Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ding! Dinner's Ready (?)

Well, after stunning you yesterday with probably more than you wanted to know, we’ll go lighter today (remember lite Wednesdays?) and pose a question that’s been lurking in the back of the brain for a while.

The question revolves around that ubiquitous appliance of modern culinary hardware, the Microwave Oven. Around in some form for about 65 years (like me), it seems to find enough usefulness that it is now part of the standard kitchen suite. As a quick aside, as I was trying to find out when the thing was invented, so I googled “when was the microwave invented” and of course about the time I got to “micr…” it anticipated my query and popped several suggestions. If you want an interesting little read, do that and read one of them. The story sounds a bit urban legendish, but the history involves a chocolate bar in a pocket (read, but don’t forget to come back here).

I guess we all use them for various things, with popcorn probably leading the way. How DO they make the popcorn button work perfectly every time? Although everybody probably assumes that the Feeder dines on gourmet food every evening, the sad truth is, not. I freely admit that sometimes due to schedule pressures or just plain laziness, we resort to having frozen meals of some sort. No defense, just putting fuel in the furnace. Our standard used to be Marie Callender’s, but lately even they have gone downhill.

My dilemma arose again the other night when we decided to have a Beecher’s Mac and Cheese. Alert readers may recall that Beecher’s is a cheese maker in the Seattle region (which we've mentioned before) that makes so-called “artisanal” cheeses, although they pretty much mass produce them. They are good. Anyway, they also make the “world’s best” Macaroni and Cheese in a regular and more spicy version. We have friends who make semi-regular trips to the area and are kind enough to keep us supplied with both the cheeses and Macs.

So wanting to treat the dish with respect, we read the directions on the package. As with most frozen products you’re given two options: One, “Conventional Oven”, and Two, “Microwave Oven”. The conventional approach has you preheat the oven to 375°, (maybe 10 minutes or so), cook until bubbly (stirring half way through) and golden, around 50 minutes and then let sit for another 5. So the product is ready in roughly a little over an hour. Or, alternatively you can use the little Micro set on high for 6, stir, 3 – 4 more, sit 5, and voila! Dinner is served. So your choices are eat in one hour, or 15 minutes.

So therein lies my dilemma. Like the oven, I tend to be conventional. So when we have selected most “frozen” situations, unless strong pressure is mounted (by the other half of the kitchen team), I tend to use the oven. Or in other applications, I’ll boil the little pouches in water for 30 minutes rather than bombarding them with electrons for 3. After all, I’m a cook not a button pusher!

So here’s the big question: Do you get exactly the same results with either technique?

Okay, dear readers, what do you think? If you have an opinion, you can e-mail to the “bill at billsbottomfeeder dot com” address or if you know the local one, that’ll work also..

If using the micro, I usually don’t bother to


No comments: