paying attention

I’m not a fan of frozen meals.  However, there is one in particular I do keep as a stock item in my freezer.  It is…

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This is my go to when I am watching my dairy and gluten intake.  The listed ingredients are organic and the sauce is really tasty.  But I’ve gotten into the habit of using the microwave to heat this meal up, even though I typically avoid microwaving except for occasional use, and especially items with instructions to microwave with the plastic cover on (such as these enchiladas)!  I have read many of the articles and engage in the lengthy debate about cooking food with the microwave.  And while my own cooking practices easily support maintaining a kitchen sans microwave, I still haven’t thrown mine out.   The most recent article I’ve read http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/18/microwave-hazards.aspx offers all the reigning arguments for why microwaving is NOT good for your food and possibly not good for your health either, and also offers clear advice for how to break free from microwaving.  I am paying attention.

Of course, I could choose the other option in the instructions to heat in a conventional oven.  But I never do….realizing that the impulse to have this meal asap is more prevalent than my concern about microwaving.  I recently stocked up again on these enchiladas, and now, after many months of abstinence (my passive solution to not dealing with the fundamental desire to throw the microwave out), pull a package out of the freezer with hopes of making a quick lunch.

I use the microwave to defrost in the cardboard dish the enchiladas are frozen to, but only after pulling the plastic wrapping off completely first.  I use the four minutes to quick saute some fresh greens in a saucepan on the stove and throw in the 1/4 cup or so of leftover brown rice.  The enchiladas are not quite warm, but enough to scoop out of the container into the pan on top of the greens.  I add just a tad of water, swirl the spoon around the contents of the pan once, cover, and simmer on low for a few minutes.  What a pleasant surprise to find this gorgeous looking pan of food when I pull off the lid…

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And it really does taste as good as it looks!  Pleased with the solution to just minimally use the microwave,  to adorn the meal with freshly added greens, and to still have hot lunch in less than 10 minutes, I consider how easy it would be to make this exact same meal without the microwave.  It would just take a little more time.  And then require me to think ahead, or wait, in order to have a similar result.  Why would I do this?  What exactly am I paying attention to?  What is it that is at the root of this desire to be done with the microwave and why am I resisting it?

It’s as my anthropologist daughter likes to remind me:  How can we really know what we are ‘told’ is the truth when we each have a particular cultural filter through which we allow information to be experienced?  I’ve grown up with the cultural filter that innovations such as the microwave are good because they save time, and therefore money.  To turn my back on this feels like I am denying something essential about my culture.  By contrast, my own internal filter allows me to see and feel where integrity of food, and the context within which it is prepared, matters.  Even if it takes more time. In this debate I realize that I conveniently forget that I don’t like the taste of coffee re-heated in the microwave, or the unnatural texture of too many foods cooked there.  I forget that I cringe when it is on, and instinctively move away from it.  And so, today is the day I truly pay attention and say goodbye to the microwave…and hello to the newly cleared space in front of me….

2 thoughts on “paying attention

  1. We’ve had our microwave in the laundry room for years. It is seldom used. Maybe my microwave should join your microwave and make room for all the pretty quilts I’m going to make!

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