Microwave Cooking for One by Marie T Smith
About the Author and Reviews
Microwaves needn't intimidate cooks
By Lois Fegan, The Jersey Journal, April 23, 1986
As a mechanical illiterate I had never even considered a microwave oven for my own kitchen on the theory that it would win every battle with me, leaving wasted food, empty plates and probably burned-out fuses.
But friends (almost as bad as I at coping with gadgets) reported great success (baking potatoes in eight minutes, brownies in 10 or 12, thawing frozen veggies and freshening stale bread appealed to me). Still fearful of dire consequences I wavered, even started comparison-shopping brands and merits.
Then one morning a book arrived at my desk. Microwave Cooking for One, by Marie T Smith of Lakeland, Florida, a native of Jersey City.
Because of her local ties and the nice personal letter she enclosed, I skimmed through the text. To my amazement I found it fascinating, and even more important, instructive down to the finest detail.
Marie (who was called Theresa, or sometimes Terre while a student at Dickinson High School) doesn't leave anything to the cook's imagination. She spells out all the terms, explains why certain sizes — and even shapes — of pots and pans should be used, sketches some, and discusses the importance of measuring and weighing for the microwave process.
In short, Marie replaced the unknown with common sense and so I was sold. We came to the conclusion that a Sharp with a built-in carousel turntable would be a most suitable oven for our purposes — cooking for one or two. It fits the available counter space, has an easily-read dial and is simple to program.
Now, progressing into this new area of food preparation, I find it's even fun. There have been failures of course. There was the frozen hamburger that I couldn't believe would be cooked after seven minutes. (It was!) And the melted cover (instead of a paper towel — that just didn't seem right to me) on a dish of fresh carrots. But by and large the successes are coming, thanks to Marie Smith's instructions.
Every time I open the book I spot another reference to her beloved family. She is one of 10 children of the late Elvira and Felice Caroselli, all well known to Hudson folk. Marie is married to a retired army officer and has two children.
The book's acknowledgements mention that all the recipes with the word "Momma" in the title were here mother's, adapted and developed for cooking in the microwave — and reduced from the "serves 12" requirements when the Carosellis gathered at table to "cooking for one."
In her note to me the author pointed out that last year when the manuscript was completed and ready for presentation to interested publishers she sent a copy to her mother. "Our last conversation took place after she received it. She died a few days later at the age of 84 and I am so thankful that she at least saw the book in manuscript form."
Recalling her upbringing ("growing up reading The Jersey Journal") she noted that it wasn't until she left in 1954 as a young bride to work at the University of Alabama where her husband was studying that she began to appreciate the opportunities and education she had received in Jersey City.
"The cooking classes that every girl took at Public School 23 awakened in me an interest in food that would expand tremendously as I lived and traveled America and Europe with my military officer husband. The chemistry classes at Dickinson High School would help me deal with the scientific aspects of cooking while the French, Latin and English classes would provide me with the background to write and understand about the artistic side of food preparation," she firmly believes.
"Raising our children in various places brought home the realization that the free books and supplies we had enjoyed in school were not available elsewhere. How fortunate I was to have had such good educational facilities and such wonderful teachers. Without their help I could not have written this book."