So winter has arrived, I think we all can agree. Time for soups, stews, and the favourite of all three bears: porridge. Or "oatmeal" if you are in America somewhere.
I love a good bowl of porridge, but the measuring and cooking are just too much for me to tackle on a school morning, particularly since no one else in my household seems to like eating oatmeal at the moment. When I microwave it, I inevitably flood the dish no matter how high-sided a bowl I choose, and when I cook it on the stove I get a superior product, but the porridge always cooks faster than my favourite topping: apples. I lack the patience to stew them in advance, so they always end up with too much bite left in them. So usually I just settle for muesli mixed with yogurt, as it is quick and has oats too.
But everything has changed now, because at Christmas we were given a new toy: a slow cooker. Yes, everyone I know has raved about them for years, but fearing the clutter one would add to my kitchen, I never felt strongly enough to go and purchase one myself. So I was joyful indeed when the wrapping paper was pulled back to reveal one of these babies on Christmas day. Now I could finally start pinning slow-cooker recipes
I would never actually try!
A recipe I had spotted a while back was for steel cut (or "pinhead") oats and apples cooked overnight to make a luxurious porridge. I didn't have any steel cut oats, nor could I find any in my local shops after a quick look around, but I did have rolled oats in my cupboard. I decided these would do, and got together a few things last night:
I still had these cooking apples left from a friend's tree, so I decided to use them for the most flavour. Into the bottom of the slow cooker they went. I was kind of excited about using huge chunks of apple and knowing they would be cooked until they were gorgeously soft.
Then I sprinkled some cinnamon on top.
Then went some brown sugar. I used around 1/4 cup, but could easily have done with less, as there was a lot of sweetness in the apples.
Then on went the rolled oats and a wee bit of salt.
Then a cup of water and a cup of milk.
I switched on the slow cooker to "low" and hoped for the best as I went off to read some Diana Wynne Jones before turning in for the night. So it was just before 10pm when I switched the crock pot on, and around 7am when I returned to its side.
When I first opened the lid in the morning, I panicked. It looked brown and burnt, and was bubbling in a ferocious manner at the edge. In my disappointed state, I took a disappointing photo.
But then I scooped some of it out. Wow. It was amazing. Kind of like a breakfast apple crumble. The top was oaty and chewy, but the apples at the bottom were moist and tender, with normal porridge sandwiched in the middle. Breakfast bliss, I tell you.
So if you do have a slow cooker gathering dust in a corner, I highly recommend you start your mornings this way. I certainly will be doing so again in the future.
Slow Cooker Apple Porridge
2 apples, chopped & peeled (though you don't have to peel them if you aren't up to it last thing at night)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2-4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
Layer ingredients in slow cooker in order listed. Turn on slow cooker to "low" just before you hit the hay and enjoy your winter feast in the morning!