Thursday, February 13, 2014

Corningware Microwave Plus a Whole Lot More - M-225 Steamer & Bunt Cake Pan?

I make no bones about not being particularly partial to Microwave cookery.  I use my microwave for 2 things and 2 things only... Warming up my coffee (only once, or it tastes funny) and bringing cold butter to room temperature (there is a trick to it).  Thus, aside from the occasional demonstration of how to make a Grilled Cheese sandwich in a Corningware Microwave Browning Skillet, I hardly ever use the thing.  Because of this distaste for all things from the Nuke-u-lator, I have to laugh at myself for acquiring a myriad Corningware microwave pieces.

Even though I have prided myself in the fact that I actually use my collection, instead of letting it set around and collect dust on a shelf somewhere; after all, Corningware that doesn't fulfill its stove top destiny dies a little on the inside, those Microwave specialty pieces will be doing just that.  They will sit and watch the world go by, because I will never actually use them.

The reason I collect these pieces is purely for scholarly purposes.  They are part of the history of Corningware and, possibly even more importantly, the history of how Americans cooked.  They were a catalyst in the slow demise of Corningware from being a Stove Top saucepan to an Oven/Microwave casserole dish...  (sigh)  Sad, but true, I think.

Microwave cookery was ALL the rage once the prices dropped enough for almost every household to afford one in the 70s... By the 80s, when everything had to meet with the Yuppie's instant gratification style, it only increased the desire for Microwavable cooking vessels for quick nuke-u-lated meals. The P-series and A-series pans were perfectly capable of making the switch already, but people weren't getting it.

As a result, Corningware produced a plethora of "Microwave" cookware that, for the most part, was still perfectly serviceable on the stove or in the oven but Corning Consumer Products steered the packaging to emphasis it's ease of use in the Microwave.  Thus the "Microwave PLUS" line was born.  These are usually denoted by M-series pieces, though sometimes MR & MW series, depending on when they were made.

This is one of my favorite pieces from that Era.  It's the M-225 Microwave Plus Steamer.  Evidently, the plus part is that it's also a Bundt Cake pan...  Yeah, weird.  Luckily, the base can be used on the stove top and the plastic steamer basket is safe up to 400 degrees.  Then again, I refuse to cook in plastic, so I will probably never use it... But it is a neat little item of interest so I decided to add it to my growing collection of strange and interesting things Corning came up with over the years.

Introducing...  The M-225 Microwave Steamer & Bundt Pan?

The concept was neat; I just wish they had made the steamer part out of Pyrex Glass or Pyroceram instead, of that really hard and somewhat brittle "microwave" plastic material that they used to make Microwave Bacon Grills. 

I have no idea when this was produced, nor how long it was on the market....  My guess is that it was in the mid to late 80's.

It has the same lid as the P-270 from the Grab-It line (the one I made Rhubarb Crumble in a while back)


It even has the plastic storage lid, in case you have too many steamed veggies left over.  The nice part about that, is that it will also fit my P-270-B. 

The weirdest part is the cone.  My immediate assumption is that this is for baking Bundt cake.  Though I could be wrong.  I do not have any instructional materials with this piece.

I bake, A LOT, and I have made Bundt cakes many times before...  I am not really sure how well this will work as a Bundt pan.  (if that is even what the cone is for)  While a Bundt pan has a cone in the center, it is a hollow cone that allows heat to come up through the cone to bake center of the cake. This has a solid bottom and the cone just kind of sits in the middle.

I have a feeling that the cake would not get done around the cone because there is no heat rising through the cone.  But I may be willing to give it a try and see if it works. Stranger things have happened. Then again, I won't eat the cake, cause the cone is made of the same plastic material as the steamer insert.... Maybe if I wrap it in foil or something.  Hmmmmmmmm.......

So here is a list of all the parts to the Microwave Plus Steamer/Bundt Pan

M-225-B - 2 1/4 quart Bottom Dish - Stove top, Oven, Broiler & Microwave safe.

P-270-C - The same lid that was originally used on the P-270 (1 1/4 quart)

M-225-PC - Plastic Cover for storage which also fits the P-270-B

M-225-R - Hard Plastic Steamer Basket - Microwave and Stove Top safe (when used with the M-225-B).  Made of the same type of hard plastic as the old Microwave Bacon racks.  No doubt this type of plastic has been shown to cause cancer in the last decade or so.

M-225-RC - Hard plastic Cone for baking Bundt cake (evidently)  Made of the same plastic as the Steamer Basket

Cone fits over the "bumps" in the bottom of the M-225-B which keep the cone from slipping around when pouring the batter and baking the cake.

All the plastic pieces (aside from the storage lid) are supposedly safe to 400F degrees in the oven.  And the plastic basket can be used to steam vegetables on the stove as well as in the microwave, just be sure that it doesn't touch the stove element directly.

And there you have it... One of the weirdest pieces I have collected over the years.

Where is your Corningware??
~~

6 comments:

  1. What a unique set. I am with you in not being willing to cook in plastic. I wasn't understanding, until near the end of the post. that the cone was not part of the pan. Very odd. I have heard so many rave reviews about steaming in the microwave but have never tried it.

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  2. Shane, I've been looking at old Corningware newspaper advertisements via Google News Archives (yep, I don't have a life!) :-) I remember this one from the 80s and it's confirmed in many ads -- one trend at that time was to make meatloaf in the microwave oven using a ring mold. I wonder if an original booklet from the set you have would contain those types of recipes. I used to have a plastic Bundt pan that came with (I think) a Pillsbury microwave cake mix. Those were the days of supposed convenience!

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  3. Bless you Cynthia! Thank you for your research. I had completely forgotten about the bundt/ring pan meatloaves. I had also forgotten that you can look up old newspaper ads on Google. LOL That makes perfect sense. (much more sense than trying to bake a cake) I really wish I had been able to find the original book for this one. Maybe I will get lucky and find one on eBay someday. I have seen the plastic bundt/ring pans at GW & SA, but always left them behind, because I have the heavy duty Aluminum ones in several different patterns... Though to be honest, I am not sure which is actually less healthy. Plastic baked cake or Aluminum baked cake. Maybe It's time for me to find one of those old Pyrex Aspic ring molds and see if I can bake a cake in that.

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  4. Mine is in the oven as we speak, making a fish pot pie (better than is sounds). I have all the pieces but the plastic snap-on lid....don't remember what happened to that part.

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  5. Thanks for the informative post. I just picked one of these up at the thrift store. Just the pot, lid and inner plastic steamer. Interesting to see it came with more pieces originally.

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  6. It is likewise called compact or ledge, and is the littlest kind of the microwave ovens accessible in the market.

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