Most of the time, breakfast involves oats.  They’re low GI. Cheap as chips. When the weather is warm they’re muddled into bircher muesli, that’s often stained Rainbow Brite pink by the leaching hues of frozen berries.

Breakfast bircher (aka Project Big Tub)

When it’s cold, the oats are nurtured into porridge. To look at, it’s not much- most of the time my porridge is a mess of marl, a shade not seen since it was all the rage for cheap leggings in the early 90’s.

I try my hardest to gussy up the warming sludge up with berries, banana and tart yoghurt- and sometimes when I really feel like pushing the boat out there might be some toasted almonds to flatter the top of it.

Others I know have tried espresso and Milo, even a nip of Baileys if the day calls for mirth.

The virgin fruit and yoghurt version was the simple plan was this morning. It was all going well, except for one thing.

When you’re on the other side of the world to your nearest and dearest your breakfast is their night. Which means your dim, crinkled waking moments fall smack in the middle of their most talkative ones.

So it makes sense that if there are big things happening their lives, and you wish, so badly that you could be there to share in every moment of them, that you might forget to turn the stove off properly when you’re talking on the phone to them.

So that’s exactly how I ended up eating a porridge pancake for breakfast.

By the time I hung up the phone and came back to investigate my breakfast my porridge had pottered away in my non stick Scanpan on a low heat for  17 minutes worth of gossiping and catching up.

Instead of a slightly leaden lump of cereal there was now a feathery crisp of milk skin on the bottom and snaking up the side. Its centre had congealed and it was now a crispy and dense pancake of oats.

This is by no means the first tasty thing to be created by accident.

In 1905 an eleven year old boy, Frank Epperson left a cup of cordial out on the balcony a cup with a stirring stick in it.  Overnight the temperatures in California dropped to a record low. The next morning he named his iced treat on a stick the epsicle. Years later he marketed them as ‘popsicles’

Instead of turfing it, I decided to embrace what was there. And so out of those moments of distraction my porridge pancake was born.

It was both crispy and squishy. It slumped artfully in the bowl, but held it’s own against fruit and yoghurt.  It reminded  me of a sweet bloated dosa.

It could be eaten with a fork, not a spoon. It filled a hole. It was different.

And for ten full minutes after it turned up all I thought about was how I could improve it when I  made it again- and not how much I missed everyone back home.

So, for that, I owe it some thanks.

Accidental porridge pancake

Best eaten warm with some fruit and yogurt. A drizzle of honey or maple syrup would also be grand.

Serves one.

Shopping/foraging
60 grams of Porridge oats
300 ml of very hot water
Half a banana
Handful of mixed berries
Two tablespoons of yoghurt


Equipment
A small (20 cm) non stick fry pan. A spatula.


Here’s how we roll
1) Add the oats to the pan and put it on a high heat. Add the hot water over the top. This cuts the cooking time down.
2. Bring the water to the boil, stirring the oats. You want the oats to cook for two to three minutes until they have all congealed together and the water has been absorbed.
3. Turn the heat down to low and walk away for 12 minutes to let the residual liquid cook out and the bottom of the oats to crisp (NB you’ll need a nonstick pan. If you don’t have one then grease the pan with butter first).
4. When the edges are crisp, flip the pancake onto a bowl or plate and top with chopped banana, berries, yoghurt and something sweet if you feel like it.