When my son was in preschool, breakfast was his favorite meal of the day. He happily climbed up his chair to devour whatever awaited him in his Thomas the Train bowl. His favorite was cheesy grits, as it was the morning version of his other favorite food, mac n’ cheese. I personally overloaded on Pop Tarts as a child and I was not going to make the same mistake with my children. So I did the best I could with the time allowed.
Once at school, we would walk hand-in-hand down the halls that were covered in student art, from last week’s choring hours at the craft table. Classmate Marcy was usually sitting out in the hall waiting for class to start. She was regularly holding a damp paper towel with a droopy, round piece of dough hanging over it. A microwaved pancake. She looked like she was bobbing-for-apples as she tried to get the floppy flapjack in her mouth. I loved to watch her.
The microwave has always been a mystery to me. I wanted one so badly when I was a child. Everyone on our street had one. What in the world were my parents waiting for? I actually remember the day we got ours, because my parents splurged for the microwave storage cabinet as well. There was a serious lack of counter space, so this was a big deal.
I experimented with it like a reckless scientist. The food was piping hot the in middle, as the scorched finger-test would establish more times than I care to mention, yet it was frozen on the top. The vegetables were soggy, the noodles exploded and the sugar melted off the cinnamon buns. Plus, if you stand to close too the microwave you will become radioactive. (My friend told me that on the playground merry-go-round, so it must be true.) I did not want to show up to school glowing, so I kept my distance. I followed the push-the-button-and-run method.
As an adult, I am still wary of the microwave. The first weekend in December each year, we take a trip the mountains. It is a relaxing holiday trip with friends to hike and watch football (SEC Championship game weekend). Baking cookies became a tradition on this trip and ours kids had the job of decorating. The tube of icing that my friend brought was to be microwaved, to thus make it “squeezable”. Now, dealing with a foreign microwave can be daunting. The power levels all vary and goodness knows what two minutes at level 5 will be capable of? In this case it was supersonic. A red icing explosion of uncharted proportions. Relaxing trip on pause.
But microwaves have improved over the years. The threat of nuking my brain is somewhat alleviated. The hot spots seem to have sorted themselves out, and with savvy programming you may be able to keep the sugar on your buns. But you still can not put a pancake in the microwave and expect it to stand upright in your napkin. Unless of course, there is a new version out there that toasts and nukes. I will be last on my street to own that as well.
Shortcuts in general have rarely served me well. Not just in food preparation, but in most of life’s tasks. I was visiting a friend’s horse farm yesterday and carefully tracked a “shortcut” route on my map. I was going to avoid all the commercial intersections and enjoy a drive down a winding country road. Midway down that quaint country road, I arrived behind the road-painting truck. It happily took up both lanes and moved at what I could gauge was about 3 MPH. My odometer does not really clearly break down anything under 10 MPH, so that is my best guess. Shortcut busted.
The toaster oven has become a staple in our kitchen. Despite the extended cooking time, we use it daily. Why just make a sandwich when you can have toasted cheese melting over the sides? Chicken nuggets are meant to crunch when kids bite into them, not shoot blazing chicken juice, compliments of the nuke-machine. And please tell me how to compare a crunchy slice of leftover pizza to the wimpy microwaved version?
My kids know that soup gets cooked in a pot, vegetables steam in a steamer and chicken is baked the in the oven. Spend the time to cook it correctly and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
But do know that if your hot cocoa gets cold, please feel free to use the microwave.