Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Without a microwave - Part II

Okay, so I'll just give it to you without the pictures!

What do you do about leftovers? Some are easier than others. Leftover soup or chili for example is very easy to just heat up the same way you made it - in a pot on the stove.

But what about meals like chicken dinner? That was the hardest one for me because there are so many parts to that meal. I've found that when you have meals like that it's sometimes best to just make a whole new meal - like casserole. I layer it with the gravy, chicken and veggies on the bottom. Then it's the mashed potatoes, followed by the stuffing. I like the stuffing on top because it gets crispy. It's a whole new meal that just get's popped into the oven. Sometimes there has been the occasion when I wanted to enjoy the individual flavours of the foods and so I use my handy dandy skillet. Mashed potatoes in one corner, stuffing in the other, chicken in the other with the lid on top. Gravy goes in a pot and veggies in another pot. Makes a little more dishes but works really great.

Here's a few others things we do:
~ Rice and chicken dinners become chicken stir fry.
~ Mashed potatoes because fried.
~ A little water added to the pot of cooked rice reheats it, and when the water is gone the rice is usually hot.

We love our cast iron skillets! Right now we have two little ones and two bigger ones. I use the lids from my pots if I need a lid. Actually our biggest skillet is too big for any of my pot lids but I've found that the oblong lid from my slow cooker, while not covering completely, does speed up the cooking time (especially for things like fried potatoes). In the beginning it took a bit of learning how to use them as I didn't take too much care in seasoning them. We did season them, but not for as long as suggested. But now they are well seasoned.

Okay, but what about chocolate? How do you melt chocolate without a microwave? That was one thing I was concerned about. But the solution is surprisingly simple. I just take a pot of water and set a glass or stainless steel bowl, or a glass measuring cup inside and put the chocolate chips in the bowl. It works great! I have not ruined a batch of chocolate yet! If I need to melt butter or coconut oil it's very easy to use the same method or simply put the oil in the pot. Actually once I just used my great big stainless steel bowl to melt the peanut butter for a cookie recipe and just used the same bowl to mix the cookies - even saving dishes!

As I showed in the previous picture we like to use our wood stove. I especially like it for simmering foods like soup, chili, beans. I like setting bowls of frozen fruit before the fire to thaw if we're having smoothies.

Another common use for the microwave is for thawing bread. I have learned to take bread out before we need it so it has more time to thaw. That's not to say I've never forgotten, but I have gotten much better about it and I don't forget very often anymore. When TR is called to work when I wasn't expecting him to need a lunch I thaw buns out in the skillet with a lid. Or I lay them on top of the wood stove. Once they've thawed a bit I can cut them open and lay both sides down to speed up the process.

When TR wants his coffee reheated he does it in the stove in a pot, or just turns the coffee pot on and it reheats.
We don't eat microwave popcorn so that's not an issue.
I don't heat bottles or baby food (Kara just eats whatever we're having) so that's no issue either.
Pizza is something we don't have very often but when we do TR likes it cold the next day and I just pop mine in the oven for a few minutes.

So there you have it! How we survive and survive well without a microwave! If there's something I didn't mention that you're curious about just ask and I'll let you know.

In closing I'd just like to say that it does make more dishes when you have to reheat multiple food items - but what you gain is better food and food that is hot all at once. None of this standing in line while every family member warms up their food, or reheating the veggies and then by the time the chicken in reheated the veggies are cold and need to go back in. I would never go back to having a microwave and having it die on us was one of the best things for our kitchen :)


  1. I know that microwaves are really bad for you, cancer causing units.
    you know my problem would problem be that I forget all the time to take things out early!
    my biggest issue is when Rob comes home for lunch and we heat up just a few of the leftovers to eat, but I have thought of getting some tin camping plates to put leftovers in and heating it in the oven or toaster oven(which I would need to buy).
    Its just everything takes longer and remembering to think ahead.

    oh and can't you get cast iron with lids now?

  2. I find it's way quicker to heat leftovers up on the stove with either a pot or pan and a lid. If we had a toaster oven we'd probably use that too (I know Naomi said they use theirs a lot) but like you we'd first have to buy one. Since we've made it this far without one we just haven't bothered to buy one. If you could think ahead and try to have Rob's food hot or almost hot by the time he got home that would help him since he's in a time crunch. It is hard to have enough time to heat it up and eat it otherwise. As for thinking ahead - it was a learning thing for me. You get so used to not having to think ahead that you have to retrain yourself to do things ahead of time. I forgot lots, but it was good. Sometimes the only way to learn is to mess up :) Yes you can get cast iron with lids, but the ones we bought didn't have any, so we improvise. Just try it! Put your microwave away for 1 month and just see how you like it. It's bound to be frustrating at times - but what's the worst that could happen? Life is way to short to not try the things you're interested in doing. (that's my new motto :)


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