Throwback of the House: No Nukes for Cakes

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Todd Ehlers, Wikimedia Commons
Robin Wheeler writes for the blog Poppy Mom. After years of making and eating fancy food, Robin is sick of it all. She's returning to the basics: recipes that haven't surfaced in three decades. She reports on the results for Gut Check every Tuesday.

I remember my family's first microwave oven. It was 1980, and the first thing my dad cooked was a few slices of bologna.

For ten minutes.

On high.

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Robin Wheeler
He left the curled, blackened slices on a plate in the fridge, uncovered, for about a week.

No wonder I view microwaves as machines of destruction instead of a modern convenience. My microwave is stashed under the wet bar in my basement, handy for occasions when guests come to my house, get drunk and want to blow shit up.

In 1979, Toshiba wanted to convince cooks that the microwave wasn't just for making marshmallows get really, really big. They published Everyday Microwave Cooking for Everyday Cooks in hopes of convincing folks that microwaved bouillabaise was a good idea.

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Robin Wheeler
I didn't need to bake a blueberry coffeecake in my microwave to know that it wasn't a good idea. Not that this stopped me.

According to the engineers at Toshiba, I could take blueberry muffin mix, prepare it according to the instructions on the package, add a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals, nuke it for ten minutes, top it with cinnamon and sugar and have a brunch-worthy dish.

Microwaved blueberry coffee cake smells a lot like the time I set fire to my hair, and who doesn't love to wake up to that smell?

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Robin Wheeler
I'm told that microwaves excite the water molecules in food, which creates the heat that cooks the food. In this case, the water got so excited that it escaped, making a cake completely devoid of moisture.

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Robin Wheeler
The good news is, after leaving it on the counter, uncovered, for 20 minutes, I had homemade biscotti. It still smelled like burnt hair, as did my entire house, but it still smelled better than Dad's week-old bologna nuclear meltdown.


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