Futuristic Cooking with a Microwave

microwave cookbook

The New Revised
General Electric
Microwave Guide & Cookbook

My family jumped into the crazy cutting edge world of microwaves around the time this book was published. The pitch was always about how you could defrost or prepare food in just seconds, sometimes minutes. I personally remember microwaving hot dogs to watch them completely curl up.

Nothing my mother or myself were able to make anything that resembled the pictures in microwave cookbooks. I am convinced these were all faked. The meat in particular always had a lovely grey color. The texture was also just awful. It should have been nicknamed Soylent Green.


how the oven works







  1. It’s funny. When this book came out, I had never seen a microwave, and for years I resisted using them or owning one. Then, as a result of roommates, little by little I started to use them. Now, I rely on them, not for big elaborate dishes as described here, but as essential support for things like melting cheese evenly and fast, re-heating water and leftovers, prepping hot veggies while the stove is in use, and of course for quick lunches when there’s no time to really cook.
    I don’t suppose anyone really needs a book for that kind of microwave use, though. If you want to sell books, you have to make it look big.

    1. The cookbook that came with our first microwave in the mid-80’s had a whole section about how to use aluminum foil. The main thing I remember is that it was supposedly perfectly safe as long as it didn’t touch the walls. We never tried it. My grandmother was the first in the family to get a microwave, which she promptly blew up by trying to heat something in a gold-rimmed bowl. (“They said not to use aluminum! They didn’t say anything about gold!”) We were all paranoid about microwaves for decades after that, lol.

    2. Yup. To create scorchmarks. Sort of like those foil lined crisper sleeves for Hot Pockets. A great way to leave a microwave a smokey mess!

  2. My family never got a microwave (my mom didn’t want one, for various reasons), but I remember family members and friends’ parents around the time this book was written trying to legit cook full meals in them. The results were almost uniformly disgusting.

    Like Mary says, the meat in particular was always horrible, rubbery, and a weird color. I think it took a few years before people figured out what the microwave cooked well and what it didn’t.

  3. I made microwave peanut brittle for the office in the early 80’s. My boss was astounded. He said the only thing his wife ever did with theirs was take the chill of the dog’s food.

      1. The worst turkey I ever made wasn’t defrosted when it went into the oven and had to be finished piecemeal in the microwave and yuck! Microwave cooked food (especially broccoli and salmon) gets this weird slightly metallic edge to the taste and roasting at high heat takes the same amount of time for far nicer results.

        Microwaves are fine for reheating but I did not miss having one for the 15 years or so I didn’t have one.

    1. OK, here’s a comment from the geezer. Does anybody remember when radio stations (and TV stations) “signed off?” In the section about “How a Microwave Works,” it says that a microwave stops broadcasting when the door opens, “just as your radio will not play if the station has ‘signed off.'” Who remembers those days? (or wants to admit it?)

      1. Geezerette here. Yes I remember sitting in front of the tv early Saturday morning waiting for the Indian head logo to disappear so I could watch Popeye. I also remember the giddy thrill of getting to stay up late watching old Buck Roger’s serial reruns at midnight and the sadness I felt when the sign off announcement played.
        I also remember when the ” remote control” was dad throwing the tv guide at me and telling to change the dial.
        And yes, I still call the remote a ” clicker”.

      2. Here in the UK we had TV sign off or “close down” until the 1990s. Radio 4 still does a sort of sign off – “Sailing By”, by Ronald Binge, followed by the late Shipping Forecast at 00.48, them the National Anthem before they switch over to the World Service programmes overnight.

      3. In the late 1990s/early 2000s a public station out of Philadelphia would play Doctor Who re runs from about the same time as this cookbook, from 11 pm to midnight, after which they signed off. I did once stay up even later to watch the complete end of the sign off and then snow and static.

      4. Sure, I remember. After Buck Rogers, some priest with a strong local accent would give a prayer, and that was the end of programming in Milwaukee, where I was in graduate school. Don’t recall what signoff was like when I was growing up, because I wasn’t allowed to stay up late enough to find out.

  4. There’s probably a depressingly large audience for this kind of thing these days. How many people are stuck living in crappy motel rooms, or in student dorms unable to pay for the extortionate campus meal plan, with nothing to cook with but a microwave and a coffee machine?

    1. *raises hand* For two months in late 2014-early 2015, I lived in a motel after my apartment building was condemned, and that’s all I had. It took that long to find an apartment that could accommodate my disability and allow me to keep my cat.
      (My babysitter had a microwave in the mid-70’s, and she would wait a minute or so to open the door because she claimed one would get burned otherwise. I presume that’s an urban legend.)

  5. Actually, there’s a recipe from an old Sharp Microwave cookbook we still use after 35 years. It’s a recipe for Swiss steak.

    The meat is on the grey side but tender because we use cube steak. it’s covered in a mixture of vegetables and a tasty tomato sauce. Serve it up with garlic mashed potatoes and it’s a very nice meal for a cold evening.

  6. Microwave energy “heats the food, not the utensil.” Basically they’re saying that your cup or bowl doesn’t get hot in a microwave oven… Uh, yeah, right.

  7. This must have been for high-end microwaves. The first one I got, which may have been around this time or a bit later, only had one speed.

    The picture of creamed vegetables brings to mind the old insult, “shall I or have I?” Yuck. Why would you??

  8. Did anyone else try those specific-for-microwave products, such as chocolate cake? As I recall, that wasn’t too bad, but certainly not as good as a real cake baked in a real oven.

    Microwaves are also good for melting butter, soft-cooking eggs, and making Peeps blow up.

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