How (Not) to Cook Oatmeal in the Microwave: A Sort-of (But Not Really) Tutorial

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"How (Not) to Cook Oatmeal in the Microwave - A Sort of (But Not Really) Tutorial" by Caryn Caldwell

Oatmeal: It’s explosive.

1) Carefully read instructions on oatmeal packet. This time you will do it right. For once, breakfast won’t end in messy defeat.

2) Stir together milk and oatmeal.

3) Set microwave according to directions. Hide pre-victory grin. Whistle. Exude confidence.

4) Watch oatmeal spin on tray, ready to halt all cooking at first sign of boilage. Squint a little. Hold breath. Fear overflow, despite yourself.

5) Stir and check status. (Answer: Oat flakes drifting in warmish milk soup.)

6) Another minute in microwave.

7) Still floaty dry oats + milk. This could take a while.

8) Set microwave for one more minute. It’s still raw, and barely lukewarm. You’re totally safe.

9) Go set table. Take your time. Swagger a little.

10) Saunter back to microwave, spoon in hand, poised to stir.

11) Open microwave door. Discover that, in your absence, your impending meal became an oatmeal volcano, spouting thick, gloppy, magma-esque mess all over clean microwave tray.

12) Congratulations! Your oatmeal is hot and (mostly) cooked. So is the tray beneath.  Blow on breakfast. Wait for it to cool so you can finally eat it.

13) Clean-up time. Soak bowl for sixteen hours. Chisel cemented cereal off bottom of microwave. Try not to swear.

14) Vow to use water instead of milk next time, though tasteless paste isn’t your preferred dining choice.

15) Scribble “Buy bigger bowl” on shopping list. Amend to “Much, much bigger.” Underline. Add exclamation point.

16) Or there’s always toast. Toast is safe. Usually.

Your turn – what’s something you repeatedly attempt, even though you know it will lead to your ultimate doom? Talk an elderly relative through way-too-techy computer issues? Jump into NaNoWriMo with the threat of Thanksgiving (and all those pies you have to bake) hanging over your head? Make coffee in that complicated machine in the break room? Sew pants? Come on! Make me feel better. Spill it. (Yeah. Spill. You and my oatmeal…)

  • If it makes you feel any better, I once forgot to add water to a cup of microwave macaroni … the whole thing ended up as a black, smoking mess. It took a good month or two before the horrid stench fully dissipated. Oops?

    • Oh, no! Yeah, seems like it would smell awful. Bet it wasn’t easy to clean up, either.

  • Too funny! (or not . . . depending on where you are in the healing process). 😉

    Making bread in a breadmaker took me FOREVER to figure out. Now I just use it for dough, but the first several attempts were sad, sad tales.

    • LOL! I’m over it now, but I was annoyed at the time. (Not to annoyed to snap a picture and start mentally composing this blog post, though!)

      Yes! I know what you mean about bread makers. Mine works well most of the time, but the bread still rises too high sometimes and sticks to the top. Sounds like you have a smart idea. I need to do it your way, but I’m always gone when the dough cycle is done, so I can’t transfer it to the pan, let it rise, and bake it.

  • Oh my gosh… I was CRACKING UP…

    Caryn, you have got a little thing called comedic timing… you are SO FUNNY!

    For me? I’m trying to not eat all the leftover Halloween candy…

    • Okay, Morgan, I cannot even begin to tell you how much you made my day with your comment! Seriously. I wanted the post to be funny, but wasn’t sure if it actually was. You know how humor goes. 🙂

      Good luck not eating the Halloween candy, too. That’s always one of the hardest parts of November.

  • The thing I repeat over an over again? Even though I know it will lead me nowhere I want to be, literally? Taking shortcuts when I don’t really know the roads. Every time I’m sure it will save me a few minutes, and every time I end up driving in circles, generally ending up where I started, or farther away. You would think I’d learn.

    • Yes! I do that, too, and it almost always takes me longer than if I just went the way the map told me to go.

  • I did this last week. I’ve done it a bunch over my life and I always go the long route and boil the water stovetop for awhile before eventually forgetting. Hope you weren’t in a hurry 🙂

    • I’ve thought about making it on the stovetop, but it’s one more thing to clean. (I like it with milk instead of water, so I’d have a pan to wash, too.) Then again, it might be worth it not to have the caked-on mess in my microwave!

  • BWAHAHA–this was awesome!!! Um, I repeatedly fail when I try to add my own ingredients or change up a recipe (JUST FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS!). But I try and try again. My poor family! 😀

    • Yes! I’ve done the same thing! And since you’re not following the recipe, it’s hard to know if the recipe itself was a dud or if your changes did it in.

  • Pamela Cayne

    I was about to helpfully, yet with more than a little hubris, suggest you use the power level button on your microwave, but then I remembered about 6 weeks ago when I microwaved my nightly cup of tea and forgot to add water to the cup. Burned tea bag. Stained mug. Smoke. Bad smell. Needless to say, you’ll be getting nothing but sympathy from me!

    • LOL! Yeah, I bet that smelled awful!

      I do need to play with the power level, to see if it helps. See, it just *feels* like I shouldn’t need to do that, or the directions would tell me to, right? But they steer me wrong in so many other ways.

  • That? Was hilarious! Cooking in general is a no-win situation for me. Lots of little burns. Thankfully nothing serious (yet!), each one is more of a blow to my pride.

    • Thanks, Jocelyn! And, yes, with all the difficulties cooking brings, I think we should just order in all the time. It’s much safer and less stressful.

  • I’ve got making oatmeal down to a science. Which is why I get frustrated when we stay somewhere for vacation and I have to deal with different a microwave, bowl, measuring utensils. That’s when disaster always hits. 🙁

    • I know what you mean! I make Cream of Wheat sometimes, and I have it perfected. But when we got a new microwave I had to learn how to make it all over again. It took me weeks to perfect.

  • hahahah! Oh my gosh, I’ve done this too many times to count!! At least it means my microwave gets sparkly clean after the fail 😉

    • Good! Glad I’m not the only one! And, yes, it’s motivation to clean the whole microwave. Mine looked kind of pretty after this picture was taken.