave the house for Swiss Ball class at the uni rec centre. Maybe someone up there is trying to say something. We don't have it so bad though - Mum and Dad have been repeatedly without power, their driveway was flooded and a tree fell over, and Tim's parents' farm is a complete mess, with several sheds absolutely smashed. It's scary how quickly it all happened.
Next time: might be a little while off as I am getting freaked out with assignments for uni. However, I absolutely excelled myself as far as time management goes by mixing and kneading a loaf of bread this morning before work (at 7.30am). I left it to rise in the fridge, and baked it to go with dinner when I got home at half five, and I will blog about it when I get the chance, should the photos be useable.
Finally - finally - Tim and I splashed out on tickets to see the marvelously hilarious Bill Bailey (of the intensely funny Black Books show, etc) when he comes to New Zealand! They were pretty expensive but we run a fairly tight ship most days of the year and it will coincide with his birthday. Tim's, not Bill's. And we are totally going to wait at the stage door for him! Squee!