Reheating w/o a microwave
So my microwave bites the dust the week before I return to school. Though there is some money in budget for a new nuker, I'd like to use the money for other purposes and postpone replacing it. IIRC, I lived in a house w/o a microwave and my housemates used a double boiler to reheat food, I seem to remember as a kid putting food on an oven proof plate, covering it with tin foil and letting it get warm in the oven. Of course soup and stews can be done stove top, but I was wondering what other microwaveless households do. Thanks
I have lived without a microwave for most of the past decade. How I reheat something depends on what it is: lots of things, I will reheat in a bowl set in a bamboo steamer if I want them to be moist, in the toaster oven in foil if I want them to be crispy or less moist, or on the stove in a pot if they are of the right consistency (stew-like). I think I once saw a recommendation to reheat pizza in a fry pan to make the crust crisp up.
Thirded. I haven't had a microwave since 2003 and don't miss it one iota. Most people find this incomprehensible: when I tell them, they lament, "Oh, I just knew someone who threw out a microwave! Had I known..." and then fail to understand when I reassure them that it's okay: I could afford but don't want a microwave, and I'm happy having the extra counter space.
It may take considerably longer to reheat food, but it tastes so much better. Pastas, stir fries, etc go in the cast iron or the wok and are reheated over high temp with a bit of oil and water and turn out with a great consistency. Most other things are warmed in the oven, either at a moderate temp if dense and thick, or on broil if thin. Either way, the end result is much nicer than the old nuker.
One convenience I miss very much is the ability to re-heat steamed rice in the microwave. The usual alternatives (eg setting a bowl of rice in a bamboo steamer) work, but the results are just not as good, IMO. I use a ziplock bag in boiling water on occasion, too. But more and more, I just reheat my rice in the rice cooker using the "Keep Warm" function. It takes a long time, but it is better than steaming.
Our household is recently microwave-free. There are some things that are a bit of a challenge - like reheating steamed rice. The most effective method I have found so far is to portion some of the cold rice into a ziplock bag, seal it, then immerse it into hot water (from a kettle or heated in a pot). Take it out after a few minutes. It is sort of like a boil in a bag. You can probably use this method for other things.
Answer depends on what you're reheating. I'm a big fan of stovetop reheating for leftovers. With something like rice and beans, a little water. tomato, or vegtetable stock can work wonders. I like to use vegetable or chicken stock in reheating many leftover dishes, including polenta. Just pour some stock in the pan, use a potato masher to break up the polenta. I also use stock when reheating leftover rice.
4 apartments ago, we didn't want to move the big old clunker of a microwave from 1980 so we decided to forgo and I haven't missed it since (well, except for the occasional popcorn craving). Like many others, I use my toaster oven for lots of reheating, sometimes the stovetop for liquidy things. I actually like the way it reheats better. Of course, I do have to think more in advance, cause I can't microwave a meal in 3 minutes, but at the same time it helps keeps me honest when it comes to snacking....
What _do_ you have on-hand?
Clearly a traditional range with stovetop & oven is available for your use.
But, do you have:
A) The Toaster Oven mentioned?
B) An electric Skillet
C) An electric Kettle
D) An electric Rice Cooker
E) A Slow Cooker (such as a Crock Pot brand?)
F) An electric Griddle
G) An electric quesadilla maker
H) An electric Sandwich maker / Panini Press, or other
I) An electric Hot Pocket maker
J) An Immersion Heater for boiling water on the fly
K) A rotating electric countertop frozen pizza heater
L) Anything else that heats up?
A_ The toaster oven will take you far, but ,,,
B_ The Presto $19.99-at-any-KMart 11" electric skillet with dome lid is a boon for getting MUCH done in a flash - you can pull off anything in those things! Baking a cake - or a batch of brownies is a snap - as is clean-up (Wipe clean with a towel and you're done!)
Set a frozen pizza in there and it's ready - albeit misshapened a tad, but edible in minutes, too!
Place any frozen meal in there with the lid on and soon enough, "Dinner's Ready!" - in the disposable container!
Biscuits _will_ bake it there - from a cylinder, or from scratch
Pineapple Upside Down Cake is nice - any cake you invert onto a plate with "instant topping" like that is extra great done out of the oven, in my opinion -
If you don't have one, I suggest the $20 a good investment
C_ An electric kettle is great for boiling water _faster_ than the microwave - But, you _can_ also make perfect pasta in the electric skillet - (Add water + salt, bring to the boil with lid in place, add pasta, watch the time, taste for al dente, drain, embellish and enjoy!
So, it's your call, but, the rapidity of the boil can't be beat. In the final count: I vote the electric kettle "in" to the kitchen.
D_ An electric rice cooker will do _so_ much more than "simply cook rice! It's fast for boiling up just about anything - though a reading of the short instruction booket is "worth it", so please _do_ read it. If you can get one that holds at least 10-12 cups, please do.
E_A slow cooker will up the ante of your meals on the fly with minimal effort. For example, before bed/ in the evening, brown some meat, or pick over some beans. Add water & Savory, or seasonings of your preference & "set it & forget it" overnight. When you awaken, the day's lunch is ready to go into a Thermos & the evening meal's already "Ready!" - Or, set oatmeal up for overnight, share with the household, quickly clean it out, fill with meat browned the night/evening prior + whatever's desired & everyone comes home to "faster-than-microwave-because-it's-ready-when-you-walk-in-the-door meals! :-) After dinner, set up the next morning's hot cereal and so goes the "instantly ready" pattern sans microwave.
F_ If the focus is on tortillas, French Toast, or pancakes: An electric griddle will be a boon - it's also great for turning out grilled cheese sandwiches en masse for everyone's cup of soup, or ? for hot lunch or dinner, and you _can_ use it to set things upon to warm back up, but I'd skip it, make the sandwiches 4 at a time in the electric skillet and the same for pancakes/French Toast - I'd pass on the griddle, for now.
G_The electric quesadilla maker is pretty cool for making quesadillas with almost individual "cutting lines" - It does the same for heating tortillas - which it's also great for, but, again, the $20 electric skillet will also do all this without need for the quesadilla maker - though it is "fun" to pour scrambled eggs into the cups, added what you like, close the lid and see all these little individual servings scant seconds later - It's still something I give "pass" to - The $20 electric skillet will do all this - and much more - withou making marks on the tortillas, or portioning the eggs.
H-L_ I don't have enough good to say for any of these things when it comes to heating/cooking on the fly without a microwave.
Again, my #1 advice is get the $20 electric skillet + get the electric tea kettle + get the electric rice cooker + get the Slow Cooker/Crock Pot brand. Those (4) work horses will serve your heating & re-heating needs & wants very well - and you'll find you may be using them to cook with more than the stove & oven, which will help your utility bills go down!
Here is something you may wish to consider:
Add sliced potatoes -or- pasta
Cover and remove from heat
Wrap in towels, or set under the covers & pillows of your bed! :-)
Come back in 20 -30 minutes - after a shower, or load of laundry, or study session, or episode...
All the convenience of the absent-but-not-missed microwave + no added utility bills! :-)
I, too, was once a "starving student" - In time, you'll look back fondly on your "lean daze".
Any other queries?
I hope this was helpful to you.
Thanks for all the great advice. This weekend I going to buy two smaller sauce pans and will probably reheat using them and the pie plate and tin foil method. This summer I'll buy a toaster oven. It's going to be nice having more counter space once I remove the microwave.