Irish Porridge with Fruit and Nuts

On the days I most want to sleep in, I find myself staring into the dark wondering what time it is.  Falling back into a sound sleep rarely happens as mental list-making begins.  This isn’t something I choose to do, but once it begins, I give in and quietly head downstairs to wait for sunrise.

The most pleasant aspect of being awake at 3 a.m. is the quiet; the refrigerator’s soft whirring and a clock ticking somewhere in the house magnify the silence.  If I’m lucky, I will have remembered to bring my book downstairs, finally able to read more than the pathetic page or so I manage to get in each night before nodding off.  Otherwise, I’m left to leaf through food magazines or cookbooks, looking for an excuse to organize a dinner to try a few new recipes.

Within a few hours, the room takes on a rosy glow as the rising sun creates a burst of purple, then magenta against the clouds over the mountains in the east.  When it finally crests the skyline, brilliant light shoots through the kitchen window, creating a show of  patterns against the wall that has me reaching for my camera.

The squeak of floorboards upstairs lets me know that someone else is awake and so I can begin my favorite breakfast.  The aroma won’t quite attract attention that bacon does, but it will be a welcomed treat just the same.

Irish Porridge

1 c. steel cut Irish Oatmeal

4 c. water

pinch of salt

brown sugar

pecans or walnuts

chopped apples





Boil the salted water and add the oatmeal, stirring well.  When the mixture begins to thicken, lower the heat to a slow simmer, and cover the pan partially.  Simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The oatmeal should be very thick.

To serve, spoon a healthy dollop or two of oatmeal into a bowl.  Add the butter, brown sugar, nuts, apples, raisins, and cinnamon and stir.  Heat the milk before pouring it into the oatmeal so that everything stays nice and warm.  Stir and enjoy.


  • Treat yourself to a batch of this all week by making enough to separate into sealable containers and refrigerate them.  Add all ingredients except the milk and you can take them to work to heat up in the microwave.
  • For a much less calorie laden breakfast, use applesauce, peach sauce, or apricot sauce (Trader Joe’s sells all three…) add the nuts and raisins and it’s still fabulous — even cold.
  • Although I enjoy good old Quaker Oats, nothing compares to steel-cut oats.
  • For a decadent breakfast, saute the apples, nuts, raisins, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a cast iron skillet until the fruit begins to brown and a syrup to form.  Spoon over the oats and prepare to swoon.  When no one is looking, pour a smidgen of half-n-half into your bowl and stir well.