The No Microwave Zone…
During previous editions of 1200 Watts of Freedom, I’ve hinted at some semblance of cooking enjoyment, and at least a half-as*ed desire to eventually die from something besides Bagel Bite poisoning. In the spirit of that, I thought I’d go ahead and commit the vilest of treasons and make a vegetable-laced dinner… without the microwave. I know, gross. Anyway, here’s what happened.
Attempt #1, Stardate 072218, approximately 6:30 p.m.
There was a lack of raw materials. No Tofu in the fridge means no Indian, no Thai… no Indian, and also no Thai. The four types of food I have some experience in making. Scanning the overflowing cupboard, I spotted a bag of Uncle Ben’s 90 Second Somethin’ Or Other Flavored Rice, and a can of Sauce.
“We’re having saucerice,” I told my wife, Danielle.
“No,” she replied.
“You never let me make anything experimental,” I snapped, shoving aside cans of soup in search of something edible, the faux-wood floorboards grinding at my kneecaps.
“That’s because I paid a lot of money for this food and would like to be able to actually eat it.”
“Here, let’s just have stir fry. You can make this, it’s easy,” she assured.
After spending a few minutes poking and prodding some kind of demonic Drillbeast that was hanging out in the refrigerator (turns out this was a type of broccoli), I reluctantly accepted her suggestion. Stir fry: one of the unholy, dreaded things my mother used to make. The mere mention of the term makes me shiver. But f*ck it, I thought, I’m a big kid now. I can do this. I’m here to come into psychosocial alignment. I’m here to fulfill my destiny.
About 20 seconds later I opened the bag of Western Family Premium Stir Fry. The distinct stink of raw veggies filled my nostrils and I immediately longed for a Chalupa. Put it out of your mind.
Pressing on, I engaged the directions. “Heat pan to 380 degrees.” Alright. How the hell are you supposed to know know how hot your pan is? I read further…what the spittin’ butt is “lightly oiled?”
Nothing is ever easy, I guess.
This wasn’t a great start, but after a few frustrating moments I decided to just wing it and soon had a sizzling pan of stuff on the burner. A couple of tips I picked up rather quickly: use the right size pan so you don’t have to change pans after starting, and don’t use a spatula that’s way too big for your pan. The result of the latter will be a complete and total loss of the single piece of broccoli Western Family includes in your bag. Unless you like it on the floor, covered in cat hair.
Onto step two now, the rice. IT’S GO TIME…nevermind. The rice was in a box on the shelf, way over there. I suddenly realized I couldn’t reach the pot or the sink either, not without leaving the stir fry. Would it burn in the time I walked away from it? I turned the heat down, but it kept sizzling. Did I need to wait until it stopped? It wasn’t slowing down.
“Aha, you bastard!” I said aloud, taking the pan off the burner. Hmmm…nope. It was still sizzling. This is when I started cursing and screaming for help, at which point Danielle came over and put the rice on for me. Tip number three: if you act really distressed, people who do not want to aid you will do it anyway. Tip number four: Pressing the spatula down on your food makes a cool sound.
Back to the action. The rice was on autopilot now and it was spice time for the stir fry. Feeling inspired, I tossed in a dash of Savory Mix, Mint, Pizza Mix, Tumeric, Sea Salt, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Clove, Cumin, Fennel, Celery Seed, Orange Peel, and a few cranks of Black Pepper. And also some stuff from a couple of unlabeled bottles that looked and tasted like sticks. Tip number five: Marjoram smells like burning dust. Do not smell it.
A few minutes pass, and I’m not sure what to do next because I never started a timer. I take a bite. That bite led me to immediately dump half the bottle of this “Thai sauce” we had laying around onto the concoction. I took another bite, but my taste buds were fried from taste-testing every single one of the aforementioned herbs and spices. Hmm. Maybe the food was okay to start with and now it is ruined?
Panic set in for the second time and I decided it would be best to completely bail on the operation, leaving it up to Danielle and my roommate Susanna, who had just walked in.
Fifteen minutes later I look up from the Wii U (DK Tropical Freeze ya’ll!!!!) to see my foodbaby being issued into bowls. The verdict?
“Hmm. It’s fine. I think that sauce covered up whatever you did to it,” Susanna remarked.
And that’s how it is done.
By Johnny Beaver