Porridge Trivia

Test your knowledge of traditional Scottish porridge terms

  • 'snap & rattle'
  • 'tartan purry'
  • 'turning tree'

Scroll down for answers

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Trivia Answers

  • snap & rattle toasted oatcakes crumbled in milk North-East.
  • tartan purry a dish of boiled oatmeal mixed with chopped red cabbage or boiled with cabbage water.
  • turning tree a wooden stick for stirring now Shetland.

Coutesy of Scottish National Dictionary Association.




Our Menu

Porridge with
• Brown sugar
• Milk
• Fruit compote
• Special kids' toppings

• Mini muffins
• Coffee
• Tea
• Juice



Collis Wilson (neighbour, friend and porridge cook extraordinaire)

The Best Bowl of Oatmeal

This remarkable recipe is from an article by Maryellen Driscoll in Cooks Illustrated magazine, March/April, 2000. It's the beacon for level-headed cooking. These folks are very serious about their food research. And it pays off--this is delicious porridge.
They say:

"After making 50 batches of oatmeal, we make porridge worth eating again by using steel cut oats."

The Recipe (Serves 3 to 4)

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup steelcut oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Bring water and milk to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat, meanwhile, heat butter in medium skillet over medium heat until just beginning to foam; add oats and toast, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until golden and fragrant with butterscotch like aroma, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

2. Stir toasted oats into the simmering liquid, reduce heat to medium low; Simmer gently, until mixture thickens and resembles gravy, about 20 minutes. Add salt and stir lightly with spoon handle. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon handle, until oats absorb almost all liquid and oatmeal is thick and creamy, with a pudding-like consistency, about 7 to 10 minutes. Off heat, let oatmeal stand uncovered 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

We like to use steel cut oats from the bulk section of a natural food store--they are fresher and less expensive.

The Host's Kit contains a printable version of this recipe.

Noel's Tips on Multiplying the Recipe and Backtiming

Backtiming is a radio term that describes working backwards from the time you want the porridge ready to the time you have to start the batch. Careful attention to backtiming will make your life the day of the event a lot less stressful. Sit down and figure out how many people you have invited, when the first batch ought to arrive and then make yourself a chart of how the day ought to go. Then keep smiling and stirring.

We never tried anything over a 6 times recipe and found that 4 times the recipe is a manageable batch.  You don't have to change the proportions at all, and it still takes 45 minutes to cook a batch. We toast the oats the night before and put the batches into Ziplocs. A good trick is to put a post-it note with the time it started cooking next to each pot and add an "S" when you add the salt. Things can get a tad confusing, so this helps a lot.


4X  the recipe (serves 12-16)

  • 12 cups water
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups steelcut oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt


2.5X  the recipe (serves 8-10)

  • 8 cups water
  • 2.5 cups whole milk
  • 2.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2.5 cups steelcut oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


If your party is going to start at 8:30 a.m., you should be sure to have 1 batch ready and another to be ready 20 minutes later. 3 batches an hour (start every 20 minutes) should work to ensure a continual flow of porridge.

We heartily recommend COOK'S Illustrated magazine as well as its PBS television show America's Test Kitchen.

Dried Fruit Poached in Port

Serves  approx 6 as a topping

(brackets are 1.5 X the recipe to serve about 10)

  • 12 prunes (18)
  • 8 figs (12)
  • 4 apricot/peach halves (6)
  • 4 pear halves (6)
  • 3 pieces candied ginger (5)
  • 1 clove (2)
  • 5 allspice berries (8)
  • 5 peppercorns (8)
  • 1 star anise (1.5)
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick (1.5)
  • 1 cup port (1.5)

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat very low and cover. Cook about 30 min., at which point most of the port will have been absorbed.

2. If the fruit is tender, it's done. If not add ½ cup water, bring to a boil again, cover and cook another 15 min. Repeat as necessary.

3. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon, then strain the liquid to remove the spices. Serve a portion of the fruit warm, cold or at room temperature with a spoonful or two of its juice.

Mark Bittman is Noel's cooking hero. This is from his book, The Minimalist Cooks at Home (Broadway Books, 1999).

The Host's Kit contains a printable version of this recipe.

This is a topping so it is hard to say how many servings it makes. Conservatively,  probably 6.  You can add port or orange juice to thin it (or substitute juice for port but I can't imagine why).