Saturday, October 18, 2014

More Microwave Madness, Step by (Unexplained) Step

Now that I know about canned crab apples, this picture jumped out at me as I was perusing the Amana Radarange New Microwave Oven Cooking Guide (1972).

Is that a canned crab apple as a garnish? I think so: same smallish size, same too-bright red color and extra-glossy exterior, same stem resolutely warning that things could easily get ugly if you actually try to eat it. And what delight might this garnish be brightening? It's clearly something with LOTS of celery and cubes of a weird-looking meat, the color and texture of which remind me of the discount two-by-fours my dad very classily stacked in our carport when I was a kid.

Brace yourself! It's

Yes, Chow Mein Beef Heart! This was back in the day when people apparently might actually PREPARE Chinese-ish food in the microwave rather than simply using it to reheat takeout.

Of course, there is no sizzle of oil or seared flavor from the stir-fry heat. No whiff of sesame oil or garlic. Here we have beef heart, onions, and celery all microwave-boiled together in meat stock finished with a little soy sauce.

Those reheated leftovers are probably looking better all the time....

Bonus: another microwaved "Chinese" dinner, this time in casserole form and with unexplained step-by-step pictures.

Yes, one of the things I love most about the Amana cookbook is the pictures that are supposed to be helpful, but always leave me feeling more confused, rather than less. Try opening a page to see a series of pictures like this:

No caption. No references. Not even the title of the recipe they're supposed to supplement. Just some pictures with numbers.

My guess is that these are not meant to illustrate the process of making Oven-Barbecued Frankfurters or Ham and Eggs (the other recipes on the page). They must belong to this gem:

The Pork Chop Suey Bake! Even more "authentic" than the first recipe (and chop suey recipes are nothing if not authentic), this cooks the vegetables and instant rice in a casserole with milk and cream of mushroom soup. At least it still leaves in a little soy sauce.

And what role are the pictures supposed to play? Your guess is as good as mine, since there are no references to them anywhere. Apparently it is just somehow helpful to have pictures of various ingredients on cutting boards or in bowls to show readers that... they can cut the ingredients on cutting boards and put them in bowls?

It's a good thing I didn't work on this book because I would be far too tempted to start including more and more random pictures with numbers on them. By the time we got to the last chapter (Vegetables!), my step-by-step pictures for Cawliflower Oriental would look something like this:

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