Sunday 4 December 2011

Microwave porridge, rants and raves

I have many recipes to share.  Yet I have a lot to share about each.  So I wanted to take a break to share a few rants and tell you what is making me happy.  It seemed an ideal post to write up how I am making porridge for Sylvia these days.  I don't think the world needs another porridge recipe but this is what works for me and I want to remember it when winter darkens our doors again.
Firstly let me rant about some vegetarian and foodie disappointments:
  • I went to a workshop recently where they served savoury muffins.  I was really pleased yet apprehensive.  There were no signs or staff to check if they were vegetarian.  I decided to be brave.  Fortunately I was also wary.  I pulled a chunk of muffin out only to find myself holding a chunk of meat.  I returned to the chocolate muffins.  So much safer.
  • I decided to have lunch at a favourite spot on Friday but they were out of pasties so I had curry in roti instead (above).  Very disappointing.  I cheered myself up with some of the delicious date and nut cake (an old fashioned nutloaf) at Threshermans.
  • Friday's food woes got even worse when I was tired and decided on "fresh"supermarket ravioli with a jar of sauce.  The pasta smelt terrible when it went in the boiling water (2 days after purchase and a month before the use by date) but I thought it might go away.  I added the pasta sauce before we decided it really was as bad as it smelt.  So much better to make my own dinner than to rely on others.  (Ditto lunch - see above dot point.)
  • We went to Northland yesterday for lunch.  I knew it was a mistake.  I hate food halls.  It was horribly busy.  I have recently found that Sylvia will eat hummus and bread while out.  So much better than chips.  The middle eastern place had fried bread with hummus.  I ordered it for Sylvia.  I tasted one.  They were full of chicken salt.  I'm not sure I even want to know what is in that but it just tastes wrong.  I managed to swap it for pita bread and hummus.  So much better.
  • I recently bought a filled bagel for lunch.  I asked for one of the combinations without the beef.  They charged me the $8 specified for the beef bagel.  I was annoyed and pointed out I had really just made up my own filling so I should be charged $7.50 for the make your own.  Pedantic?  Yes.  But I had a point to make!
  • I also bought a cupcake last week that looked so pretty but was just far too much icing and a dry cake.
  • Our retro orange vinyl chairs are falling apart - they are held together with gaffer tape right now.  Does anyone know any good ways to get the vinyl repaired?

Rants over!  Let me reassure you that life is not all bad.  Here are some of the things making me happy.
  • Christmas!  I love it.  Even if it always comes too early.  Sylvia and I went to see the Myer Christmas windows last week because I had a window of opportunity (no pun intended).  We always went to see them when I was a child.  I do have a complaint about Myer.  If your child will not go near santa but is interested in seeing him, you can't see Santa's grotto without paying for a photo.  Where is the Christmas spirit?  We went down to the "trim shop" in the basement instead.  It is magical to a child.  E is right into the Christmas spirit looking up quirky Christmas albums and books.  He was most amused by a kids book called Santa does a Wee
  • Finding food other than chips that Sylvia will eat while out and about.  She is really keen on hummus and bread or bikkies lately.  It must be eaten with a knife to spread the hummus.  We also went to Kenzan @ the GPO on our trip to the city last week.  I ordered their sushi that comes with the nori separate to the rice filling.  She loved the rice filling without nori.  I was even more pleased to finally try edamame and find that Sylvia loved them too.  We podded them and just ate the beans but not the pods - not sure that is the right way to eat them.
  • Christmas cake.  It's a tease.  I love cake fresh out of the oven.  I made Christmas cake on the weekend and it smells fantastic.  It is wrapped and hidden away for a couple of weeks.  I will let you know how it goes. (It is different to my previous Christmas cake but still involves chocolate.)  Update: the Chocolate chunk Christmas cake is amazing.
  • We bought Sylvia a new bed yesterday.  It is quite plain and unassuming.  Not at all like this racing car bed.  I just couldn't resist a photo.  It looked like every little kid's dream.  Then I started to wonder why cool beds are always racing cars.  Why couldn't they be something else?  A boat, a castle, a sandwich, a jet plane?
  • Sylvia.  It is constantly amazing and amusing to look at the world through a child's eyes.  My favourite turn of phrase by Sylvia last week was when she asked for some "magic beans" in the supermarket.  She was pointing to the jelly beans.  She has also taken to calling rice bubbles (rice krispies) "rice crackles".  And she is asking all sorts of questions.  Why is that a man?  Why is there juice in nectarines?  Why does dolly have a dolly?
Enough indulgent chit chat.  More recipes to come soon.  Meanwhile, here is how I do Sylvia's porridge each morning.  I know there are all sorts of other ways I could do it but this works for me.  She loves it and it is quick and the only way I can get any milk into her.

Sylvia's porridge
serves 1 toddler

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup milk
a shake or two of cinnamon
small amount of honey or other sweetener (about 1/8 tsp)

Place all ingredients in a small microwave-proof mixing bowl.  The mixture will bubble up quite a bit so it should be considerably larger than the porridge mixture.  Stir.

Microwave for 2 minutes on high.  Stir.

 Microwave on high for 1.5 minutes.  Stir.  It is usually quite stodgy by now and even a little dried around the edges before being stirred.

I then transfer it to another bowl and stir in a dribble or two of water to loosen it up a little to a porridge consistency.  

However it differs from morning to morning and is a bit more watery if I use soy milk so you may need to allow for variations.

On the Stereo:
The best of Music for Children featuring Patsy Biscoe (Vol II)


  1. There are people who do vinyl upholstery: (YellowPages lets you further refine this list by material: vinyl).

    You can also buy vinyl off the roll if you wanted to try it yourself. I've never tried, but I guess you could remove the vinyl, cut a piece the same shape and reattach it with a staple gun.

  2. Loving your blog thank you :) We are currently living in Dubai, and I do miss the Christmasy-ness, like the Myers window. BTW, the edamame. Hold the end tip with your fingers and with your teeth and lips just work down the pod so that they pop into you mouth- then discard the pod. So much fun. We can buy them here like frozen peas (I couldn't find them in Brisbane on a recent visit home) I microwave them and put them in a little thermos for my daughters lunch. She loves them warm and I love that she is getting the protein. :)

  3. Hi Johanna, I loved this post! I travel to Aus every year as my sister & her kids are in Queensland - they are all lifelong veggies too. Things are getting better but my sister has had to learn over the 12 years she has lived there to check, check & check again as there are so many pitfalls for the vegetarian. She was so horrified to find that so many brands of yoghurt contain gelatine, for instance. The arrival of Quorn was a time to rejoice!! We both enjoy your blog, thanks so much. Happy December to you (& sweet Sylvia!) x Rachel

  4. I love the joy you get seeing things via Sylvia! Sympathies on your foodie rants - it can be very frustrating to find nothing available to eat. I have the same problem, but only because I am fussy!

    Glad you are looking forward to Christmas, I bet Sylvia is too!

  5. I think Christmas is such a special time to share with children too! I am already looking forward to NEXT Christmas when the 'bump' will be a 9 month old little girl :)

  6. I don't think you are being pedantic, re: the beef bagel! I hate that too! My pet erk is when I order a soy milkshake, minus the icecream, and they make me pay extra for the soy milk, but NOT take off the cost of the icecream! So annoying. I will point out the issue and if they don't budge on the cost, I will order the icecream on the side and then leave it to melt. It is so wrong in my opinion!!

  7. oh yeah, imagine a boat bed!

    waaay cooler than a car in my book.

    i am making my fruit cake today. tell me, the brown paper, does it work? i have a vague recollection that my nana did the same and hers wasn't as dark on the edges as mine...

    as for myer and santa's must-pay-to-enter grotto, methinks that's probably the meanest thing i've heard all year...

  8. You may get two comments from me - if not, blogger ate the first (to my irritation!).

    This was a delightful post, although I'm sorry you had the rant-inspiring experiences. I relate to many, and the fact that food places don't reduce prices if you take off meat / cheese does grate on me.

    On your positives, I love the Melbourne Myer at Christmas time :) Mr Bite would adore a book called Santa Does A Wee and I adore Sylvia's bed - I'd have loved something like this as a child. I'm glad you managed to try edamame too, and that Sylvia liked them. Eating just the beans is definitely the right way to go, but eating them out of the pod with your teeth adds fun to the experience!

  9. It's always good to get little niggles off your chest! And I love how Sylvia closes your list of positives :) You're definitely eating edamame right! Scrape the beans out with your teeth directly into your mouth and then leave the casings behind :)

    I wish I could get into the Christmas spirit, but I'm generally just nauseous with anxiety and stress right now, and can't see straight to be happy about Christmas planning.

  10. Thanks Danni - will have to look them up - don't think I am brave enough to do it myself

    Thanks Shar - I too was pleased Sylvia was eating endamame because it has a good amount of protein - wonder if she would like to eat them straight from the pod - have found a frozen packet in an asian store - I love Myer Christmas windows - though E is from Scotland and he misses the wintery christmas there

    Thanks Rachel - yes there are so many pitfalls for vegetarians - hard enough for adults but even harder with kids - we probably are lucky now to have so many options at least - though I got horrified at all the gelatine in yoghurts after being in the UK too

    Thanks C - yes Sylvia is looking forward to Christmas - she loves the kitchen towel I bought with santa on it and has been calling one of her dolls baby jesus!

    Thanks Lisa - Christmas is a special time to share with children - hope you have a nice relaxing christmas this year before it is all about the bump!!!

    Thanks Tahn - you make me laugh with your melting ice-cream - that'll learn them!!!

    Thanks Lucy - I was loving the idea of a sandwich bed - that would be silly but fun! as I said in my email - I think brown paper is very helpful - will write up more about christmas cake but will put link above to previous christmas cake post which was helpful for me this year

    thanks Kari (bad blogger did eat your comment it seems) - pricing in cafes once you don't want the norm always seems crazy - sorry to mislead you if you thought the racing car bed was sylvia's (have tried to make it clearer in the text) but hers will have her green monster bed spread which is pretty cool - looking forward to eating the endamame in the freezer straight from the pod (once warmed)

    Thanks Hannah - blogs are great for having a whinge - glad everyone says not to eat the pods - the woman in the shop said you should eat the pod but that seemed odd to me - sorry to hear you are not able to get into the christmas mood - hope things will get easier but after such a year it might be a hard christmas - hugs!

  11. Oops, just re-read Sylvia's bed explanation! I suspect the plain and unassuming one will have more longevity than a child-specific one - glad you snapped the photo so we could all enjoy it nonetheless :)

  12. He, he - I can sympathise with many of your points. I just bought one of those same red cupcakes as a present for a work colleague today - maybe I should have just made her one!

  13. That is such a cute bed!

    And... re your ravioli. I bought some gluten free, vegan, gnocchi and it smelled HORRIBLE.. tasted pretty much the same. Fail for packet pasta.

    I did try another brand, and roasted, it was actually quite good.

  14. That's so weird that the bread was full of chicken salt! I hate when I eat out and ask for no meat in something, and get charged the meat price. It's so rare that I'll actually get charged less. Though my biggest eating out pet peeve is when I order something and ask for no meat, and then the people I'm with ask if they can have the meat. Which, to me, defeats the purpose of ordering the meal without meat!! I love edamame too, and I don't think anyone eats the pods. I LOVE the idea of a sandwich bed!!! Much better than a race car bed. :) A castle bed sounds neat too.

  15. Hi, just catching up with your old posts now as things have been busy for me. We've been making porridge in the microwave for about 30 years now & always use the 50% power setting for 3.5 minutes for 1 bowl (or 4 minutes for 2 bowls) so that it doesn't get too hot & boil over. We make it in the cereal bowls, so no other container to wash. I add a handful of sultanas or half a banana, for some fruit. Enjoy!


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