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South Texas Living

Life is easier with a microwave

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
June 20, 2012 | 2,164 views | Post a comment

I had to do without my microwave oven for several days about two months ago. I knew I used it quite a bit, but I had forgotten how much easier my life is with one. I realized how much I missed it when I wanted to make enchiladas.

I used to make a large cookie sheet full of enchiladas when all the kids were at home. I made them the way I had learned -- dipping the corn tortillas in hot grease first, then dipping them in chili gravy, then rolling them up with meat and cheese filling. Then I would pour more gravy on top after I had laid them out in the pan and sprinkle more grated cheese on top. Then they went in the oven of the gas range. That was then.

Sixteen years ago when Henry was diagnosed with a heart condition, I started to cook differently. I quit dipping the tortillas in oil. Instead, I moisten the tortillas with water and stick them in the microwave for a few seconds and they get soft so they can be rolled up easily. Since it is only three of us now, (temporarily), I don’t make nearly as many as I used to.

We like plenty of onions, so the filling is cheese and onions. I cook the lean ground meat in chili gravy and spoon it over the enchiladas. I top them off with a little more cheese. Then they go in the microwave for two minutes, just long enough for the cheese inside and on top to melt. So simple compared to the old way.

But on the day that I didn’t have the microwave, I wondered how I was going to soften the tortillas. I was not about to dip them in oil. So, I moistened them with water just by wetting my hand and rubbing it over the tortillas. I spread them on a shallow pan and put it in the oven. It worked to a certain extent, but they did not get as soft, and they were getting hard by the time I did the last one. I made sure I put plenty of the meat and gravy over them to soften them. Then they went in the oven. Of course, they were not done in two minutes.

While enchiladas are still very rich because of the cheese, they are not as bad as with a lot of oil. (I hope my cardiologist doesn’t read this.)

During those days that I did without a microwave, I thought back to all those times before I had a microwave when I had to keep supper on the stove for Henry in three different skillets or pans and reheat the food, sometimes two or three times.

I also thought of other inventions that our kids would have been grateful for when they were growing up. For instance, the older boys would have appreciated a remote for the TV instead of having their fathers call them inside so they could change the channels for him while he lay on the couch.

And Letty would have welcomed a weed eater instead of having to get on her knees to clip the grass along the base of the chain link fence with grass shears, since the lawn mower couldn’t get close enough to do the job.

Yes, inventions that make our lives easier are great. And better late than never.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry. Her email address is

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