Inspired by a continued enjoyment of Lindsey Bareham's 'The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales' I thought it
would be fun to occasionally share some of the things from my kitchen that make it my kitchen. It seems logical to start with a breakfast tool (not least because as I write this I've only just finished mine).
My spurtle is a relatively recently acquired utensil - my father got it for me back in October from an amazing hardware shop in Jedburgh so it's a genuinely Scottish artefact by grace of a scant 10 miles and it was really meant as a souvenir rather than something useful, I think I used it once and then it sat neglected for the next 3 months . At Christmas I got a copy of Nigel Slater's 'The Kitchen Diaries II', and in it he mentions porridge - he uses salt which is probably blindingly obvious to everyone else, but I spent a year cooking in a nursery where you're specifically forbidden from adding salt to anything which it left it's mark on me, I was also bought up to understand that you had your porridge salt or sweet but not both and that was that. Nigel also said he'd been using his spurtle the wrong way round, but didn't say which way round - intrigued I took another look at mine and tried to work out which way was up. A couple of breakfasts later I was hooked on the spurtle and the porridge - the salt really does bring out a nuttiness in the oats and the spurtle gets right into the sides of the pan which stops it sticking. It's also a nice thing to hold in your hand.
Maple syrup and cinnamon is my preferred porridge topping (just in case anyone was considering inviting me to stay) and though there's something faintly depressing about still eating such a wintry breakfast in June the joy of using a tool so perfectly adapted for it's job more than makes up for it (also porridge with maple syrup and cinnamon is deliciously perfect at banishing any disappointment that yet again it's quite a cold grey day). I like the ritual sprinkling of a couple of handfuls of oats into a pan, purists wouldn't approve but I use the largish rolled kind which don't need soaking overnight (though if anybody can tell me where I can find steel cut pinhead oatmeal I'd be really pleased to know), adding a pinch of salt and milk then stirring for 5 minutes or so until it's ready. Cornflakes don't allow you those few minutes of contemplation to finish waking up in and settle what needs to be done in the day. It might be newish still, but I wouldn't be without that spurtle now, a spoon just wouldn't cut it any more.