Monday, February 25, 2013

Microwaving Office Mugs on NPR's Morning Edition

Is there something other than coffee, tea
or cocoa in your office mug?
Share your recipes in the comments.
(iStockPhoto)
When NPR Morning Edition producer Arnie Seipel emailed me recently, I perked up as quickly as if I had just downed a mug of coffee. What cookbook author doesn't fantasize about being interviewed by Steve Inskeep, or Renee Montagne, or David Greene?

It turns out that they had a very specific -- and very fun -- idea in mind. And speaking of coffee mugs, they feature very heavily into the concept. Arnie had recently turned David onto one of his favorite breakfast recipes, scrambled eggs in an office mug, and David had latched onto it with gusto. Given the early hour he has been getting to the office, he needed quick and hearty sustenance. But Arnie wanted to take things further than simple scrambled eggs, so he laid down a challenge: What other recipes could I show them how to make by microwaving a mug?

I don't exactly want to go down in history as the nuke-it-in-a-mug guy, but the fact is, I've had experience "cooking" at work. I wrote a piece about it a few years back, which is what got Arnie's attention in the first place. And I'm certainly no stranger to the microwave. But the office mug? That was new territory, and since I love a challenge -- and am a Morning Edition listener -- I set to work. I pretty much knew I'd do something with pasta, since I already had worked out making angel-hair pasta using water hot from a teakettle. But I quickly turned to mac and cheese, since it has that undeniable comfort-food appeal, and I knew it could come together -- in stages, at least -- in the microwave. And I had seen countless recipes for a brownie-in-a-mug strategy using Swiss Miss, so the dessert idea was pretty obvious.

But I couldn't be satisfied with just any old mac and cheese, nor would I stoop to using a cocoa mix for the "brownie." So I stripped them both down, then tarted them back up. The resulting recipes may not use the contents of just any old office pantry (does anybody really store flour at work?), but the fact is, I'd eat either or both of these any day for lunch and be plenty happy. 

I don't want to issue any spoilers, though. You should listen for yourselves to hear what happened when David, Arnie, and producer Rachel Ward let me have my way with their mugs, their microwave, and my ingredients. The segment is planned for 6:50 and 8:50 a.m. today, on Morning Edition. In DC, that's on WAMU, 88.5. 

In the meantime, feel free to weigh in and answer: What else should I try nuking in an office mug? Share your recipes in the comments below.

10 comments:

  1. Oh, wow. Mac and cheese in a mug? This may alter my cooking universe. Missed ME this morning, but will have to check out the podcast.

    Hmmm....chicken pot pie with a biscuit on top in a mug? Might be complicated,but I bet it could work. Or some sort of casserole or pasta bake could be kind of neat, playing off the mac and cheese idea.

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    1. I love the pot pie idea! You could use a -- gasp! -- canned biscuit, right? Not sure if it would brown, but...

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  2. I enjoyed listening to your NPR piece this morning. I'm looking forward to trying out the brownie in a mug. How about something using frozen vegetables and macaroni? Maybe something soup like for lunch?

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    1. Thanks, Teresa. Maybe using ditalini or other tiny soup pasta? Could be a form of Italian wedding soup!

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  3. I heard the interview this morning...AWESOME!!!! I called my fiance immediately to tell him about it. Absolutely genius idea!

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  5. I sent this off to my brother who is a critical care flight paramedic in Canada. The base where he works is attached to a helicopter hanger and has a tiny (but relatively well-equipped) kitchen where he is famous for making elaborate staff meals - calzones, steak and potatoes, overstuffed hoagies and full breakfasts.

    He and his partner have been dubbed 'Shake n Bake' for their cooking, although knowing my brother, none of his ingredients actually come from a box.

    ---

    Hey, what about doing something with vermicelli? You could soften the noodles in a simple broth or plain water & top with grated carrot, thinly sliced cucumber, chopped peanuts, a squeeze of lime and a couple squirts from the perennial bottle of Sriracha in the fridge. Would be especially awesome in one of those giant cappuccino mugs with a shiny pair of red chopsticks.

    Also thinking about breakfast - what about buying plain, instant rolled oats, cooking in the mug and then stirring in a spoonful of almond butter or a mini cup of unsweetened applesauce? Top with a pinch of salt and half a packet of that raw sugar that's always languishing near the coffee maker. Mmmm.

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    P.S. We need to talk about paper bag cooking sometime. Have you done popcorn that way? I make little packets to bring into work and keep them in my desk for afternoon snackerels. Will Tweet a photo after work so you can see what I mean.

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  6. I write for my college newspaper and thought about doing a story on microwave food and our adviser told me your interview on NPR. Do you had any more ideas that would be easy for college students?

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