Sunday, June 12, 2011

Living simply....could I actually do it?

Well folks, it's official. I won't be living on the streets of Madison next year. (Not as though that were ever really an option, I have plenty of people in Madison willing to house me) I found my apartment! It's adorable and classic in that typical Madison style and I'm anxiously counting down the days until I can move in. While I'm a sucker for hardwood floors, bright classic white windows, and charming old world hex tile I've come to realize my adorable kitchen lacks a certain something. It has plenty of cabinet space, a cute little breakfast nook area, a refrigerator, and a GAS stove (something I dearly missed in my last apartment)...but no microwave. It also lacks a dishwasher, but I hardly ever used the dishwasher in my last apartment and usually prefer to wash things by hand. By no means is a microwave necessary. Most people who have occupied this planet did not/do not own a microwave. When I was in Senegal my family cooked all of their meals over a little kerosene cooker and they tasted fantastic. I've been spoiled. (Not that I didn't already know that) Even my first year of college I rented a MicroFridge combo.

Upon further reflection of this Microwave quandary, the idea formed that perhaps lacking this appliance could in fact enhance my culinary endeavors. I've always enjoyed cooking, it's something my dad said all of us kids needed to learn before we moved out of his house. When I moved out on my own for the first time I assumed I would be doing a lot of it, and I did. I cooked meals for myself several times a week, but I ran into a roadblock. The Microwave Dinner. It was the perfect solution for a working, full-time undergraduate student. I would come home starving, pop something in the microwave, and be eating in minutes. Practical...definitely. Healthy? Not so much. I would buy "healthy" (ie: low-cal) frozen dinners and assume that eating them was making a smart choice for my body. Not so, naive former self, not so. This article from MSNBC explains some of the downsides of frozen meals. Highlights include the lack of fruits and vegetables, high amounts of sodium, and the inability for one to cook a healthy meal for themselves. Plus....have you seen the meat in that stuff? Gross. Not that eliminating a microwave would eliminate frozen foods altogether for me, but it would definitely cut out the convenience factor and probably cause my to choose something else.

After recognizing these benefits, I start to like the idea of living without a microwave. Immediately all of the uses for a microwave run through my mind. Heating up leftovers...making beloved kettle corn. None of these things really proves to be a problem for me in terms of limiting myself to no microwave. I usually like leftovers cold anyway, I own a tea kettle, and ways to make popcorn without using a microwave certainly exist. (That being said, I would probably positively cut down on my popcorn consumption if making it took more than pressing a button). Yes, I certainly believe that living without a microwave will be an improvement for me. So I've decided that, come move-in day, I'll try living without a microwave for a full year. This doesn't necessarily mean eliminating processed foods from my diet, but it's a step in the right direction. We've become slaves to our microwaves, and I'd be doing my dad a disservice if I threw away all of the cooking skills he taught me for a couple of Lean Cuisines.

(PS: I'm certainly not the first to do this, one quick google search for "living without a microwave" brings up sites like Learning to Live Without a Microwave)

edit: Forgot to say I also spent some time gardening with my parents today. On the agenda: Tomatoes, Sage, Rosemary, Basil, Cilantro, Chives, and JALAPENOS! I didn't even realize jalapenos could grow in Chicago, but we'll see how they fare. I may have to buy my own potted plant to stick in the window of my new place on move-in day. I'm sure Madison has community garden plots that I can dabble in as well.

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