Thursday, August 06, 2009

Microwave-Free Zone

The title of this post in no way means I believe there is anywhere not being bombarded by radio frequencies. The entire universe is awash in radio waves in a variety of lengths from natural sources. Here on earth, radio waves do everything from track our airplanes to hooking us to the Internet via wi-fi. No, instead I am speaking of cooking with a microwave oven. Or not.

The Lovely Spouse and I moved into this house about 16 months ago. There was not a built-in microwave oven, unlike the past places we have lived for years. We have actually had a microwave oven in our homes since the early 1980s. So our initial thought was to buy one. At first we thought of buying a counter top oven, but then considered that maybe we should just purchase one to mount under the counter over the stove. In the meantime, as we wrestled with this dilemma, we continued to cook, and found out that we were doing okay for now, so the purchase could wait. As time moved on, we realized two things. One, we were doing fine without one; and two, the food we prepared by more conventional means was better!

With the Lovely Spouse, it became a contest to see how long could we hold out buying a microwave oven. As it turns out, indefinitely. And then there's the quality of the food. Meat reheated in a microwave tends to get overdone and dry. Potatoes don't have the same consistency as conventional oven-baked ones. As I am writing this, I am eating some delicious tamales I bought frozen. In the past, I would have popped them in to the microwave for about 3 minutes and eaten them. Instead, I put a pot of water on the stove to boil, topped it with a covered steamer with the tamales inside for about 25 minutes. I can attest, the steaming produces a moist, tasty and hot product; whereas microwaving them would have made them hot, but less evenly heated and much drier.

There are many times that we would have used the microwave in the past that we now use the toaster oven. Quick and efficient! Between that applicance, the stove and the regular oven, we are doing great. One of my sons was over shortly after we moved in, and he asked? "Where's your microwave?" In my best hillbilly voice, I replied, "Don't got one!". His reply was priceless. "How do you cook?" What he was trying to do was heat some water. We introduced him to the good old tea kettle.

Are there times I miss having a microwave oven? Sure. But only occasionally. Most of the time, I don't care anymore. The food is tastier, and it doesn't take long to fix either. If you preplan just a little bit, you will enjoy flavorful, moist meals with little fuss. Now the question is do we go even further with the retro lifestyle? Do we dump satellite TV for over the air broadcasts? Do we kill the cell phones and just use the home line? In these hard economic times, maybe this is all part of a simpler, more frugal lifestyle.

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