According to Murphy’s Law, it was inevitable that something in the house would break down during the holidays. Not wanting to disappoint my premonition, our faithful microwave decided Dec. 28 it had cooked, rewarmed and thawed enough food. Just like the tapes on the original TV version of “Mission Impossible” the magnetron tube self-destructed in a cloud of smoke with a most horrible noise from the turntable motor.

Because of the snowstorm that weekend, we were still snowed in and weren’t going anywhere that day. We spent most of the next day digging out, and on the 30th we were headed to Denver to visit Hubby’s aunt and cousins for the New Year.

I went retro and used the oven and stovetop to reheat Christmas leftovers like my mother and grandmothers did before they even knew about the wonders of microwaves. Since Cicely was staying behind to do chores, she had to make do with the same reheating methods or cook something new.

I shared the demise of my faithful cooking friend on Facebook, noting I had purchased it from my aunt in 2003 when she moved from Laramie, Wyoming, back to Nebraska to be closer to family after my uncle died.

Her independent living apartment already had a microwave, so the one purchased for the Laramie house was up for grabs. We quickly raised our hands as the previous model had succumbed to some weird ailment and was in the shop. We weren’t certain about the outcome of the shop model, but knew this one was only a year old and we wouldn’t have to go hunting for a new one if the diagnosis was terminal.

So fast forward to Jan. 3. We were headed to Lincoln for a men’s basketball game and realized we would have time before heading home the next day to go microwave shopping. We headed to one of our favorite appliance stores and checked out their options.

The magic word “SALE” was plastered across one shiny grey-black model and when it was determined it was in our price range, we snatched it up. When we got home, we quickly unboxed it and that’s when we realized we almost had a problem. The 2020 version was about one-third larger than its 2003 counterpart and it was going to be a tight squeeze to get it on the same shelf we had used since remodeling the kitchen in 1997.

Fortunately, the front width just fit and Hubby brought in a saw to widen the back vent slot, which was simply a piece of plywood placed for stability for the first one we used. Once in place it was snug and secure and ready to launch.

Launch? Well, we left for vacation just days after the purchase and Cicely came home to do chores. After arriving, she noted on her Facebook page, “It appears my parents have purchased a spaceship in lieu of a microwave.”

I’ll admit the coloring and size does make this model appear like a small space capsule and it will take some space age thinking to operate. For once, I was glad I had read the owner’s manual, as this model is a 1,200-watt zapper while my previous one put out “just” 1,000 watts. That translates to more power, which means everything heats up faster. Because of that, I was able to save Cicely some grief as she prepared to use the variety of leftovers in the refrigerator while we’re gone.

Instead of warming leftovers at full power, depending on whether they are meat or vegetables, you only need to use 80% or 90% power. The full power setting is only needed for heating or reheating liquids and cooking certain pieces of meat.

That’s right, cooking meat. I have rarely cooked meat in my microwaves because they are notorious for not cooking meat evenly, meaning some parts would be dried out while others might be undercooked.

This model has all kinds of recipes for everything from roasts to ground beef and sausage dishes that I will be trying out over the winter. The spaceship will be getting a good workout as we explore Planet Food.

Freelance journalist Barb Bierman Batie grew up near Battle Creek, Neb., and now farms row crops with her Platte Valley Farmer, Don Batie, northeast of Lexington. She can be reached at

Barb is a freelance journalist who grew up near Battle Creek, Nebraska, and now farms row crops with her Platte Valley Farmer, Don Batie, northeast of Lexington. She can be reached at