Hard Times

As we all are too keenly aware, money is not coming easy these days. But, perhaps, as a reminder that we don’t have it that bad or maybe just to let us know how well Charles Dickens did indeed have it, The New York Times published an article this morning titled: In Reality, Oliver’s Diet Wasn’t Truly Dickensian.

The main dish featured was, of course, gruel.  But unfortunately The Times did not include any recipes for the stuff.  After some online banter with an online friend about the famed oat water of West Virginia Gaudiya Vaisnavas, I set to work to uncover the mystery of gruel.  
Gruel can be made from a base of rice, potato, oats or bread. It is much creamier than just oat water and seems like it could be an okay dish once in a while–although I have to admit, every day would seem a bit grueling (groan). But it could be a fun dish for a recession inspired theme party.
Below are the links to a couple of gruel recipes. See you at the workhouse!


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7 responses to “Hard Times

  1. Sita-pati das

    “it could be a fun dish for a recession inspired theme party”lol – don’t forget to send me an invite.

  2. Madhava Gosh

    “just oatwater” ?Apparently you have never had real oatwater.It happens to be the one thing I do know how to cook, having been the one who first made it and taught the regular cooks how to do it.Kirtanananda told me how to do it so I did and introduced it to the other devotees.About half the normal amount of oats to water, it was cooked for 1-2 hours at a simmer until the oats lose their form and become one with the water, creamy. A few raisins added later but soon enough that they plump up. Some ginger and a bit of salt, and a tablespoon of ghee per gallon.“Oat water” was a bad marketing choice for a name, oat broth or cream of oats would have conveyed the idea better.Oat water was great, not an austerity, when taken hot.

  3. Devadeva Mirel

    sp—surely you will be invited..when we can afford to throw a party!mg—lol! i am loving that you are the original oat water cook. you should blog about it and clear up the misconception. i do remember one devotee saying “you were lucky if you got a raisin!”anyway…thanks for the recipe. a classic!

  4. Soma

    ahhh… oatwater, it is my favorite breakfast. I would eat it everyday if i could. I have such warm memories of it. We rarely ate oat water by itself. It was used like gravy on the rice. And it was an unbelievable improvement from the previous fare. it was one part of the day that we all looked forward to. Personally i didn’t like the raisins or dates in the oatwater. but because they would sink to the bottom i could just scoop it off the top and miss the raisins and dates.anyway, i cooked the oat water for a few months in 1985. i still have the recipe that Amburisha prabhu wrote on a scrap of paper for me. here it is;14 gal. water1 overflowing gal. of oats3/4 cup of salt2 cup rasin or datesginger and gee impurites if any.(for the rice)4 1/2 gal. rice6 gal water(slightly less)2 cups salt.gee impurities if any that’s the historical recipe from 1985.

  5. Devadeva Mirel

    Good stuff, Soma Prabhu. I am going to post these comments on my “devotee blog” for prosperity.

  6. Devadeva Mirel

    Good stuff, Soma Prabhu. I am going to post these comments on my “devotee blog” for prosperity.

  7. Madhava Gosh

    Yeah, the half the usual amount of oats comment I made was probably wrong as I got to thinking about it later. It was less even. I just do it by eyeball and don’t measure and haven’t made it for a long time.The key thing is mush less oats and much longer cooking time.You drank oatwater, you didn’t use a spoon.Any bad memories someone has would have come from the product of some cook who cut the corner on the time of cooking and just made thin oatmeal, which isn’t oatwater.Rice was an opulence that came later. It used to be a feast prep at New Vrindaban in the early days, only seen on Sunday or on festivals.Kirtananada instructed me, I taught Sudanu, and he passed it down the line. That was before 1983 when we were still at Bahulaban.

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