Thursday, October 05, 2006


Back in one of my previous lives when I cooked regularly I used rice a lot. I once put it in a chili instead of flour to thicken it. My concept is, liquid in any dish is a waste. Even beef stew becomes a tasty casserole when rice is added to absorb all that delicious flavor.

I never measured how much uncooked rice to put in. Even when cooking rice alone, I never measured. When I mentioned that to Asian lady acquaintances (they were friends but I can’t write lady friends because that has a sexual connotation) they were surprised. It was something they had never tried. But rice is very adaptable and forgiving. It is hard to screw up. A mistake of an ounce here or there is ignored. Package instructions are not chiseled in stone.

When shopping in a Thai supermarket I picked up an American brownie mix, Duncan Hines I think. It was supposed to be a surprise for my Thai family. Then I noticed the directions called for it to be baked in an oven. There are not many ovens around here. Our kitchen operates on bottled gas. All we have is a two burner camp stove. I haven’t been in too many Thai homes, but I would guess that our kitchen is typical. An oven operating on bottled gas is not practical.

Okay, there’s always the microwave. The package instructions said 350 degrees for 25 minutes. What is the equivalent of that in a microwave? There’s no way to tell. Besides I didn’t know if the temps on my microwave were in Fahrenheit or centigrade so why bother to do the math? I would have to experiment.

I set the power a little above half and the timer for 12 minutes and let it rip. Then I discovered the way to get perfect brownies in the microwave. All you have to do is watch it cook. The center started bubbling. It was very much like watching a pancake. In fact it was exactly like watching a pancake cook. When the little eruptions in the center became solid, the brownie was done. It only took 8 minutes.
It came out perfectly and was gobbled up within hours.

How about that? I discovered a faster, more efficient way to cook brownies. Is there a Nobel prize for that?


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