The Mountain Times

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Things That Go Boom in the Microwave

I walked into the office break room the other day to find a co-worker cleaning up what appeared to be a volcanic eruption. I knew immediately what had happened - she tried to cook grits in the microwave. A month prior, I had experienced the same catastrophic result with a packet of quick cooking oatmeal. There are just some foods that are not microwave friendly, even though the cooking instructions would lead you to believe otherwise. The trick is in the line "place contents in a microwavable bowl." What this means with food products that rapidly expand is to find a bowl the size of the Grand Canyon. Otherwise, it's coming over the top.

I remember when my second husband and I combined households. He brought a very large, yet very old television. We set it up in the living room and moved the smaller model into the bedroom. As we sat the first night enjoying the larger screen, my daughters asked for the remote control. "There is none," he replied. "Oh, you mean it's lost?" my daughter inquired. "No, this tv didn't come with a remote control," he explained. My daughters looked at each other, puzzled, then broke into laughter thinking he was pulling their leg.

Today my daughters have homes of their own and they could not even begin to comprehend a television without a remote control or a kitchen without a microwave. Do you remember when there were no microwaves? We Boomers can.  Food was cooked on the stove or in an oven. Convenience meant using a toaster oven. Baby bottles were heated in a pot of boiling water, sometimes the same one used to sterilize the bottles afterwards. When microwaves came on the scene, we hesitated. There were too many stories of radiation poisoning, becoming sterile, frying the brains or growing a second head. And then a few of us tried them and there was no turning back.

Microwaves have come a long way - they are sleeker, smaller, more powerful and come in colors to match our kitchens. But as sophisticated as they have become, you still cannot microwave everything. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but this boomer learned how to live cohesively with a microwave. But also like an old dog, it only takes one or two smacks on the snout with a newspaper to learn "don't do it again." I learned that some things should not go in the microwave.

Anything that expands in water. The aforementioned grits and oatmeal are two prime examples. If the directions say "put in a microwavable bowl, add water and cook on high for x number of minutes," don't do it. You will end up with approximately one teaspoon of finished product and the rest you will get to scrape off every inch of the internal surface.

Bread. You may think that "warming" the bread in a microwave is a synch and so convenient. But if you set the timer one nanosecond too long, that warm soft bread you remove from the microwave will become a lethal weapon when it cools. I have seen Ginsu knives crack in half while trying to slice it.

Cheese. Similar concept to the bread. A second too long and you will be gnawing on something with a consistency similar to a Michelin radial tire.

Baby bottles. Always overheat. The time you save heating that bottle in the microwave will be eaten up as you run said bottle under the cold water faucet. Plus you will have a screaming grandbaby on your hands.

Hot water in a coffee or tea cup. Though I have never had this happen to me, apparently the molecules get all jazzed up and can potentially explode in your face when you jostle the cup. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I read it in an email someone sent to me and like a thousand other people, so it must be true.

Roasts. Sorry, but meat is meant to be slow-cooked. This is what ovens are for - cook the old-fashioned way so the house gets to bask in the aroma all day.

Ice cream. Personally, I always put my ice cream in the microwave for thirty seconds because I like it soupy. But the ridicule you endure from friends and family howling, "She puts her ice cream in the microwave" is not always worth it.

Anything with metal. Now most of us realize that tin plates, aluminum foil, pots and pans should not go in the microwave. But we are sometimes caught off guard by items that have thin lines of metal running through it that are not obvious.  This causes fireworks and loud noises to emanate from your microwave oven. I am not talking about pretty, colorful Fourth of July displays. I am talking about the scene you witness when traveling on the highway doing 70 MPH and the car in front of you has its muffler come loose. The tricky part is mustering up courage to get close enough to the microwave to hit the "stop" button before the timer runs out.

Honestly, aside from heating leftovers and melting my frozen yogurt (I've switched because I can justify it by calling it yogurt), I don't use the microwave. I'm still an old-fashioned girl who pre-heats the oven and uses pot holders.  My mother and grandmother would be proud. My daughters? They want a microwave with a remote control.

Tagged: Boomers, Microwaves