Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Gala Feast* (*depending on one's definitions of "gala" and "feast")

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! This week my cookbook will transport us back to the late '70s, when microwaves were still like skintight metallic dresses on an old sci-fi show: a vision of the "future" that's more a reflection of the actual present than most people would recognize.

Litton's Meal-In-One Microwave Cooking (1978) postulates that people of "the future" won't have as much time to cook (true), so they will cook traditional full meals using only the microwave (not generally true), rather than, say, getting dinner from a drive-thru window, grabbing a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store on the way home, or stockpiling frozen entrees to heat as needed.

In fact, they hope people of the future will cook all kinds of full meals in the microwave-- not just quick after-school dinners. The editors are committed to this idea.

Families who want a holiday dinner to look like this will only need the ingredients, an Oven Meal Variable Power Microwave oven (Ask for it by name!), and a little less than an hour.

The full instructions are handily grouped together:

The asterisk after "Gala Feast" made me look for a footnote warning that this was not really gala or a feast, but I discovered it just means that some of the food will need to be added partway through the full cooking time.

Is this indeed a gala feast? I'm sure that standing rib roast and parsley-butter new potatoes sound pretty good, but keep in mind they're microwaved. No searing or brown, crackly bits on the roast. The potatoes are microwave steamed (which in my experience usually leads to them shriveling and being a bit gummy), not roasted and perhaps caramelized in the roast's juices. At least the parsley butter will give them a little help.

This is a pretty standard flavored butter recipe. I included it because I love the head note in blue: "Fats attract microwaves." Now I know that here "microwave" refers to the frequency, but I like to imagine that it means the ovens. By that logic, I could leave a stick of butter on the counter and a bevy of microwave ovens might show up to admire it. (Is "bevy" the correct term for a group of microwaves? Or are they more like crows-- a murder of microwaves?)

And what's for dessert? "Fruit Melange" sounds sophisticated.

Maybe the orange-flavored liqueur is enough to make it sophisticated-- if you can accept that canned fruit mixed with marmalade, prunes, and coconut is made sophisticated by the addition of liqueur.

From the distant future-- the year 2015!-- I can say the meal-in-one microwave cooking style did not catch on the way this book imagined, but at least their imaginings bring me some amusement.

This post is part of Louise's Cookbook Wednesday.


  1. Hi Poppy!
    Funny thing about Microwave cookbooks, I have very few for this exact reason. I never really could warm up to them especially when it came to any kind of meat. I do have a microwave though. It's my coffee heater upper and that's about it!

    I think many companies thought microwaves were going to be the "wave" of the future but thank goodness, they aren't. (not in this house anyway) Quite frankly, I'd rather eat out even if it means "junk food" lol...

    It is sorta nice to see this book though as a reminder of "what could have been" lol...Thank you so much for sharing Poppy. I didn't see this post link to today's Cookbook Wednesday so I'll link it up for you.

    Thank you so much for participating in Cookbook Wednesday Poppy. I appreciate your time. I know you are back to your busy schedule:)

    1. Thank you for linking me! I realized today that I forgot to add the link and then when I went to fix it, I saw you had done it for me! I do appreciate it. I'm pretty scattered this week.

      Yes, microwaves are fine for reheating, but not so much for actual cooking... which is exactly what makes the microwave cookbooks so great to me. I don't ever plan to cook from most of my cookbooks. :-) If you want them for their intended purpose, though, then they are definitely not so great....

  2. In 1984, when we moved into our last house, my husband installed a combination range which was conventional and microwave cooking. I delighted in using the combination feature, wherein the microwaves sped up the cooking, while I still had real oven heat to give me the right textures to meat. It didn't work well for breads and baked goods, and as a microwave it was absolute crap, especially by today's standards. But it is fun to look back at the cookbook that came with it, and see the potential that appliance makers didn't follow up on! Yours is a similar trip back in time. Great choice!

    1. That's pretty cool! I didn't know about conventional/microwave hybrids. I can imagine it wouldn't be great for baked goods, either, as they can get tough/ spongy with much microwave time, but it does seem like the combination would be great for other things. Maybe the hybrids would have caught on if companies hadn't insisted they were great for everything and had just been more realistic about the capabilities of the shiny new tools.

  3. My first thought about the Fruit Melange is that the cherries would burst in the microwave. Are 1978 microwaves less powerful than those of the "future"?

    1. I think they were less powerful.... It seems like my grandma's old microwave took more time than microwaves do now, but then, I was a kid when I saw it in operation. Everything seems like it takes forever when you're a kid!