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 Post subject: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:03 am 
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I no longer own a microwave. Discuss.






Particularly, and this may seem stupid, but how do I heat up leftovers? Right now I have a frozen muffin sitting in a cake tin in a 350°F oven. I guess I really just need to know what types of foods I should do on the stovetop and what types I should do in the oven, and when they're in the oven, what temperature. Am I a total moron for not knowing these things already?

Oh! Also, with my glass pyrex, can I put those directly into the oven? Do they need to go on a baking sheet? Should I put them in a cold oven and heat up the oven and pyrex together so they're not going from hot to cold too quickly? Halp!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:14 am 
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The muffin turned out ok, except the bottom got hard and stuck to the paper. Lower temperature next time, maybe.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:46 am 
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Your pyrex has been designed for the oven, it doesn't need a baking sheet or special preheat time!

As for the rest, I'd say that wet things get reheated on the stove and dry things go in the oven. But you'll get the hang of it with practice!


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:57 am 
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Basically, liquidy stuff like stews and soups can go on the stovetop. My mum also reheats lasagne on the stovetop, on very low heat in a skillet with a lid on it, but I prefer to do that in the oven.

When you don't have a microwave (and even if you do) defrosting is best done in the fridge or at room temperature, especially for baked goods like muffins. They have a tendency to dry out if you defrost them using a heat source. The microwave defrosts quickly and uses steam (heating the water inside the thing you are defrosting), so the damage is limited. If you want hot muffins from the oven, freeze the raw dough in muffin cups, put the frozen dough in the oven and add a couple of minutes to the baking time.

Patience and room temperature are the best tools for thawing baked muffins. Same goes for casseroles etc. preferable thaw first, then reheat. Otherwise the outside will be dry before the inside gets hot. Wrapping in alu foil prevents drying, so if you must thaw in the oven, cover your stuff with foil.

Pyrex dishes can go straight into a heated oven, no problemo.

Why don't you have a microwave anymore?

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:01 am 
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i haven't had a microwave in over six years, but i have always had a toaster oven, so it wasn't much of a problem. 350°F is a pretty safe temperature for most reheating purposes, but a lot of leftovers can be warmed up in a skillet or saucepan (rice, pasta, cooked vegetables, etc.).

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:12 am 
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I have a microwave at home but rarely use it. Actually I mostly use the timer on it because it's louder than the timer on the oven.
I usually reheat things using the same method in which they were cooked. So things like rice, stews, soups, etc are heated on the stovetop and breads, muffins, pizza, casseroles, etc are heated in the oven (or toaster oven for small quicker things).

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:31 am 
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Cornelie wrote:
When you don't have a microwave (and even if you do) defrosting is best done in the fridge or at room temperature, especially for baked goods like muffins. They have a tendency to dry out if you defrost them using a heat source. The microwave defrosts quickly and uses steam (heating the water inside the thing you are defrosting), so the damage is limited. If you want hot muffins from the oven, freeze the raw dough in muffin cups, put the frozen dough in the oven and add a couple of minutes to the baking time.

Patience and room temperature are the best tools for thawing baked muffins. Same goes for casseroles etc. preferable thaw first, then reheat. Otherwise the outside will be dry before the inside gets hot. Wrapping in alu foil prevents drying, so if you must thaw in the oven, cover your stuff with foil.


This is really good advice. I haven't owned a microwave oven in a few years, and honestly the only time I've really noticed is when my boyfriend brought home some Trader Joe's frozen soup thing that only had microwave directions on the box (I ended up defrosting it a bit, and cooking the rest of the way in a pan if you're curious.)

I would say that I end up heating most foods on the stovetop, but the rule of thumb is just to use common sense. Once you've defrosted something, pretend like you just assembled it and are ready to cook it. Is it something you could cook in the stove or the oven? If the answer is "either" then choose the stove, because it's easier. For things that have to go in the oven, reheating at 300-350F seems reasonable, but for things that have already been cooked you need to keep a close eye on it. You want food that is warmed up, not cooked to sludge.

As others have said, Pyrex dishes are oven safe and are crack-resistant during temperature change.

Things like soups/stews/rice dishes are easily heated up in a pan on the stovetop, or you can be lazy and sometimes eat them cold like I do. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:34 am 
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I don't have a microwave, but I guess I cheat because I eat lunch at school and use their microwave. But for dinners I mostly do it on the stove because I feel it's kinda a waste to turn the oven on - I usually add a bit of water or stock to whatever I'm heating up since it thickens in the fridge. Just get used to having everything turn into "stir-fry". The only times I realllly wish I had a microwave is when my drinks get cold and I'm just not about to pour half a cup of coffee into a pot to reheat it.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:43 am 
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This is all really great advice! I love the idea of freezing the muffin batter instead of baked muffins and then baking them fresh when I want them. Because defrosting muffins is totally not in my mental vocabulary...I made them for quick morning meals, and almost never think ahead. I do usually defrost frozen soups in the fridge if I ever freeze them. Also, glad that my Pyrex can go from the fridge to oven with no worries.

Cornelie - When the ex and I moved into our house, there was a built-in microwave, so we got rid of the one I owned previously. My new place doesn't have a built-in model and I don't feel like spending money on (probably unnecessary) things right now.

almiratanner - I use the one at work when I'm there as well! And yes, I was lamenting my cold, forgotten-about tea this morning.

Thanks, everyone!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:50 am 
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A double boiler (with a lid or covered in aluminum foil) can also be useful for heating leftovers. I'd use it when I'd want to heat something up that should be moist, but doesn't have too much liquid and you don't want to stir it up, so it would burn easily if put directly on a pot on the stove. Lasagna, for instance, you'd never want to just put in a pot over direct heat and stir up, and it would heat well covered in the oven, but turning the oven on for one serving of lasagna seems like a waste of energy to me, so I'd use a covered double boiler instead. Works best if you cut a big slice of lasagna into smaller pieces.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:07 am 
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I don't own a double boiler, but I know how to rig one with a small pot and a glass bowl! Good advice!

Lesson learned: Don't put your leftover curry in a pot on medium and then walk away. Derp!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:13 am 
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Yeah, I don't have a real double boiler either.... I just use a stainless steel mixing bowl over a pot of water.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:17 am 
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We haven't had a microwave in six years or so and for the most part, I don't miss it. We eat so much less crappy convenience food without it. This thread is already full of good advice but my pro tip is... Almost anything can be reheated in a cast iron skillet with a lid over low heat, with a splash of water added if it seems dry.

Also also, if you do find yourself reheating a lot of single casserole portions, baking a couple of muffins, etc, a toaster oven can be awesome. (Though if you were gonna buy a toaster oven, maybe you'd just want a microwave again?)

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:08 pm 
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I too don't use a microwave. I am a bit of an oddball because I never reheat my leftovers...I love the taste of cold food.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:09 pm 
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Got rid of my microwave when I realized I had only used it 4 times in about 2 years. Hate what it did to the texture of my food.

I waited until a convection toaster oven went on clearance. Snapped it up and everything goes in there for about 5-25 min depending on the density and nom. Love it.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:38 pm 
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I second (third?) the double-boiler type advice. It keeps moist food moist and doesn't heat up one part more than another. If you use corelle or other heat resistant bowls inside a pot, then all you have to wash is the bowl, which you would anyway.

My mother used to heat up rolls in a not-too-hot oven, inside a paper bag which she would splatter with water. I have tried this recently and it gives the rolls a nice crispness on the outside while not making them mooshy like the microwave does.

I also bought a countertop convection oven (on sale half price) because 1) my electric stove is old and unreliable and 2) I can use it in the summer when it's too hot to turn on the big oven. I cook almost anything in there. We reheat pizza slices on the bare racks and they turn out delicious, way better than the microwave.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:48 pm 
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allularpunk wrote:
Oh! Also, with my glass pyrex, can I put those directly into the oven?


Yes. That's the whole point of Pyrex. 8) But DO NOT put it under the broiler, and when you take it out, let it cool-- I managed to explode a hot pyrex lid by dropping it into a sink with some cold water in the bottom.

We haven't had a microwave since, um... I forget now, but it's been a while. Since a couple of moves back, I think, so at least 5 years? We did have a toaster oven for a lot of that time-- it'll fulfill many small-oven needs for things like your frozen muffin without needing to heat up your big oven. We ditched it because we were getting too dependent on stuff we could just buy frozen and nuke, and it wasn't very healthy. It's actually worked out pretty well. I keep meaning to go find a new one, but not enough that I've actually done so.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:48 pm 
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Dang. I use a microwave every. single. day.

I heat up my leftovers at work in a microwave daily. Will it kill me? is it taking all the nutrients out of my food?

(kidding. I just did an internet search for 'will my microwave kill me' and got some interesting results. People are askairt of everything)


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:58 pm 
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I haven't had a microwave for 5 years, and I don't miss it at all.

I find that even leftovers that would usually go in the oven can be heated on the stovetop. For muffins, I would just cut it in half and place both halves cut-side down in a frying pan over medium heat. Cover it to heat quicker, or leave it uncovered if you want it a bit dryer. Same goes for pizza.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:17 pm 
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I don't think a microwave will kill you... for me it's an issue of space. I live in an apartment with small kitchen facilities so the small amount of extra counter space I have is devoted to more "important" appliances, like a small toaster and electric kettle.

If I had to choose between a microwave and a toaster oven I would choose the toaster oven for sure though. Leftovers cooked in a toaster oven don't get that "rubbery" texture they can get when heated in a microwave. I think toaster ovens are usually cheaper than microwaves too? So if you find yourself unable to live without a quick way to reheat foods then that might be a better option.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:21 pm 
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Yes, the last house had a toaster oven, but I left it there when I moved. Now I wish I'd snatched it! I do feel kind of wasteful heating up my entire oven for just a single serving, so maybe when the time comes, a toaster oven will be what I get. If it's cheaper than a microwave.

Just realized I'm really going to miss 4 minute baked potatoes.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:27 pm 
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You could probably get a decent toaster oven used for cheap. I even got mine free on Craig's list.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:01 pm 
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Chicki wrote:
Dang. I use a microwave every. single. day.

I do too. I didn't realize how much I used one until our old one quit. I was lost! I must reheat tea a dozen times a day, plus I heat leftover soup and casseroles daily too.

I think microwaving uses a lot less energy than stovetop or oven? I bet there are a lot of good used microwaves for cheap at thrift stores and on Craig's list.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:11 pm 
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JillW wrote:
You could probably get a decent toaster oven used for cheap. I even got mine free on Craig's list.

And if money is the only object to microwave ownership, you can possibly even get one of those on craigslist for cheap or free. Goodness knows a used one isn't worth anything. I have one sitting in my garage because when I bought my house it had a built-in. It's pretty new, but when I get serious about cleaning out the garage I will probably list it for free because no one will pay much of anything for it anyway. I tried to give it away when I moved but couldn't find any takers at the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about not owning a microwave.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:44 pm 
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I've been without a microwave about 6 months now. The only time I remember it's gone is when I melt chocolate chips or want to reheat pad thai. I used to use one nearly every day at my office to heat lunch up (I am ehhhh on cold leftovers, sorry!) I pretty much use my oven and wrap things in foil with a splash of water or place on top of parchment to heat up. I rarely heat things *on* the stove unless it's a pot of soup, and then I also add more water. It's been easy. Overall, I really prefer the thorough heat and textures using the ovens will give vs. that weird microwave warmth.

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