“ Brand: Lakeland / Product Type: Pan „
I just love the grand title of this Lakeland cooking implement , the Spurtle! Some of you will remember Frank Muir who used to present the long running British game show `Call My Bluff` on the television some years ago. There were two teams and each team were given a rather weird and wonderful word. Each member from one team had to give their meaning of the word, of course only one of the team had the rightful meaning and then the other team had to guess which was the true meaning of the word. A wonderful programme, such fun! Well the word `Spurtle` would have been a possible candidate for such a programme, but given that I have Scottish ancestors I would have automatically known the meaning. The Spurtle, Spirtle or otherwise called the Theevil is a wooden stirrer for porridge and you should always stir your porridge clockwise to ward off the Devil. What a wonderful bit of folklore. Well, I was browsing on the Internet, in actual fact I was looking for a small present for an elderly Aunt. You may remember I have been discussing in previous reviews how difficult it can be to find small gifts for elderly people. I often take a look at the Lakeland website, it is full of all the latest gadgetry and although I have little need for any new gadgets there's no harm in looking. In actual fact I was rather taken by one of their butter dishes from the farmhouse spot collection and at just under £5 it was good value. Then there it was, looking at me- the spurtle! All £3.91p of it, just the ideal present for my elderly aunt who loves traditional gifts. The Lakeland beechwood spurtle is a fairly long piece ( about 13 inches) of tapered wood that has a thistle shaped handle, the perfect tool for stirring those porridge oats and it also helps prevent the porridge oats from sticking to the pan. The wooden spurtle is kind to non stick surfaces and it seems that some recent studies have proved that wood contains certain chemicals that will help fight against the growth of bacteria. The Lakeland Spurtle is easily cleaned in some good hot soapy water and the one and only thing that it lacks is the ability to scrape the pan out, for this you need to revert to using your wooden spoon or spatula. The Lakeland website is easy to navigate and within seconds I had ordered and paid for two spurtles, one for my aunt the other for me. The beechwood spurtle cleans well and has been admired my many of my friends who have all gone off to trawl the Lakeland site to buy the mighty porridge stirrer. I suppose from a female veiwpoint the Spurtle is something of a talking point. Lakeland have a huge range on offer, food preparation products, cooking and baking aids, all manner of tableware, cleaning equipment, laundry equipment, food storage, a host of household ideas and masses of garden equipment. So there you have it - I give you the Spurtle.
I'm a porridge lover eating it several days a week with agave syrup and soya cream. It is great for keeping cholesterol levels down and it keeps me full all morning so I don't feel the need to snack on too many naughty treats in the run up to lunch. Making it is a doddle- ½ cup of oats and a cup of water, boil, stir and serve or make it with oatmeal for a more rustic version, this takes an extra 5 minutes or so but is lovely.You can add salt, whisky, chocolate, nuts, fruit -the list is endless! Recently on a trip to Glasgow to see my daughters I went to the Lakeland cookware shop in Buchanan Galleries in search of a special porridge stirring tool called a Spurtle or sometimes a Theevil. When I was training to be a nurse in the late 70s in London on night duty, it was the task delegated to the student to prepare a large bucket size cauldron of porridge, made with real oatmeal. For some reason we would start this off at 3am on a very low heat, and all manner of things would be added including butter! It was there that I was introduced to my first spurtle, a long think wooden stirring tool which I would use to agitate the mixture, so that by the morning the 32 patients would wake up to a lovely bowl of steaming porridge at first light. It intrigued me then and I used to wonder why we couldn't use a spoon, but it was tradition and sure enough it worked beautifully every time. Porridge itself was part of the early Scottish diet and the spurtle dates back to the 15th century. Original ones were flatter and more like spatulas and were used for turning oatcakes on griddles, but later they became more rod like in appearance and were perfect for oatmeal and soups. The spurtle shape is like a dowel and is made of wood. Usually beech it has a light colour and stands about a foot in length. This is exactly what the one was like I saw in Lakeland, and it had a thistle design on the top which was contoured making it easy to grip. I paid £3.91 for mine and couldn't wait to try it out! So back home in Essex I christened my new tool the next morning. Now there are ancient traditions associated with stirring porridge using a spurtle. Some say it must be held in the right hand and used in a clockwise direction! To do the opposite may attract the devil, now I don't know if I believe that, but I wasn't going to take any chances! I followed the advice of this folklore and erred on the side of caution! It felt strange using it after managing with a spoon for so long! I couldn't understand how something with such a small surface area could be so effective! It works well though, and I really couldn't fault it, nothing was stuck to the bottom of the pan at all, and the porridge was smooth with no lumps-perfect to finish with my usual toppings, and a few walnuts and dried apricots found their way there too! The main disadvantage is the tool is useless for scraping out the porridge-you need a wooden spoon or spatula for this as the remnants stay in the pan otherwise, so it creates two implements to wash up, and you can't dishwash them. For such a quick porridge that I normally make this seems crazy, but I sometimes make it with oatmeal and this takes longer and justifies the one to stir, one to scrape scenario. Is it something I would recommend? Probably not-it's a lovely traditional piece of Scottish history but it can't really claim to be more effective than a spoon. Do I love mine? Oh yes I do- you see I adore Scotland, and every reminder I have of a place I love is important to me. Apparently if you treat your spurtle to a peanut or vegetable oil treatment it keeps it in top condition. I love mine and will keep him nicely moisturised. It's something different and did you know that each year there is a golden spurtle competition to find the best porridge maker? It's something quite special and it is part of me now. It is coming out every morning and will cause quite a stir when it does!
Topped with a thistle handle that matches the original versions used for generations to stir the oats to a smooth consistency, it prevents spitting and sticking to the pan.