The fascination with historic vegetarian cookbooks and the recipes contained within continue at a pace.

In this regard we have decided to test two recipes included in Cassell’s famous original Vegetarian Cookery publication from 1899.

Note:  We love the prose written when describing old recipe writings and so have adopted the style of this writing for authenticity’s sake. Exact weights, of course, are not mentioned.


Oatmeal Porridge.

Of all dishes used by vegetarians [in 1899] there are none more wholesome, more nourishing, or more useful as an article of everyday diet for breakfast than oatmeal porridge.

When there are children in the family it is a good plan, whatever they may have for breakfast, to let them begin with porridge [today we can add oat or coconut milk].

Oatmeal is either ‘coarse’, ‘medium’, or ‘fine’. Individual taste must determine which of these varieties shall be chosen. Scots generally prefer the coarser type.


The ordinary way of making porridge is the following:

Put as much water as is likely to be required into a saucepan with a sprinkling of salt and let the water boil. Half a pint of water will make a single plateful of porridge. Take a knife (a ‘spurtle’ is the proper utensil) in the right hand, and some Scots, or coarse, oatmeal in the left hand , and sprinkle the meal in gradually, stirring it all the time;  if any lumps form draw them to the side of  the pan and crush them out.

When the porridge is sufficiently thick (the degree of thickness must be regulated by personal taste), draw the pan back a little, put on the lid, and let the contents simmer until wanted; if it can have two hours’ simmering, all the better ; but in hundreds of families in Scotland and the North of England it is served when it has boiled for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour ; less oatmeal is required when it can boil for  a long time, because the simmering swells the oatmeal, and so it makes it  go twice as far.

During the boiling the porridge must be stirred frequently to keep it from sticking to the saucepan and burning, but each time this is done the lid must be put on again.

When it is done enough it should be poured into a basin or upon a plate, and served hot with sugar, and [vegan] milk.

The very best method that can be adopted for making porridge is to soak the coarse Scots oatmeal in water for twelve hours, or more.

The proportions for porridge made in this way are a heaped tablespoon full of coarse oatmeal to a pint of water.

This is the old way.


Well, it was certainly a very long old recipe for such a simple food as porridge.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed making vegan porridge using this old recipe and thoroughly enjoyed the tasteful outcome.

The only modification we would add is adding cinnamon to the final product.

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