On the 12th (and final) day of Christmas treats…

Sometime in the mid  70s, Christmas Eve found my dad, sister and I at the local farmers’ co-op (of all places) buying mom her first microwave oven.  It was a behemoth.  Mom was thrilled.

Mom was a home economics teacher.  (Today she would be referred to as a Family Science Teacher, I think.)  She tended to be pretty cutting edge when it came to the kitchen and I remember us as being the first family we knew that owned a microwave.

Soon after its arrival, she started experimenting and adapting recipes for her new appliance.  Later mom would teach microwave cooking classes at the local community college and even compiled her own mimeographed cookbook.   (The nights she taught were special because dad let us stay up past 8:30 so we could watch MASH.)

I still have a copy of her typed (on our old Royal typewriter) handouts from her class.  It includes “Microwave Cooking Terms,” “Quick Tricks,” and instructions on how to convert conventional recipes to microwave ones.   It is also full of recipes.

Mom’s recipe for Microwave Peanut Brittle was one candy that my sister and I could make without much supervision and so our teachers often got this treat for Christmas presents.  (We were fascinated with the soda and how it made the candy foam.)

Mom’s Microwave Peanut Brittle

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 c. raw peanuts (I was able to find somewhat local peanuts this year; at least they were grown in the state.)
1/8 t. salt

1 t. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda

Line a cookie sheet with heavy duty foil and spray with cooking spray.  Combine sugar, syrup, peanuts and salt in a 2 quart glass measuring cup or bowl.  Stir to combine.  Microwave on high for four minutes, then stir.  Microwave for four more minutes.  (Pre-measure butter, vanilla and baking soda so it is ready to mix in.)  Remove and stir in butter; microwave two minutes more.

Remove from microwave and stir in  vanilla and soda.   Pour on prepared cookie sheet and spread thin.  Wait to cool and then break into pieces.Store in an air tight container.

As I look through mom’s other microwave recipes while I write this post, I find a plethora of casseroles, both main dishes and vegetable concoctions.   Most of the meat dishes seem to be “smothered” in some sort of sauce or another.

Today, my microwave also serves as a convection oven.  As far as actually cooking in the microwave, I probably do very little.  But, there are some recipes I still go to from those old mimeographed sheets.

Every time I pull it out for a recipe, I think about all of us learning to cook on mom’s new Christmas present.

Another treat ready for gift bags.

Peanuts on FoodistaPeanuts

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My Favorite Reads

Eat, Pray, Love
Running with Scissors
SantaLand Diaries
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Angela's Ashes
Naked
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
My Life in France
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
The Liars' Club
Code Name Verity
The Paris Wife
The Shoemaker's Wife
The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel
Brother of the More Famous Jack
Burying the Honeysuckle Girls


Debra's favorite books »