Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Monday, November 5, 2007

Microwave Ovens...Who Needs 'em?

Microwave ovens sprung to mind today after having read these two messages on my local family yahoo group. The first poster requested information on a glass cover for microwaved foods:

"I was using a plastic microwave cover which I would put over the food to prevent splattering. I threw it out because I'm afraid of the plastic, but now my microwave keeps getting dirty. Does anyone know where I can buy a glass one?"

I loved this reply:

Microwaves kill all the nutritional value in food. I recommend tossing the microwave.

Thus inspired, I began to explore my own microwave oven history...

I think our family bought our first microwave oven when I was in high school. I remember using it to bake potatoes, to warm up leftovers and to actually cook a recipe I found in the cookbook which came with the microwave.

My parents were in the process of divorcing and was I somehow left in charge of food shopping and preparing some dinners for my dad while my ex-step-mother was off gallivanting who knows where. For much of my childhood I had been exiled from the kitchen which left me somewhat cautious around the stove. The microwave seemed to be a godsend. No flames were involved and all I needed to do was place the ingredients in a dish and press some buttons.

The dish I was so fond of included chopped meat, canned tomatoes and maybe a few veggies and herbs. My father fondly dubbed it, "waboo" and we found ourselves eating it at least a few times. It is clear that my taste buds had not yet bloomed and my dad's must have been on hiatus. Whatever it was, at that time the microwave was my friend. Once the "waboo" phase ended, the microwave all but collected dust.

After that exposure, I spent my college years without this cumbersome,not especially necessary appliance, with intermittent usage at home, during vacations. Then along came microwave popcorn, whenever that was, and then, for a brief spell, my interest in the ovens soared. When I finally moved into my own apartment, I was convinced of the urgent need for my very own, rotating tray, microwave oven. I used it most frequently for melting butter or chocolate to use in baking recipes, and of course for reheating leftovers. At this point, though, the idea of actually cooking meat in it was fairly repellent. I lived with that microwave for ten years. And then..

When A. and I moved to our current home, I gave up the idea of having a microwave altogether since it certainly didn't fit into our retro kitchen. Besides, I realized that most things I had used the microwave for could be done just as easily on the stove.

The funny thing is that my most recent exposure to a microwave has been at the home of my 98 1/2 year old grandfather. He eschews most modern appliances but insists on using a microwave for all manner of foods. Most recently, he hatched the bright idea of cooking an egg in it. In fact twice lately, said egg exploded, bursting open the microwave door and spewing its insides all over my grandfather's ceiling. A fine surprise for my brother to clean up to be sure.

When I saw him today, he wondered allowed about what had possessed him to try such a trick...and meanwhile I wondered as to how long the over-sized mug of tea with lemon had been sitting inside his microwave. When I questioned him he replied, "oh several days at least." as he drinks a bit at a time and then places it back inside... Yumm...at least the waves kill the bacteria.

So now what do you think? Do you need a microwave? Why?


Sarah said...

I've wanted to get rid of ours for a while now, but can't figure out how to quickly reheat leftovers without it. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I still use mine... mostly for quick shortcuts, like melting butter and reheating coffee.

I also have a very small kitchen and I confess to sometimes cheating and cooking vegetables in it while I'm finishing off more complicated dishes on the stove. Sugar snap peas with a few drips of olive oil, some grated orange zest and a little chopped garlic and then microwaved for three minutes aren't half bad...

Now you know my guilty secret!

Anonymous said...

Oh, the story about your grandfather and his mug of tea is priceless!

I use mine exactly like Ann. We have a very cranky stove, and it's not unusual for one burner to fail, in which case, the microwave comes in handy for a quick veggie dish.

My mom absolutely refuses to have one in her house. Doesn't trust them at all.

Izzy's Mama said...

Sarah: Reheating leftovers is a cinch in a good, seasoned cast-iron pan..Depending upon what it is, you might either add a bit of water, cover and steam at low heat, or add a bit of oil or water if need be. This works with nearly everything!

Ann: What I always hated about the butter melting was when it splattered on the ceiling of the oven..I prefer the gentle heat of the stove.

Eileen: I would not have pegged you as the microwaving sort! Then again, who would peg my 98 year old grandpa as a microwaver??

mamster said...

I mostly use mine for melting butter. My mom had a 1-cup saucepan (really!) that she used for the purpose. I have no problem with the microwave as far as nutrition or safety goes, but it sure takes up a lot of counter space.

Izzy's Mama said...

Mamster: Microwaves are definitely space hogs which is yet another reason why I don't have one. I need room for my Kitchen Aid Mixer!