Microwave Cooking - Tips For Using, Cooking, and Cleaning Your Microwave

I know this will give away my age group, but I can remember life without a microwave. My teenage daughter thinks that means we started fire by rubbing sticks together!

The microwave oven has certainly made life easier, especially for households like mine where both parents work outside the home. We want our meal times to be fast and easy, while remaining healthy and affordable. Our microwave oven is one of the appliances that help us spend less time in the kitchen.

We use ours all year long, but it really helps in the heat of summer to not use the oven as often and heat up the kitchen at the same time.

It sounds simple, but needs repeating - read and follow your microwave oven manufacturer's instructions. Here's some other safety tips:

· Remember, the food will be hot! Be careful when removing from the appliance
· Never use your microwave if the door does not close completely or there are any other defects
· If you cover the food being cooked, be sure to leave it vented so steam can come out naturally
· Don't use any metal utensils
· Use only "microwave safe" dishes
· Follow recommended cooking times. If the time is a range (5-7 minutes for example), start with the lower time

Now some general cooking tips:

· Cut food in uniform sizes for more even cooking
· Arrange evenly sized food in a circle
· Follow the recipe or manufacturer's cooking directions! Stir at stated times, turn food over when required, and let food stand as directed after cooking
· Margarine can be softened by using half power for 45-60 seconds
· Wrap left over pizza slices in damp (slightly damp) paper towels and cook for 35-45 seconds. The damp paper towels help to keep the crust crispy. Otherwise, you may have a crust that you cannot bite!
· Baked potatoes are a microwave favorite. Just remember to pierce them with a knife to release steam.
· If you are defrosting meat in your microwave (which is a great idea!), be sure to cook the meat as soon as defrosted. The meat may be partially cooked and become a home for bacteria.
· Add salt after cooking. The microwaves are attracted to the salt and can cause your food to dry out.
· Use a dish larger than your food so it won't spill over while heating.

Gotta clean it!

· Place ¼-cup lemon juice and one cup water in a two-cup container. Heat until it boils (about 2 minutes on high). Leave the lemon water in the microwave another 5-7 minutes, then wipe clean with paper towels or a clean dishtowel.
· You can also use a mixture of ½ water and ½ vinegar and do the same thing as above.