Sunday, December 12, 2010

Catching the wave

The microwave, that is. As a pretty accomplished (I'm a legend in my own mind) self-taught chef, I view the microwave as a device that is for the following tasks...

  • Defrosting items that I forgot to take out for supper
  • melting or softening butter
  • bringing a cup of water to boil for tea
  • hiding candy in
So, that brings me to our current "chef-in-transit" mode, which means that I am still attempting to "cook" with a hotel mini fridge, microwave, and tiny sink.  Here is a picture of my current "kitchen".

And yes, having fresh fruit around is important when you are in moving limbo - it's good for you! I also regularly get a banana from the complimentary breakfast bar, and a nice apple from time to time. You know the drill - it is important to keep intestinal apocalypse at bay.

So, frustrated chef that I am, I of course decided that a frozen pizza, or Chinese take-out was NOT a supper choice. What does someone like me do? Make something that typically takes two to four hours in a low oven...but Dear Husband loves...Swiss Steak!  Of course I know that I'm is going to be a lot of work, in a tiny space, and probably won't taste as good as the real deal, right? Well, them there's fightin' words, my friend. I can do it...I know I can! <----this statement is what I usually say right before myself and my grandiose plans both go down in one giant, screaming, burning ball o' flames, just so you know.  BUT...being me, I just had to try. First, I purchased cube steaks, and seasoned them with a well-known brand of steak seasoning.  I would tell you the brand, but hey, I'm tired of giving everyone free publicity, ya know? Here they are, ready for microwave "searing"

After putting these in a little olive oil and microwaving them about two minutes, I flipped them and microwaved for another two minutes. I then cut up the rest of a green bell pepper I had in the hotel fridge, and some red onion that I bought for salads. I used the underside of the little tray that holds the coffee maker in the hotel kitchen, as my cutting board, after sterilizing it.

I added them to the steaks, and microwaved for another three minutes...just long enough to get them started on softening. I then added a can of mushrooms, some finely chopped tomato, salt and pepper, and enough water to begin a gravy.  Here it all is, ready to begin it's twirl in the microwave.

I microwaved a couple of potatoes while the Swiss steak was going, to serve it on ~ and sliced cucumbers to marinate in red wine vinegar, sugar (just a pinch) salt and pepper.

I have discovered that plastic storage containers are essential equipment for making and serving micro-mini hotel a micro-mini kitchen.  After the potatoes had cooked through, I mashed each one on our plates, and continued to cook the Swiss steak another twelve minutes or so, until the vegetables were tender, and the steaks completely cooked through. I took a packet of mushroom gravy mix, stirred it into the container, and microwaved for another two minutes, until it thickened and became gravy. I wanted a tomato-based gravy, but there were no such options in the spice section of the local market. The result?

Pretty amazing, if I do say so myself! The photo does not do it justice, as the lighting in our hotel room is less than bright.  The microwaving  achieved the tenderizing of the cube steaks without the two to four hour baking time, the potatoes were a nice, buttery foil for the gravy and vegetables, and the cucumbers were a refreshing and tangy counterpoint to the richness of the dish.  Delicious ~ and I could not believe it!

The moral of this story?  Well, the total cost of this supper for two was under six dollars! We also did not have to suffer through tiny frozen meal portions, over packaged and preservative-laden foods, or greasy take-out!

How do you save money on simple meals? What are your little tricks?

Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned for new adventures in microwave-land, and best of all.....a new pixie land for us to call home! Love and kindness to all,



  1. OMG you're a microwave maestro! Be sure to post photos of that new kitchen...

  2. Wait until you see how the apricot chicken came out! Woot!