Microwave Cooking for One by Marie T Smith
About the Author and Reviews
By Jane Nickerson, The Ledger, Lakeland FL, January 23, 1986
Lakelander Marie T, Smith quoted Julia Child as saying on a recent
TV show, "Microwave cooking is another area, very different from what I've been demonstrating."
Child had answered a woman in her audience who had complained that she had
not time after her work day to duplicate the dishes that that exponent of fine cuisine was
"What about the microwave?" the onlooker had asked.
"Most of the country's top exhibition cooks," Smith said, "would have put
her down with, "You can't produce anything worth eating in that device." Julia is the first
of that group, that I've heard, to point out simply and factually, "It's different."
On those differences Smith has made a career for herself.
It blossomed earlier this month in Microwave Cooking for One. The 300
recipes that fill this admirable volume result from ten years' meticulous testing and tasting by
a talented woman in her early middle years.
Some recommendations in her book:
Know the wattage of your oven.
It can vary from 350 to 1,000, and often may not appear on the appliance. One
of 700-watts is the most useful. For it, many companies write the cooking
instructions on labels of their products. And for it, Smith worked out her recipes.
A dish that cooks in two minutes in a 700-watt
oven will take four in one of 350 watts, 2:48 in one of 500 watts, 2:09 in one of 650
and 1:24 in one of 1,000. Precise monitoring of seconds and minutes is essential in
microwaving, making it very different indeed from most standard cookery. As Smith puts it,
"A few seconds can mean the difference between total disaster and delicious success."
Follow recipes exactly when they specify the
plate or pot to use. Shape and size of utensil, Smith says, determine how a recipe turns out.
Most of the recipes in her book, she says,
may be prepared in one of three CorningWare pieces — the 1½ pint Menu-ette (covered
saucepan), one-quart Cook 'n' Pour Pan and the 6-inch browning skillet. And helpful are
tongs to handle hot food — turning them over during cooking, taking them out
Measure many foods by weight rather than
volume because the former is more precise than the latter. Smith suggests investing in
a small inexpensive diet scale.
Keep a pencil handy when you are microwaving food if you're sincere
about developing skills with the appliance. No two ovens are identical, Smith writes,
so you must record the time each step takes when trying out a new recipe. Following the
recommended times in the recipes in her book are blank spaces for the reader to note any
differences his/her oven may deliver.
Smith observes that reducing a recipe from say, four to two servings may be
harder than the opposite — that is, doubling it. That's one reason she worked out her recipes
for a single serving. Another, of course, is the proliferation of one-person households among both
young and old. Certainly Smith's appearance — she looks as slim as if she nibbled nothing
but melba toast with unsweetened lemonade — would not indicate an obsession with table art.
Caroselli, her maiden name, gives a better clue. She grew up in a family close to its Italian roots.
Her mother cooked for 12 daily — "with fresh ingredients," her daughter stresses —
without becoming bored.
"Her insatiable curiosity about new dishes and her love of variety," Smith
writes in her book, "are the creative joys she passed on to her children." Add to Smith's family
heritage her three years' residence in France, where she savored fine cuisine at its source, and
you have some of the background in her cookbook.
The rest lies in an experience in familiar to many women:
Her two daughters in high school and her engineer husband were keeping a
variety of engagements that made it hard to prepare and serve dinner at a designated hour.
"So I bought a microwave 10 years ago as an expedient," Smith says "and
began experimenting with it." In a short time, she had stopped using her standard range.
For a number of years she has microwaved everything she has served family and
guests — from French toast at breakfast to stuffed shrimp and frosted cake at dinner. She
uses fresh ingredients and seldom, if ever, packaged short cuts.
A sample of recipes from Microwave Cooking for One follows (see sample
recipes in Contents section). Be sure to observe the
standing time called for. During it, the food continues to cook on residual heat and flavors blend,
ensuring superior flavor.
It is a very good cookbook and I have yet to find a recipe that didn't turn out as it was supposed to.—Norm Peterson, Arizona
My hubby keeps looking in the cookbook, and asks "when will you cook this recipe?"—Lori Hamby, Florida
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Copyright © 1986, 2000-2012 Marie T. Smith and Tracy V. Grant, All Rights Reserved
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[About the Author]
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