We got in touch with local baking legend Lisa Williams, to see what she’s been up to since her last article.
It’s now April and whilst I am in the middle of Easter baking, my thoughts are already turning to October!! To be more precise my thoughts are turning to The Highlands of Scotland, all things porridge and the World Porridge Making Championships, AKA The Golden Spurtle. To be fair I haven’t really stopped thinking all things porridge since last October, it’s a bit of an addiction really, albeit one of the better addictions!
When I meet new people they often call me either The Café Lady – I started Stennetts Community Café in Trimley St Mary - or The Porridge Lady, both names make me smile and give me a warm feeling inside. Please forgive me a bit of indulgence while I talk about why when people say The Porridge lady it gives me a warm glow inside. Remember those long ago adverts for Ready Brek, the kids going off to school all glowing inside, well that’s what thinking and talking about porridge does to me!
If you know the story skip this paragraph, if not keep reading as I get my inner glow on!
I currently have the most wonderful trophy in my china cupboard on my Porridge Shelf, it’s the Golden Spurtle, a replica of a traditional spurtle which is used for stirring porridge, its made of brass and is beautifully shiny and has an amethyst set into the top part that looks like a thistle. Around its wooden base are the names of all the winners of The Golden Spurtle over the years, several of those names I know and count as friends and one particular in 2019 told me he liked my porridge which made me really happy. There are less winners of the Golden Spurtle than there are Giant Pandas so we are a rare breed, I say we as just after Izhar Khan told me he liked my porridge in 2019 I was stunned to be announced winner of the Golden Spurtle for that year. For one year I was the maker of the best porridge in the world, it was official and I had the trophy and inner porridge glow to prove it!
I was delighted to take the trophy home and loved having it on my shelf. Covid then kicked in and we didn’t meet again in person until October 2022. My husband Steve had polished the trophy up and we took it back to Scotland so it could be presented to the next winner of the Golden Spurtle. The World Porridge Champion traditionally leads the porridge parade holding the Golden Spurtle, due to a mix up I didn’t carry the trophy in the parade but I did wave my wooden spurtle with gusto from my mobility scooter and loved being part of the parade. My inner glow was shining hot at the time I can tell you, and as I write this I’m feeling all emotional just thinking of it!
The competition is the most amazing event, it’s competitive but incredibly warm and friendly, it’s like a porridge family reunion and is incredibly special, set in the most beautiful village in the Highlands. Carrbridge, the volunteer committee who run it, are wonderful, if you get the chance you really should go.
At the end of an amazing day I was sitting mentally saying goodbye to the trophy when they announced the winner of the Golden Spurtle 2022, and guess what for the second time my porridge was the best in the world and I was announced the winner: amazing, awesome! And in my head I spoke to the trophy again and said hello old friend you’re coming home with me one more time, definitely feeling emotional now as I write that!
So why in the middle of Easter preparations as I thinking porridge? Well that’s because the competition entries are open at the moment, and anyone can apply to take part in the Golden Spurtle 2023, check out their website or Facebook page for details of how to apply. I’ve been invited back so have my place booked already but I am thinking, planning and practicing my speciality recipe.
The competition has 2 parts: the Golden Spurtle for the person who makes the best traditional porridge using just oatmeal, water and salt; and the specialist category for the person who makes the best oats based recipe. Over the years I have tried various different speciality dishes, toffee apple, all day breakfast, porridge muffins, porridge afternoon tea, porridge gin and last years one my breakfast’s of choice: porridge with cheese and chive primula, cottage cheese and ham! Controversial but very tasty. This years recipe I have in my head and I can’t tell you what it is as it’s a secret but all I can say is I have had this dish in my head since last October and its been evolving. It’s not a traditional bowl of porridge but I love it. But then again, each year I always love my speciality and sadly the judges tend not to, but who knows, wish me luck! We eat porridge for breakfast most days in our house, and it’s normally Steve who makes it in the microwave. It’s not quite the same as making it in a saucepan but is pretty good and is very quick to make.
In January I visited a local care home and did a porridge making demo session and talk. I am more than happy to come out and talk and demonstrate making porridge at clubs and groups and let you try my traditional porridge recipe, all I ask for is a donation towards Marys Meals a wonderful charity feeding children in the world’s poorest communities.
But don’t forget if you would like to take part in the best world championship there is then go for it, I will look forward to seeing you in Scotland and will be happy to talk and taste porridge with you in the meantime.
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