And when the option to replace it quickly is not there either because microwave ovens are backordered everywhere due to supply chain issues resulting from Covid-19, that is when the reality check sets in.
A few months after we arrived in our new place, we were sitting in the living room, watching TV, when we heard the microwave making beeping noises. We weren’t cooking anything, we hadn’t left anything in it, and frankly there was no reason for it to be beeping, but it was. We dismissed it as just a random incident and didn’t think much of it.
But in the days that followed, it happened again and again. Not just one or two beeps, but a series of beeps like our microwave oven was receiving Morse code from somewhere, and for prolonged durations. Even in the quiet of the night, from our bedroom we could sometimes hear the beeping competing with our cat’s nightly choir practice.
We just chalked it up to another one of our house’s “stories of the unexplained”.
A few weeks later, without being asked, the microwave’s screen started showing us random recipe instructions and maintenance instructions, or going into “demonstration mode”. We started wondering if the microwave was slightly haunted. But we took the scientific approach and unplugged the microwave, waited one minute, and then plugged it back in. It seemed to work fine… for a while.
The microwave oven still worked and still performed as we needed it to, but it was these random extras that made us wonder if the end was near for what we estimated was a ten-year-old machine. Unfortunately, appliances don’t seem to be built to last as they used to be, which is an outrage, given the state of our rapidly filling land fill sites.
It was when the screen started locking up and not responding to our commands that we started getting worried. Fortunately the unplugging trick got it back into working order… for a while. But a few days later, the screen did decide to freeze up permanently.
It was the one day when the screen wouldn’t accept our commands and the microwave mysteriously turned itself on that was the ominous death knell. We decided to unplug it for the last time, and not plug it back in. We looked at the clock on the range and declared the official time of death.
We looked up the model number online and found a message board with other people reporting the exact same issue. It’s comforting to realize that you aren’t alone with things like this. But the news wasn’t great in terms of how to fix it. Even appliance repair people said that it could require a new electronic “board”.
That news got us wondering if it was worth forking out money for a board and the labour charges, for a ten-year-old machine, versus just buying a new one. It saddens me that the decision to dispose was as easy as it was, but we knew that we were not going to get another ten years out of it.
So (back in December) we ordered a new one, only to find it backordered to early February, which is now late February. Someday our oven will come.
But in the meantime, for us, it was like learning how to cook all over again. We did not realize the point to which we were so dependent on the microwave oven for quick meal preparation during a busy week and surprisingly, under Covid-19, the pace at our offices hasn’t slowed down one bit.
Plus, in our recent move to the country, our options for take-out meals are quite limited. Going into a rotation of drive-through meals was not an option.
Regular readers know that because of my intolerance to wheat, my practice (for more than a decade) has been to prepare large batch meals on weekends and to freeze the leftovers in small containers, which become my quick weekday meals, reheated in the microwave oven.
The challenge is that not all of the recipes in my repertoire can be reheated in the oven or on the stove-top to achieve the right consistency, texture and flavour.
That being the case, we had to put many of our large batch meal recipes on the backburner (metaphorically speaking) as the freezer was already full of little containers, and to focus more on smaller meals resulting in few or no leftovers.
For me, it was a little like learning to cook with my left hand tied behind my back, because my big batch cooking method was deeply ingrained as my way of focusing my healthy meal prep time and energy on the weekends rather than on the weekdays, when time and energy are in limited supply.
We were forced to make the time to revisit our recipe books. Along the way we discovered some amazingly delicious recipes for stir-fry meals, tacos and slow cooker pulled pork, that don’t really lend themselves to microwave use, even for the reheating process.
The bright side is that in not having a fully functional microwave for 3 months, we were forced out of our comfort zone of sure-fire (metaphorically speaking) recipes and cooking smaller meals intended to be enjoyed in the moment.
It was definitely a change of pace that required some planning and re-organization but we ended up discovering some tasty new favourite recipes that will remain in the repertoire for years to come.
But as you can imagine, when the new microwave oven finally arrives, I will still take a moment to appreciate how much easier they make our lives and what a time saver they can be. I will not take my microwave oven for granted ever again.
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Have a great day,