Just after I had Caitlin in 2007, The Husband and I invested in probably the most ineffective appliance we’ve ever come across. It was a bottle warmer which you could program to heat the baby’s milk to the correct temperature. It used a dish of water to steam the milk.
At 3 am in the morning, we would take turns to stand watching this contraption as it whirred and hissed for about 20 minutes to produce a bottle no hotter than it would have been if we’d just held it in our hands whilst waiting and listening to Caitlin cry. For this privilege we payed about £40.
|Baby Caitlin at teatime|
We did this because, in the canon of birth and new born raising horror stories already-parents feel duty bound to share – largely with a feeling of “ha, you’ll see what we went through soon enough” – there is one that proclaims with almost Biblical fervour that “thou shalt not use thy microwave for heating thy children’s milk” lest the poor infant suffers terrible injuries.
After about three months of counting the kitchen tiles at ungodly hours, we slipped from the path of NASA level health and safety and put the formula in the microwave. It took us about a minute to work out that about 20 seconds was just about right. 20 seconds. Not 20 minutes.
Now obviously, anyone with a modicum of common sense will know that over-microwaving can lead to some very serious burns but we were careful to always check the temperature of the milk and to shake the bottle before giving it to Caitlin and, later, Ieuan.
Once the kids were weaning, the microwave was used again to reheat endless cubes of pureed apple, pear and simple bolognese type dishes gleaned from an acre of Annabel Karmel recipes.
|Strangely, Ieuan’s reaction to my cooking skills has always been the same ….|
That appliance that my father viewed as an evil source of energy which, according to him, required lead aprons to be worn when the first ones were tested, and which I had used at the height of my culinary experimentation to zap a range of different sized potatoes (and on one occasion a large Bramley apple), became the appliance that gave us our life back.
|Our beloved microwave in the kitchen here at Downton Shabby|
And in many ways, it still does today. We can batch cook and freeze then just reheat portions in the microwave when we’re tired. The Husband can usually find a portion of curry or chilli to enjoy when he returns home later from travelling. Our microwave heats milk for our coffee. It gives us decent porridge for the kids in two minutes flat in the morning. It melts butter for Victoria sponge making and chocolate for a decadent dessert sauce.
It is a bit of a challenging appliance to clean but a couple of lemons in a bowl of boiling water microwaved for a minute or so easily loosens cooked on sauce and removes odours.
Like any cooking appliance, the microwave needs to be respected and treated with care. It is an oven, after all! But of all the appliances we have, it is the one we find saves us the most time – and for busy parents, time is something you just can’t put a value on.
So, it may be a bit battered but it is loved – I love my microwave!