I Don’t Have A Microwave

January 17, 2008 | By | COMMENTS

Last night, I cooked a spontaneous lasagna for six friends after which I served them delicious Meyer lemon bars. One of these friends, who we’ll call “Mark,” hadn’t eaten all day and despite all the food I stuffed him with was still hungry. Luckily I had leftover cauliflower pasta from last week in the fridge (don’t worry, it still tasted good) and I was happy to hand it over when he casually asked, “Where’s your microwave?”

I don’t have a microwave. Diana (my old roommate, his girlfriend) had one and when she moved out she took it with her. I don’t miss it.

Why?

1. I like popping popcorn on the stove;

2. I think microwaving your food changes its structural integrity. The leftover cauliflower pasta, for example, was–in my humble opinion–perfectly cooked. If we’d nuked it, it would’ve gotten mushier and the cauliflower would’ve turned soggy. I much prefer it cold from the fridge.

Not so my guests. They all thought I was crazy when I espoused reason #2 as a reason to eat the pasta cold. They colluded against me and did something that Craig does that drives me nuts: they dumped the pasta in a pot, added a little water, and stirred it around on medium heat. Mark gobbled it up and said it was delicious.

Delicious if you like things WITHOUT STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY.

What’s your take on this, dear reader? Do you side with me and find microwaves unnecessary? Or do you love your microwave, do you cook potatoes in it, do you tan yourself in front of it on weekends? Inquiring microphobes want to know.

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  • Alexandra

    I got rid of my microwave a few months ago, and haven’t really missed it at all! I have very little counter space, and having a great big box on the counter that I only used occasionally (to melt butter) was not a good use of space. I also eat food from the fridge cold, rather than reheated, and I like homemade popcorn better than commercial microwave popcorn (and it SMELLS so much better!)

    I love your blog! Your tiramisu recipe is fabulous!

  • mike

    My microwave is essential to me, mostly because I cook food Chinese family style so there are always some leftovers.

    Reheating anything in any method changes its structural integrity. Food gets soggy because of the steaming action created inside the microwave. Reheating anything that’s already “perfectly cooked” will mess with it, microwave or not. This is like the food snob version of those people who are proud of not owning a television.

  • Joseph

    I am a high school teacher and somehow the subject came up recently in my lecture that I didn’t own a micro-wave. The students thought I was kidding and when convinced they stated that life wasn’t possible without a micro-wave. I don’t like cooking pasta twice and would never warm it up and if I did have left-over I would eat it cold. My boyfriend also warms it up and everytime he does he says, we need to get a micro-wave- over my dead body!

  • mike

    My microwave is essential to me, mostly because I cook food Chinese family style so there are always some leftovers.

    Reheating anything in any method changes its structural integrity. Food gets soggy because of the steaming action created inside the microwave. Reheating anything that’s already “perfectly cooked” will mess with it, microwave or not. This is like the food snob version of those people who are proud of not owning a television.

  • http://www.bounteous-bites.blogspot.com Evelin

    Living without a microwave? Noooooooo waaaaay, I need it too much.

    I want to make tea just for myself, so I need to heat water. Let’s say I need melted butter when I bake. Or maybe I just want to make a quick warm cheese sandwich.

    Well, of course, nothing can beat heating up frozen pizza in the microwave so that the whole kitchen is FULL of DARK GREY smoke afterwards. Those days are over, fortunately!:D

  • http://woundedchef.blogspot.com Julia

    i’ve been lobbying to get rid of the microwave in my apartment – like you i make popcorn over the stove, boil water for tea on the stove, and have discovered that soaking meat in water is a much better defrosting method than using the microwave. i dont often heat up leftovers at home but if i did, i would do it over the stove similar to your friends. i just don’t like having that scary hunking appliance taking up all the room on my teeny nyc kitchen counter!

  • JudieJ

    In our house, if the microwave and/or crock pot go out – so do we!

  • Jessica

    I like my microwave….but I’m not excited by it. I really only use it to thaw out chicken and make popcorn for my daughter. While I enjoy popping corn on the stove, I don’t want to spend the time to do it every night (child is obsessed with popcorn).

  • http://thegonzogrift.livejournal.com Chantalle

    Depends on what it is that you’re cooking. If it’s 2:30 in the morning and you have a huge craving for mac&cheese by all means, nuke to your little hearts content… but if they’re well made leftovers (like… let’s say cauliflower pasta) then no.

    Anyone who can cook decently, will tell you that you don’t just cook for taste, you cook for texture, and overcooking food greatly upsets the required texture. Particularly in cauliflower’s case.

    I’m going to side with you on this one. Food cold from the fridge is better… but there are some occassions where a microwave is required.

    But, for the record… I never use mine.

  • the savory librarian

    I’ve lived for 14 years without a microwave and outside of reheating beverages, never missed it. I agree that reheating of any sort changes the structure of the food, but microwaves are the worst IMHO. Turns food soggy like you describe, plus I often find that the reheating is uneven depending on the items involved. I also think microwave reheating can change the taste of certain foods, but I’m willing to bet that’s just me. I reheat some items in the oven, but am more likely to just eat the previously cooked leftover cold. It’s interesting to try foods cold – especially new recipes – as I’m able to taste certain elements in different degrees than when the food was served hot. If I’m trying to duplicate a hot recipe by just trying the dish, tasting it cold always helps. Your mileage may vary.

  • joanne

    The microwave is used to reheat leftovers. Structural integrity is not the biggest factor in feeding a pre-teen boy. It’s quantity. How many different dishes can you reheat quickly so the never ending stomach gets full. I have a hot water pot, so I’ve always got water for tea on the go, and make popcorn on the stove.

  • http://www.curiousinsanity.blogspot.com Shreyashi Ganguly

    I like my food hot… unless its meant to be eaten cold.

    So its either

    a) with the water in the stove

    b) the microwave.

    Can’t imagine a life without hot food :)

    therefore, Microwave stays in my house, for its absolute simplicity

  • Michelle

    Adam, you are not alone out there. I too am microwave-less. I actually grew up sans microwave (as the daughter of a paranoid, radation-phobe) and though I had one during college and various roommates had them subsequent to that, once I moved into my own place I had no urge to buy one of my own. Frankly, storage is at such a premium that I was much more excited to use the space for a standing mixer…

  • Jenna

    Good point Adam, now that I think about it, I really only use my microwave to defrost frozen spinach or things like that. I could definitely see myself living without it. Cold pasta is always better than reheating it!

  • http://road2epiphany.wordpress.com Neil

    My microwave caught on fire last year, and, at the time, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to live without a new one. But time passed, and I was lazy and never replaced it. Now I don’t miss it. In fact, I feel like I’ve become a better cook because of my lack of a microwave. I’ve had to really learn how my stove works, so that now I’m better able to predict and adjust the heat.

    I reheat my leftover pasta, but I tend to do it with the “boil in a bag” method. It’s so gentle that it doesn’t effect the food too much. I also melt butter with the exhaust heat at the back of the cooktop.

  • http://cerebralpalsybaby.blogspot.com Shannon

    We have a microwave. It comes in handy when our three-year old is clamoring for chicken nuggets and can’t wait the 13-18 minutes for the oven to cook them. Otherwise, I don’t use it much.

    When we bought our boat, it came with a microwave on it. We threw it out and put a toaster oven onboard instead. I’d rather have fresh bread and cookies than microwaved stuff.

  • http://commonculinarian.com Hal

    I agree, any thing in the Microwave is different from when you first cook it, no doubt. However, I, personally, would rather have structurally different (not always bad) food than cold food. If the dish was meant to be served hot.

    Some things that stay out of the microwave for me? Fish and pizza. If I have left over fish (I usually don’t, though, making only enough for just this reason), I’ll reheat in the oven or in a skillet. Pizza, I just eat cold.

    I will say, the secret to microwave reheating is cooking low and slow. Cooking at full heat for a minute or two will yield bad results because the food does dry out. Reheat at 50% and test every minute or so. This is especially true for dairy based sauces… IMHO, at least.

  • Craig

    Adam, I wonder if you never learned how to use a microwave properly? If you use it correctly, it shouldn’t do the things you accuse it of, like affect structural integrity. Like any oven, it does take a little bit more thought than just turning it on–you need to become familiar with different power levels, etc.

    I could care less about popcorn and heating water–things I never do in a microwave. Try making a reduction in the microwave, especially of something that scorches easily, like fruit purees–the microwave is the superior tool. I also do a lot of baking, and I love that I can bring butter to room temperature in a minute instead of an hour. The are just a couple of examples of the correct use of an available tool.

    The microwave, like any tool, is excellent for some tasks and poor for others. I wonder if there isn’t some snobbery underlying some people’s loudly-proclaimed rejection of the microwave. You never hear a diatribe on the toaster, an even less useful tool (but still excellent for the jobs it was designed to do). In summary, I agree with your friends and family, you protest too much!

  • md

    Microwaves are evil! I’ve been without one for six years. I haven’t missed it for a second. Need to melt butter? Put it in a tiny pot on the burner for a minute. I’m with you, AG, cold leftovers are delicious, however, I know many people hate that. So when we reheat, we use the oven. Cover any leftovers with some foil and put them in a 350 oven (don’t even wait for the oven to heat up). I would never add water to leftover pasta. Anything can be reheated in the oven, even rice, steamed vegetables. It’s not the same as fresh-cooked food, of course. But is it supposed to be? And nothing changes the “structural integrity,” taste and texture of food like the microwave.

  • MissMacchiato

    “…they dumped the pasta in a pot, added a little water, and stirred it around on medium heat.”

    I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

  • http://www.mattikaarts.com/blog Matt Wright

    I am with you there mate – we don’t have a microwave either. When we moved into this house there wasn’t one, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to buy one.

    You are right, it changes the structural integrity of food. A lot of research also shows that it certainly isn’t the healthiest way to heat food – a lot of nutrients are lost, not to mention radiation issues.

    I don’t miss it. I don’t miss a microwave at all. Friends and family think we are daft not having one, but we never used the microwave we had in our old place anyhow. You can reheat food perfectly well in the oven or stove top, if you add a little moisture, and things don’t get that “microwave mush” either.

  • http://www.smallwalls.com Andrew

    I lived without one for two years in Australia, and didn’t miss it at all. Not like I had the counter space for it anyway at the time.

    Now I have one again, and while it does get used occasionally, I definitely could manage without it.

  • http://fallingnluvbrooklynfoodie.blogspot.com/ Koren

    I am sorta anti-microwaves for the same reasons (and I am a little suspicious about the radiation). I have one now, because I have roomates, and I do use if for heating up leftovers, but I spent many years without one and never missed it. I would heat up leftovers on the stove or in a toaster oven (great for heating a single serving of leftover casseroles, etc). I learned a great way to reheat leftovers such as rice or other grains — by steaming. I ate lots of brown rice and would always make a big batch and then reheat it this way, which actually refreshes the food. I am also a huge fan of popcorn popped on the stove (in a little peanut oil) and really don’t like the microwaved stuff.

  • Moira

    I went microwave-less for years and I mostly concur with you. However, it is good for reheating things like chili, curry or stew. It also steams vegetables very well. With pasta – I usually put it in for like thirty seconds on high and toss it, then put it in for like another 20 seconds and it doesn’t change the structure that much. But I always make my pasta al dente to start with.

    In terms of stove top reheating – have you tried taking a pot with a steamer and a little bit of water with a lid on and steaming for a couple of minutes? That is an alternate plan to the adding water directly into the pasta when reheating on the stove top.

  • http://cultofdomesticity.blogspot.com laura

    The #1 thing I use my micro for is melting butter. I also use it for heating stock when I’m making something that has to be thickened with cornstarch. And, heating apple cider. I also like to pre-cook potatoes/sweet potatoes in the micro before i bake or roast them–that way I can have dinner in 1/2 hour instead of an hour when I get home from work!

  • http://cultofdomesticity.blogspot.com laura

    The #1 thing I use my micro for is melting butter. I also use it for heating stock when I’m making something that has to be thickened with cornstarch. And, heating apple cider. I also like to pre-cook potatoes/sweet potatoes in the micro before i bake or roast them–that way I can have dinner in 1/2 hour instead of an hour when I get home from work!

  • http://thatpants.blogspot.com melissa pants

    We primarily use our microwave for reheating coffee…once you’re on the 3rd cup, the liquid in the coffeemaker is pretty cold (leaving it on the “warming” function results in burnt coffee, sadly).

  • http://thatpants.blogspot.com melissa pants

    We primarily use our microwave for reheating coffee…once you’re on the 3rd cup, the liquid in the coffeemaker is pretty cold (leaving it on the “warming” function results in burnt coffee, sadly).

  • http://www.foodinmouth.com/ danny

    Structural integrity? Maybe I’m lost… but do you mean on a cellular level? If so, then there is no way to apply heat/energy to anything without affecting structural integrity?

    Alton Brown had one show where he talked about microwaves. I remember him saying basically the microwave sends out energy, and those waves of energy basically cause the molecules to move around and heat up. When you do that, if the water molecules gain too much energy, they evaporate, and maybe that’s what you mean by structural integrity since some foods dry out easily.

    One thing I do is to just use a wet paper towel and cover whatever is going into the microwave or add a few drops of water into the bowl and stir it around before nuking it. Once you create a steaming type of environment, it shouldn’t change the structural integrity as much (hopefully).

  • http://catseatsocks.livejournal.com Melissa A.

    I could live without it, but it comes in handy for reheating lunches at work, especially since I freeze stuff just for lunch. Most of the time it turns out just fine. If I didn’t have it, I’d just use the stove or toaster oven. I don’t cook food with it though. Though right now I don’t have a kettle, so I use it to boil water for tea. I figure it probably uses less energy than the stove.

  • http://sseichinger.blogspot.com/ scotte

    I have a microwave. 95% of the time it is used as a breadbox or to store sweets. I used to have an ant problem and no matter where I put the sweets, the ants found them…ick! The rest of the time the microwave is used for reheating food that should be served hot…quickly for lunch. If a meal was originally served hot, the leftovers need to be hot.

  • Emily

    It’s not really a matter of learning how to use one properly. It’s true that most of the nutrients are lost when you zap food, since microwave heat isn’t just like regular heat from an oven, toaster, or toaster oven. Since it uses radiation to heat (instead of just plain HEAT to heat), it can and does change the value of the vitamins and nutrients. Sure, you can use it to “cook,” but it nearly destroys much of your food’s nutritional integrity.

  • http://slmcdanold.blogspot.com/ Shana

    I didn’t have a microwave for years. My friends thought I was nuts and can’t understand how I survived. When the one I had (which was really only good for warming things like tomato sauce up) conked out, I was a poor grad student so I couldn’t replace it. I never missed it. It forced me to be a better cook by not having one.

    Now that I have one again (a friend had one they were getting rid of, so it was free), I find I use it very very rarely. More for defrosting or heating up a can of soup when I’m sick than anything else. I have an electric kettle, a toaster, and am used to using my stove top or oven to reheat. I specifically chose the dishes I did because they’re able to withstand heat up to 375 degrees so I could put them directly into the oven when reheating meals (gotta love Denby)!

  • http://catseatsocks.livejournal.com Melissa A.

    I could live without it, but it comes in handy for reheating lunches at work, especially since I freeze stuff just for lunch. Most of the time it turns out just fine. If I didn’t have it, I’d just use the stove or toaster oven. I don’t cook food with it though. Though right now I don’t have a kettle, so I use it to boil water for tea. I figure it probably uses less energy than the stove.

  • http://ilfornaio.blogspot.com Carly

    I’ve been without a microwave for 4 years and the only time I have ever thought that I would like one is when my coffee gets cold, there’s no more in the pot, and I’d like to heat it up. Otherwise, everything really does taste better heated in the oven or on the stove. I do use the microwave in my office– it is the only heat source here– but I’m generally a soup-for-lunch girl and that heats up fine in the microwave.

  • http://annesfood.blogspot.com Anne

    I absolutely hate cold leftovers. I usually prefer heating things on the stove though – it seems to be easier to control – but if I’m only heating a small portion, I usually use the microwave. Yes indeedy.

  • Tiffany

    I only use my microwave to defrost.

    However, I would totally have warmed the pasta on the stove. Yes, it messes with the texture but that is balanced by not eating dishes that are best served hot cold. Maybe, room temperature, but not cold.

  • tricia

    I have to agree with you, Adam. My husband and I used to have a microwave, but found we didn’t have room for it when we moved to our new house. I don’t miss it at all. I only used it for either melting butter (which I now do on the stove) or thawing food (which I now put in a bowl of water). I either eat leftovers cold, or reheat them on the stove, or in the oven. I don’t necessarily agree with you about reheating pasta though. Pasta reheated in a pan can be very good.

  • http://themodernapron.blogspot.com TD

    I despise microwaves, but like cars, they seem to be a necessary evil in my life. I have four small children, hence microwaved…everything. At work I can either choose to eat my leftovers stone cold, or heat them up in the microwave. I have a mental ring around the day that my children will be old enough to wait more than 45 seconds for food, and when I will no longer be employed (these dates probably coincide, actually), and will never ever ever use a microwave again.

    As for the argument that I don’t know the correct way to microwave things (which I have heard before from friends who are enthusiastically pro-microwave), I say there IS no way to use it that it wouldn’t compromise the food quality. It either dries it out and makes it tough (bread-type products), makes it rubbery and chewy (meat products), or makes it soggy and limp (pretty much everything else).

    I don’t go around preaching to people who have microwaves about why they shouldn’t use themm, so why do the people that I know who have them feel they have a life-fulfilling mission to convert me to a lover? It’s very weird. I think those little waves do something to their brains.

  • tim

    I have never been without a microwave. If I’m working long hours (and since my bf doesn’t cook) its frozen dinner or leftovers time. And I am not sure what microwaves you’ve owned over the years but I have never had the issue of leftover food turning to ‘mush’ in the microwave. And furthermore I can’t stand cold leftovers.

    @Matt Wright

    Microwaves keep more of the nutrients than cooking over a stovestop. And all studies on ‘microwaves being bad’ that I have seen have been produced by those that are against science and advances in technology (the anti-GE crowd for instance). Therefor they are not to be taken seriously.

  • zeep

    I have a microwave but use it only as a last resort. I always prefer heating my leftovers in/on a stove, although it obviously takes longer.

  • Andrea

    MMMMMM cold leftovers. It is so much better than heating it up again. The flavors all seem to pop even better than when the dish was hot. It is my favorite way to eat dressing(stuffing) on the day after Thanksgiving!

  • Maria

    I haven’t owned one. When I moved away for university I never thought of buying one, and I never really miss it. Leftovers are perfectly fine cold, or if need-be reheated at a low temperature in the oven.

  • http://northernvegan.blogspot.com jill

    I have a microwave but the most it ever gets used for is heating up water. and then only to add to a roux, tea must have water from the kettle.

    I have cleaned sponges in the microwave before, heating them to kill bacteria.

    maybe I’m a food snob, but if I have something that must be reheated, I’ll warm it in the oven or on the stovetop.

  • http://maefood.blogspot.com Mae

    Try Julie Sahni’s book “The Moghul Microwave” for a startling discourse on Indian slow cooking results you can get in the microwave. She essentially views this appliance as a substitute for a servant who stirs the pot all day. The results are amazing.

    Also good for melting chocolate as an ingredient.

  • http://breakingeggs.com Berit

    Wow. Scrolling down the comments I felt weirder and weirder. Do that many people have microwaves? I guess I’m in the same camp as Adam. Microwaves are completely useless. Well, I do have to admit I agree with Laura that they are good for melting butter. I did work in a kitchen where there was a microwave and melting butter is all we used it for.

    I do dissent from Adam, however, when it comes to reheating things. Yes, I eat a lot of my leftovers cold, but mostly because I don’t want to dirty another dish or because I’m too hungry. But even though the original dish is changed, there are many ways to reheat leftovers. One way is similar to what Adam’s friends did, but I never just add water. When I make stock I pour some into ice cube trays and then use these stock-cubes to create the liquid buffer sometimes needed to warm something up. Mushiness might entail, but flavor is not compormised. (By the way, warming something up on the stove top takes as long as it does in a microwave.)

  • Nicole

    Microwave technology has improved drastically over the past number of years, and though I’m not much of a microwave cook myself you can do quite a bit with a convection microwave these days. I concur with melting butter being its top use in my kitchen, but I do hear that steaming vegetables in the mwo is a really good way to retain the nutrients by cooking ‘em quickly.

    At work I reheat my lunch often, and the only way to do so is the mwo – I am not a fan of cold leftovers unless it was meant to be that way. Which it wasn’t!

    P.S. Cauliflower pasta? Recipe please, or point me in right direction. Sounds yummy.

  • http://breadchick.com breadchick

    I was firmly in your camp Adam until last April when I took a job change that required me to be remotely located M-F and renting a room without a kitchen where I was only allowed a microwave with less than 600W of power. I learned too cook some pretty fantastic things in the microwave, including cakes and pasta. I did risottos and pastas. I made rice dishes. The only thing I hated was I couldn’t fry or braise things but I did that on the weekend.

    Was everything exactly the same as when I cook on the stovetop? Would I do a dinner party using the microwave as my only appliance? No, but when I’m really pressed for time, I know I can make a pretty good meal from it and I can’t imagine melting butter without mine.

  • Brent

    The microwave is a kitchen tool like any other (though unlike a toaster, more uses). Learn to use it correctly to do the things it does well. Don’t use it for things it doesn’t do well.

    Don’t fetishize your food. “Structural integrity”? C’mon! I nearly fainted from the altitudinal pretension levels.

    And for the radiation-phobes: please pick up and read a basic text on physics, or wikipedia. You’re embarrassing yourselves. (For example, all heat is radiation.)

  • http://thebrooklynnester.blogspot.com Brooklyn Bitch

    The only time I EVER use my microwave is when a recipe calls for melted butter. But for the most part, it’s an extremely large paperweight.

    I look at the microwave in the same way that I look at the food processor, when used for pastry making.

    The best of the best was made by hand or by nature. So, lose the electric gadgets and get back to the prep methods that nature intended.

  • http://jannamo.wordpress.com Janna

    Another Microwave-Free Household here. I occasionally miss it when I want a quick reheat of something like split pea soup, but we’ve become quite accustomed to cold leftovers. Viva Structural Integrity!!

  • zeep

    Ok… I just had to pop back in here and that PIZZA is the one thing you should always eat cold versus reheating (at leastin a microwave). Always.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    I am a pastry enthusiast, so I boil milk and cream, melt butter and chocolate in the microwave. Filipinos eat a lot of stews and such, and they’re almost better after a reheat in the microwave. Sometimes I use a double boiler, if I want a gentle heat to dissolve gelatin with. I use an oven toaster for pizza. Leftover gratin goes in the oven. Leftover pasta gets a new crunch in a dry skillet.

    There’s a good use for everything, which is good especially if you do everything :)

  • http://www.restaurantwidow.com lisa the waitress

    I’m in the no-microwave camp. I don’t consider it snobby, it just doesn’t feel as though you have any control over your cooking if it’s heating in the microwave. That being said, I can totally understand how you need one if you had children. I wouldn’t have wanted to wait 25 minutes for my chicken nuggets to bake in the oven, either.

    We also don’t have a toaster (we toast under the broiler), we boil water in a tea kettle, eat leftovers cold or heat them in the oven, etc. and defrost everything in a bowl, in the sink, under cold running water (years in the restaurant biz will teach you it’s the best way).

    But, you might have gotten out of the argument if you had told your friend it was pasta salad (just a thought).

  • http://www.spicedish.typepad.com EB

    Do I have one? Yes… it was a recent Christmas gift… how many times has it been used since then? Once. Late night, drunken, Thai food reheating. I’m not a huge fan… but I’m not a snob against it either. I’m sure one day I’ll thank my lucky stars I’ve got it. Dunno why… but there will come a day…

    EB

  • Marti

    I was watching America’s Test Kitchen the other day and they said that the one time they found the microwave to be far superior than any other means of cooking was when they were making squash. They admitted it, and said that it was a first. So if you one day become a desperate squash fiend, you might want to look into a microwave.

  • http://eatables.wordpress.com/ Delilah Hinman

    I use my microwave occasionally, but we don’t have too many leftovers in my kitchen. I like reheating my food up in the oven if it needs to be warm.

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    You can’t eat every leftover cold! Hence, the microwave (Read: I love my microwave).

  • http://thyme2.typepad.com katie

    I’ve been known to soften butter in mine…

    And occasionally, if I’m desperate, I’ll thaw frozen spinach (I like to add it to burgers, meat loaf, etc. – integrity not an issue)

    So, If it was gone it would probably take me months to notice it.

    Come to think of it…..

  • http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot.com/ Clare

    I wouldn’t cook anything in the microwave but it’s fine for reheating. You just have to play with the settings depending on what you are nuking.

    I used to blow up fish fillets all the time before I realized you could set the power to 50% and warm it up slowly. I’ve found that this actually helps keep the structual integrity of the fish. With stuff like chili or stew or pasta, I find absolutely no difference in flavor or texture when nuking.

    BTW, pizza is best when reheated in the oven.

  • cookbot

    Just today I used my microwave for just about the only reason it ever gets fired up: melting my leg hair wax!

  • http://lydiaskinner.com Lydia

    I went without a microwave for a couple of years, and it wasn’t too inconvenient. I only use it for reheating food and thawing out food in a meat emergency. I use a kettle for tea, and I hate microwave popcorn. Have you heard of popcorn packers’ lung?

  • http://saucepiquantesworld.blogspot.com Sauce Piquante

    Because I’m from South Louisiana, I generally cook for about ten people, even if there are only two of us around. So there are always leftovers that need to be reheated.

    I would never actually cook with a microwave though. It seems wrong to me in the way that crock pots do, because I like to sit with a dish and stir it and season it and mess with it. I can’t take the put the top on it and let it be ethos of the Crock Pot. Just can’t.

  • Elizabeth

    to add my two cents to the already full piggy bank -

    I used to think a microwave was indispensable – until I spent two months living in a country that lacks microwaves in every home/apartment (think eastern europe).I still find it very convenient, but I think my microwave is my least used appliance (although my roommates use it constantly). There are certain foods that do need to be reheated (like mac and cheese made with a roux) and in that case I will use the microwave, although I find it is significantly better reheated on the stove with a little milk. (although I also should admit that I love my microwave’s ability to steam veggies and warm milk for said roux)

  • rebecca

    Hi Adam,

    I had a mwo for a few years until it finally died. I was nervous about using it at first, because I’m not fond of high-tech stuff, but gradually figued out its mysterious ways to quick-cook veggies and leftovers, and MAYBE reheat my coffee. I hated the way the big black door looked (like some black menacing hole (Darth Vader’s breadbox)) and taped a beautiful art print over it.

    After it died and we removed it from my pantry, where space is at a premium, I couldn’t believe how much precious space I’d been sacrificing for a tool I really could live without.And yes, this was while raising a husband and 4 growing sons.I decided that since I WAS home during the day, there was no point in adding more pressure to cooking by dashing between my pantry and my kitchen simultaneously paying attention to the rotating disc in the mwo and the pot(s) on the stove. I realized that I in fact liked bucking the speed trend in the kitchen, that cooking slow food was better for my heart and soul, and that I was happier not being rushed by tools that really didn’t expand my culinary skills by too awfully much. When taken in balance against the space and aesthetic concerns, I decided I was done with mwo’s.

    So….no, Adam, be not afraid of the slings and arrows foisted upon you. COoking is all about pleasure, is it not? And how you get there is not up for scrutiny.

    BTW, these same people seem to enjoy what you’re feeding them. Their criticisms seem rather, well, rude to me.

  • Jen

    My microwave sits in the far back of my pantry. Like you Adam, I would rather eat the food cold than make it into mush. So as I agree with #1 and #2 I add a #3…..It’s too dang big to sit out and take up all of that space. (And down right UGLY.)

    Also, there is nothing better than popcorn made on the stove. Have to admit I enjoyed some last night!

  • http://www.nomoredecorators.blogspot.com Andrea

    I use my microwave exclusively to heat up my magic bag, and c’est tout! It’s worth it only for that reason. Food doesn’t belong in there.

  • Grubbjunkie

    Got yourself in a little trouble using big words (“structural integrity) eh AG?

    I agree with you on microwave. I can see how a microwave is good for certain applications, and clearly some people have a lot more space than others so clutter is less of an issue. Personally, I don’t see it as a necessity and like to keep my kitchen as free from gadgets as possible. That said, I don’t often need to do the few things mentioned here that justify (to me) having a microwave.

    As for toasters, a toaster oven is far superior – and better than a microwave for pizza!! IMO slot-style toasters are silly, as are just about all single-purpose electric appliances.

  • Jazz

    Microwaves are a useful tool. Not essential, but useful.

    Microwaving food in some instances has less impact on the food than other forms of cooking. For example, cooking green beans in the microwave, will retain a lot more nutrients than if you boiled them.

    Some things reheat fine in the microwave (e.g.: rice, sauces) and don’t lose structural integrity. In some situations you have to worry about things getting too dry, since the microwave essentially just heats the water in the food.

    Lastly, you want good popcorn (no oil, no chemicals) put some kernels (1/3 cup), and only kernels, in a paper lunch bag and seal it up. pop it in the microwave just like you would with store bought microwave popcorn. Season it however you like.

  • valerie

    I got rid of my microwave about a year ago. I find I can heat/reheat everything on the stove, oven, and electric grill. My countertop space is too precious to waste it with the microwave. Also, I tend to eat healthier this way.

    I, too, am a fan of stove-popped popcorn.

    Here’s an article you might enjoy: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/12/microwave-free-for-145-days/

  • Joe in Madison

    I don’t own a microwave either. I only miss it for one thing, thawing stock. And that’s not much of a chore.

    Microwaves certainly change the texture and taste of food, and not for the better. Rubbery chicken, serperated cheese, soggy vegetables.

    And food that’s specifically made for the microwave just plain scares me.

    But I’m clearly in a minority. Most of my coworkers think I’m crazy.

    Microwave-aphobes unite!

  • panhandler

    I only eat live cows. Cooking their muscles changes the structural integrity.

  • Faye

    It just seems to me that using a stove or oven to do a lot of the small tasks that a microwave can do is just a horrible waste of energy.

  • http://gourmeted.com Joy

    The main use we have for microwave is for defrosting during desperate times (i.e. we forgot to defrost head in the fridge), and even then I hate it. The meat gets tough and it just isn’t the same!

    We own one because it’s pre-installed in our apartment, but after a long discussion with a friend whose dad is an environmental engineer, we’ll be using it less and less. Not only is it bad for food structurally and chemically, the radiation from one microwave oven can reach several apartments away based on their actual readings. Yikes!

  • Jessica

    Ok…I’m sort of shocked at how many people don’t have microwaves. I can’t ever remember not having one…and I’m not that young…pushing 30. I could understand if you don’t have the counterspace…which is why I love that mine is mounted under my cabinets above the range. We have a bit more space in Florida.

  • Rich

    I saw in some documentary that Orville Redenbacher preferred microwave popcorn. Just saying.

  • sqtip

    no microwave here. Tell you what, I eat a lot less without it. My apartment is just too small for one and I like my tea kettle. It’s le Creuset. If I make something that needs reheating, it’s lunch at work. But I also eat most of my meals at work.

  • http://rawinprogress.blogspot.com Kristi

    There are only a few tasks that I regularly use the microwave for – melting chocolate/butter, defrosting stock, reheating coffee/leftovers – and having grown up without a microwave, I’ve always considered it generally expendable.

    That is, until I discovered how easy it is to cook flawless, foolproof rice in the microwave.

    Never again will I frustrate myself with attempting to make rice on the stovetop, and someday when I have a garage sale I will sell the rice cooker that is now stashed away in my basement.

    Seriously, it is life-altering! Try it. You won’t be sorry.

  • Lili

    For starters, I have yet to discover the leftovers that didn’t taste better reheated in a skillet or the toaster oven. So, for leftovers, in my book, the basic microwave is right out (though others in my house use it quite frequently for ‘em). The convection function on the micro is different, though, to me it’s more efficient than the toaster oven with similar results.

    But, really, a normal microwave IS good for melting things like butter and chocolate, heating up a small amount of water, taking the chill off of stuff (cold milk into hot potatoes = mashed wallpaper paste) all without dirtying too many dishes or taking up precious burners. I also use it in a pinch to partially thaw frozen foods, never all the way, but at least halfway there, then use the cold-water method to take it the rest of the way. It speeds things along.

    Speaking of burners, since my microwave is convection, nothing frees up the stove when I’m ‘cooking big’ like mister microwave. Keep foods warm for service (thick insulated box, like a cooler), bake small things, etc. I guess mine doesn’t count since I use the convection part to do any heating-reheating, which is somewhat different.

    I dunno, I don’t think you’re giving the appliance a fair shot. Think past leftovers and nasty microwave popcorn, and you’ll probably wind up appreciating it more.

    Oh, and teach your people how to saute pasta dishes in some butter to reheat it. This works for everything from a delicate pasta and cauliflower, to something hearty like baked ziti. Yeah, it changes the nature of it, it dries out all but the soupiest of sauces, but it intensifies the flavors, and keeps the pasta firm. Haven’t you guys ever had fried spagetti for breakfast?

  • Emily

    I don’t have a microwave. The only time I ever wish I did is when I have leftover couscous that I would like to reheat. Most of that couscous will eventually go into a cold salad, which is just fine with me.

  • Lili

    One more thing…

    Dude…Structural integrity? Of leftovers? Taking ourselves a bit too seriously these days? I’ve been reading ya 3 of the 4 years, and I never thought I would smirk at one of your posts like I did while reading this.

  • http://twowoodensticks.typepad.com/two_wooden_sticks_and_a_b/ Cynthia

    I have been given two microwaves and have gotten rid of both of them. I am with you 100% on this; I prefer slow cooking – a stove, an oven (who cares if it takes a bit of time to reheat the food; it is still better than if it was nuked) or cold works for me. I don’t think microwaves are all that healthy – if it restructures the food, aside from the loss of the integrity of the food, what’s it doing to your body?

  • bcarter3

    I use a microwave oven for only 2 things:

    1. Re-heating chili.

    2. Nuking ice cream. Giving a bowl of ice cream 30 seconds on high melts it just enough to be perfect.

  • Jack

    I don’t usually use mine to reheat, preferring either to eat leftovers cold or use the toaster oven or oven, but my husband does not cook or really prepare food, and I work until past my kid’s bedtime 2-3 days a week. Without the microwave, they’d be living on cold cuts.

  • Susan

    I got rid of my microwave almost three years ago and I’ve never missed it.

    As for whether or not it changes the structural integrity of the food (and the nutritive value), I think it does. People seem to fall at either end of that argument though, and seldom in the middle.

    What I really don’t understand is why you need a microwave to melt butter. It takes about 2 minutes (if that) on the stovetop.

  • susan

    This is not a life or death issue (well, unless you leave something in the oven too long and it starts a fire and…). The microwave is a tool like any other and it’s good for some tasks and not for others.

    I use mine to reheat Thai food, melt chocolate, heat compresses for physical therapy, occasionally make popcorn and (rarely) bacon. It’s good at quick-blanching many vegetables, steaming fish filets, reheating stews and other leftovers and, yes, reheating coffee. It’s great for thawing many foods, if you pay attention.

    But don’t imagine you can cook hunks of meat or rewarm any kind of bread (try recrisping that pizza slize in a covered non-stick skillet). You wouldn’t try to boil water or make toast in a frying pan, even though in a pinch you probably could.

  • Kathryn

    the only reason I have a microwave is because my sister gave me her old one – it is use solely to heat up heating pads for sore necks, etc and for heating milk for my coffee when I am feeling too lazy to use the steamer

    c’est tout

  • andrenna

    I lived without a microwave for a long time, but my new apartment had one built in, so now I have one again! I don’t like making popcorn on the stove as much as in the microwave, I sadly admit. My boyfriend has one of those toaster ovens that are actual ovens, just smaller, and it cooks with some kind of wave. I can’t remember. I think that’s a good alternative, though, because it retains the “structural integrity” of the food (ha!) without having to heat up the stove. Nice balance!

  • elarael

    Microwaves have always seemed instinctively wrong to me and so I’ve always avoided them. Good restaurants never use them. And all I had to do is look them up online to get all the info I needed to confirm my intuition. It is so easy to just use the stove!

  • http://livingsmallblog.com Charlotte

    I could live without my microwave — I use it for reheating soup, or melting butter, or reheating cold tea … but my toaster oven — now that goes out of here over my dead body! I love my toaster oven — I live alone, so there’s a lot of reheating that goes on in the toaster oven. And I’m currently addicted to tartines — I don’t want ot heat up the big oven for that. Mmm. Melted cheese …

  • http://yulinkacooks.blogspot.com yulinka

    At home, no way, no how. I mean, every once in a while I might use the microwave to melt butter for baking or defrost meat when I’m in a real hurry, but generally I heat up leftovers, water, etc. on the stove. (Hint: tea maded with microwaved water and a tea bag tastes terrible).

    At work, it’s the microwave all the way. Since there’s no stove, I use the microwave daily heat up lunch, especially soup. I would seriously question a workplace without a microwave.

  • Darcy

    Completely with you on this. I never use the microwave and I hate what it does to food also. I also heard once that it kills the nutrients (I’m not sure about that, however), and even though it isn’t as good as the original version, it’s better than nutritionally-devoid mush.

  • Darcy

    Completely with you on this. I never use the microwave and I hate what it does to food also. I also heard once that it kills the nutrients (I’m not sure about that, however), and even though it isn’t as good as the original version, it’s better than nutritionally-devoid mush.

  • Carol

    Reading all this, two things are clear. One, microwave manufacturers are missing a major market niche – lots of us only need a small, space-saving vertical microwave that fits coffee mugs and/or butter melting containers. Second, the world is divided into those who understand that leftover cold food is an entirely different and exciting experience from its original heated version and those who are stuck in the highly overrated rut of needing hot food.

  • Carol

    Reading all this, two things are clear. One, microwave manufacturers are missing a major market niche – lots of us only need a small, space-saving vertical microwave that fits coffee mugs and/or butter melting containers. Second, the world is divided into those who understand that leftover cold food is an entirely different and exciting experience from its original heated version and those who are stuck in the highly overrated rut of needing hot food.

  • KimberlyDi

    I use the microwave for heating up canned soups or ravioli (for the kids). It is used for convenience, speed, and one less pot to wash afterwards. I could live without it though.

  • KimberlyDi

    I use the microwave for heating up canned soups or ravioli (for the kids). It is used for convenience, speed, and one less pot to wash afterwards. I could live without it though.

  • KimberlyDi

    I use the microwave for heating up canned soups or ravioli (for the kids). It is used for convenience, speed, and one less pot to wash afterwards. I could live without it though.

  • KimberlyDi

    I use the microwave for heating up canned soups or ravioli (for the kids). It is used for convenience, speed, and one less pot to wash afterwards. I could live without it though.

  • KimberlyDi

    I really didn’t mean to post 4 friggin times. Sorry.

  • http://www.postmodernfeeding.blogspot.com Sarah

    I use my microwave to make nachos, and to pop popcorn. Try as I might, I can’t come up with any other uses for it.

    And anytime I see a recipe that involves putting an ingredient in the microwave, the recipe goes straight into the trash.

    But I must say, the phrase ‘structural integrity’ has never entered my kitchen vernacular, other than maybe when we were BUILDING it. I can’t wait to use that in a sentence now…

  • Carmen

    I survived without a microwave for many years. Now I do have one, but I still usually reheat food either on the stove or in the oven as I feel like microwaved food does not stay warm for very long. But I do use the microwave to defrost frozen meat or fish if I haven’t thought ahead enough to take it out of the freezer beforehand and stick in the fridge. I also use the microwave to melt butter for baking.

  • http://amandarama.blogspot.com Amanda

    I have a microwave…but only because it came with the appliances in our condo. And every other microwave I’ve had has either been a hand-me-down from a parent or provided by former roommates.

    I don’t use it all that often. I’m not afraid of technology; I just like my stove and oven.

    We do use the microwave for the occasional reheat or defrost, but we are more likely to use it to zap butter or chocolate for baking. Or popcorn. And frozen peas or edamame seem to work well in there. I also steam broccoli in there. Wait, maybe I use it more than I think…

  • http://golikewater.blogspot.com Steven

    I don’t have one, and I only miss it when I need to melt butter or heat up leftover rice.

    Depends on the sauce, but a lot of pasta dishes are repulsive cold (I think), especially tomato sauces. Even if you don’t mind the chill, you’re losing flavor by eating it cold. So, do you let go of your obsession with it being perfectly cooked, or perfectly seasoned?

    If you’re not too heavy-handed, you can heat up pasta in a pan with a little water without cooking it noticeably more. Flip it instead of stirring it, that way you won’t tear it up. Add a little salt, maybe, depending on the dish, a squeeze of lemon and some cheese. It’s gonna be good. In fact, it might even be better than the first time.

  • me again

    Microwave ovens generally do not destroy nutrients in food:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/health/17real.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

  • James Sedlock

    Totally agree. I have a small apartment in NYC and a microwave is out of the question for space. But I have to say I enjoy cooking everything on the stove/oven as well, with much better results. Microwaving not only sucks up too much energy (and bad for the environment) but it also ruins food (even water tastes weird after nuking!).

  • Val

    I so totally agree with Craig!!! I love my microwave and use it often! If you guys who use ovens and stove tops had the power bills we have here in South Africa, you would too!! Crunchy steamed vegetables are wonderful too!! I generally brown my meat of the day and then place it on top of the semi-steamed veggies and cook it for another 3 minutes. Delightful! Quick and satisfying – perfect for one person. I do have a grill feature on my microwave so can ‘do’ casseroles on lowered power and they turn out great!

    And yes, agree with Lili! ‘Structural integrity of leftovers???’ Far, far too serious! :)

    Handing your guest cold leftovers??? Lacks class IMHO!

  • Val

    Mind you your guest lacked the same class by asking for ‘more’!!! :)

  • Val

    Mind you your guest lacked class by asking for ‘more’!!! :)

  • http://www.nourishingworks.com Angela

    Adam, thank you for sparking such an interesting discussion. I’m thrilled to know that there are so many others out there living without a microwave which I generally regard as ubiquitous. I’m disturbed to see so many people who proclaim that they can’t live without their microwave. C’mon people! The microwave is a relatively new invention and some how humans survived, cooked and ate for thousands of years without them.

    A few years ago, I found myself without a microwave at home. At first, I found it challenging in terms of leftovers, but the great thing was that it got me out of habit of eating those Amy’s frozen dinners. For the 45 minutes, it takes in the oven, I could cook myself a nice, fresh meal. This was the beginning of my interest in cooking.

    And Adam is right, there is a structural integrity issue. Back in the 1970s, studies revealed the molecular structures of nutrients were deformed to the point of destroying cell walls, while the cell structures stayed intact after conventional cooking.

    Also, you lose a lot of the nutrients in your food. A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2003 found that microwave cooking destroys at least some important nutrients in vegetables. Microwaved broccoli lost 97 percent, 74 percent and 87 percent of three important antioxidants. On the other hand, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent, 0 percent and 8 percent of these nutrients. Research also shows that microwaving food destroys lysozymes, vitamin B12, and nuceoproteins while reducing availability of vitamins B, C, E and essential minerals.

    So basically, you are getting little to no nutritional value from microwaved food.

    Sorry to get all technical, but I think it’s important to back up my statements.

    The fact that we call microwaving “nuking” for short is reason enough to realize that this is not the best (or safest) method of “cooking” food.

  • Linda Ehlers

    I can’t believe that none of you have mentioned the best thing that a microwave does. We bake alot and a small zap in the microwave mmakes leftover muffins, scones, cake,pie extra delicious. And I can’t say that I worry about structural integrity while wiping the crumbs off of my face with a smile!

  • oceanbug

    COLD food is the worst!! bleck!!!

    Microwaves have their place, i use my carefully. You don’t want to nuke something so long it changes the food texture or flavor. But come out the stone age, you a Fred Flintsone, get a microwave!

  • oceanbug

    COLD food is the worst!! bleck!!!

    Microwaves have their place, i use my carefully. You don’t want to nuke something so long it changes the food texture or flavor. But come out the stone age, you are a Fred Flintsone, get a microwave!

  • oceanbug

    COLD food is the worst!! bleck!!!

    Microwaves have their place, i use my carefully. You don’t want to nuke something so long it changes the food texture or flavor. But come out the stone age, you are a Fred Flintsone, get a microwave!

  • http://fourand20blackbirds.wordpress.com Maggie

    I do have a microwave now, but use it infrequently. Something about my mother’s screaming at me about brain tumors everytime I’d stare into hers as it cooked must’ve stuck with me.

  • http://eggplant43-aubergine.blogspot.com/ Bruce

    I use the 95/5% rule. ninety five percent of the time I cook, five percent of the time I microwave. I never make the mistake of thinking that microwaving is the same thing as

    cooking. Heating old coffee, an

    occasional use of a manufactured food, such as frozen pizza, that’s the extent of my involvement. I doubt I’d use it at all if it weren’t for the fact that it is part of my convection oven, which I love.

  • http://20littletoes.typepad.com/20_little_toes/ BrendaS

    The only reason we have a microwave is because it came with the apartment. We DO nuke potatoes before baking them the rest of the way, and I use it to heat the kids chicken patties… but both I could totally live without.

    I agree about the popcorn.. MUCH better on the stove. And the microwave, in my opinion, ruins vegetables. Leftovers are a bit tricky. My husband will nuke leftover stews and chinese take out.. but I generally use the oven to reheat.

  • http://www.delilahlah.us delilah

    okay, so first I have to say it is SO COOL that there are 2 Delilah’s who read this blog. At least 2. Are there more of you out there, lurking?

    So, I am not a huge fan of microwaves. I live in a house with one now, and my boyfriend is a big fan for reheating or quick baked potatoes. I have gotten him out of the habit of steaming veggies in there, steaming them on the stove instead. I must admit I have enjoyed re-heating frozen cookies (martha stewart’s cc recipe, via the AG) one at a time. yum! but I could easily do that in the toaster oven, and have absolutely no need for microwave.

    What I really have to say is: REHEATING COFFEE?? YUCK!!

  • http://publicstoragespace.blogspot.com Anne C.

    In my house, cold pasta is destined to be fried in butter. The crispy brown outside replaces the al dente texture experience.

  • http://www.rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com Rosa

    I never had a microwave and don’t need/want one! I find that things don’t taste as good when they’ve been microwaved… Generally, I reheat my leftovers in the oven (a few minutes only) and I have no problem with that!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • M

    “HEAT heat” is in fact a form of radiation, just a different one, Emily. Microwaves do not turn your food into nuclear mutants.

    That said, I have lived with & without, and I don’t much care.

  • Laura

    After I moved out of the dorms I no longer had a microwave and its been almost two years and I don’t miss it at all!

  • http://www.ceresandbacchus.com mary

    I don’t have a microwave either, and don’t really want one. I do, however, re-heat my pasta like your friends.

  • devlyn

    I haven’t had a microwave in years. The only time I miss it is when I want to defrost stuff. The boyfriend misses his to warm up food, which I ‘m okay using the oven and stove for. I’m with you on the “structural integrity” part. And who uses a microwave to boil water? It leaves the water so flat-tasting. Get an electric kettle, tea-drinkers! It takes up far less space and is always handy!

  • fromagex

    what is this ‘structural integrity’ of which you speak? I don’t think anyone is contemplating making serious food in their microwave, but microwaves are good for some (albeit limited) uses…

  • fromagex

    what is this ‘structural integrity’ of which you speak? I don’t think anyone is contemplating making serious food in their microwave, but microwaves are good for some (albeit limited) uses…

    seriously, could you distinguish microwaved boiling water from kettle boiled in a blindfold taste test? C’mon!

  • http://www.pietownpress.blogspot.com Mallow

    I haven’t had a microwave in a decade, and don’t miss it. I agree that it leaves food slimy and weird. However, I will definitely re-heat certain things on the stove…

  • http://lifelilnotebook.wordpress.com Gloria

    I first used microwave at the age of 22. Which means last year. *gasp* I usually warm things by using a variation of the double boiler method. Either that or by steaming it old-Chinese style.

    I still can’t figure out how to adjust the microwave strength to achieve my desired result. I also have a small phobia of microwave, and whenever I microwave things I watch it so closely and obsessively. I also haven’t figured out how to properly defrost things with microwave. They either come out half defrost or partially cooked. I’ll thaw my frosted ingredients, thank you very much.

    So far, the only real contribution the microwave has given me is to heat up my er…ehem…waxing kit. Oops.

    Also, I agree with mike’s statement: “reheating anything in any method changes its structural integrity”.

  • Andrea

    I have not had a microwave for two years now by choice, and I do not miss it at all. It would take up valuable kitchen space, and I feel that it generally does a worse job of heating food than the stove or oven.

    My friends are also in shock when they discover I don’t own a microwave. I do use the one at work, though, to re-heat my lunches that I bring from home.

  • http://lifeinsparklemotion.blogspot.com al

    i’m with you on this one, AG.

    microwaves compromise structural integrity, pasta reheated in a pot with new water is gross, and cold pasta is delicious.

    if it must be reheated, it should be done in an oven.

    *PUMPS FIST IN AIR FOR STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY!!*

  • Declan

    It’s one thing to say you don’t need or want a microwave but it’s wholly another thing to say that it’s a detriment to the food you’re reheating or more specifically, to the structural integrity of this food. Give me a break people; this is a matter of convenience: if you’re serving reheated pasta to people as a dinner party treat you’re in big trouble to begin with. If I’m going to have leftovers the day after I’ve made something my options do not afford me the opportunity to serve the food in a manner identical to its original iteration. Whether I eat it cold, reheat in the microwave or in a skillet, I’m certainly not reproducing the dish in its original form. If I want pasta hot, and quick, the microwave is a great option, as is the skillet, but neither of these options reproduce my food in its original form. Go without if you’d like but don’t pretend you’re being more true to your food by avoiding the nuclear option.

  • SLOLindsay

    I like mine for melting chocolate. We use it very rarely.

    I will occasionally stick a few tablespoons of butter in to nuke for a few seconds to soften it up for baking, or nuke a lemon for 2 seconds to get it juicier.

    I think I could live without a microwave. Never tried!

  • Laurie

    When my microwave broke last year I decided not to replace it in an effort to avoid eating the kind of food designed to be microwaved. Those convenience type foods are usually bereft of any kind of nutritional value and made me lazy. I do use the microwave at work to heat my lunch but besides only eating cold food or going out to eat it is my only option. I still get my nuked burrito fix there.

  • Joel S.

    Great post re: microwave use. I wouldn’t be without one.

    The only things I actually cook in it are baked potatoes, melting butter, re-heating cold coffee, or a quick cup of tea in the dark hours of the morning. I have been known to heat frozen veggies in the microwave as well. Sometimes I just get home too late to cook dinner on top of the stove or to wait an hour to bake a potato.

    BTW I made your sweet potato/bourbon/maple syrup recipe for Thanksgiving. Time being short, I roasted the yams in the microwave,then did the other mixing in a bowl and on top of the stove. The potatos came out hot and fluffy, and the dish was excellent–one I will keep for future years.

    I do not know your opinion of America’s Test Kitchen, but they do not hesitate to use a microwave for special preparation purposes, though of course not for the real cooking.

  • zeep

    here’s a handy (and perhaps weird) tip – if you want to melt butter but don’t want to necessarily turn it to liquid – for example, say you are making garlic butter to shmear over slices of bread – don’t use the microwave, use a hairdryer! It work very well and it’s fun too.

  • Julie

    Wow, I never realized there were so many microwave haters out there! I grew up with one, and I’ve always had one, and I’ll probably never live without one.

    I don’t do much “cooking” with it, but it’s great for prep work, such as:

    1. melting butter

    2. heating up coffee

    3. heating up milk to mix with said coffee, or potatoes, or anything else

    4. warming up citrus to extract juice. Yeah, you read that right. The best way to get all of the juice out of citrus is to nuke it for ~10 seconds, then roll it on the counter a few times. Old trick my mom taught me, and it works great.

    5. parcooking potatoes and squash. Nuke it for ~6 minutes, then bake it for half the normal time, and it’ll taste just as good.

    6. defrosting ice cream just enough to get it out of the container

    7. warming up hot fudge for said ice cream

    I’ve also made a great lemon curd in the microwave, believe it or not.

    Question for the people that worry about microwave radiation…do you use cell phones? Not to be snarky, but I’d think that holding that little device up to your head would be a tad more dangerous than being within 10 feet of a working microwave.

  • http://topslakr.com Topslakr

    Well, microwave or not, this all could have been avoided….

    Left over pasta is portioned into single serving baking dishes, typically with a bit of cheese on top. Prepared and ready to be tossed into the toaster over for lunch.. or an after dinner snack. Think less about altering the original meal and focus more on creating a second one.

    I’m with you on the microwave, esp with pasta. Need to warm up some frozen corn? Ok, the microwave is going to do minimal damage but the entree?

    Microwaving it is like when people cover something in Ketchup before even tasting it. If you want ketchup fine, but taste it first!

    Topslakr

  • Ron

    Consider the possibility that “STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY” = “precious bodily fluids” and relax a little, eh? ;) True, microwaving can do bad things to food, but eating it cold (a great many things are a lot less pleasant to eat when their fats are congealed) isn’t always so good, either. Is this where food-snobbery is leading us — getting upset about reheating leftovers?

  • hungryhungary

    I don’t like microwaves either and i’m happy that many are the same opinion. But I have to have one because i don’t know how to make popcorn homemade-style.. :( do you just put the corn to a pan, cover it with aluminum foil? IN Hungary we had such popcorn in the ’80s but they’re gone and i didn’t dare to create it by myself, too afraid of the exploding corns i guess. Please help me, i really want to get rid of my microwave!!

  • Susan

    Angela:

    When you cite “A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2003 found that microwave cooking destroys at least some important nutrients in vegetables. Microwaved broccoli lost 97 percent, 74 percent and 87 percent of three important antioxidants ” you leave out the important proviso “in water”. The Times link posted by “me again” elaborates: water-soluble vitamins will leach out in the water whether you nuke them covered in water or boil them on the stove. The same article gives examples of foods cooked in the microwave that retain as many or more nutrients than the same foods cooked on the stove. The article concludes, based on the JSFA study and others, that microwave cooking does NOT generally destroy nutrients.

  • Susan

    Angela:

    When you cite “A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2003 found that microwave cooking destroys at least some important nutrients in vegetables. Microwaved broccoli lost 97 percent, 74 percent and 87 percent of three important antioxidants ” you leave out the important proviso “in water”. The Times link posted by “me again” elaborates: water-soluble vitamins will leach out in the water whether you nuke them covered in water or boil them on the stove. The same article gives examples of foods cooked in the microwave that retain as many or more nutrients than the same foods cooked on the stove. The article concludes, based on the JSFA study and others, that microwave cooking does NOT generally destroy nutrients.

  • http://htt://winescorecard.com Steve

    I tend to agree that a microwave alters the food, especially when reheating. We bought an Advantium, which uses a heat lamp with the microwave. You get to use a lot less Nuking – we’ve found it to be a reasonable compromise. Not perfect to be sure, but it beats a straight ahead microwave.

  • http://aftertastebysherry.wordpress.com AfterTaste Sherry

    I think microwaves aren’t necessary by any means. If you don’t have the counter space for it, don’t buy one. Mine happens to be attached to my stove (it floats above it) so no counter space issues. I think it’s very convenient to warm up coffee gone cold in and other liquids/soups, but again you can always use the stovetop for that. Although then you have to wash the pot…

    I understand the structural integrity issue. Only thing is, you seem to be anti-reheating which I think is a bit overboard. There’s nothing wrong with reheating food (although I don’t get Craig throwing water into the pasta…eek).

  • andrea

    i am 100% microwave-dependent. as much as i LOVE reading about adam’s culinary adventures, i am not kidding when i say that i eat a turkey sandwich, a bowl of frozen vegetables, and a piece of fruit for dinner. every. single. night. last week i blew a fuse in my kitchen while simultaneously toasting the bread for my sandwich and microwaving the vegetables. once the fuse blew, i was finished. it NEVER ONCE occurred to me to heat the vegetables on the stove. i ended up throwing them away. not until i read this post did i realize that i could have used the stove. wow. wow. maybe i should throw the microwave away. :(

  • Lacey

    I have never had a microwave. They just are not necessary and they definitely change the integrity of the food. I use my stove to reheat – just like my grandma!

  • Ron

    Any time you heat food it changes a microwave simply allows you to heat food faster and that may not be the best way to heat something.

    I use the microwave about as much as the stove.

    There are things that just work better in the microwave and lots of things that just don’t belong in the microwave learning which is which is the secret to the microwave.

  • SavageBeast

    use a double boiler to heat things up. Less time pressure and no change in the structure.. I have not used my microwave for food in five or so years.

  • http://www.1700milesofcooking.wordpress.com Mimi

    My microwave sometimes gets used to defrost something I completely forgot I needed, or to par cook potatoes for breakfast burritos or quick hashbrowns.

  • Jorge

    I have a microwave and it’s useful tool. Like all tools you have to know how to use it.

    Tonight I used it to reheat roasted poblano chicken soup and Carne Adovada that I made over the weekend. I can tell you that it didn’t destroy the structural integrity of the soup or the shredded pork which was slow cooked for 7 hours in the oven. It’s also great for quickly heating tortillas, 8-10 seconds on high.

    I don’t use it to cook or defrost meats and would never put any type of bread product in it. But it is a quick way to reheat some foods and beverages. You just have to know what works.

  • http://gourmetxpress.googlepages.com Lisa

    I grew up without a microwave so this posting brought back a lot of memories.

    The food can get overcooked when it is reheated and change chemically in microwave ovens. Vegetables can loose important nutrients.

    Besides, popcorn on the stove smells so good!

  • http://working-diva.blogspot.com ElleBee

    No microwave? Maybe if I didn’t have children or was able to stay home with the kids. Unfortunately, with two kids, a husband, a full-time job outside the home and taking care of a home, a microwave is a necessary evil in my life.

  • Felix

    Well, I’ll first say I’m a HUGE Alton Brown fan. Being so I occasionaly use an Alton-ish method of actually cooking food in the microwave instead of just reheating it. In his shows and his first book he has used really intersting methods of making sauces, snacks and even whole meals in a microwave. While I don’t entirely support the theory because it just isn’t as consistently good as an oven, stovetop or grill; it gets food done fast. Really though, I just wanna get my money’s worth out of the machine.

  • tiptoemole

    I have a microwave, but I don’t like to use it, mostly because it means nuking something that’s packaged in plastic, and I’m paranoid after reading so much stuff about how bad it is for you because the plastic chemicals leach out into the food.

    I guess my question for you is, do you freeze food? Because (as a French chef I once took cooking lessons from told me many many times) that also changes the molecular structure of the food that is frozen. I’d hope that for consistency’s sake (and also to bust your hump) that you’d forgo the freezer as well.

  • http://clumsycook.com clumsy

    I agree with you… kind of. I do own a microwave, but since my kitchen is tiny it’s placed high up on top of my fridge, and I, being 5’3″, hardly ever use it. But it’s good to have on the occasion that I need something heated up quick before work, or I want to melt some butter and all the other stovetop burners are being used at the moment… you know, those *serious* cooking moments.

    Maybe you can stash one in a closet or something.

  • Christian

    I have had a microwave for many years, though I grew up without one. I use it only for reheating, not for cooking. It seems to me more energy efficient than heating up the stove to reheat a small amount of food.

  • http://jennmira.blogspot.com Jennifer

    I’ve never really thought about it until now, but I actually use my microwave most as a kitchen timer. I also regularly use it to reheat rice, but I use the timer pretty much any time I’m cooking or baking.

    I do use a microwave at work nearly every day to reheat leftovers for lunch though…

  • http://7d.blogs.com/omnivore suzanne

    Unlike most children of the late 70s I grew up without a microwave in the house (my mom was suspicious of them), and thus am used to heating up food on the stove or eating it cold. I had one for a while, but got rid of it when I was around 24, and I never plan to own one again. A bamboo steamer is great for reheating leftovers, and teapots boil water admirably. I guess I’m resistant to buying appliances that merely make something I can already do a little easier.

  • peggy

    softening butter in microwave when baking cookies makes the cookies go flat. I don’t know why, but I have found this to be true.

  • peggy

    softening butter in microwave when baking cookies makes the cookies go flat. I don’t know why, but I have found this to be true.

  • Lisa

    i also don’t have a microwave and love using our toaster oven to heat food up. sometimes we make a double boiler (boil some water in a pot, place the plate w. cold food above it) and heat up your food this way. this is also a good way to keep dishes warm.

  • Lisa

    i also don’t have a microwave and love using our toaster oven to heat food up. sometimes we make a double boiler (boil some water in a pot, place the plate w. cold food above it) and heat up your food this way. this is also a good way to keep dishes warm.

  • Ri

    I have recently decided to stop using my microwave. A toaster oven is a great alternative for warming up foods quickly.

    Please check out the research on the dangers of microwave cooking at the following site (one of many sources):

    http://www.curezone.com/foods/microwave_oven_risk.asp

  • Lauren

    Your right about the dangers of microwaves and I think a better use of space and time is a Countertop Convection Oven You cand sometimes get one for under $200 and cooks foods faster than regular oven.

  • Rachel Goodrich

    Hi Adam,

    IMO people who had MWs and now don’t miss them, never learned how to use them. Many MWs have different power levels, so experiment, always on the side of caution, to learn what yours will do. All cold pizza needs is 10 to 15 seconds in the MW. It’s delicious that way. The MW is GREAT for cooking frozen vegetables! Acorn squash, which takes ages in the oven, cooks in a snap in the MW and is wonderful. Here’s a recipe for hot cocoa that you’ll love come autumn: In the MW heat a mug full of whole milk till good and hot (that’s 2 to 3 minutes depending on power). Meanwhile, in a cup combine one heaping teaspoon of Hershey’s Cocoa (unsweetened), two heaping teaspoons of granulated sugar, and a short dash of salt. When the milk is hot, spoon enough of it into the cup, stirring, till it’s pourable. Pour the chocolate mixture into the mug, stir, and enjoy! It’s true that you can heat the milk on the stove, and this recipe was prepared that way for many years, but in the MW it’s easier, faster, and there’s no pan to clean.

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