Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life Without the Microwave

So I read this article a couple of weeks ago, about not using the microwave.

If you don't read this blog, you probably should.

I completely love FoodBabe, for being the food zealot I aspire to be.  She does the research so you don't have to..although we should all really be doing it anyway.  Care much?  Yeah, I just don't want to be told to put the potato chips down and back away slowly.  But it's a very needed dose of reality.

Anyway, the microwave.

I've always wondered about them and their seemingly-magical powers, and somewhere in the back of my mind didn't feel wholly okay about doing whatever-that-is to my food.  But, I was pretty happy to ignore the fact in favor of its super speedy easy cookiness, and the fact that I never had to take things out of their containers to heat and eat them.  (read: no dishes!! yay!)

Well, no more.

Several more articles confirmed with just a cursory glance that what I've been ignoring really isn't okay...here are just a few here, here and here.  To be fair, there are quite a few other sources stating the opposite viewpoint; if you want reassurance, it can definitely be found in the "everyone's doing it!" and "it wouldn't be legal if it wasn't safe" varieties.  But I'm of the opinion that a lot can be determined by conducting your own experiment of one, and in pursuit of the best quality of life possible I find most of these experiments are worth undertaking.  So I've been undertaking this one.  Why this, why now?  Because in thinking about it this is what I noticed...

Growing up, we had two microwaves in the kitchen.  <-- That's how much we used them.   When my parents remodeled, they actually took out one of the two ovens and replaced it with a microwave, because we were so often lining up behind each other to nuke something.  (All we used the lonely oven for was keeping our microscopic pet turtles where the cats couldn't reach them.  Not a crucial appliance.)  Once I hit my teens and started eating us out of house and home, I started snacking endlessly on frozen side dishes (the baked ziti was my favorite, I could eat four of those a day)- four minutes in the microwave and I had food!  As I got older, moved out, started working in restaurants, the percentage of my meals that I microwaved went from 'someone still cooks for me every day' to 'it's either frozen or left over, either way- nuke it!'.  In my adult life, as I tried to become more responsible, I've made the effort to make food at home when I can; but until I gave it some thought, I didn't realize how often that meant "cooking"- in the microwave.

These days, with our insane schedule and five different palates at home, we eat out a lot.  Like, at least every day.   Like, I can't remember the last time I went a whole day and *didn't* have at least one meal out of a restaurant.  Setting aside the unknown amount of microwave use in the restaurant's kitchen, one thing is certain: if there are leftovers, I'm taking them home for another convenient meal tomorrow.  Which means only one thing:


Lately we've become somewhat more budget-conscious and are trying to eat out less, and I've made it a resolution to learn to real-cook a tiny bit myself (read: I learned how to turn the stove on), trying to cram it into my schedule somewhere so it can become at least familiar, and then a habit.  I've been trying to work up from cooking once a month to once a week(ish), with once a day a scary and remote eventual possibility...but since reading about these articles and having it on my mind,  I'm starting to notice when I cook, just how often I need to thaw or warm ingredients as I go...


...and, because I can't do it very often, my favorite thing to do is make huge batches of whatever I'm trying, and eat them for a week afterward.  Which means, of course-



I also like to drink tea-


And my cookies from the bakery come frozen-


And the kids want bagels-

The butter won't spread-

Even, the berries for the smoothie are all frozen together and the blender won't chew them unless-


And so I say unto you:  Holy Fucking Shit.

Microwave, how can I quit you??

Evil microwave
If there was anything even a *little bit* wrong with using the microwave on your food, my problem would be compounded by a factor of about ninety.  Because that's how many times I was using the microwave *every day*.  For a long time I never even used any other appliance, and I've discovered that these days I use it in addition to every other appliance.  It's like a rite of passage every scrap of food in my kitchen has to go through!  Not good.

And so, I taped it shut.  I wanted to grab a wrench and unmount the thing and throw it away, but it's heavy and idk how I would fill the hole and tape is easier and funnier.

Plus, I'm not the only one who lives here and nT is convinced nothing is wrong with anything, ever.  That's okay.  (If the rest of the world was irradiating themselves off a bridge, would you too??  No, not today anyway!)  So for now it stays, but that tape is truly essential, because just in the first few days I must have reached for that door fifty times.  I even reached for it, thought "oh, no I can't use the microwave I'll have to find something else", turned around once looking and then thought, "oh yeah, I can just use the microw-- *fuck*."  That's how omnipresent this damn machine is for me.

It's no use trying to get away, they have mad survival skills.
So for the forseeable future, things with the microwave are over.  I wrote it a letter, I burned it in effigy; I taped the door shut, I sing odes to my tiny frying pan.  I heat water in the coffee maker.  I made gaspacho.  nT has had mercy on my herculean struggle to change and splurged on a toaster oven.  (He actually said, "let's go buy you an appliance, little lady!" and I was like grrrrrrrrr feminist but also yes please yay.)  I trust I'm on a good path, and that making this weird sacrifice is worth it.  Can't hurt, might help; I mean, I certainly can't be doing myself any *harm* by cutting the microwave out of my life.  It's not like it manufactures some essential amino acid or something.  And if nothing else, making the adjustment brings even more awareness to what and how I eat- always a good thing.  But really, for the amount of effort it takes to reimagine my relationship with the kitchen, I am honestly hoping for bigger gains in my health, like maybe the ability to bend rebar or leap over my car.

I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. Tara this post is too funny! I never really thought about how often I use mine (especially to heat water for tea!). I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming microwave-free days - I can only imagine that it'll be the hardest at beginning like any habit that you try to break

  2. probably, at least until i figure out what works and what doesn't- i put a dish in the toaster oven today and it cracked! sooooo, note to self... i did manage meatloaf for the first time last night, thawing the bison (yum) in water and baking it in the grownup oven- no microwave! lol i probably shouldn't be that proud of it but it felt like an accomplishment ;)

  3. Laughed at this post! So funny!! Also for the berries I usually just run them under hot water for a minute and they're fine :p won't win this one, Microwave!

    1. that's pretty good, water! (lol) my repertoire of microwave-free techniques hasn't been growing very quickly, i mostly rely on 'toaster oven' and 'eat it cold' but now i will add 'use water' to the list! move over julia and julia...
      thanks for reading!