On Saturday, we said good-bye to our best appliance ever. On January 4, 1986 at Friedmans in South Square Mall in Durham, North Carolina, we purchased our first microwave, the Quasar MQ7785YW with Insta-Matic and Variable Power. It still works today, twenty-six years later, but it no longer fits in our life. It was a monster in size and power, and it held the memories of a lifetime. I was a little sad when my husband loaded it in the car with our old Dell computer for a trip to an electronic recycling event. Downsizing strikes again with its powerful memory conjuring power.
We were latecomers to the microwave world in 1986. At the time, I complained that we were the last people on earth to get one. Folks were microwaving leftovers at work, and popcorn smells were wafting though the office since the stinky bags had not been outlawed or frowned upon at that time. I had to have to one of these splendid machines. Even my mother had one before I did. With Christmas money and good yuppie jobs finally kicking in, we bought the Quasar for $399.95. It had a touch pad – no dial – and a feature where one just pushed a button, and the machine would “bake” a potato instantly. It may seem silly now, but it was a godsend for a girl who loved but didn’t have a lot of time to cook. I even took classes at Friedman’s so I could learn EVERYTHING about cooking in this newfangled oven.
Over the years, I learned that not much cooking is really done in a microwave, and most of what I learned to “wave” in the class is still better if it is cooked or baked the old-fashioned way. Cinnamon rolls cooked from scratch and “baked” in the microwave were awful. Vegetables were nicely done, eggs were a good bet, and chocolate sauce was a cinch. Exploding food became an occasional event with lots of yelling and cursing. Before we learned about the carcinogenic properties of microwaved plastic, a few container meltdowns occurred. There were sparks and small fires — and then we had a baby. No more unsafe waving fun.
The old Quasar was a lifesaver for heating baby food, warming the obese dog’s diet veggies of canned french style green beans and sliced carrots, making hot chocolate, boiling water and keeping Stouffer’s in business. A 13 X 9 glass pan fit with ease in the cavernous oven. Corn-on-the-cob, fresh asparagus and green beans became a summer habit because it was so easy to cook them perfectly. My son makes fabulous peanut butter chocolate fudge at Christmas mostly using the microwave. We threw out the old plastic containers eventually and repurposed the old Corningware casseroles that I got as wedding shower gifts years ago.
After a while, I was mildly concerned about the door seal and ventilation of the aged Quasar, but it was still a better machine than any of the newer microwaves that I tried. It sat away from the “kitchen triangle” on its own wooden cart under which we stored big items like the crock pot, blender and food processor. I told my son to “move away from the wave” when he stood in front waiting for the something to cook. Duncan, our late beagle, would sit at the foot of the cart and bark while he waited for his veggies to be heated and added to his diet dog food. I believe we were still safe from the evil waves.
Three years ago, we gutted the kitchen and renovated which was the beginning of the end for the Quasar. We moved it into the dining room and used it to get us through the applianceless and waterless construction for about 6 weeks. The dog was confused at first, but he caught on. Then, we got a new microwave to go in the new kitchen and the old Quasar went into the attic. Now we have a sleek GE microwave in our Richmond kitchen under the island at knee level and a clunky, weak, over-the-stove Frigidaire model in our Chicago condo. I oppose over-the stove microwaves because I believe in big, industrial strength range hoods with awesome exhaust properties. There will changes in Chicago.
I miss the old Quasar, but it was time for it to go. Out it went with the worthless 2001 Dell computer which did not perform nearly as well or as long as the 26 year old microwave. Off they went to recycle land, but I thought it was worth giving the longest-lasting-appliance-ever a somewhat doddering but ever grateful tribute.