I have never considered myself microwave dependent. In fact I only used it (or so I thought) to reheat leftovers and melt butter. So, as I left my old kitchen behind, I hardly gave the microwave a second glance. Cooking with love does not require energy waves. The stove top can do anything the microwave can and is so much more organic…or so I thought. One week in the new kitchen and I’ve reached for the microwave almost daily only to have to rethink how to do some small cooking task. I guess I took the microwave for granted. Does it amount to enough need to take up precious counter space? Time will tell. but at this point, I think not.
The microwave was convenient and it was a time saver in the fact that I could set it and go on to other things. Not having a microwave has made me turn back to the way things were done in the “old days.”
We wanted pop corn for an alternative dinner the other night (don’t judge me, sometimes it’s the perfect end to a day). I always make my popcorn in a pan on the stove. I even have a designated popcorn pan that creates fluffy and tender kernels of goodness with hardly an “old maid” in the batch. While the magic is happening in the pan, I would melt a cube of butter in the microwave timing it so that the butter and the pop corn would be ready together. What to do without a microwave? I have a small sauce pan that was my mother’s that easily accommodated the butter and resulted in melted perfection.
As the week went on I reached for the microwave to reheat some leftovers which turned out better reheated on the stove where they could gain a little color and crust. I had to plan ahead more to thaw out things from the freezer, but they turned out better thawing naturally, as well. My new mantra became, no microwave, no problem…after all I was really only using it for shortcuts.
As I’ve shared before, I take inspiration for my recipes from many sources. Tonight’s dinner was no exception. I found a wonderful recipe for pork with a sauce made of squash, dried cranberries, and apples in the latest Cooking Light Magazine.
I had a reasonable equivalent of the ingredients on hand so I set out to put Mama D’s spin on it.
Step 1 brought me to a screeching halt. It called for microwaving the squash and cranberries to prep them for the sauce. Hm? Now what? Out came my trusty steamer pan and in went the berries and squash.
10 minutes later (only 3 minutes more than the microwave would have cooked them) they were ready to become part of the dish.Pork tenderloin, my new favorite pork product, was sliced into medallions that were lightly seasoned with a salt free onion and herb mixture.Once they were lightly browned, they waited patiently in a warm oven while the rest of the dish came together. Apples and onions were joined by a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and a pinch of sugar.Sautéed in butter (just a little) they were joined by the squash and cranberries to create a lovely fruit and vegetable medley. I chose to add the pork to the pan at this point. I had reduced some chicken broth in the pan I cooked the pork in and so I added that to the pan as well.The dish was wonderful. It took less than a half hour to prepare, even without the microwave. It tasted like Fall and was healthy, too. The leftovers, by the way, were great reheated in a small fry pan on the stove.
So, as I start the new version of Mama D’s Kitchen, I’m getting used to my new surroundings. While the kitchen is small, I’ve created two good-sized work spaces. I like the fact that everything is close at hand. It feels cozy and friendly. The electric stove is feeling less foreign. It will take a bit of time to get really comfortable with each other, but we’re going to make it.
Mama D’s smaller kitchen and the rest of her downsized apartment are starting to feel like home.