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Ode to the Microwave

Stifling days like this make me really appreciate my microwave.

I’m a relatively recent convert to microwave cooking. Only one of the apartments we’ve lived in over the last 12 years had one when we moved in, and I never had the urge to buy one. My  mom cooked everything in the microwave, and always on high, so I ate chewy, tough, limp, or overcooked food most of my life. That’s what I associate microwaves with. It took Jason a year and a half to convince me to get one.

But, for all my prejudices against them, microwaves are really efficient. Why?

  • Microwaves use at least 50% less energy than a conventional oven. True, over a year’s time this adds up to a negligible energy savings, but every little bit helps.
  • Microwaves don’t heat up the kitchen. If you use air conditioning, this could save even more energy. For the rest of us, it just makes the house a little more comfortable.
  • Microwaves make it easier to cook in large batches and freeze some for later. I’m not yet in the habit of doing this all the time, but I try.

I mostly use the microwave for reheating. Do you cook in it? I hear some vegetables can be steamed in the microwave really well, but I haven’t tried it yet because I generally like my veggies raw.


Comment from Sharon
Time June 29, 2010 at 7:37 am

With the baby, we try to have a veggie with most meals. Anything I was going to steam, I do in the microwave. So when I make frozen peas or corn, or fresh carrots or green beans, I use the microwave. I usually cook them until they’re just crisp-tender–3 or 4 minutes maximum. And I learned a little trick of putting some butter and salt into the container with the water, which is pretty yummy.

Most other veggies we grill, or cook under the broiler. Mmm, grilled asparagus.

Comment from Elisabeth
Time June 29, 2010 at 10:41 am

Sometimes you can use the microwave in place of parboiling. Peter makes awesome home fries that way—nukes the cubed potatoes first and then finishes them up in the skillet.

Comment from Raquel
Time June 29, 2010 at 10:50 am

I had a similar experience growing up. My mom’s so-so cooking forced me to buy cookbooks and experiment in the kitchen. And my busy schedule made me realize that the microwave is a mighty tool for speedy food. The Pampered Chef has a few microwavable containers that are PERFECT for steaming veggies. The lid has tiny holes to vent the steam and when it’s done, you hold onto the handles, flip it over and the water drains out. I use it practically everyday! Oh, and I’m sure products like this exist elsewhere.

Comment from Alison
Time June 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm

The best veggie microwave trick is corn: leave the husks ON the corn, stick in the microwave for about 3 minutes per ear (depends on microwave strength, etc.). When it comes out it’s perfectly cooked and the silk just falls right off instead of having to wrestle with it (just use mits to handle the hot ears). I have corn all the time now in the summer because of this: it went from a pain in the neck to cook veggie to one of the simplest, and nothing beats a fresh ear of corn on the cob!

Comment from Sharon
Time July 1, 2010 at 7:40 am

Oh, I totally have to try that one! I always make too much or too little corn on the cob–if I can cook the ears one or two at a time, I’ll be able to plan better!

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time July 13, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I just tried this, and it was great. The silk just came right off!

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time July 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm

That’s intriguing. What kind of plastic is it?

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