Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Microwave

How do you feel about your microwave oven?  Is it a useful kitchen appliance, a dinosaur you rarely use, or an evil tool of Food Destruction?  I know many homesteaders eschew this appliance as one of the more  wasteful uses of energy, but in reality I think it's more of an energy trade-off, since the energy you use microwaving means some other energy-using appliance does not get used.  But it seems to make some people feel like this:

When I was remodeling my kitchen last year, I had a designer tell me that more and more people are opting not to have microwave ovens installed in their homes, because they just don't use them.  And I do know there are still people out there who feel they're not entirely safe.  But for me, the microwave is not so much used as an oven, but rather as a kitchen tool.

It's 7 a.m. as I write this, for instance, and I just used my microwave to heat up the coffee mug I then poured my hot coffee into.  I also used it to heat the actual water for my coffee, too (a filled, one-quart Mason Jar, heated on high for 5 minutes will bring water to a near-boil, much faster than your tea kettle can.  You can then pour it into your cafe-press for coffee, or into a mug for tea).

 I also use the microwave to warm up plates regularly.  Heating them for 30 seconds in the microwave  before pouring or plating, and your food and beverages will stay much warmer, for longer.  I also use it regularly to soften or melt butter when I'm baking.

As far as cooking goes, I suppose I don't do any actual cooking in the microwave, although all three of my kids do.  I just don't care for the slightly dried-out texture and flavor that comes when a significant portion of the food's stored water is heated and drawn out of it, which is of course how microwaves cook. Plus I'm relatively certain that, with those water molecules goes at least some of the vitamins and nutrition. But I do use it to re-heat leftovers, wrapping everything in a towel or wax paper, and being very careful not to overcook.  

Which brings up an important point: There is no worse smell in the kitchen than that of over-microwaved food, like spaghetti sauce or -- the worst -- popcorn.  It makes the house smell like the break room of most offices. Blech.  So if that's the reason you're tossing your microwave, I totally understand.  But, for me, it still earns enough of its keep for me to keep one in the kitchen for the foreseeable future.


  1. I have unclear thoughts on the good old microwave. Any time I think I could go without one, I seem to use it often. I never cook in it and rarely reheat in it. I do use it to melt or soften butter quite a lot. WHY have I never used the microwave to heat plates?!?! I, of all people, should know that! Thank you!

    1. You are quite welcome! It took awhile to remember for me too, but now I do it every day. SO nice to serve food or warm drinks with warmed plates and mugs!