Thursday, January 26, 2012

microwaves, corn on the cob, & artichokes

This might shock some of my friends, but I didn't really grow up with a microwave.  Sure, we had one, but we only used it for popcorn and maybe edamame.  I was (and still am) continuously warned to keep my distance from it.  Search 1960s microwave and this pops up as one of the image options:

That's pretty much dead-on.   Add to it the fact that, in my most recent food service experience, there wasn't a microwave in the place. 

So even now in my mid-to-late twenties, I'm fascinated by microwaves.  Sometimes I feel like a child who's just been given permission to use one and doesn't know what to do with this newfound power.  I don't know how often in a month I say, "Whoa, you can heat that in the microwave?!"  Frequently that's followed by someone instructing me, "Sure, just hit the ___ button!"  The stove top and oven are my preferred methods, but wow, the convenience astounds me.  It's the little things in life. 

On to corn...  A nice gentleman from Brown's Family Farm Market who set up at the Fountain Square Farmers Market showed me last year how to microwave corn on the cob.  Since it's quicker and not boiling in water, the vegetable is able to keep more of the nutrients that would otherwise seep into the water in the pan.  

To microwave corn on the cob:
  • Shuck the corn and discard the husk.
  • Wrap the corn in a damp paper towel.
  • For one ear, cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  2 ears, 3 to 4 minutes.  3 ears, 5 to 6 minutes.  And so on.  
  • It will be hot!
  • Allow to rest another 2 minutes prior to removing the paper towel.
  • Donezo!
If that works for corn and edamame, I imagined, why not artichokes?  Besides, anything is better than a 45 minute cooking time that yields greenish water and a brownish veggie. 

Artichokes are tasty (especially with butter!) and super-rich in nutrients.  Gluten free foodies need all the nutrition we can get!  One of the biggest problems with Celiac and food intolerance is malnutrition caused by malabsorption.  As discussed in last night's NFCA webinar on Nutrition Beyond the Gluten Free Diet, loading up on whole foods, focusing on nutrition deficiencies, and restoring gut health are immensely important.

The chart below from the California Artichoke Advisory Board provides information on nutrition per 60 grams.  I don't normally post nutrition fact charts, but this has a lot.

To microwave an artichoke:
  • Rinse the artichoke.
  • Cut off the stem and any undesired leaves.  (Some folks recommend slicing off the tip and trimming the leaves.)
  • Place in a microwave safe bowl.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap.  It's okay if the edges stick up just a little.  After all, you're wrapping (probably) a round bowl with a rectangular piece of plastic.  Unless you use entirely too much, it's difficult to get everything stuck down.
  • Microwave a large artichoke for 6-8 minutes.  Two take 10 minutes, 4 cook for 15.  (I haven't yet tried the mini artichokes in the microwave, but I've heard that 4 artichokes at about 2 ounces each cook for 10 minutes.)
  • Allow to rest for about 7-10 minutes.
  • Test for doneness by tearing off a leaf.  If it pulls easily, it's done.  If you have to yank to get it off, it is undercooked.  
What if you've never had an artichoke?  No worries!  Here's how to eat it:
  • Tear off a leaf.  
  • Dip in melted - or, even better, clarified - butter.
  • Between your teeth, scrape the leaf to remove the fleshy portion at the base of the leaf.  You don't actually ingest the whole thing. 
  • Discard the leaf.  I like to keep a big bowl nearby.
  • The leaves become more tender as you get closer to the center of the artichoke.
  • You'll reach leaves that appear white in color and may have reddish-purple edges.  You're about to reach the choke - a thistly portion that is not edible.  
  • Remove the choke with a knife or spoon.  Discard.
  • Next is the best part: the heart.  This is a delicacy.  I've heard it called the vegetable equivalent of a lobster.  Cut it up & enjoy!  
I always tell myself I'll get to the heart and save it for a separate recipe, but I never do.  It's a good thing my dad had hogs until I was born.  I'm a little piggy.

Happy eating :)


  1. Hi Jessi, love your blog. I know I use the microwave alot. Never thought to put corn on the cob in the microwave. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Thank you, Danita!! What's your favorite thing to microwave? I could use all the tips I can get!