Cooking tips for the caring cook.
In the Microwave
- To get full cooking power, wipe out the oven after each use – especially around the door seal – using a mild detergent or baking soda solution. Soften stubborn soil with steam by boiling a cup of water in the oven. Lean with a plastic (not steel wool) scrubbing pad.
- To give microwaved meat an appetizing browned look, brush it first with soy sauce mixed with a little water.
- To get rid of lingering food odors or a stale smell, place a hick slice of lemon on a paper towel and microwave it on High for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Let stand overnight.
- If greasy residue or food inside the oven catches fire, keep the door closed, turn the oven off, and disconnect the cord at the plug or shut off the power.
- If you're worried about high electricity or gas bills, economize by preheating food in a microwave on high before completing the cooking in a regular oven.
- Find the hot and cold spots by spreading a layer of trimmed white bread slices edge to edge over the microwave floor. Set on High and watch the browning process through the glass door.
- To test whether a dish is microwave safe, place it in the oven next to a glass measuring cup of water; turn on High for 1 minute. If the water is warm, you know the oven is working. If the dish is cool, it is okay to use If it's hot, don't use it in the microwave.
- When arranging food on a dish to microwave, place the denser and larger items on the outside and the less dense and smaller portions on the inside. Stem ends of foods, broccoli, for example, should be on the outside of the dish. The denser and larger the food the more time it takes to cook.
- To soften hardened brown sugar in the microwave: Place hardened brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl, cover with two wet paper towels. Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on 100 percent power for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes (microwave ovens vary in power so you may need to adjust the heating time.)
- Or, microwave experts recommend placing the opened bag of brown sugar in the microwave next to a mug of water. Microwave on 100 percent power for 2 minutes; check and microwave 1 additional minute, if necessary. Break up microwaved sugar with a fork (sugar will be hot), and stir.
- Dense foods cook more slowly than porous ones. For example, mashed potatoes microwave much faster than baked potatoes and ground beef quicker than steak.
- To peel garlic quickly, snip the pointy end off individual cloves and microwave them for 10 to 15 seconds.
- To restore crystallized honey, microwave 1 cup honey (in it's own glass jar) tightly covered with plastic wrap for 1-1/2 minutes.
- To get more juice out of lemons, limes and other citrus fruits, microwave them on high for 30 seconds, then roll them on the counter to burst the juice cells; slice and juice.
- Carmelize sugar. Caramelizing sugar is easy and fast in the microwave oven. Put the sugar in a glass measuring cup. No fuss, no muss!
- When cooking foods with a skin or some form of membrane, pierce to keep them from exploding from the steam that builds up inside the skin during cooking. Foods to watch include eggs in shell, egg yolks, potatoes, tomatoes and hot dogs.
- To plump 1 cup raisins quickly, place them on a plate in a single layer, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water, cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave at 100% power for 1-1/2 minutes. Substitute sherry or wine for the water for added flavor.
- To microwave 1 pound of fresh asparagus: In a microwave safe dish large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer, arrange the spears with the stem ends against the short edges of the dish and the tips facing the center. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or a lid, and microwave on high for 6-1/2 to 9-1/2 minutes. Halfway through the cooking process, remove the dish from the oven and rearrange the asparagus so that the ones along the long sides of the pan, which have been receiving the most intense heat, are in the middle, and the ones in the middle are along the sides. Re-wrap and continue to cook. When the asparagus are done, unwrap the pan carefully, keeping your face away from the steam.
- Zap Odors. Give an old sponge a new lease on life. Soak the old sponge in a mixture of water spiked with white vinegar or lemon juice. Heat the sponge in the microwave on high for one minute. This will eliminate any odors and will disinfect the sponge.
Microwave Cleaning Tips
- One way to clean all that stuff that sticks to your microwave is to put about 1-cup of water and 1-tablespoon of baking soda into a microwave-safe bowl. Use large enough bowl so it does not boil over sides. Do not cover. Microwave for about three minutes and the stuck-stuff easily wipes right off.
- Another way is to boil a solution of 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 cup of water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered on food and deodorize at the same time.
Microwave Do's and Don'ts
- Use ceramic and glass ovenware. If you buy new cookware, check that it's labeled “microwave safe”. Never cook in metal containers. Aluminum foil is safe in some ovens but not others. Check your owner's manual.
- Be sure that your microwave cookware is tall enough to accommodate boiling foods.
- To avoid explosions, loosen the lids of frozen food containers, slit plastic food pouches, and pierce food with skin so that steam can escape during cooking.
- Do not deep fry.
- Center food in the oven and have the thicker, denser parts facing outward, toward oven walls.
- Follow the recipe and let food stand after you take it out of the oven. It's still cooking.
- Keep oven turned off when not in use. Don't leave the oven rack inside. The door should close tightly.
Microwave Baked Apples
2 medium (about 6 to 8 oz. each) apples
4 tablespoons favorite fruit preserves
2 tablespoons apple juice
Pare top third of apple; core. Arrange apples in microwave-safe baking dish; fill centers with preserves. Pour juice in bottom of dish; cover with vented plastic wrap or lid. Microcook at high (100 percent) 4 to 5 minutes or until apples are tender. Recipe serves 4.
Microwave Roasted Garlic
Slice off the top of the garlic head to reveal all the cloves. Place in a small, deep dish; season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Spoon 2 tablespoons water into the dish, cover, and microwave for 7 to 8 minutes.
Did You Know?
In 1947 the first microwave oven was introduced. It was called the Radarange.