Thursday, June 24, 2010

Freezer section trickery...

Because I don't like to cook and can't be bothered with it, I buy a lot of "skillet meals" in the freezer section of the grocery store. Most of them take less than 20 minutes to cook and involve dumping the contents of a bag into a large skillet. Hence the name, "skillet meals."

If one is going to nourish oneself in this manner, one should also read the directions carefully. I recently bought an orange chicken skillet meal, scanned the directions on the bag, and threw it into the cart. When I decided to make it for dinner last night, I discovered that everything could be cooked in-skillet - except for the rice, which came in a pouch, which had to be microwaved. Boil it, you say? The pouch had a warning label that said "for microwave use only: DO NOT BOIL." I threw the rest of the stuff into the skillet while my initial aggravation turned into fury that I wasn't going to be able to add what was probably the best jasmine rice in the world. I had to eat the chicken and vegetables with orange sauce. No rice. BECAUSE I DO NOT OWN A MICROWAVE.

A little history: We were one of the first families in our neighborhood to own a microwave, one of those massive metal Radaranges that took up as much space as the floor model Curtis Mathes television set in the den. It was the late seventies, I had three sisters, two dogs, a cat, two guinea pigs, and a soon-to-be divorced mother who had trouble dragging herself out of bed, much less cooking a meal. From 1979 to the early nineties, our home-cooked meals consisted of anything you could nuke the shit out of. It doesn't surprise me that I had a better relationship with Twinkies than with the limp stalks and rubbery greens that served as "vegetables" during my formative years.

As an adult, I have never owned a microwave. I hate them. I hate food cooked in them. The smell of Lean Cuisine makes me want to hork until the rice pilaf and herb roasted chicken I ate in 1993 comes up. If I had a microwave, it would only be an expensive water-boiler. I don't think it's a big deal, but some people think not owning a microwave is the equivalent of not owning a TOILET. Or that it means I am a hippie luddite (which I am not). Or that I'm crazy (which I am not). I've even had people visiting my house comment, "no microwave? That's crazy!"

First, I do reheat leftovers. I just use the OVEN. Microwaves turn leftover pizza into cardboard with cheese. Second, there hasn't been one instance in the past 10 years where I thought owning one would make my life easier.

Now, if I said I didn’t own a microwave because the government implants devices in them to track our eating habits and beam the information to satellites in outer space, or that microwave radiation causes tumors that make you thirst for human blood, that would be crazy.

However, if I plan to continue to eat "skillet meals," I might have to spring for a small one. That I would unplug and store in the closet under the stairs while not in use, lest it emit radiation while sitting on my kitchen counter.


  1. Rice is easy! Follow the directions for the amount you want to cook, bring it to a boil, cover and lower to the lowest setting and set a timer for 20 minutes. If you start it first, you can start your skillet meal after you've put the lid on and they'll both be ready at right about the same time. Uncle Ben's is my fav after years of Minute Rice. They just don't compare.

  2. I don't own a microwave either. The house I bought doesn't have one and I've lived here for about a month and haven't needed one yet. The only issue is that I also rarely cook so...yeah. I scavenge.

  3. Scavenge is definitely the right word! I spent most of my time at the grocery store looking for healthy food that either (a) doesn't need to be cooked or (b) can be dumped into a skillet, covered, and cooked on medium for 15-20 minutes. One night last week I ate cherries for dinner. An entire bag.


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