Sunday, March 6, 2011

Microwaved Oatmeal: Study reveals it can still be tasty

When I came home last night, I was greeted with the glorious news that we were without heat, hot water, or most of our electrical appliances. Which meant no stove. Alas.

However, my dad ran in an extension cord so we could use the microwave this morning. And contrary to what you may think, you don't actually need to cook oatmeal on the stove for that thick, steaming bowl of breakfasty delight. 

I love oatmeal. It's my favorite breakfast for a cold winter morning... and since it was 50 degrees inside, it was more or less perfect. The steam issuing into the frigid air was quite picturesque. Silver lining and all that.

Microwaves definitely get a bad rap among foodies and traditionalists. I'm not in a position to say how much or little the microwave has contributed to the decline of home cooking or the family meal, but I can say that the microwave is a tool, and like any tool, it can be used for good or evil.

I will confess that I've used microwaves to cook. And I'm not alone - Harold McGee, a regular writer for the New York Times and author of best-selling books On Food and Cooking and Keys to Good Cooking, talked about using microwaves in a Fresh Air interview last year. According to McGee:
It turns out when studies have been done on retaining vitamins in vegetables, for example, microwave ovens do a much better job than boiling or even steaming. It's a very good, very quick way to heat food, and I do cook vegetables in the microwave. I cook thin fish fillets in the microwave in just a matter of a minute or so.
So since we've established that microwaving food isn't a morally reprehensible offence, let's talk about oatmeal.

Stove-less Stovetop Oatmeal

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk
Toppings - I'm partial to honey, raisins and flax seeds

Pour oatmeal and milk into microwave-safe bowl and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Microwave oatmeal in one minute increments, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on it in case it starts to boil over.

Continue to alternate between microwaving and stirring until oatmeal is the consistency you want. Add toppings and enjoy.

My opinion: You definitely can't tell the difference between stove-top and microwaved oatmeal. However, it's slightly more time-intensive to cook in the microwave, since you have to stop every 30 to 60 seconds in order to prevent boiling over. But then, you also don't have to clean a saucepan. Decisions, decisions.

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