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Microwaves


M. Lucia
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I grew up in a house that didn't have (and still doesn't have) a microwave, in an age when everyone else did. We just never saw the need for one and I always noticed the different taste/texture microwave cooking imparted.

My microwave snobbery has continued, despite teasing from friends, and I can immeadiately tell if something has been heated in a microwave. I hate nuked potatoes.

However, when I moved into my apt. about a year ago it had a microwave (and dishwasher). It has sat on top of the fridge relatively unused until recently. I only use it very rarely, like to make grits on rushed mornings. I melted chocolate in it once. I use the microwave at the studio to heat up soup occaisonally for lunch. All in all though I find it rather insiduous.

So what do you use the microwave for? How often do you use it?

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I use our microwave everyday, but only to heat my wheaties, uh, wheat bag things that I like instead of hot water bottles.

Otherwise mum uses it for her herbal tea, I use it to cook steam bags of veggies (dont like the texture much though) or haggis, haggis is really good microwaved, tastes just the same. Microwaved steam puddings, syrup or jam, make a good standby on a cold night.

That's pretty much it here.

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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For the very few times I used it and for the very few jobs it did adequately, it occupied far too much real estate! I got rid of my microwave some years ago and have absolutely no regrets.

Now my countertop convection/toaster oven is another story. Never a day goes by that I don't use that.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I use mine I confess to start my baked potatoes then I finish them in a convection oven.

I use it for popcorn and melting butter. Occassionally Ryan will reheat pizza in it.

that's about it. I always melt chocolate on the cooktop, I don't know why.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I use mine all the time, but only for those things that it does well. The microwave works great for heating and reheating liquids: I used mine an hour ago at dinner (soup leftover from last night). I use it almost every morning at breakfast for making oatmeal: it's fast, easy and doesn't get a pot dirty. It's good at warming up leftovers, and as Marlene mentions, it excels at melting butter. I wouldn't reheat pizza in it, as that ruins the texture of the crust, but I would reheat sauce for pasta.

It's all about picking the right tool for the job.

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I don't actually cook anything in my microwave, but it is good for various things:

It is great for getting a mug of water boiling quickly for a cup of tea in the morning.

It is great for proofing dough by boiling a cup of water in it, then jamming the dough into it and shutting the door, the steam from the water will keep it nice and warm while it rises.

It is pretty much the only way I defrost meat, because I never think to put out what I will be cooking the next day an entire day in advance.

It is handy for warming up fillings for things, such as a pile of pastrami, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese to be stuffed into a reuben.

It is handy to soften butter or cream cheese for baking purposes.

Obviously boxed foods such as flax-meal cereal or frozen dinners (heh, don't scoff, the frozen spinach and paneer dinner from the local Indian market is actually really good) are much easier in the microwave, and don't taste any worse for it.

Reheating leftovers such as collard greens, casseroles, eggplant lasagna, or mashed cauliflour works very well, anything with a pretty basic texture.

Also, it is handy to quick steam vegetables, especially frozen ones, like the TJs broccoli one can pick up for $1.50 a bag.

What I DON'T do with it is:

Cook any meat: Meat needs to have a char to really taste good (well, other than steamed stuff and all that), and the microwave won't do that, it also makes lean proteins way too rubbery. Actually, even though fatty meats fare far better, they still aren't perfect. I know a lot of people who like to microwave bacon, but it just doesn't work for me.

Toast spices: someone once told me this would be a good idea, it isn't, the seeds explode and your microwave, and anything that comes out of it, smells like cumin for the next month.

Cook eggs: Again, they just turn to weird lumps of egg-rubber.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I use mine to defrost meat. I'm lousy at remembering to take meat out of the freezer a day or more in advance (that would require planning!), and I've learned how long and in what positions the meat needs to be for maximum defrosting. For this purpose alone it's worth having one.

I use it to melt butter.

I use it to steam vegetables - I have a glass Pyrex bowl that is just about perfect for it. Put in frozen vegetables, set them timer, no need to have another pot on the stove.

I use it to make quick quesadillas: cheese, tortilla, fold in half, nuke 45 seconds - 1 minute depending on the size of the tortilla.

I like it for reheating some leftovers, but for soups and stuff, especially if I'm reheating multiple servings at once, I prefer the stovetop. I think it does a better job, although I'll often defrost them in the microwave and then finish up in a pot.

I love cooking bacon in it. I have a microwave bacon pan that I got with my first microwave - that microwave is long gone, but the bacon pan is still in service. It catches the grease nicely in case I want to use it for frying eggs. And honestly, I can't tell the difference between microwaved bacon or pan fried - I do it both ways, but keep going back to the microwave.

I use it to heat up the cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches. I don't melt it - just bring it up to room temperature so when I grill the sandwich, the cheese gets to melting temperature faster. This avoids the burned bread/cold cheese variant.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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I have friends who use the microwave more than they use the stove, which is scary.

Of course, I am a student.

My vegetable steamer is the one pot that always sits on my stove, and it tastes so much better than nuked veges!

I usually store soup and other dishes in the pot/pan I made them in, so it's not dirtying any more dishes to reheat them on the stove or in the oven. I also wrap things in tin foil so that I can just pop them into the oven to reheat.

My favorite way to do bacon is actually in the oven (or toaster oven). And my mom makes the best quesadillas ever, so the idea of microwaved cheese is rather insipid (sorry).

The defrosting makes sense, I don't eat much meat so I've never had do it myself.

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For the very few times I used it and for the very few jobs it did adequately, it occupied far too much real estate!  I got rid of my microwave some years ago and have absolutely no regrets.

Same story here. When we moved from a house with a built-in microwave to one without, we assumed we would need to buy one. As the months went by, we never got around to it, but managed to do just fine with steaming veggies and melting butter--the two main uses for the old on--on the stovetop. It's been close to a year now, and at this point there's no way I'd give up the counter space for one.

Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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I use it mostly for melting butter, making popcorn, and cooking some veggies, like potatoes and corn on the cob, when you just want to cook one or two ears, it's perfect.

I also use it for reheating leftover pasta or heating up sauce.

What I use it for more than anything else though, is just as a timer, I set the level to 0 and then punch in the time for whatever I'm cooking.

Other than that, it doesn't get much use.

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I mostly use mine to steam veggies for dinner.

However I recently saw you can make risotto in the microwave. It wasn't that great, but that was probably because I decided to adjust the recipe (wrongly). Sigh - story of my life. Will try this again - but only on a week night when the need to cook quickly is there.

I love my microwave oven. It melts butter. If I'm making cookies and I forgot to take the butter out so it is room temperature (a critical component for cookies!!) a microwave can attempt this.

Chicken/Beef Stock - ok - who really has time to make stock?????? I would love to make stock once a month but gimme a freekin break, I'd also like to clean my closet (desk, other closet....) Put a cube of chicken boullion in a 2 cup glass measure add a cup of water, nuke 3 minutes and voila!

Cindy G

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”

~ Doug Larson ~

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It looks like it's almost universal: The microwave is a pretty good quick vegetable steamer. That's what mine gets used for most often.

After that, it's probably nuking microwaved popcorn--though I've recently rediscovered the better taste of popcorn popped on the stovetop, covered with real butter or powdered Cheddar.

Then there's heating up water, and reheating leftovers. And I use it to make quick cheese dips with salsa or chili.

If I'm short on time, I will nuke a potato in the microwave. I also used to cook meatloaf in the microwave, but I noticed that the bottom of the loaf would always be rock-hard.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I just went four years without a microwave, then bought a new condo with one built into my new kitchen. I can't say I've used it much in the first month, but I did find one useful thing for it: Marie Callendar's pot pies, which take about an hour in a regular oven, only take about 5 minutes in the nuker, and the crisping sleeve gives the crust a good texture. Since both of us were sick for the entire moving week, this was really a godsend.

But oddly enough, I don't even melt butter in mine most of the time. I have a tall metal cup that I use on the stove for melting, and it has a convenient handle, pour spout and markings for measuring, so it's a great excuse to go ahead and use the gas stove. My boyfriend sometimes reheats coffee in the microwave, but I always wrinkle my nose at him, because I don't even like to think about reheating coffee.

I guess I'd use it to reheat plain white rice or some types of Chinese and Indian leftovers.

Oh, and marshmallows are good in a microwave. Maybe I should buy a bag.

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A few things I've found it to be better than other implements.

Making croutons in the MW is quick and doesn't need a pan. Cut into cubes, put on a plate, zap for 1 min, toss around, zap for 1 min, toss, zap for 30s, drizzle with EVOO & minced garlic, zap for 20 seconds.

Defrosting meat for when you want to slice it thinly. You need the meat firm but cuttable. Conventional defrosting leaves the outside too soft and the inside too hard.

Reducing small amounts of liquid. You can do it in a bowl so you lose less than doing it in the saucepan.

PS: I am a guy.

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My wife uses it to make chai latte every morning......cold low fat milk frothed up and then "set" by the microwave for 30 seconds....it stiffens the mixture enough to hold the bubbles..

That is pretty much the only use besides the odd defrosting..

The one at the restaurant is for melting chocolate...although a few months back the sous-chef was making a foam for a tasting menu being assessed by the owners who after seating and plating started decided to wait ...the foam ended up in the microwave and held just fine for the delayed plating....the sous chef said he didn't want to know where I learned that "method"...I didn't tell him...

:wink:

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Reheating leftovers, particularly if we're doing very casual family dinner leftovers, in which everybody gets whatever they want out of the fridge and assembles his own plate. Otherwise I'd end up with about 10 small pots/pans to wash (in addition to the now-empty storage containers), entirely beside the point on those evenings we're having leftovers for dinner.

I pretty much never use it to heat up beverages, though I think my husband uses it to heat milk for his coffee.

We don't eat much popcorn, and I find the smell of it heating in the microwave a bit nauseating (in part because I used to work in a cinema).

Frozen vegetables (like spinach and peas, the sort that come in a little clear plastic package) work well in the microwave. Again, since I can heat them in the serving dish I save washing one pan.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Things I use it for :-

Heating up leftover stews, chillis etc

Cooking rice - This stems from when I only had two working hobs - you really are just boiling the water, and letting it steam away (How I do it anyway)

Occasionally for softening butter.

Cooking the steam in the packet veggies I occasionally buy if feeling very lazy!

Part cooking potatoes for baking, 8 min in th emicrowave and a blast in a hot oven for 20-30mins - not quite as good, but also half the time as doing it properly.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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There has been a "chef Mike" at every restaurant I have cooked for, except one, and we could have used it!!

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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Leftovers. Melting frozen things. The boyfriend also likes to nuke hotdogs. (I prefer to fry them into little octopi.)

Except we have no microwave right now. Right now, we have a saucepan and a wok and no Tupperware. So I have been diligently serving up servings for two and only two.

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