Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Things I have learnt: Cooking porridge when camping is very technical (hindsight)

The taste of burnt, blackened oatmeal stuck to my tongue and the roof of my mouth, saliva glands pinching in disgust as I assaulted them with mouthful after mouthful of the gloopy, foul-tasting muck that was supposed to be breakfast. I thought nothing could compare to mum’s burnt spuds (sorry mum), but the acrid taste of charred porridge was, by far, winning the worst-foods-to-overcook competition.

I looked down into my bowl at the blackened and congealed sludgy bits that pretended to be raisins among a sea of lumpy slop and thought of the cancer risks. The porridge couldn’t be salvaged; the rank taste had outperformed and permeated its way through the entire breakfast. Not even a sprinkling of cranberries and a generous dollop of honey could disguise the contamination. It was a painful experience of spooning and swallowing. Even Oliver Twist wouldn’t have asked for more.

Who would have thought cooking porridge on a gas burner when camping would be so difficult? At home, I could do it blindfold – pop porridge in a bowl, add milk or water, zap in the microwave for two minutes and, as if by magic, a steaming, hearty breakfast results. Takeaway the microwave though, and suddenly cooking porridge becomes a bit more technical.

It should have been straight forward. All I did was add oatmeal to cold water and warmed over a gas flame…

The news story I was reading on my phone was interesting; I didn’t stir the porridge as I waited for the water to heat. Next thing I knew and the breakfast erupted into an angry hot-mud-pool-like bubble. Shit.

I threw the phone aside and vigorously stirred the mixture, feeling a sticky sludge congealed at the bottom of the pan. Scraping at it frantically, large chunks of black started to rise to the surface as if I’d chucked in a load of crushed Oreo biscuits (which, ironically, would have been the better-tasting alternative). I looked glumly at the mixture. The damage was done – this was no Michelin-star breakfast.      
But hindsight is a beautiful thing. Two weeks later and we were camping again and porridge was on the menu. This time I wasn’t making the same mistakes (at least my boyfriend Del was making very sure of that). Cold water went into the pot – no oatmeal – and I set it to boil; only adding it to porridge oats in bowls once it had boiled furiously. No further cooking of the mixture occurred. 

And yet it was another porridge fail. The undercooked goo that dripped from my spoon, while not burnt (hoorah for that!), had the consistency of cooling gravy and was only marginally tastier. I was obvious, I had to admit defeat.  

Do you have the secret for cooking porridge on a gas camping stove?  

2 comments:

  1. Laughed my head off over this. I'll have my burnt potatoes over your burnt porridge any day, thanks Katrina! Signed Mum.

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