The Miraculous Microwave
It was probably the third most anticipated thing that we got in our home as I grew up, second to cable tv, a VCR and just ahead of the Pac Man video game coming out on Atari. The microwave oven was going to be the solution to all of our worries.
The early model Litton microwave that we got had a rotary dial counter on it and I worried about radiation poisoning from it. When it ran, I didn't stand near it. I was a paranoid little man... I also never drank out of the faucet whenever I flushed the toilet. Yeah, I know, I had issues.
But the microwave was going to revolutionize our kitchen. So many things were going to be easier to cook! I remember hearing that we'd be able to make eggs, nachos, hot chocolate... not to mention re-heating leftovers was going to be a breeze! And we heard that soggy chips could be zapped and the moisture would be forced out of them rendering them crispy again.
I think the first thing I ever made on my own was a couple of scrambled eggs. I took two eggs, cracked them into a glassware bowl and whisked them up. I stretched a piece of plastic wrap over the top and put it in the microwave and set the settings dial to "high" and then rotated about 1:00 onto the dial. The plastic inflated almost immediately and I watched as the eggs inside the bowl popped and solidified into a mass of cooked eggs. When the timer scrolled down to zero and the microwave gave off it's *ding*, I carefully removed the hot bowl with hotpads and peeled back the now super soft saran wrap. Add a little salt and pepper to the eggs and stir them up. They tasted slightly dried or overcooked, but otherwise not entirely inedible. But I cooked them. All by myself. It was the first step to moving out on my own.
Soon I was trying to figure out how to make my own soup. I put water in a cup and cut up carrot and some celery., salt and pepper..... and that's it. I tried zapping it. One minute didn't seem to do anything. I tried a few more minutes. I let it cool a little and spooned a taste to my mouth. It was perfect..... perfectly bad. I had succeeded in making hot carrot water. The carrots were of course still crisp and the water had taken on NO flavor of the vegetables. My first failure. I wouldn't be discouraged though.
I remember taking a bag of chips that had been open for a while and I laid those on a paper plate and gave them a good 30 seconds on the dial. *ding* Yep.... my second failure. I succeeded in making hot soggy potato slices.
Nachos were a breeze. Tostito chips with a little shredded cheese on them and then a dab of salsa and a green olive. microwaved for just over 30 seconds. THOSE were good.
It was quickly obvious that the microwave wasn't going to solve all of our problems, but it did make our lives a little easier. I remember as more and more foods came out that were microwave friendly. I remember distinctly when they started advertising for french fries made in the microwave. This is something people today wouldn't appreciate. Yes, we had french fries in our day, but in Garretson, there was no "fast food" option. We had the Corner Cafe, the bowling alley and KC's. You could get great fries at any one of those places. My first date with Jennie Schetnan in 4th grade was going over to the bowling alley and getting an order of french fries and a couple of sodas and then playing video games. Pretty hot stuff, right there. I remember we both liked the fries salty with ketchup. But now french fries would be available in the frozen aisle and be able to be made in a snap by anyone... even me. I remember when the grocery got them and I was so excited to get them home and try them. I don't remember if it was Virg's IGA yet or if it was still Sunshine. I just know that I put the little red box in the microwave for the instructed time and let it rip. I pulled them out and was so sadly disappointed in the limp and soggy hot potato stick. I threw some salt on them, thinking that the salt would be like some magic dust that would make the fries instantly crispy, but unfortunately, no, that didn't work. It was a sad day in JT's world.
Other things would work just fine in that miraculous machine. Some better than others. But it never could overtake the cable tv or the VCR on my list of amazing inventions introduced to our home., but it was going always be well ahead of the disappointment that Pac Man on Atari brought upon the earth. THAT can be saved for another time.
I'm just a creative guy that's looking to throw all this spaghetti onto the wall and hope something sticks.