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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Oatmeal Day

I'm sure Oatmeal Day is sponsored by Quaker Oats as they are perhaps the largest and most familiar oatmeal producer in the US and maybe even the world. In fact, The Quaker Oats Man is one of the oldest advertising mascots in America. The seeds for the Quaker Oats Company were sown in 1877 and were trademarked in 1901. Quaker Oats began producing quick-cooking oatmeal in 1921. Here in the United States, oats are grown in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota. The booklet below was produced by The Quaker Oats Company in 1934. The title page states, "A Memento of the Quaker Oats Company Exhibit at the 1934 Century of Progress." The inset picture with Aunt Jemima is titled Aunt Jemima's Cabin at the Fair.

Oats are the seeds or the grain variety of particular grasses. Although it is true much of the oats sown in the United States are used as feed for animals such as horses, cattle and poultry, the cereal is also milled into different grades for human consumption. Below you will find additional resources and recipes to begin your travels on the internet in search of oats and oatmeal.

The picture story of Travels of a Rolled Oat begins with an illustrated picture of the United States. It highlights the areas in the US where oats were grown at the time. The states included on the map are Montana, North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. It appears this recipe booklet was issued as educational material as it was provided by a division of the Quaker Oats School Health Services. It is 12 pages, charmingly illustrated and diagramed but not in color. The process takes the children from the farmer's barn to the country elevator "where they meet thousands of bushells of oat grains." They travel by freight car to the Quaker Oats plant where they were loaded into a hopper. In the hopper, they travel about 1,800 feet a minute to a spiral bucket elevator. There they were sorted, cleaned, and separated. Before they continued their journey, they were also stirred by a mechanical sweeper. Once the process was completed, and the hulls were cooled, they were ready to be removed. A stationary lower stone and a revolving top stone, between which the oats now pass, loosen and remove the oat hulls or coats. The next selection is a picture of the hulls as the dust is blown away and become now what they call groats. An apron cell machine grades the groats and removes any of the unhulled oats. The process is done many times to insure the best groats are obtained. Now, the groats pass through steam chests to slow turning rollers which flatten them. Out they come as rolled oats. They continued to a special milling process called The SteenBock process which retained the natural goodness of the oat and further enriched these whole grains with the Sunshine Vitamin D. At that time, they also passed under ultraviolet rays a process which was used for only Quaker Oats and Mother Oats. The final journey takes the Rolled Oats to the packing machine where they are dropped into packages, which are automatically sealed.

Oatmeal was the cornerstone of the Irish diet in pre-potato days. Porridge or stirabout was always a popular food in Ireland. In her book The Cookin' Woman, Florence Irwin explains how the poor people made their stirabout with buttermilk or water and ate it with sour milk or salt butter. Young people in foster homes were also fed stirabout with the "quality and condiment to be regulated according to the rank of the parents." Finally, "porridge in olden days was thick enough for the spoon to stand in." Ms. Irwin gives 3 different ingredient methods:

  1. 1 quart water, 3oz. oatmeal, salt
  2. 1 quart new milk, 2-1/2 ozs. oatmeal, salt
  3. 1 quart buttermilk, 2-1/2 ozs. oatmeal, salt.
Method: Put the liquid into a saucepan (or double saucepan) bring to boil, sprinkle with meal. Boil till well cooked, if modern flake meal is used 25-30 minutes. Note: Add more liquid if required thinner.

In England, Edward Richardson, owner of an estate in the township of Bice, Lancashire, directed, in 1784, that for fifty years after his death there should be, on Ascension Day, a distribution of oatmeal amongst the poor in his neighbourhood, three loads to Ince, one to Abram, and another to Hindley. read on...

I found this recipe for Oatmeal Flummery in a 1927 edition of American Cookery Magazine. It's considered a dish to serve in warm weather but it sounded so interesting I just had to include it here. After all, eating a bowl of oatmeal really is good for you.

Soak a pint of oatmeal preferaby Scotch or Irish overnight in two quarts of cold water. Stir, and strain through a fine sieve, pressing through all the starchy substance possible. Let the liquid settle for a few minutes, pour the clear part again through; the grain, and repeat this process for a third time, pressing the grain each time. Cook the liquid, stirring carefully, until thick as mush. Add half a cup of.sugar and the juice of two lemons,and pour into small individual moulds. Serve cold with cream. The flummery should be jellied and makes a dainty form of breakfast cereal in warm weather.

Many of the recipes I have gathered are best prepared with Irish Oatmeal. Of course, you can use any brand of oatmeal you have handy. January 23 is National Pie Day. Here is a recipe for Oatmeal Pie. Raise your spoons in a Salute To Oatmeal!

Resources
1. Definitions of Oats
2. The Quaker Oats Man
3. Quaker's Best Oatmeal Cookies
4. Oatmeal Carmelitas
5. Apple Oat Bread
6. Many Oatmeal Recipes
7. Oatmeal Creme Brulee
8. Good-Start Scottish Oatmeal
9. Oatmeal Soup from Scotland
10. Cranachan
11. Oatcakes
12. Irish Oatcakes
13.An Oatmeal Facial
14.National Oatmeal Cookie Day