Dorm Entertaining: Cooking & Baking with Your Microwave

If you love to cook or bake, living in a dorm can be quite the buzzkill. In addition to having to tolerate hard linoleum floors, cinderblock walls, bad lighting and psychotic roommates, the dearth of proper kitchen equipment can make dorm life that much more difficult. In an attempt to curb fires, many dorms have strict rules prohibiting things like hotplates and toasters — items whose portability would make them ideal dorm cooking tools. The only food-related appliances that seem to have been spared the wrath of the almighty university are the mini-fridge and the microwave. One as decidedly unglamorous as the next, it’s difficult to imagine any culinary delights coming from either machine. It’s a fair assumption — the microwave has long been associated with quick-fix meals that are lacking in both nutrition and imagination. They don’t call it “nuking it” for nothing!

Because of this, you might be surprised to learn that you actually can cook real food with your microwave. In fact, just about anything you can make on the stove, you can make in the microwave. It might not have the romance or time-tested reliability of the stove, but the microwave can be your secret weapon when it comes to preparing fresh food in your dorm.

If you’re planning to give microwave cooking a try, don’t deny yourself the microwave cooking bible: Microwave Cooking for One by Marie T. Smith. The book, published in 1986, features a beaming gray-haired woman standing aside a bounty of freshly zapped microwave treats. There’s corn on the cob, pancakes, a birthday cake and, yes, a steak dinner. Inside this treasure trove of a book are recipes for such things as hamburgers, lobster thermidor, stuffed chicken breast and cheesecake. It might seem impossible, but Marie T. Smith, the veritable high priestess of microwave food preparation, says it can be done!

We decided to put Smith’s book to the test and try out her recipe for apple streusel cake. It’s as delicious as it is weird and perfect for wintertime dorm entertaining! Check out the full recipe and more photos after the jump! — Max


Ingredients for Step 1:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Ingredient for Step 2:

  • 3 oz. apple

Ingredients for Step 3:

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • 1 tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

1) Sift dry ingredients into 1-quart mixing bowl. Stir in milk and oil and mix well. Cut a paper towel to line the bottom of a 24-oz Pyrex soufflé dish. Pour batter into dish and set aside.

2) Peel apple, cut into quarters, and remove core. Cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange two layers of slices on top of batter. Set aside.

3) Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl with small fork. Spread mixture evenly over apples. Cook 2:30 minutes (time might change depending on the power of your microwave) at 100% power, giving dish a half-turn halfway through cooking time. For auto-rotating ovens, eliminate the turn. Place dish on a flat surface for 15 minutes to finish cooking. Turn out cake onto plate. Remove and discard paper towel. Turn cake right side up. Cool at least 30 minutes and serve!

4) For an added touch, I drizzled some caramel over my apple streusel cake.

5) Bon appétit!


Julia

In the last sentence of Step 3 you do mean, “let stand/cool” at least 30 minutes rather than “cook” at least 30 minutes…right?! This looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it!

Quiana

This is kinda creepy and cool at the same time! Brings to mind all the vintage cookbooks my mom has in her house. Just looking at the photographs is pure entertainment!

MitSpeck

Microwaves are also great during kitchen remodels and for on hot summer days.
It’s also the best way to make risotto and polenta there is.
Great for fast real oatmeal in the morning that does not need to be watched constantly.

Barbara Kafka has 2 great Microwave Cookbooks
Microwave Gourmet (Amazon)
Microwave Gourmet HealthStyle Cookbook (0ut of print?, but check online or thrift store)

I found both of my original editions at the Thrift Store.

Emily S.

Wow – such a needed post for all of us college kids! My suite mates find ourselves resorting to spending money to go out instead of enjoying each other’s company in the relaxation of our dorm sweet dorm;)
This is a great plan for relaxing weekends or birthdays. I am so glad for the book you mentioned. I will definitely have to check that out. Thanks for the great idea :)

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