Every week, Side/Dishes showcases a recipe from an out-of-print or defunct (or vintage – call it what you will) cookbook. This week’s featured text is Better Homes and Gardens’ More from your Microwave, compiled and published in 1980.
More from your Microwave seeks to demystify the heavily regulated electromagnetic convenience box on your countertop.
We learn the nature of the microwave from the Introduction…
…and we learn what the microwave isn’t:
“Don’t confuse this form of energy with ionizing waves, such as X rays or ultraviolet rays. Visible light, radio waves, and microwaves do not have the same strength or effect as ionizing waves.”
Introduction, page 5
From this I’m left to infer two probable justifications for including this frank copy in a microwave oven cookbook (which naturally prefigures the eventual fate of the microwave, as a reheating tool for office jockeys and/or a toaster for liquids):
- The late 70s saw a marked increase in alternative cooking methods, such as exposing food to visible light (photo-ovens, open on at least two sides; or, effectively heat lamps,) and radio waves (radio ovens, different from but perhaps also used by ham radio enthusiasts)
- Given the rigorous safety standards to which all microwaves are tested and how the microwave oven functions, the FCC would be within its regulatory authority to eventually require microwaves to comply with Emergency Alert System broadcasting schedules.
BH&G offers some lush art direction as a companion to the practical-cum-humdrum recipes featured below:
I have never been fond of pairing broccoli and cheese, let alone cooking broccoli in the microwave.
Listen to Colonel Sanders attempt to cut a radio commercial for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Courtesy of WFMU’s Beware of the Blog.
William D. Cunningham and Associates of Third Avenue in Manhattan produced the following radio spot for KFC in the mid-70s, again from the genius profundus of the wonderful people (chiefly Bob Purse) at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog.
I suspect the ad line was pitched by Ted Chaough in Season 14 of Mad Men.
While BH&G may have positioned the microwave to compete directly with KFC for your evening dinner plans in 1981, nothing in this cookbook shines anything a twelfth as brilliantly as the lyrics to the Cunningham & Associates jingle:
When life seems hurry worry scurry and you’re restless in your mind
And you get a longing for the peaceful things you left behind…
Come on over for Kentucky Fried Chicken, come on over it’s no time to cook
It’s such a great day for Kentucky Fried Chicken
It’s such a bad day to cook
Please, somebody, confirm that these lyrics were penned by Rodd Keith.
Come, all ye’ rush hour refugees, spin the gyre of your minds and ignite your spiritual microwave ovens!
So there you go, readers. I wish you all an expertly prepared bowl of fin de soixante-dix microwaved cheese this evening.
…Just don’t forget the pi!!