Cooking the easy way

It’s Thanksgiving time again. One of the only holidays that revolves around food. Many have suffered, salivated and survived while preparing and eating the traditional succulent spread. But even a college student can make a full Thanksgiving dinner on a low budget with only one appliance – a microwave. Yes, just a microwave.

I’m not suggesting going to Au Bon Pain on Thursday, ordering a turkey sandwich and a slice of pumpkin pie, taking it home and throwing it in your microwave for a Thanksgiving feast. All the recipes you need can be found in the Let’s Cook Microwave! cookbook by Barbara Harris.

The most basic Thanksgiving turkey dinner can be cooked and ready to carve in less than an hour and a half. Cooking an eight to 10 pound turkey in a cooking bag requires seven to eight minutes a pound cooked on high in the microwave. Rotate the turkey a quarter of a turn and flip it over when the cooking time is halfway finished.

It is important to baste the drippings after the rotation, keeping the turkey in the cooking bag. The main course should be finished in a little more than an hour and allowed to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before being carved.

Gravy is prepared from turkey drippings, three tablespoons of flour and one-and-a-third cup of water. The concoction should be microwaved on high for two to three minutes, stirring every minute. Throw some salt and pepper in for flavor and microwave the finished product again for another two minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

The turkey is done but now you need the stuffing. One word probably comes to mind – StoveTop. While definitely the quick fix, for more adventurous chefs making stuffing from scratch requires a few vegetables, bread and some seasonings. Although cooking the stuffing takes less than seven minutes, bragging rights will last a good couple of days.

Making vegetables or potatoes are easy – just wash them off and throw them in the microwave for a couple minutes – but dessert is something worth spending some time on. Students interested in the easiest approach can buy a pre-made pumpkin pie and pass it off as homemade – just remember to get rid of all the possible evidence, the receipt and the wrapping it came in. You also might want to throw some pumpkin insides around the kitchen so it looks like you have been slaving all day, but in the end the conscience may creep up on you.

Even when choosing to make a pumpkin pie there is an easy way out. There are 11 necessary ingredients, but one simple can of pumpkin pie filling can replace all of them, getting rid of the dirty work. Just pour the pie filling into a piecrust, cook for 10-12 minutes and then let it sit 10 minutes before cutting.

An entire Thanksgiving dinner is complete and fresh out of the microwave in less than two hours. It makes you wonder why moms across the country spend days laboring for the big feast.

Recipes for Turkey Dinner

Pumpkin Pie

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 (16 oz.) can cooked pumpkin
1 (13 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 baked 9-inch pastry shell

In large mixing bowl blend all ingredients and pour into baked pastry in 9-inch glass pie dish. Microwave (high) 4-5 minutes until edges begin to set.
Stir moving cooked edges to center of dish. Microwave (high) 5-6 minutes or until center jiggles like Jello.
Let it rest 10 minutes, until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. (Canned pumpkin pie filling may be substituted for ingredients.)

Poultry Stuffing

1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup butter
1 lb. chopped fresh mushrooms
8 cups dry bread cubes (about 14 slices cut in 1/2 inch cubes)
1 1/2 – 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 – 1 1/2 cup liquid (from cooking giblets or water)

Add onion, celery and butter to a 4-cup measuring glass.
Microwave (high) 4-5 minutes, stirring once.
Add mushrooms.
Microwave (high) 1 1/2 minutes.
Combine with bread, poultry seasoning, sage, celery salt, salt and pepper.
Toss with liquid to moisten.
Pack loosely into turkey or cook separately, 6 min./lb.

source: Let’s Cook Microwave! Barbara Harris, 3rd edition, 1979.

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