Quaker Man - © Quaker Oats

An Oatmeal Revolution In My Old School Kitchen!

I never thought I’d see the day. But yesterday was it. I (reluctantly) tried making Quaker’s ‘One Minute’ instant oatmeal, and was amazed at how good it turned out. It took more than one minute (not a lot more, though), and I did have to diddle with the recipe a bit…

Porridge in the bowl © www.maggiejs.caReal, long-stirred oatmeal: Quaker 1-Minute Oats comes
close – provided you use my prep method!

You know how I feel about Oatmeal. My mother was born in the Scottish Highlands, where oatmeal was (arguably) invented. They love theirs thick and creamy, usually with a pat of butter on top. My mother grew up on that kind of breakfast to high school age, when her family moved into town from the farm. Even then, there was oatmeal at least 5 mornings a week.

I’ve posted on the proper way to make oatmeal before. I was specific to the last detail about how to measure and stir the stuff. And I’ll freely admit that I took a moment to pooh-pooh ‘quick’ and ‘instant’ oatmeals as second-rate pretenders:

“You may find that ‘quick’ oats reach the al dente stage before they get a chance to develop the the creamy consistency that regular rolled oats do. No problem. They’ll taste just fine. But I miss the traditional creamy texture. Keep stirring.”

Dawns a new day!

The last time mother was in the hospital (for one of the many internal issues that beset a person when they reach their nineties) They fed her oatmeal for breakfast. She was pleasantly surprised to be offered oatmeal of any kind under a hospital food regimen. And she was further surprised to find that it met her stringent standards. That, I thought, was saying something. I never found out how they made their oatmeal at the hospital, but I suspected it was prepared from ‘instant’ oats. What occupied my thoughts far more was, the oatmeal was the only item on the hospital menu she made an effort to comment on in the positive.

I thought, “I’ll start making her oatmeal in the mornings at home. We can both have it, so it’ll be worth the effort. And stirring is great therapy. I can deal with any personal issues I wake up with before I actually get into my day and have to start dealing with other people.”

It was an epiphany! A win-win-win-win scenario.

Implementation marred?

But Sister Erin threw a monkey wrench into my oatmeal plan. She does al the grocery shopping for our household and came home with a huge bag of Quaker Oats, per my request. But they were ‘One Minute’ Oats, not regular rolled oats. I was skeptical at first, then I started imagining all kinds of complications and, ultimately, mother’s rejection of the resulting porridge as ‘crap pap’. But disaster was not to visit our little enclave that day. Quite the opposite, actually.

The directions call for (I paraphrase) 2 parts boiling water to one part dry ‘One Minute’ oats. I didn’t change that. They also stipulate a pinch of salt, boiled with the water. Salt is a must, if you don’t want your oatmeal to taste like paste, no matter what texture it develops. All good, so far.

Quaker said to add the oats to the boiled water and stir, stir, stir. I assumed that was where the ‘one minute’ part came in. Anyway, that didn’t work. At least, it didn’t result in anything I recognised as oatmeal. The mixture was watery and grainy. And it was getting cold very quickly as I stirred, stirred, and stirred so more.

I thought, “I’ll give it a few seconds in the microwave to heat it up again…”

A breakthrough

I took a guess at 20 seconds and hit the zap button. Counting down the time, nothing happened until the readout reached 5 seconds left. Then a sluggish volcano of oatmeal began to rise from the centre of the bowl, and the mixture began to foam around the edges. I stirred the mass again until the volcano and the foam were evenly distributed throughout the whole. It looked more like oatmeal than before. So I zapped it again, for another 20 seconds. This time, the oatmeal volcanoed again, and started creeping up the sides of the bowl. I had to stop the microwave with 5 seconds still on the clock to avoid a boil-over. But after I stirred it one last tome, I discovered  something amazing: The resulting oatmeal was every bit as creamy and rich and thick as the stuff I would otherwise have stood over a pot and stirred for up to half an hour!

Mom loved it, and proclaimed it even better than the stuff she had in the hospital. I marveled that it took only a few minutes and a minimum of stirring to make pretty much perfect oatmeal.

My perfected process

Now, I’ve refined the procedure as follows:

  • In a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup, heat 2/3 cup / 160 ml of water in the microwave for 1 minute on high.
  • Add 1/3 cup / 80 ml of Quaker ‘One Minute’ Oats to the water and stir until all the dry material as moistened. Then stir for another 10 – 15 seconds until the water starts to turn milky with oat starch.
  • Zap the measuring cup for 20 seconds on high, and stir again, for 20-30 seconds.
  • Then zap on high again for up to 20 seconds (watching carefully to avoid a boil-over).
  • Stir again until the oatmeal reaches a consistent thickness and all visible water is incorporated.

And there you have it!

If you’re not making your instant oatmeal the way I do, you’re robbing yourself of a real treat. And it still takes under 3 minutes!

~ Maggie J.