My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Friday, December 18, 2009

Your Final Friday KISS - The Spurtle!

For your final Friday KISS, I've chosen a kitchen gadget that's unique and rather obscure (at least in the US), that I don't own, have never used, nor had even heard of until it was featured in Wordsmith's A.Word.A.Day a while back. (Now, if you've not only heard of it but have one in your drawer and use it often, I'm going to feel pathetic. So just pretend ignorance, mmmkay?) ;-)

Introducing... the spurtle!

Used to stir porridge since the 16th century, the spurtle is considered superior to a spoon because its shape prevents clumping and mushiness.

Both pictures are from Lee Valley Tools, where you can buy one for your own gadget collection. (Of course, you can always use the handle of a wooden spoon instead, but that wouldn't make for much of a gadget post now, would it?)

My mother always made me eat oatmeal when I was a kid and I detested it. I thought it looked (and tasted, though I was guessing on that) like wallpaper paste. But when BW and I stayed at a B&B in Edinburgh twelve years ago, I - rather reluctantly, but "when in Rome..." - ate a bowl of "pinhead porridge" (oatmeal made with steel-cut oats) for breakfast and had to take back every bad thing I'd ever said or thought about oatmeal!

We also enjoy oat groats ~ whole oats that, unlike steel-cut oats, have not been steamed and coarsely chopped, so they take longer to cook but our crockpot does it brilliantly overnight while we slumber. And BW enjoys thick-cut rolled oats, but thick though they may be, they still give me wallpaper paste flashbacks. So I'll stick with the groats and the steel-cut, thank you! I enjoy my pinhead porridge with a little vanilla hemp or soy milk, maple syrup, whole flaxseeds, cinnamon and nutmeg, and fresh fruit like blueberries, apples or bananas, and/or dried fruit like raisins, currants or dried cranberries.

Oatmeal is such a hearty, healthy breakfast, especially in the cold winter months, so here are a few recipes to warm your innards and give your spurtle a workout...

From FatFreeVegan:
Oatmeal: It's What's For Breakfast
If your appetite for spurtle-lore and all things oatmeal still isn't satisfied, check out The Tradition and Trivia of Scottish Porridge from Seafoam Woodturning (where you can also buy yourself another spurtle!)

And if you're so inclined, once armed with a spurtle and having mastered the knowledge and skills of oats and porridge-making, you can put your talents to the test and perhaps become the next...

Yes, Virginia, there is a world porridge-making championship. Next one is in October 2010, so you've got plenty of time to get your game on. ;-)
(Meanwhile, I'm off to plan oat-intensive dishes for Hogmanay and Bobby Burns' birthday next month, while eating pinhead porridge and drinking oatmeal stout!) ;-)


  1. When I first saw the spurtle, I pictured an elf playing baseball with it. And then my guinea pigs going up to bat.

    Yes, I have quite an imagination. :-)

    I never liked oatmeal either. It's just mushy and...blah. Guess I never ate it properly! Your post has inspired me to get out that large canister of oatmeal I have in the cabinet and do something with it. Let's have a look at those recipes...

  2. Elves and guinea pigs playing Spurtle Baseball... now THAT'S a picture! :-D

    When BW first saw a picture of a spurtle, he thought it looked like a British Bobby's billy club. (Try saying that three times fast!)

    Mushy and blah, yup... pretty much describes my former view of oatmeal too! Texture definitely matters, and the steel-cut or oat groats really make a difference in that area. I even think they taste better, but quite frankly, I mainly consider oatmeal a delivery vehicle for the fruit, spices and maple syrup! :-)

    I'll probably make some pinhead porridge for breakfast Sunday. Let us know what you come up with for that canister of oats, VW!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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