Oscar pie

Oh the pie. What a pie...
I won´t say it was the most revolting thing I´ve ever cooked, because the Purple Rice Incident of 1997 is still fresh in my memory. It comes pretty close, though.

All my fault, too. I was out of ink cartridges and couldn´t be bothered to write down the recipe. But I thought I´d just wing it. It´s only an assembly job of pastry, pastry cream, bananas and cream, what could go wrong?

Ha. Overconfidence is always the beginning. From then on, it was one mistake after the other.
Since I´ve never met a Graham cracker in my life, I decided to make a normal sablé pastry. But I flippantly susbituted a whole egg for the two yolks it called for, with the result that it didn´t roll out so well. Which would have been fine, except that I was trying out a new silicone tart mould. Which is ok, except that I have Oven Issues. Won´t bore you with them, but moulds and pans have to be balanced on some pottery making equipment, or I end up with raw things with scorched undersides.
Silicone being soft, the mold caved in and the pastry inmediately shattered.
Which wouldn´t have mattered, if I hadn´t made the creme patissiere from a Donna Hay recipe.
Now, Donna had never failed me before. I relied on her steadfastly no-nonsense approach for this sort of thing. Donna may not chat, but she delivers, yes? Well, actually, no. Whole milk, free range eggs, the seeds from one Madagascar vanilla bean and some cornstarch, and what do I get? A wobbly brick of yellow stuff that looked and tasted as if it had come out of a post-war ration package.
Which didn´t stop me from trying to make the pie, hope being always the last thing to go.
What a sight. Sometimes I really wish this was a blog with photos. It´d have done your heart good to see the thing. Broken pastry topped with wodges of zinc yellow stuff and wisps of whipped cream trying gamely to cover up the mess, the whole looking for all the world like the insides of an alien´s brain.

It went straight into the bin, but you know what? I don´t care. Marty has his Oscar, and I can still bake a kick-ass brownie, so all was well in the end.


Y´all, witness another step in The Lobster Squad´s Evil Plan to take over the web, one blog at a time.

Tammy writes from Boston on "food, foolishness, life". Apart from an impeccable taste in blog headers, she has some pretty wacky Spanish translations on her blog, go see.


Oscar night

Today´s the day when I spray myself gold, put on the fake eyelashes and leap around the house to the tune "it´s a wonderful night for Oscar", imitating Billy Cristal imitating Liza Minelli. All very postmodern.
It´s the biggest night of the year chez nous. Almost deserves an award in itself, if you reflect that the red carpet pre-show starts at 2:30 am, Madrid time.

I don´t know why I do it. Every year I throw things at the tv, shouting, this is stupid. It´s long, it´s rambling, it´s pointless, why do I love it so much? Profound mystery. Every year it´s the same, I walk off in a huge bait and swear I´ll never watch it again. If you think that my first Oscar dissappointment was when The Princess Bride lost best song to Dirty Dancing, back in 1988, you can see that I have a history. Also, that I was a right little 12-year-old freak. And that I never liked Patrick Swayze. But I digress.

It´s still a lot of fun. My mother, two sisters, and various friends, strictly an all-female cast, stay up all night, trying not to doze off. We fight sleep with a staggering dose of sugar, in the form of all-American sweets. It´s a long standing tradition that the chocolate-chip cookies are brought by Lola, and that I make the brownies. My mother used to proffer a banofee pie, but over time we decided that it was overkill. All that dulce de leche, it was crazy.

But since the NYT recently ran an article on banana cream pie, saying it´s a very LA thing, I´ve decided to give it a shot. On paper, it´s a winner. Sweet crusty pastry, custard, bananas, and whipped cream, what´s not to like? Well, on paper Goodfellas was the best 1993 movie, and what happened? Did the Academy respect a film where garlic was sliced with a razor? No, they preferred Kevin Costner´s droopy moustache. Sigh.

If the pie is any good, I´ll post the recipe over the week. If not, I´ll have to fall back on Lola´s cookies when Hillary Swank ruins my life again. She´s not nominated, I know, but I have nightmares where she turns up onstage with those millions of teeth, snatches the Oscar from Martin Scorsese and beats his brains in with it.


The Prince of Noodles

It´s my belief that every person should have a favourite Chinese restaurant in their own neighbourhood. It may not be your favourite Chinese in the city, but it´s the place you go to when you want noodles, want them now, can´t be bothered to open the fridge. It has to be cheap, and it has to be fast. It makes life so much better.

We used to have one like that. It was a tad far away to be considered inside our neighbourhood, but it was only a fifteen minute walk, so it really wasn´t far. It was all the things I said above, and it was also fun. The house speciality were hand made pulled noodles. The chef would stand behind the bar and knead, twirl and pull a bit of dough, flipping and twirling until he had a slithery mass of actual noodles in his hands. Fascinating.

Then one day we sat down at our usual table and everything was different. Instead of bowls, square plates. Instead of the brisk but polite service, a harried push and shove to have us out of the door in ten minutes. The refusal to bring us a jug of tap water (Madrid tap water is excellent) was the last straw. And why? Because on the next table there was a plaque. "The Princes of Asturias dined here". Ha. The heir to the throne went slumming one day, and the next the silly idiots decided they were an upmarket restaurant. Republican bubbles of blood clouding my vision, I paid my bill, and, furious, swore never to return.

Luckily for me, a twin restaurant has opened, nearer my home. It´s charmingly unfussy and the waiters smile, the noodle chef smiles and I smile. Everyone happy, and cravings for those odd-looking, springy, greasy and lipsmacking fresh noodles are only a five minute walk away.
If another royal comes looking for exercise of his droit de seigneur and tries to screw this one up, I´m chaining myself to the door, draped in the purple-red-yellow flag. I don´t care if the place is called the Noodle King. They´re from the People´s Republic of China, right?

Rey de Tallarines. C/ Cardenal Cisneros 33. Metro Bilbao. 91 447 68 28


Five things about me

Now, the moment you´ve all been waiting for. I´ve been tagged by Bea in the "Five things about me meme", and here goes. I take it that by now you know that I´m thirty-one, Spanish, live in Madrid, work as a freelance illustrator, don´t fry, have a loud and ever-present family and a sweet and patient husband, J, who puts up with everything except the lack of rainfall.

So I´ll go with other things. Like:

My favourite country in the world is the Kingdon of Tonga. I have what may be called a little obsession with this place, and my fondest dream would be to attend the coronation fesvitities of King Tupou V this summer. This is hard, as Tonga is exactly on the other side of the world, but who knows, I keep hoping.

I can´t stand little noises. At home, the door to the kitchen has to be shut at all times, or I´ll be annoyed by the buzzing of the fridge (it´s two rooms away). Before I go to sleep, all ticking watches have to be inside drawers or shoes, and I´ve been known to request nearest and dearest to take them off when we´re at the movies. It´s really quite amazing that I haven´t been strangled yet.

I love opera, the unintellectual kind, that is, Italian XIX century. Bellini would be my first choice, but in the kitchen, it has to be heart-on-sleeve Puccini. Catch me unawares and you may surprise me in the middle of Tosca, furiously chopping and stirring while I belt out all the parts. Tomato sauce on the ceiling is a likely hazard.

I hate taking exercise, and can become very irritable when confronted with the new Nazis, a.k.a. the health and fitness brigade of "oh, is that butter?". Gyms are my idea of hell. However, I´ve recently taken up swimming, which doesn´t feel like excercise at all, since I don´t sweat, puff , fall about or feel silly in front of mirrors. I love going to the pool, but even more, I love telling people about it. The looks of pure disbelief are a lot of fun.

I once had tea with Barbara Cartland. For the uninitiated, she wrote over six hundred romantic novels of the silliest kind, full of swooning heroines, dark, brooding heroes and improbable adventures in exotic locations or haunted castles or both. My mother has a collection of about three hundred, all in danger of falling apart, since we´ve read them a million times. In 1998 she wrote Dame Barbara a letter, and we were asked to tea. A pretty surreal experience, may I say, sitting with the Lady in Pink in a beautiful country house that used to belong to Beatrice Potter, of Peter Rabbit fame. The tea, by the way, was excellent, and could have come straight out of one of her books. Finger sandwiches, shortbread, and Ceylon tea from a huge silver teapot which the 96-year-old authoress poured without so much as a shaking hand. Happiest day of my life, and never mind my first communion.

I´ll tag these seven other bloggers. I´ve been reading them for a long time now, but I´d love to know more.
Monkey Gland


Ash Wednesday

It´s Ash Wednesday, people. The sardine has been buried ( I bumped into the procession this morning), carnival is over, and it´s time to think about mortality, stop eating meat, and spring-clean your soul.
I´m not very devout, that´s for sure, but I do love Ash Wednesday. The whole "you are dust" thing seems very Baroque, straight out of Ribera. And as for Lent, well, I don´t like giving things up, and self-indulgence is usually the order of my day. But it does makes sense to hold back for a few weeks, and everybody observes it, more or less. It´s just been pushed back a couple of months, and now goes by the name "operación bikini", that´s all.

So today, after I go off to church to have my forhead dusted, I´ll prepare a fitting menu. A suitably sober soup of vegetables and barley, to be served alongside bread and cheese. The cheese of course will be none other than Montenebro from Avila. This is a goat´s cheese, soft in texture, strong in taste, a very milky pristine white inside and a mottled grey outside, because it´s coated in, yes you guessed, ash.

At 18€ the kilo, it´s something of an indulgence, which makes it, as my religion teacher would have said, not illegal, but certainly illicit. Its utter deliciousness violates the spirit of the stoical law of this day, but hey, ashes to ashes, right?


Treacle tart for fashion victims

I´m a food fashion victim.

That´s worse than being a fashion victim. They buy must-have bags or shoes, and then, once they´re out of fashion, feel like they´d rather die than wear them. But I buy food and often forget about it, even often forget to check expiry dates. And that, unlike last year´s Louis Vouitton limited edition clutch, might actually make you die.

It´s just plain dangerous. Being the clothes equivalent of people who live on pot noodles, I thought I was exempt from the vagaries of labels. But oh no. Food packaging is so seductive and beautiful that I buy stuff just for its looks. All too often beauty is tin-deep, and those end up in the bin. Fot the rest, I´m willing to bank on packager´s overcautiosness, and eat things that are past their best before dates. Usually, there´s no problem, other than odd pairings. Yesterday we had a lunch of pasta with floppy, almost caramelized leeks and foie d´oie from a tin that was months due. For pudding, treacle tart, also from an aged tin.

Now that I´ve seen how easy it is, however, I bet I´ll never let another tin of Lyle´s golden syrup stay unused that long. This is Nigella´s recipe, from How to eat. It makes a thin tart, so it´s not so stodgy as you might expect. It´s golden, crunchy, chewy, dense and aromatic and all so many things that you just can´t beleive will fit inside one mouthful at once, and is just as simple as this:

Shortcrust pastry made from 100 gr. flour, stretched out very thin inside a 20 cm. tart case.I used the Thermomix recipe for 300 gr. and froze the rest.60 gr. fresh breadcrumbs (that is, not pan rallando from a bag), 225 gr golden syrup, which is half a tin, the juice and zest of half a lemon and three tablespoons of cream. The easiest method is to put the syrup in a pan until it´s runny, add crumbs and lemon zest and wait until it´s cooled down to add the cream. Or make the crumbs with the Th. and heat everything inside it, then add the cream.
By this time you´ll have finished blind baking the case, and can spoon in the filling. Put it in a 200ºC oven for 15 minutes, and then lower it to 180ºC and wait another 20, more or less, until the pastry is golden and the filling is set into a rusty dark yellow.
This is served hot, and people swear by vanilla ice cream. I prefer plain cream, since the treacle is really sweet enough.
Impulse buying and design madness pay off.


Alphabet politics

Read this article in the New York Times about couples in the kitchen? It´s terrifying. Apparently, all couples can be divided into alpha and beta cooks, and the power struggle is so bitter, that whoever survives a home renovation will succumb to the fight over who makes the risotto.

I´m obviously an alpha cook, also a control freak and wouldn´t know patience if it bit me in the leg. If that article´s true, I´m heading for divorce, downhill and no brakes.

Unless, well, wait a second. That´s if there´s a disgruntled beta cook peeling potatoes, right? But J is no beta cook. He´s not even an omega cook. The most he does in the kitchen during cooking time is ask where the bottle opener is.

We seem to have worked out a system where I cook, and he either eats the grated cheese, takes the lids off my steaming rice and finishes all the bread; or just stays out of my hair altogether and watches the Simpsons.

When we´ve finished, he does the washing up, and I either hover around telling him to make sure the water´s hot and the glasses washed also on the outside, or stay out of his way and sip mint tea.

Once he leaves the kitchen, glowing with virtue, I go back in and take down whatever´s stacked perilously, mop up the floor, and wipe down the cutting board, which he always forgets.

It´s a system. It seems to work. I think, in time, J may graduate to jobs like spinning salad or grating carrots, but what for? I kind of like being alone in the kitchen. I´m free to lose myself in a reverie while slicing mushrooms, or to sing and dance to the whole Grease soundtrack without embarrassement. It´s not like I cook complicated stuff that needs assembly lines, and anyway, I have a Thermomix to take care of things that need to be stirred constantly or chopped minutely.

So there it is, I´m an unrepentant alpha bitch, and not likely to change, either. But as long as the food´s good, who´s complaining?


Soup über alles

Every now and then I feel a hankering for German food. This always takes me by surprise, because I don´t feel at all German, despite my name. My great-grandparents came to Spain over a hundred years ago, but apart from them, all my ancestors are Spanish as can be. The only German thing in my childhood were the dirndels I was made to wear to birthday parties. Scarred me for life, of course, but that´s another story.

A quarter of blood ain´t much, but if you think of it in terms of actual blood, it makes for quite a few pints sloshing about inside me. It´s quite natural that every now and then I just have to have pale sausages with sweet mustard.

Luckily for me there´s a salchichería in c/Arenal that has wonderful stuff. It´s called La Madrileña, but don´t be fooled. Beyond the chorizo and the callos lies plenty of teuton goodness in the shape of all kinds of wurst, plus jars of pickles and mustards. Last time I walked away with a tin of sauerkraut on top of my usual package of sausages and leberwurst ( for daddy).

I did this recipe of Elise´s, but wasn´t too pleased. It was ok, but I think I was expecting too much from it. My mind was on some form of Romantic, sturm und drang mythic food, which boiled pork and cabbage just ain´t.

So I decided to start over, and sauteed two onions and carrots, plus a bayleaf and some peppercorns. That perked it up a bit, especially since to sweeten the onions I added caramel, which gave the thing a bit of colour. With some crispy roast potatoes and plenty of ketchup, it still wasn´t Caspar David Friedrich, but it was good.

There was still a lot of it, though, so I decided to ring the changes for a second helping. A couple of stock cubes, a generous litre of water, and a cup of barley that had been soaking overnight were added to the pot, which was put on a low flame for an hour or so.

This resulted in a wonderful wintry-looking soup, with the orange of the carrot and the pearly barley grains floating in a dense light brown broth. Sharp from the sauerkraut, yet sweetened by the added vegetables, with the meat taking second place to the barley, still al dente after all that while. I loved it. I just wish it was cold enough to really warrant such a hearty soup.

I´ve frozen two portions, and will have the last one tonight, maybe with a glug of sherry, to reflect both sides of my heritage.


Other blogs

This is the header I did for Ramona, who has a knitting blog called The frayed knot. I have trouble tying my shoelaces, so I´m lost in admiration of anyone who can knit, never mind knit as well as all that.

Another recent discovery is Lydia´s blog, The Perfect Pantry, and was hooked instantly.
Lydia writes about ingredients in her pantry, freezer or fridge. The sort of jars or packets that are always around, and can turn a couple of hundrum fresh ingredients into a bright and zesty and different dish.
I´m a compulsive food and condiment buyer, and often end up with things I bought with a specific recipe in mind, and then forget about. This blog gives one recipe for each highlighted product, but always makes sure to link to a few others. So if you don´t finish those packets it´s nobody´s fault but yours. I´ll be eternally indebted to her for the tip of putting smoky barbecue sauce in bean soups, but there are plenty of other great ideas in there.
There´s also a Bookworm in the pantry column, featuring recommendations by Pantry readers. Not cookbooks, just cooks that feature food prominently or interestingly. Have a look at my selection, and better still, make a list of your own.


Peace, love and lentil salad

On Friday I had a 15:30 pm lunch date with two friends who also work in graphics. We were to eat sushi and talk shop. Perfect. But there I was, quite peckish at 1330, and the prospect of two more hungry hours to go.

I went to the kitchen, thinking maybe of eating some toast, or raw carrots, when I found a jar of lentejas al natural. More cautious rummaging around in the fridge revealed a celery stick. I thought I could do worse, even if the whole thing felt very much like a 1970s hippy-vegetarian conceit.

I feared with each mouthful I´d start to feel as if I´d knitted my own socks out of hemp, and my hair had grown a yard. But actually, I found the whole thing very elegant and spare, almost sophisticated, in fact.
I think we may be seeing a lot of this one, to bolster up sandwich dinners or meagre lunch boxes. It´s filling, but not overwhelming, and takes seconds to fix, which is good news when you´re snacking before what you know will be a good lunch later.

Elegant lentil salad

Lentils from a jar, drained
Celery, chopped very fine
Sherry vinegar, olive oil, plenty of pepper.
Chopped parsley goes very well with this too, as does lemon juice.


Las conservas de Catalina

Oh, no, what´s this, a photograph in lobstersquad? Quick, look away before your eyes burn.
Nah, come on, it´s all right.
Look closely and you´ll see that the labels are illustrated and lettered by yours truly.

You can also see what a lousy photographer I am. If I couldn´t draw, I couldn´t have a blog.

I made these labels for Catín, a friend who has always comissioned all sorts of things from me over the years. She has watercolours, prints, ceramic tiles, handmade books, really, all sorts. Since she´s also an enthusiastic cook and maker of preserves, it soon followed that I was requested to make some labels.

The great thing is, on top of my cash payment, I received a box of goodies, namely what you see: a jar of bonito in olive oil, another of plum jam, and the most ambrosial thing I´ve ever had in my life, quince jelly.

Aren´t you jealous?


Easy sandwich

I´m not enjoying this week too much. Enjoyable things are happening, but I´m just too manic and stressed to enjoy them. I have no less than eleven sepparate projects on my list for this week and the next.

I´m also eating out all the time. It´s lovely, sociable, expensive, and fun, but dammit, I just want to curl up in the sofa and have somebody bring me a bowl of soup. And then pass out, while an efficient clone finishes off all my work.

Yes, well. In the meantime, I´ll just be glad that I still have consommé in the freezer, and that yesterday I managed to get to the market just before they closed at 8, to stock up on some vegetables.

Not that I can face the chopping up that soup would entail. No. I´ll stick to a cup of the broth, and a sandwich that is as simple as it is invigorating. It´s from Deborah Madison´s The Savoury Way, of which I have a very strange copy I picked up a few years ago at a discount bookshop on c/Goya. It has no page numbers, or index, and the cover is thin green paper, no pictures. It´s falling apart, and it´s annoying to have to rifle through the whole book when looking for something, but I love it anyway. She sounds like a really nice lady, does Deborah (read an interview with her on Culinate).

The sandwich is just brown bread, with butter, chopped parsley and chopped celery leaves. Salt and pepper in considerable quantities, and that´s it. Just make sure the brown bread is good, with plenty of different cereals and maybe a hidden cache of nuts somewhere. It feels good to munch on all that greenery, and yet the butter keeps it just this side of healthy, which makes it coomforting, which makes it just the thing.


Happy birthday

My mother would say she has no place in a food blog, and indeed, I´ve never seen anyone who cares less about cooking. She says that food is ephemeral, and that if she puts a lot of effort into something, she wants it to be around for a little longer, so she can receive compliments any time. Which she does, a lot, since it´s beautiful and unique. Check it out .

However, she loves food, and she loves entertaining. Chez maman you literally never know how many plates to lay the table with. We may be five, we may be eight. Maybe someone´s on a diet, or doesn´t eat meat, or arrives late from an exam, or gets up early to catch the sports news. Whatever the case, there´ll always be plenty of good stuff for everyone, a confused din of babbly conversation, and more than likely you will find some of your personal space taken over by either of the dogs.

And this is on a normal weekday lunch, mind.

She is also a firm devotee of the merienda, and loves to sit at the big dining room table, handing out slices of shop-bought cake, ham and cheese sandwiches, and topping up coffees and teas for anything up to a dozen people.

But since today´s her birthday, there will also be a proper cake, with many layers and fillings. So that´s it for today. Little lunch in preparation of that high tea, and certainly no dinner. Felicidades.


Espinacas con garbanzos

Of all beans, chickpeas are my favourite by far. I think it´s because beans can so easily become mushy, but garbanzos, being rock hard, hardly ever have that problem. Of course that´s what makes cooking them such a lengthy pursuit, so you can guess that this is another of those beans-in-a-jar recipes.

It´s quite an oddball recipe in the Spanish canon, in that there are no pig parts lurking around. It´s just chickpeas with spinach. You´ll find no panceta, chorizo, morcilla, ear, snout or knuckle. Also, it´s eaten with a fork, usually served as a first course or a tapa, not as a hearty potaje. I love it on toast doused with extra virgin olive oil.

Of course in a normal country it would be a side dish, but you know how it is here. Orphan hunks of meat or fish, or else beans escorted by a phalanx of cholesterol.

Which is not to say that you have to do it our way. As you can imagine, it nestles very comfortably up to Moroccan or Middle Eastern food, and personally, I think it´s a winner with roast lamb as served in Burgos, but don´t let them hear me say so, or I´ll have my citizenship taken away.

A note about proportions. I´ve used the ones normally available here, that is, 185 gr. jars of chickpeas, and 400 gr. packets of fresh spinach. But it´s a pretty accomodating dish, and you can change the quantities to suit you or your grocer. At most, you´ll find you have garbanzos con espinacas instead of espinacas con garbanzos.

As for the half cup of tomato sauce, well, I know it sounds like an irritating thing to say, but bear with me. You don´t have to use tomato in this recipe, but it´s so much better with it. And if you have half a jar of tomate frito left over, I´m sure you can find a use for it. So go on, try it.

Espinacas con garbanzos

1 small onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup tomato sauce ( tomate frito, without corn syrup or dubious stuff, please. Just add a bit of sugar if you like)
1/2 tsp of cumin, or to taste
400 gr. fresh spinach
185 gr(drainded weight) chickpeas
Tabasco or dried chili
salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice

In a biggish pan hat has a good lid, sautee the onion in olive oil, and when it´s transparent, add the minced garlic and cumin. Let it cook for a minute, until it´s fragrant.
Now add the spinach, tomato, and drained chickpeas.This is a messy procedure, as the spinach takes up a lot of room, but it will collapse quickly, so just move it around, clamp the lid, and after a minute, shake it around. The idea is that the liquid the spinach gives out is soaked up by the chickpeas, so there´s no sogginess. In no more than five minutes, it will be dark green and soft, but very juicy. Taste for salt and cumin, add a splash of Tabasco, a squirt of lemon juice, and you´re in business.
It tastes better lukewarm, so try not to be greedy.



That´s the bill for our lunch last Friday. J is a staunch Katsudon man, always and forever. I usually have the sushi lunch deal, but lately I´ve discovered Nabeyaki. I love it. It comes in a little cast iron pot, which makes for a huge bowl of noodles, in which basically everything nestles. Seaweed, crab, mushrooms, cabbage, fried tempura dough, and a raw egg. It arrives piping hot, the broth clear, the tidbits hidden in the noodles, making it a lot of fun to prise them out one by one, until all that´s left is a little puddle of broth that has become cloudy and mellow. I love it. Kawara´s been supposed to be closing for years now, but is still open. However, every time I go I feel it may be the last, which certainly gives the experience an added kick.


Dickensian mornings : porridge

We are cursed with the alarm clock, but blessed with breakfast, don´t´ you think? After caffeine and a bit of wasting time reading the news, I want food. But I don´t want anything too in-your-face. Blandness is key. And what´s more bland than porridge?

Most people I know don´t like porridge, which is Spanish is called gachas de avena, an unappetizing name, really. Not that it looks any good. I must admit, the first time I saw it, at boarding school in England, I thought I´d strayed into the Oliver Twist scenario from hell. It turned out not to be so bad, though. The porridge was dickensian, but the school wasn´t, and I was allowed to stick to toast for the whole year I was there.

And that was that for a long long time, until this summer in Estonia I came across it again, everywhere, from the smallest b&b to the swankiest hotel. I fell in love, and had it every day, with bilberry jam (oh, the North and its berries, how exotic)

I started with Quaker´s oats, but soon switched to organic, and they´re so much better, they really are. I still keep the Quaker´s label stuck to the glass jar, though. Respect design classics.

The recipe is adapted for a Thermomix from The Ballymaloe Cookery School.
Porridge was traditionally stirred with a spurtle. It sounds like a Quidditch term, but it´s only the wooden stick used to stir porridge. I´ve decided that we could call the Th the Electric Spurtle. You don´t have to stand and watch your pot when your brain is only half awake. The Th takes care of all that, and then beeps. Neat, uh?

I don´t know why I bother to give this recipe, because inside Spain nobody eats porridge, and outside nobody seems to have a Th, but anyway, here goes:

Boil 500 ml. water, which is approx 4minutes at Varoma, speed 1. With the machine still on, sprinkle 80 gr. of oatmeal, then turn the heat down to 90º, cover, and program 11 minutes. Sprinkle some salt in, and scrape into two bowls. Don´t leave out the salt, otherwise it will be bland beyond belief, and it´s pretty bland even with it.
Inmediately, fill the machine with water. Dried porridge is no fun to clean.

Since my other half doesn´t eat breakfast, I stash the second bowl in the fridge, covered in clingfilm. It looks revolting one it´s cooled, Goldilocks had a point. But she didn´t have a microwave, which makes it perfect next day, and truly instant, and would have solved many a problem at the house of the bears.

I like to eat it with a splash of milk and plenty of brown sugar. I´m telling you, it makes up for all the alarm clocks in the world.