Grandma Brown’s Porridge

I am sure that the recipe for the porridge that my Grandma Brown made for me would have been the same one she had used from Day One for her own children. I don’t know the actual recipe. I expect it was a pretty standard porridge recipe — oatmeal, water, possibly salt and maybe butter.
I just know that when I would sleep over at her house in Owen Sound when I was a small child, I would be greeted in the morning by the smell of her porridge filling the kitchen, and the sight of her at the far end of the kitchen stirring the pot.
She would sit me down with a big steaming bowl of the stuff, a bowl of brown sugar and a jug of milk within easy reach, and I would begin working my way through it.
Eating a bowl of porridge for me was a project of deliberate and slow deconstruction. As much milk as the bowl would contain, poured over a layer of brown sugar.
After I’d worked my way through a substantial portion of this mixture, there would still be lots of oatmeal, needing a good topping-up with more brown sugar and more milk. I was left in charge of my own refills, so I’d go through a lot of milk and a lot of brown sugar.
I remember toast and a glass of juice  — orange, pineapple, grapefruit? A combination of two or more of the above? It was different from the orange juice we had at home, not as sweet. I think Grandma gave me pineapple-grapefruit juice. Tart and tangy, with a little pucker power.
To this day if I drink this kind of juice I am immediately taken back to my grandmother’s kitchen at breakfast time.
I have one other story about my grandma that has nothing to do with food but everything to do with quiet comfort. I was a little kid — maybe four or five years old? — staying overnight at my grandmother’s house during one of our family trips to Owen Sound.
My mom and dad would be sleeping there later but they were just then out for the evening. At some point I got homesick and lonely and came downstairs.
My grandma was sitting in her living room (not the parlor, mind, it was the living room — or dining room? We’ll call it a great room with features of both.) I remember she was sitting at a table, with her glasses on, reading the newspaper.
I remember that the house was very quiet, more quiet than I was used to. No radio or TV on. I guess there would be the sound of the fridge running off and on … Just quiet. And so was Grandma Brown.
I don’t remember any words being spoken. I showed up in the room in my pyjamas and stood looking at her. She saw me, and put down her paper long enough to make room for me on her lap.
I sat on her lap while she continued to read the paper. I don’t know if I stayed up till my parents got home or not, my memory of this doesn’t extend beyond that moment where I was sitting on my Grandma’s lap, feeling safe, quiet and secure. No words needed.
Thank you, Grandma 🙂
Submitted by Jody Smith

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