Monday, March 26, 2012
To microwave or not to microwave
Okay, now that I've told you the only piece of equipment you really need is a slow cooker why am I now writing about microwaves? For two reasons.
First, you really don't need a microwave for all but a few of my recipes. An oven will do all the same things just as well, if a bit slower. And for most North Americans, a microwave is almost as standard a piece of equipment in the kitchen as a stove, so when one lives here one tends to take it for granted.
However, for those of you who don't have one and are considering getting one, let me tell you it can be a very useful item. As I explained in my previous post, we all have "terrible horrible no good very bad days" and on days like that a microwave can be a Godsend. That's the day that you not only don't feel like cooking dinner, chances are if you have a meal in the freezer you've also forgotten to defrost it.
Now this is not an impossible situation.
Personally, I'd turn on the oven, stick the food in frozen and well covered on a medium heat, and lock myself in the bathroom where I would proceed to submerge myself in a hot scented bath, remembering to put on my earphones to drown out the pounding on the door.
But that's me. Many people would panic and possibly take to drink. A microwave can prevent that.
Also there are recipes like my microwave chocolate cake that save you a lot of work and time. And sometimes being able to make it in the microwave will convince you to try it while mucking about with turning on the oven, finding the right pan, etc. will tend to make you turn on the TV instead. Without a microwave this culinary delight will be forever out of your reach.
That is too bad, but I can't in all good conscious recommend that you go buy one if you're really tight for money. What it comes down to is this. You really don't need to have one and if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. End of story.
Put a sticky note on your coffee maker the night before to remind you in the morning to take the dinner for that night out of the freezer before you leave or otherwise start your day. (If you don't drink coffee you're on your own.)
Certainly do NOT buy one at a garage sale. Old microwaves often leak radiation. But if you get a terrific deal on a new one or are offered one as a gift, grab it. Everyone needs to have as much working for them as possible.
The second reason I am writing this post is because many people are unsure of the safety of microwaves, and since they are going to all the trouble of buying healthy food they don't want to cook it in an unhealthy way. They also worry about the loss of nutrients from their food.
Perfectly understandable and let me address this right now.
In his very informative blog at www.marksdailyapple.com/microwave-safety , Mark Sisson discusses this very thing. If you are truly worried about this issue then please read it.
If a summary will do then let me tell you that he isn't really that worried. Yes, he recommends caution. As he says, pressing your face against the glass while the microwave is cooking is asking for trouble. But if you keep your distance when it's on and use it infrequently, making slow cooking your method of choice, then you should be okay.
As mentioned in the last paragraph, old microwaves are NOT safe, but new ones are a completely different story. Let me quote from his conclusion :
"Our best advice: nuke wisely. If the convenience of a microwave keeps you committed to PB eating, use it as you need to."
In other words, if you need to use it to be able to stay Paleo then do it. Certainly don't use it as an excuse not to eat Paleo.
Maybe you work all day and need to be able to heat food quickly for your kids. Or perhaps you're a student who only has a microwave available for heating your food. Using a microwave in these cases is definitely superior to hitting the drive-thru or buying junk in the cafeteria or from the vending machine. There are definitely worst things to worry about when it comes to your health.