Ezra 3:16
One Year, Take Two

Microwavery in Action

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Oh, come on. You knew I was gonna do it.

So last night I made the infamous spinach-cheese souffle. In the microwave. MICROWAVED SOUFFLE. BECAUSE WHY NOT. Would you like to see how it turned out? In painstakingly over-documented, un-retouched, high-res detail? Yes? Then keep on clicking, baby.

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The first thing to do, in the interest of historical accuracy, was to remove our fancy rotating turntable. I wanted the full, real experience of two-minute cooking intervals and constant 1/4-turning. This is like the culinary equivalent of visiting Historical Williamsburg.

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The recipe explicitly calls for chopped frozen spinach, just so the very first step could involve defrosting the spinach. I mean, sure. You could buy and chop fresh spinach, but where's the microwaving fun in that? You don't even get to hit any buttons!

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While the book says to microwave the spinach in its package, Jason insisted that I heed modern advancements and follow the directions on the bag, which call for a separate, covered container. Boo! This throws the validity of the entire experiment into question!

However, by this point I will say that I already learned something. My microwave does indeed have a special "defrost" setting* that helpfully beeps at you halfway through the cooking time so you remember to turn your food over, JUST LIKE IT INSTRUCTS YOU TO DO IN THE BOOK. OMG.

*I know. Duh. I'm sorry. I only ever hit the Add 30 Seconds button. It's so handy!

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While the spinach is defrosting, go ahead and throw a lot of white crap in a casserole dish.

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A half-teaspoon of dry mustard and an ENTIRE EIGHTH OF A TEASPOON of paprika (oh God, no more than that! be careful! you might actually almost taste it!) temporarily send this dish into LSD-levels of colorful, groovy craziness, but don't worry...

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As soon as you stir it up they'll never know that you dared leave the realm of comfortable whiteness.

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It's "success ingredient" time! The recipe calls for one 13-ounce can. Which...

Hmm. Okay. If anyone has any recipes that call for 11 ounces of evaporated milk, let me know.

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It was very, very difficult to resist the urge to grab a whisk and go to town on this lumpy sucker, but the recipe explicitly says to stir. So I stirred. Then it was back into the 'wave to thicken.

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Thicken, congeal, coagulate, whatever.

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Adding the spinach and cheese made it look even better.

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Six eggs, separated. I did not use our beautiful free-range organic farmers' market eggs for this, but instead made a special trip in my gas-guzzler to buy cheap, paper-shelled eggs from inhumanely-factory-farmed caged and diseased chickens.

I dunno, it just seems like 1977 would have wanted it that way.

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Apologies for suddenly getting fancy and inaccessible on you here with the KitchenAid, but I don't actually own a hand mixer. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed that the book's author didn't find a way to stiffen egg whites in the microwave.

Because I bet she TOTALLY TRIED.

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If you've ever wondered if the KitchenAid stand mixer is worth the price, look no further than these glorious egg whites. Perfection. Effortless, easy, almost...microwave-like. I admit I almost abandoned the souffle at this point to make a lemon meringue pie. But according to the recipe on page 237 I needed to first make a microwaved pastry shell (recipe on page 233) and it turned out that I didn't have nearly enough Crisco. (Which is to say: any at all.)

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Now it's time to "pour" the spinach/cheese/success ingredient in with the beaten yolks.

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Although I think "dig and hurl clumps of gravity-defying goo from one bowl to another" would be more accurate.

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In Europe they call this Swamp Thing With Cheese. 


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Pour over your noble egg whites; crush hopes, dreams; fold gently.

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God, enough of this actual baking horseshit. Back to the microwaving!

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The cooking instructions say to "Microwave at Medium 20 to 23 minutes, rotating dish 1/4 turn every five minutes." I snapped this picture through the door, as I watched one edge rise and puff and then deflate, in sync with the microwave's...noise? Fan? Power level? Gamma ray? It almost looked like it was breathing, and I suddenly found myself rooting for the damned thing. Come on, little Swamp Thing! Rise! Riiiise! I believe in you! You are full of cheese! You have the deliciousness inside you, I swear!

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Side note: Look at how much easier this was than stupid old "conventional" cooking! I'm totally getting rid of our stove like, tomorrow.

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Five minutes in. It's alive!

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Ten minutes in. It's a bundt!

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15 minutes in. It's...in trouble.

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20 minutes in. It's dead. 

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I think it was a goner after that very first door slam at the five minute mark. Or maybe sometime before then. Like back when I was defrosting the spinach. Or buying the spinach. Or thinking about buying the spinach.

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WHY? WHY DO I EXIST? I AM A MONSTER.

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Here. I saved you a slice.

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It would make an excellent hockey puck, as well.

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Jason, right after I told that yes, he did have to eat it. DO IT FOR SCIENCE, JASON.

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He took one bite, put the plate down and walked away. He says he doesn't want to talk about it.

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I don't know. I mean, it's DIFFERENT. If you've ever wondered what crunchy, carbonated eggs tasted like, you might want to give this a try. It manages to be both dry and slimy, both unbelievably bland and aggressively terrible, both texture-less and bizarrely, alarmingly fizzy. It's all that, AND MORE. 

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The recipe says NOTE: Center of souffle will remain creamy.

NOTE ON THAT NOTE: Center of souffle will not technically be "creamy" as we mere earthlings know it here in 2009, but instead is a texture so futuristic and outer-space-agey that the proper adjective doesn't even exist yet. It's like Jell-O made from eggs and a kitchen sponge! All wrapped up in a packing-peanut shell!

Microwaves, maaaan. Microwaves.

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I AM IN UR MICROWAVE, NUKIN UR BRAAAAINZ.

Comments

Helen

I like this post very much.

incredible crunchy flavor

you are hilarious and my blog wants to be yours when it grows up.

http://incrediblecrunchyflavor.com

Martha W

I remember when my parents got their first microwave, it came with that exact cookbook. In addition, their "new-fangled" appliance came with free cooking lessons from said cookbook. I vaguely remember they prepared some kind of steak dish that my mother was afraid to eat because it turned out gray...As in, "I just couldn't imagine how to eat GRAY meat."

~ Thanks for sharing!!

Allison

I use the same mustard and paprika. Please tell me you also use them because the containers are cute.

Olga

as a food blogger I'm very impressed with your step by step photos ;)

Now I want a spinach dip!

AmyC65

do you think advances in microwave technology and intensity killed this recipe? Maybe it worked when microwaves packed half the punch they do now?

Lori

I'm laughing so hard right now I can't finish my leftover pie for lunch. So funny.

Select Note

My mother still has that cookbook sitting on her shelf. Which might explain a lot.

Renee

I really think cooking the spinach in the box would have made the difference. Also, organic eggs.

Oonagh

Speaking of 13 oz, I am marrying a man from Carnation, a podunk sort of place here in beautiful Washington that is so podunk it isn't even where the name Carnation came from. It instead was named in honor of Carnation Evaporated Milk, because they were running a test farm in the area. A test farm of contented cows. Who now belong to Nestle, and helped make your souffle dreams come true. Yes, I just thought I'd share ;)

Kendra

The thing that never fails to crack me up (in addition to this entire entry) is that the recipes designed to "save me time" always have this odd combination of really time-consuming things (I've never tried to make meringue but will totally have to set the KitchenAid to that task now) and supposedly time-saving things. But to most people find it easier to run out for frozen spinach, evaporated milk, Crisco, or my favorite, cream of chicken soup? I have sour cream and chicken; I'm not going to the store for a time-saver!

Laura

I am so glad you did this. I'm so disappointed it turned out to be inedible ... it looked pretty tasty, up until the ... um ... microwaving part?

Great post as always, Amy!

MsCellania

I think the best place for that cookbook is in the recycling bin. That's where I sent mine 20 years ago. And have eaten better ever since. The m-wave, she's for heating leftovers from fancy restaurants.

Salome Ellen

I'm betting that your modern, wonderful microwave has about twice the wattage of the "cook"book author's. That doesn't justify the recipe, but might explain your results.

Salome Ellen

Oh, never mind....

Lindsey

I don't want anyone to laugh at me and call me a dirty hippie, but it's not really good practice to microwave food in plastic containers. (That shit is toxic.)

I use mason jars to trundle my leftovers to work for lunch, and heat them up right in the jar. If I'm feeling fancy I MIGHT use a plate.

Jess

this just blew the deodorant wars out of the water. OUT OF THE WATER I TELL YOU!

jee

I actually had that cookbook; as I recall it came with the first microwave I owned. Yes, I am THAT old. I never made anything from it EXCEPT Three-Layer Brownies. Don't know the page number. They are decadent and delicious. Truly.

Mujercita

First of all, I totally have that book! It was my mother's, and she gave it to me when I moved out. I've been afraid to use it...

Also, I think you might have overcooked your souffle there. It seems to me that medium on a modern microwave is WAY higher voltage than on a '70s microwave. Perhaps try low next time....if you dare try again.

aka alice

What'd you do with the wine? ;-))

Candace

You're drinking mah wine! I love me a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Katie

I just made pumpkin pie (with canned pumpkin, and an 11 oz can of carnation milk) (and, okay, some other stuff). But it called for 11 ounces!

A FULL CAN!

And it was deelicious. ;)

RAGE against the MINIVAN

I think this may make me a horrible mother, but I actually make my daughter a microwaved egg "souffle" every morning. She loves eggs, and scrambling them over a pan is just TOO much work . . . so your end result looks alarmingly familiar to me.

heather

My sister actually won't use her built in microwave (above her oven/stovetop) any longer because of some assvice she got. It's her breadbox now! And I am guilty of child abuse for using my 1988 college era won't stand in front of it poorly shielded but works great microwave. The souffle probably would have come out great for me, I may even try it if I find myself with that kind of free time this fall, because I think mine (unlike yours maybe) is the proper wattage, which is to say, it takes four minutes to successfully microwave a bag of popcorn and three to boil a cup of water, like 600 watts I think.

That was your downfall, you need a microwave from 1978! It's not you, it's your modern appliance.

Still so so funny as usual!

Janna

I don't mind telling you that I've gotten quite a few strange looks as I sit at my desk and almost choke on my delicious caramel chocolate candy corn. So. Funny. Does your microwave have that nifty "Popcorn" button? I never realized popcorn only takes 2:15 minutes to cook...who loves science?!

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