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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Two things I (really) learned in college

I learned plenty of things in college. Some of that actually had to do with literature and writing. And some of that I might actually remember if prompted to recall a tiny bit of it. At the top of the list of things I (really) learned in college are:

Never put a shoe in the microwave.
Never make a cake in the microwave.

I suppose it’s ironic that these two things have to do with a microwave. I’m just lucky I didn’t have a dorm room with an oven or more powerful cooking implement, though as I recall I did have a small plug in thing that could make six cookies at a time. The first time I used it, I had the bright idea to store it with the instructions tucked inside. The second time I used it….I had forgotten about the instructions and succeeded in giving the instructions a good baking.

Never put a shoe in the microwave.
I had a horrible time shining my shoes. After another inspection where my uniform was fine but my shoes looked duller than dull, my ROTC commander offered some advice. Now, perhaps he hadn’t known me long enough to know that generally speaking I was a klutz. My definition of having had a bad day was if I’d sustained injury of some sort, and I had bad days about once a week. So when he advised that I LIGHT MY SHOE ON FIRE in order to get the shoe polish wax to melt, he had no idea what those instructions were capable of doing to my 17–year-old mind. Sure. Light the shoe on fire. Really all he wanted me to do was hold a lighter’s flame against the shoe, but this was most certainly translated as, light the shoe on fire. I sat in my dorm room for a while, pondering this idea. I didn’t have a lighter, or matches (probably good thing I didn't, too).

But a microwave would provide heat, right? And all that was needed was a little heat to melt the shoe polish wax.

It might have worked for a second longer, but I’d left the shoe tree (that was metal) in the shoe. One arch was all it took for me to hit the cancel button and wonder, How Stupid Could I Be? The room filled with a stomach turning smell of burnt rubber. I abandoned all desire to have shined shoes and opened a window, hoping to air it out before my roommate returned. Unfortunately for me, there was still a slight lingering smell when she returned. Fortunately for me, she listened to my logic and we shared a chuckle at my illogical thinking. We agreed no non-food items in the microwave ever again. (And I got better advice about using a hair drier to heat the shoe polish from one of the other cadets- much safer than fire or microwaves).

Never make a cake in the microwave (or, possibly, follow directions closely).
I really wanted strawberry cupcakes, but with no oven, I decided to use a recipe I had for a microwave strawberry cake. I cobbled together *most* of the ingredients, and decided I didn’t want the frozen strawberries it called for…and when I realized the recipe called for wax paper to line the bowl, figured a quick coating of butter would work as well. I wasn’t sure if my bowl was a 3 quart bowl, but figured on the absence of the aforementioned strawberries to prevent any overflow problems. Just in case there was overflow, I put a paper plate down before setting the concoction in the microwave. I entered in the amount of time indicated on the recipe, and helped myself to the strawberry frosting I’d bought.
When the microwave dinged, I opened the door and saw…
a volcano of pepto bismol.

I pulled the “cake” out of the microwave and stared disappointedly at the massive pink blob as it burbled a few more times, sending more pink goo down the side of the bowl and onto the plate.

Well, the plate was a good idea, at least. I helped myself to more of the frosting and scraped away some of the overflow and extra batter. Then I put the concoction back in the microwave and cooked it for the magic 3 minutes, which had always worked at my parent’s house when cookies needed more time to cook.

Ding.

I opened the door to find more oozing pink goodness. I pulled it out and examined its viscosity. It wasn’t too far from hardened. Didn’t they say in home-ec that the microwave cooks from the inside out? Maybe if I set it out on the counter and left it be for fifteen minutes, the magical microwave forces would finish cooking the cake! Or, failing that, maybe a kitchen fairy would poof my cake into perfection.

So, down to the tv room I went, and hung out for around thirty minutes.

Hope in my heart and the taste of strawberry cake with strawberry frosting filled my thoughts as I came back upstairs to find what the kitchen fairy had done to finish my cake.
Except there is no such thing and the cake was still a half solid pepto-pink mass of strawberry -smelling -goo. The evidence of which I quickly destroyed by walking it out to the dumpster (leaving no trace of the experiment for my roommate to find). The icing…well, I was craving strawberry…and the icing didn’t need to be cooked…

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