My paternal grandfather was a corn miller to trade, though it was more oats than corn being milled. Most of the grain went for animal provender and farmers would bring their grain to be dried on the kiln and then ground.
James Boswell had a habit of eating oats for breakfast and Samuel Johnson is said to have remarked, “In England we wouldn’t think of eating oats. We only feed them to horses”.
“Well, maybe that’s why in England you have better horses, and in Scotland we have better men”. replied Boswell.
My grandpa had porridge every morning, the oatmeal steeped overnight and cooked in a pot in the morning. The traditional stirrer for porridge was a spurtle, a wooden stick, a bit like the handle of a wooden spoon, and there was a luggie of cream to serve with it. Of course being Scottish, it was quite common for me to have porridge, I could have it any time not just for breakfast and granny used to put sugar on it so I thought that’s how it should be eaten. Coming home from school in the cold, bitter days, I came in to a bowl of steaming hot porridge. I found out later that it was said that a true Scot ate his porridge with salt, I couldn’t imagine it but when I tasted it, I thought it was much better so I’ve never had sugar on it since.
Of course oats were a staple part of the diet, there are so many delicious dishes that can be made with it. It can be used in bread making, oat cakes, (delicious with cheese), baking such as flapjacks, oat biscuits, and in desserts. One of our favourites is Cranochan, so easy to make. Since we grow the best raspberries in the world, it’s a perfect complement. Like everything else, everyone has their favourite recipes. It should be made with oatmeal which has been soaked overnight in whisky but it can be made without it.
2 tbsp medium oatmeal
350g whipped cream
2 tbsp heather honey
a little caster sugar
2-3 tbsp whisky
Toast the oatmeal until it smells nutty, mix the raspberries with the sugar, crushing them lightly. Whisk the cream until just set, blend in the honey and whisky. Looks best served in glass serving dishes layered alternatively with oats, cream and raspberries. Allow to chill. …Enjoy.