Saturday, August 26, 2017

When it absolutely, positively, has to be....

Overnight what now?

I can't say that I had not heard of overnight oats; as I have written before, I am sometimes called upon to edit cookbooks, including hideous health-nut cookbooks. I've also been to a meeting or two where a woman (always a woman) would be chowing down cold oatmeal from a reusable container. So I knew that putting oatmeal together in the fridge the night before had become a thing.

But is it a thing? Or a Thing? Is it a Thing in the James Arness sense? Or is it okay?

Even though this overnight oat thing is a big boon to Quaker Oats, they have seen where it can be boonier by putting out their own cup of Overnight Oats. As you can see in the picture, it comes with stuff mixed in (raisins, walnuts, and honey flavor here, but there are three other varieties too). You just add milk and shove it in the fridge.

Overnight oat cereal is pretty simple; in fact, Quaker has some recipes on its own site. But this cup o' overnight oats saves you the trouble of putting stuff in (except the milk) and finding the clean Tupperware.

It's interesting, because originally all oats were overnight oats. That's right: oatmeal as food for human consumption used to be cooked all night. Even as late as 1922, according to The Farm Journal ("Most Farmers Prefer Packaged Breakfast Foods" -- no link available), "In summer... oil and gas stoves are substituting for the kitchen range, so that oatmeal cannot simmer all night long, as many people consider necessary."

Modern overnight oats are a lot easier, since they prepare themselves in the fridge and you won't accidentally burn down the house while you're sleeping.

So how are the Quaker Overnight Oats? I tried a couple of flavors, including the above, and my review is: Meh. The oats are really chewy and not in a good way; more like the something-chewed-this-already way. Gummy, actually. The flavor of the honey one was a little weird, and I suspect that comes from using some kind of powdered honey (there's no liquid honey in the cup).

To be fair, though, I wanted to put together a cup of overnight oats from scratch, to see if the texture issue was just this pre-cupped product. Last night I did just that, mixing yogurt and milk with a cup of oats and whatnot (following this recipe, except with raisins for the apple and almond slivers for the chia seeds because, well, chia seeds). Let's eat!

And it's okay. Not gummy. Still weird -- it's cold non-crunchy oatmeal. Takes some acclimation. But better than the ready-mixed product.

So those are my findings. Your mileage may vary, but I suspect this cold oatmeal is a fad that's not going to last long. At least it doesn't involve the words "kale" or "smoothie," which is pretty major.

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