Eat It Up,It’ill Stick Tae Yer Ribs

by Robert Aitken 21st March 2008

How many of us have heard that saying in the past. A mother or granny trying to convince a bairn of the nutritious value of porridge set before them as breakfast or maybe dinner usually said it. The mother or granny was right, even over one hundred years ago it was recognised that of all the cereals oats were the richest in nutrition and only maize had a higher fat content, nowadays it is a favourite of celebrity chefs and the rich and famous who consider it to be the super health food that it probably is.

OATMEAL
As well as porridge oatmeal is used to make oatcakes, brose, gruel, sowans, bladich and budrum. If you know what the last five are and the difference between them you certainly know your oats. Around 1900, 18,000 acres were under oats in Stirlingshire, each acre produced about 38 bushels weighing around 40 pounds each. I make that to be an awful lot of oats.

MILTON MEAL MILLS
Milton mill (behind Morrisons garage on the Glasgow road) that is probably soon to be demolished to make way for an access road to yet another development (Cala Homes this time) was once the workplace of a miller by the name of Alexander Calder. Mr Calder, a native of Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire, served his apprenticeship at Mill of Wartle, Rayne, after some time as a journeyman he came to Milton Mills, most of the time he was a sub-tenant of the farmer Mr Muirhead who in turn leased the mill from Sauchie estate.

The power for the mill came from a clean renewable energy source, nowadays the Holy Grail of governments everywhere. A dam was built at Chartershall and water was sent by means of a lade to drive the mills then it was returned to the Bannock to be used further downstream. Meal milling was only part of the work, the mill had a threshing machine, a pot barley mill, a bruising machine and a breaking machine which could prepare oats, barley, Indian corn and beans for animal feeding purposes.

The oatmeal produced at Milton mills was some of the best in Scotland; this was brought about by the attention and care given by Mr Calder in the production of this important foodstuff. The oats were chosen by the miller then dried by means of a kiln, anthracite from Millhall was burned under metal plates and the oats turned three times to dry them to the heart, the oats were cooled before going through riddles to the shilling mill where the husk was removed by the shilling stones. Next came the scree to remove the dust and then the fanners to separate husk from the oat, which is now termed a groat. A repeat of this operation may be necessary to improve quality. The groats are then passed through a fine sieve, any foreigners such as barley, beans or wheat which may have got into the system are removed and the groats are finally ready to be ground. The grist (size) is set and the groats go through the meal stones and a final sieve to be packed and delivered to the dealer for sale. These oats were popular in the Stirling area and beyond.

“PARRITCH, SCOTIA’S HALESOME FARE!” Was the heading for an early form of advertising for Alexander Calder’s oatmeal. Here are some recipes for porridge although you might have a better one. If so let us here about it!

PORRIDGE TRADITIONAL
ONE AND A HALF CUPS OF OATMEAL IN A PAN
ADD THREE CUPS OF WATER OR MILK
BRING TO THE BOIL AND SIMMER FOR SIX MINUTES STIRRING OCCASIONALLY USING A SPURTLE
ADD SALT OR SUGAR TO TASTE
PORRIDGE MICROWAVE
45G OF OATMEAL TO 310G OF MILK OR WATER
STIR
MICROWAVE THE OATS UNCOVERD ON HIGH (650 WATTS) FOR 4 MINUTES
STAND FOR 2 MINUTES
ADD SALT OR SUGAR TO TASTE

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