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May 9, 2009 09:42 PM

Banning Nukes


So, about a year ago I ditched the microwave. Not a philosophical move, but practical. It lived on top of the fridge, and was hard to get at. Didn't use it much, and wanted the storage. The only time I really miss it is when a recipe calls for melted butter, and I didn't realize ahead of time and I don't want to wash another pan. Now I don't even understand why it was such a necessity. Anyone with a great love for the thing or a similar ambivalence?

  1. It's useless for cooking food.
    The primary thing I use it for is reheating some things (just have to watch the times like a hawk, otherwise, it's dryingand toughening cremation of good food..
    For reheating, it's quick and indispensable.
    Beyond that, it's...well...totally dispensable

    1. It makes great oatmeal

      It does a better job than any other method for corn on the cob

      In fact, for many veggies it is superior to other cooking methods

      It makes flawless rice

      It does a better job of cooking hot dogs than steaming or boiling

      You don't need a popcorn machine and you can pop without any oil

      You can blow up peeps.

      I could go on and on.

      You just didn't learn how to use it.

      90 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        I agree that corn on the cob is superior in a MW...ditto artichokes.

        Would you share your technique for making rice?

        1. re: fauchon

          I'd like to get rid of mine too, cause my living space is small and I've got an old gigantic microwave. But I too love to cook artichokes in the microwave! Seven minutes versus and hour???

          1. re: fauchon

            Three cups of water to one cup of rice.

            I hate watching stuff cook. I hate cleaning microwaves. Previously, I was nuking for a longer time, but the rice usually boiled over. By accident one day I nuked it for 5 minutes ... the time just before the rice started boiling over. I forgot about it. A few hours later when I opened the microwave, the rice had absorbed the water and was fluffy.

            Depends on the type of rice. If after about an hour of sitting there is still water, I just nuke 5 more minutes and check back after a while.

          2. re: rworange

            "You can blow up peeps." Got to admit I did not see that one coming.

            A pressure cooker, with the corn on the cob or artichokes on a trivet above the water, is easily the best method of preparation of corn on the cob or artichokes, better than a microwave. I have made this declaration ex cathedra, so you are not permitted to argue.

            We make rice 300+ nights a year, and we take our rice very seriously. We would never, ever use a microwave for initial cooking of rice. For reheating single-portion servings of already cooked rice, the microwave is useful.

            I make waffles for breakfast (in a real waffle iron) about once a week, which are then eaten with syrup. The unused portion of syrup in opened bottles we keep in the refrigerator from week to week. For bringing the temperature of the syrup up to pourability level, and to the temperature of the freshly cooked waffle, the microwave is indispensable.

              1. re: fauchon

                fauchon, nothing really secret, I think. The dedicated rice cookers are a godsend. For the casual buyer, they all may look the same, and there are SO many models. Here is the secret, if secret there be. As you go upward in price for any given capacity rice cooker within a maker's line, you get various buzzwords for thermostat until you reach "computer controlled," then "fuzzy logic," then "neuro fuzzy logic," then "induction heating," then "pressure induction heating." The BIG leap is the leap between ordinary logic ("computer controlled" or "micom") and "fuzzy logic." All the steps above "fuzzy logic" are minor incremental improvements, but the step between a very finely timed full-on/full-off switch ("computer controlled") and the inherent ability to turn the heat up just a little bit or down just a little bit ("fuzzy logic") is big and worthwhile.

                That microwave ovens tend to work in either full on or full off mode may account for our disdain for a microwave as a means to cook rice initially; rice really benefits from incremental tmperature adjustments over the course of the cooking cycle.

              2. re: Politeness

                Using a pressure cooker for corn on the cob sounds like a great idea! How many minutes, at what pressure level?

                1. re: Miss Priss

                  Miss Priss, if we know the corn is very fresh (we usually will not buy it if we do not know it is fresh), we hold the pressure at the first ring on the Kuhn-Rikon for 2½ minutes, and after turning off the burner (induction), let the pressure release the "natural" way. We add time if we are not certain that the corn is fresh.

                  1. re: Politeness

                    Thank you! I'm looking forward to trying it very soon.

                    1. re: Politeness

                      Tried corn in the pressure cooker last night, and it was great! The corn came from the supermarket, so its freshness was unknown, but at least the husks were still on. I husked the ears, put them in the cooker's steamer basket over a cup of water, steamed them for 2 minutes at 15 psi (which is this particular cooker's only setting), and quick-released the pressure. They came out crisp and sweet--perfect! Thanks for introducing me to this method.

                      1. re: Miss Priss

                        If the corn came out sweet, then it was fairly fresh. Sweet corn's sugars convert to starch in a fairly short time after the corn is picked.

                        1. re: Politeness

                          But then again, most corn sold in the supermarkets these days is GM corn, modified so the sugars don't break down as quickly. There is evidently no requirement to label GM products as such.

                          1. re: The Professor

                            As an agricultural scientist at one of the 15 international (not for profit) agricultural research institutes, I'm fairly familiar with current research on and development of GM crops. I'm not aware of any work on changing sugar - starch conversion rates in maize. Do you any citations?

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              I think I probably still have an article clipped somewhere...I'll check on that for you. Seems I read it maybe 5 or so years ago? I assumed what I was reading was factual...perhaps it was just some sort of anti GM propaganda? I'll look for the article and report back.

                2. re: rworange

                  I learned how to use it.
                  And actually, I'll give you a +1 on the are correct there (although I would argue about it being the best method for corn on the cob...the best way is on the grill)
                  Re most of the other things you mention, I just find it really doesn't do any of those things better than regular methods. To each his own, I guess. It's all good.

                  1. re: The Professor

                    Corn steamed I don't like, I love it on the grill #1, secondly I soak in the husks and bake, I may micro, wrap in saran with butter, s/p. Tender but crisp, hot and perfect and 2 minutes. A pressure cooker would fit on my stove probably no less my counter. Usually grilled most of the time.

                    And to below SQHD, I do like hot dogs especially with chili.

                    And for hot dogs ... yes medium temp and slightly score the top so it doesn't curl. Always worked. But micros are all different. Here is a tip. Insert a small wooden skewer from end to end and cook. Works every time.

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      You like soaking corn in the husks (before grilling)... so that suggests that you could soak it in salty water, seasoned water or even broth. Tried any of these?

                      1. re: Scargod

                        I tried salty once. I did see that much difference but one of my guest said it was better. I pull back and remove all silk and then put back and usually tie with some twice or tooth pick if grilling. I usually brush a little mix of olive oil and light s/p so the corn to me was too salty. I do the same in the micro Just for me or for 2 of us it is fine unless I get the grill out.. I wonder about a herbed broth, just tried the salt.

                    2. re: The Professor

                      I have to agree re: grilled corn on the cob...

                    3. re: rworange

                      I lost all faith when I read the words "hot dogs."

                      1. re: SQHD

                        While grilled is better, way better than cooked in water because it makes the dog soggy. Nuking keeps all the juices and flavors in, but is one of the few microwave things that requires exact timing or they get ruined.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I maked baked and mashed potatoes in it a lot
                          Hot dogs unless I'm grilling
                          Melting butter, heating up baby frozen peas and some other veggies
                          Heating up broth or stock, soup, leftovers.
                          Heating up my baggies of fresh made tomato sauce or my leftover rice or pasta
                          How about my steak I made last week, Several pieces for a nice steak salad but needs to
                          be warm. 1 minute in micro and done, why heat up the whole oven or stove when not

                          I cook very little from scratch but I don't have room for lots of cookware I am maxed out as is with no counter room. I use mine all the time. Dinner tomorrow, frozen, reheated and served in the same dish in the micro in 3-4 minutes.

                          Today I did a simple poached egg in a small plastic plate. Toasted a english muffin a fresh tomato slice a little rice wine vinegar on the tomato, some pesto and breakfast in 2 minutes no dishes.

                          1. re: kchurchill5

                            How can one make "baked potatoes" with microwaves?

                            Baking is a process that uses dry heat applied from the outside. Microwaves work by exciting water molecules from the inside.

                            Baking a potato in a microwave (unless you have a dual micro\radiant model) is scientifically impossible. You can put a kitten in a microwave, but that doesn't make it a biscuit.

                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                Sure it works, but I don't think it's proper to say "baked". That's all. Not going to argue the point. If you like 'em, that's all that matters. I for one don't care for the texture of the flesh or the tough, leathery skin that comes out of the micro.

                                1. re: bkhuna

                                  I understand, but they are baked in some method. And the skin not leathery at all, very tender and lightly crisp.

                                  But I can understand. But for just me or 1 or for my friend who doesn't have a oven, it works well, still fluffy which is most important.

                                  1. re: bkhuna

                                    To backup K, NO leathery skin! Are you confusing MW with baking?

                                2. re: bkhuna

                                  jfood cooks his potatoes in the MV all the time and he still calls them baked. It is a heckof a lot easier than telling the family "we are having steak with potatoes that were first microwaved and then finished on the bread warming rack on the Weber."

                                  1. re: bkhuna

                                    Makes great baked potatoes (and no need to finish in the oven). Have you ever tried it?

                                    1. re: bkhuna

                                      So with baking, water molecules inside the potato get excited by contact with excited molecules near the surface, which in turn are excited by hot air molecules surrounding the potato. In other words, the inside of the potato is heated by conduction.

                                      Does it matter whether the heat that cooks the potato is generated by electromagnetic waves, or conducted from the outside? The skin will be different, but I'm not sure about the potato flesh. The oven method might end up drier, but steam will escape from the potato in either method. But some people wrap the potatoes in foil before baking, which traps that steam.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I like a crispy skin on a baked potato. The aluminum foil method for making bad baked potatoes is surely a conspiracy propagated by the aluminum industry, because there is absolutely no reason to do it that way. If I'm really in a rush and must have a baked potato, I'll cook it part way in the microwave and finish it in the oven, but I think an oven baked potato also comes out lighter than a microwaved or half-microwaved potato.

                                        1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                          I agree if I have time and making it for someone other than just me. I had one for lunch on the boat. Perfect, a little butter, sc and some s/p. Perfect. Not too crispy skin, but fluffy!

                                          1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                            david, i agree that an oven-baked russet is fluffier than when done in a microwave -- although i'll use the microwave in a pinch. i think sweet potatoes have a silkier texture.

                                            i like cooking bacon in the microwave, too.

                                            i use the microwave for re-heating lots of things, and am happy to have it in my kitchen. i think it also works well for fish.

                                          2. re: paulj

                                            In cooking, there is transfer of energy by three means - convection, radiation, and conduction. All forms of cooking are using some combination of these. Conduction involves the passing of energy from one material directly to the other - a frying pan, for example right into the meat that's placed on it. Convection transfers energy through a fluid medium (gas or liquid). Radiation may appear to be the same as convection, but involves the higher energy levels of moving electrons and photons, sub-atomic particles, rather than molecules of a fluid material.

                                            Microwave energy transfer is not conduction. It is a form of radiation, where electrons are excited in klystron and magnetron tubes and then sent out as waves of energy, which transfers directly to the electrons within the object.

                                            Roasting is about convection. Air (or a fluid material) is used to transfer energy from the source to the object that is cooking. Depending on the location and type of the heat source, there is often some level of radiation that accompanies the convection.

                                            So a baked or roasted potato is cooked by 90% convection and 10% radiation, where a microwaved potato is cooked by 90% radiation and 10% convection (I'm just pulling numbers out of my ass, but the idea of the different ratios is what's important). If we can't detect the difference, good for us - let's use whatever works and makes life easier. But there is bound to actually BE a difference.

                                            Crisp skin is certainly an issue. But most people ignore the skin on a baked potato - personally, I eat it all. (Except when the restaurant obviously hasn't cleaned it or cut out the eyes/bad spots, or when they've had it in and out of the oven all night and the skin is shoe leather.)

                                            There is the possibility that what we actually like is the butter and the sour cream and chives. A potato is pretty tasteless, after all, and the actual quality of a baked potato differs tremendously from the type and freshness of the potato, and other reasons. It could just simply be that microwaving a potato doesn't actually make enough of a variance beyond what we're already used to, that it matters very little. Few people have taken the time to really analyze a microwaved potato versus a baked one, side by side.

                                          3. re: bkhuna

                                            Yes, and "risotto" made in the microwave isn't the real thing either, since (according to some, at least) the word refers to the cooking method rather than or in addition to the end result. But if the microwaved food is indistinguishable from the traditionally-prepared version, doesn't it seem just a little pedantic to object to the use of traditional nomenclature?

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              Actually, I have more problems with the semantics than I do with the actual process. If it becomes ok to start using terms in any way at all, you're on a slippery slope that will end up with people never being able to understand anything succinctly. Every process will have to be explained in detail - I baked this potato, by which I mean that I mw'd it.

                                              If indeed there is no difference, the shortcut is fully acceptable to all, then why not simply state the shortcut? Why wouldn't the entry, MW'd Rissotto, be completely acceptable to all guests sitting in an expensive Tuscan restaurant?

                                              1. re: applehome

                                                Question, a bit out of context ... but I have a friend who lives up north on land where he is building his home. He lives in his trailer. Now ... he is a trained chef and loves to cook. He has a small toaster oven, his grill and his micro. All small 3 person camper. He grills primarily but when weather doesn't permit he cooks inside. Last time I was there he made:
                                                Asparagus puree under a mushroom risotto with braised lamb shanks with fennel and a great wine sauce, sauteed peaches in a chambord liquid with fresh raspberries over fresh gingered cake of some kind, this amazing whipped topping and a grilled salad. No other than the salad (romaine) and the lamb which he did in a small wood fire rather than the grill do to severe storms. The wood pit was under cover. The rest in the micro. Risotto in a micro, wine sauce in a micro, sauteed peaches in a micro and baked caked in a micro. Oh yeah the fresh caught salmon mix in some kind of baked potato crust. All done in the micro served with an Asian dipping sauce as an appetizer. NOW, is that short cuts. He has no stove and had no burner. Yet 5 star all the way. His potato microwaved was great as a crust. The salmon tender, the lamp agreed was on the wood fire, risotto and asparagus all in the micro and desert as well. All I can say is kudos.

                                                As with him. his only means is a micro and a outside grill when weather allows. So is what he cooks not good or not considered baking because of using a micro. It was wonderful and tops most I had. He is a trained chef and yes ... you can cook in a microwave. You may not get the browning of the rice or pasta or with any other foods in similarity, but, flavor is just as good.

                                                1. re: applehome

                                                  Let's go beyond semantics to semiotics. The signifier (in this case, "baked potato") refers to the signified, which should be something that both parties to the conversation recognize as the same thing (in this case, a russet potato, cooked whole in its jacket with dry heat until, ideally, the insides are fluffy and the skin is crisp).

                                                  I would submit that "baked potato" refers, not to the cooking method, but to the result. It doesn't matter if the baked potato was cooked using a coal stove, a wood fire (complete with electromagnetic radiation), a thoroughly modern self-cleaning oven, a microwave, or some combination of those. So long as the signified is substantially the same, it makes sense to use the same signifier. What could be more succinct than that?

                                                  Of course, if your position is that the "baked" in "baked potato" refers to a specific cooking method, then you're right - it would be incorrect to refer to a microwaved whole russet potato as a "baked potato." But if that's the case - if the significance of the word "baked" is to identify a cooking method - then why do we refer to waxy potatoes that have been cubed and cooked in a hot oven as "roasted potatoes"? They are, in fact, potatoes that have been baked. But calling them "baked potatoes" would cause considerable confusion.

                                                  The reason for this is simple - in order to assure clear communication, anything other than what the parties to the conversation would recognize as a "baked potato" shouldn't be called a "baked potato" - even if it's a potato that has been baked. The converse is also true - anything that has all the attributes of what the parties understand to be a "baked potato" is, in fact, a baked potato.

                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                    So pork butt cooked in a crock pot with bottled sauce is barbecue because that's what some folks call it?

                                                    I think not.

                                                    1. re: bkhuna

                                                      I'm not arguing for descriptive versus prescriptive definitions. That's a whole 'nother thread. I'm saying that if two things are exactly the same, it's silly to call them by different names.

                                                      Pork butt **tastes** different when cooked in a crock pot with bottled sauce than it does when cooked low and slow over a smoky fire. They may both be called barbecue, but anybody with a palate will agree that they're fundamentally different things.

                                                      But let's assume for the moment that a potato "baked" in the microwave is absolutely indistinguishable from a potato baked in the oven. If it looks, smells, feels, sounds, and tastes exactly the same, what's wrong with calling the former a "baked potato"?

                                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                                      Most of it is advertising and the ease of calling something different is appealing to the majority of people. I can't even begin to think of the endless foods that have been reinvented. Mashed potatoes, now smashed and roasted. Baked or nuked. To me I really don't care as long as they taste good. Is it that important as to what we call them. BBQ. Traditional on a smoker, traditional on a grill. BBQ in the oven or in the crock pot. It doesn't bother me.

                                                      I made BBQ ribs in the crock pot. Are they traditional BBQ, NO. But what would 90 percent of the people call them ... BBQ ribs which they were and they were damn good.

                                                      So traditional, NO, but that is what the majority would call them.

                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                        Q. This is where we part company, ma'am! ;)
                                                        Example: Last night I grilled skirt steak and our guest called it BBQ! Really.

                                                        Because you put BBQ sauce on meat does not mean it instantly becomes BBQ; especially when it's basically stewed in a sauce. Then it all falls off the bone, right? It might be very good, but it would be incorrect to call it BBQ. It might slide by as "pulled pork" for some. Just 'cause something is tasty doesn't give you liberty to call it whatever you want. If you were in certain places, 90% of the people would snort and turn up their noses if you called that BBQ.
                                                        I think words matter, in many cases regarding food, or everything gets dumbed-down and you don't know what you have. We've certainly had many debates about this already.
                                                        I think baked vs nuked potatoes is splitting hairs since you can prepare and bake a potato in such a way as to have almost indistinguishable results from microwaved.

                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                          Barbequeing is what you Americans refer to as "grilling", isn't it? Maybe over charcoal.

                                                        2. re: kchurchill5

                                                          One detail that was never brought up in The Great Baked Potato Debate of 2009 is the type of potato used.

                                                          I've nukified many different varieties of potatos and they all do well in the microwave with one exception. While Yukons, whites, reds, etc. all come out just fine, the skin of Russett's always seem to turn into leather when nuked.

                                                          Are those who like the skin on their potatos using Russett's? If so, how do you get the skin to be crispy?

                                                          It's that one thing that prevents me from being a convert.

                                                        3. re: alanbarnes

                                                          The first time that authentic and or fine dining restaurants start putting "microwaved" as a method of cooking, because it is in fact fully acceptable to all, I will withdraw my own objections to having my food microwaved. I will, however, never accept that a restaurant microwave a normally roasted or otherwise cooked item, without telling people - if microwaving is so darned acceptable, then let it be known to one and all that this food was microwaved - stand up and be proud about it. Microwaving remains a shortcut to me - and to most people, today. Many places use it to save time, but generally not authentic or high-end dining places.

                                                          Perhaps the issue is with bad technique. People don't know how to microwave properly, and so end up with dried, shriveled, hard product. Or they are cheating and reheating something that they would not otherwise reheat and serve - the result is most often, if not always, crap on a plate.

                                                          I refuse to accept that a microwaved potato is the same as a baked potato. I fully understand that many people can't tell the difference, and of course, you will all insist that I cannot, either. But my criteria are indeed different. I love the skin partially crusty, and yet soft enough to eat. My favorite way of making baked potato is to wash/scrub/remove eyes, rub all over with kosher salt, then throw it on the indirect side of the Weber lit with hardwood charcoal. So if you guys can get that smokey, woody, crunchy/soft skin done in the ol' microwave, I'm gonna eat that old crow that keeps bothering the chickadees on my feeder.

                                                          Most steak houses produce the same type of potato, if not quite as smokey as mine. I just don't see that coming out of a microwave. Obviously, a baked potato isn't one thing - there is a broad range of final product. The thing that makes them all baked potatoes is that they are BAKED!

                                                          A microwaved potato is an ersatz baked potato. Just because you can't tell the difference between them, especially with enough butter and sour cream, doesn't mean the rest of the world can't. By all means, if you like microwaved potato, eat microwaved potato. But it's not a baked potato.

                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                            I'll have a "salamandered potato" and "convectioned corn". Sheesh AH.

                                                            You forgot to mention that there are many ways to prepare a potato for baking, numerous coverings that you can put around it and many devices that can truly "bake" a potato. Which one produces the real baked potato?
                                                            Edit: And, oh yea, like bkhuna mentioned, we would have to all be on the same page as to the kind of potato we were cooking...

                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                              Where I'm from, we tend to call them "jacket" potatoes (i.e. they have their skin on).

                                                              I think an equally important question is, if baking and roasting are the same, what's the difference between a roast and baked potato?

                                                              Surely roasting involves fat?

                                                              And would a microwaved potato not be more 'steamed' than baked? Baking is surely a slow cook in a hot chamber.

                                                            2. re: applehome

                                                              Do you really think it's necessary to disparage others' palates just because they disagree with you? I'll happily concede for the sake of argument that you can make a better potato on your Weber than I can in my microwave. And I'll even let you call it a baked potato, although it's really grilled.

                                                              But while I admire your perfectionism, you're missing the point entirely. A baked potato does not have to be the best possible baked potato to deserve the name.

                                                              Suppose you take a diminutive russet that's got a solid layer of green under the skin and flesh that will never be anything but mealy. Don't bother washing it, just pop it in the oven for a while. Pull it out while the middle is still hard as a rock. What is it? It certainly wouldn't be something you'd want to eat, but what would you call it? It's a baked potato, of course. An abominably bad baked potato, sure, but a baked potato nevertheless.

                                                              Or, more to the point, what about a russet that's been baked in aluminum foil? It will never be as good as a potato baked in the way you describe - the foil holds in steam, resulting in flesh that is less than perfectly fluffy and skin that has a slightly leathery texture. But you can't seriously argue that it is anything other than a baked potato.

                                                              In my experience, a potato that's been properly cooked in the microwave is absolutely indistinguishable from one that's been wrapped in foil and baked in the oven. It's quite different from a potato that's been washed, dried, oiled, salted, pierced, and cooked on a rack. It will never be the best baked potato in the world. But it's a baked potato nevertheless.

                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                Let me see if I can make an anology that works...

                                                                A silver spoon, compared to a steel spoon?
                                                                They do the same job, and they look similar enough, but although one is 'silver' in colour, it is not made of silver. The steel spoon is worth inherently less.

                                                                I'd maintain that a microwaved jacket potato is kind of steamed, and it doesn't have that maillard effect (I think?) that an oven-baked jacket potato has. Even though baking in the oven essentially steams the potato as well.

                                                                Sorry to butt in.

                                                                1. re: Soop

                                                                  No comment on the analogy.

                                                                  But are you saying that a potato that is cooked in a MV has steam released, but one that pops into the oven does not? And if the latter does have moisture released (that is jfood's position) does it not then increase the moisture environment of the oven therefore having the same steam-convection (although at a different ratio) process in place

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    I'd say they both cook via steam.
                                                                    The second point... Not sure. I'd say that in an area the size of the oven, the steam released is probably not enough to have an effect.
                                                                    The main difference is that the microwave heats the food directly, whereas the oven will heat the air around the potato. This enables it to brown and crisp up on the outside (which to me is the tastiest part).

                                                                    Although they're similar, I'd contest that the maillard effect on the skin is enough to separate a microwaved jacket and an oven-baked one.

                                                                    Another anology perhaps is heated bread and toast? They're both the same thing with the exception of the maillard effect I suppose. Perhaps that's not a fair example though.

                                                                  2. re: Soop

                                                                    I agree with you completely that a potato "baked" in the microwave is fundamentally different than one baked uncovered in the oven. But many people wrap potatoes in foil before baking them in the oven. Doing so produces a potato that is, so far as I can tell, exactly the same as one cooked in the microwave.

                                                                    I think everybody will concede that the foil-wrapped potato, although inferior to a properly baked potato, is in fact a "baked potato." Assuming for the sake of argument that a microwaved potato is identical in every way to the foil-wrapped potato, why shouldn't they be called by the same name?

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      I'd conceed that a foil wrapped jacket potato is virtually identical to a microwaved potato. However, when we're dealing with the kind of monster who would perpetuate such a crime, what use are words? J/K :P

                                                                      I understood the "foil wrap" technique to be used for barbeques and bonfires (placed directly among the coals) rather than the oven though. In that (the oven) context it seems kind of pointless.

                                                                      I would put it to you that wrapping a baked potato in foil is similar to using another vessel in an oven, or perhaps "the wrong way to do it".
                                                                      I add the caveat that it may well be to some peoples tastes, in the same vein as the "you're doing it all wrong" feature on CH.

                                                                      1. re: Soop

                                                                        I made the argument Alan has been making, but was sparing all the (I thought), obvious details.
                                                                        Can you not admit that some don't like/want the crisp or tough skin, or the dried out outer layer, when they put it in foil or nuke it? We're not monsters!

                                                                2. re: applehome

                                                                  >>> The first time that authentic and or fine dining restaurants start putting "microwaved" as a method of cooking, because it is in fact fully acceptable to all, I will withdraw my own objections to having my food microwaved.

                                                                  Does it count that Thomas Keller created a line of microwavable dinnerware?

                                                                  Or that he suggests a use for the microwave for his recipe for PIGS FEET WITH FRENCH GREEN LENTILS

                                                                  Or what about Michael Richards cookbook, "Happy in the Kitchen"

                                                                  "... among his colleagues, Michel Richard is the chef's chef, the one others look to for inspiration. "Why didn't I think of that?" asks Thomas Keller, in his foreword to Happy in the Kitchen, about Richard's innovative technique"

                                                                  He "whips up spectacular chocolate pudding and béchamel in the microwave"

                                                                  Maybe chefs should come up with a sexy term for microwaving like sous vide something that evokes drool just by appearing on the menu like wood-fired.

                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                        Seems like Ferran Adria is using the microwave as well ... does that make it cool enough for gastro-snobs?

                                                                        "But the most radical new tool employed was the microwave whether used to set simple egg white soufflés or "bake'' a black sesame sponge cake mixture aerated by a spumas gun to make the world's lighted sponge.

                                                                        Ferran Adria said thatthe important techniques were often not the spectacular ones. "You might see the microwave in every home kitchen yet it is definitely a vanguard technology.''

                                                                        Another article mentions

                                                                        "On the weekend Adria, 46, held spellbound a sell-out audience of 1500 chefs and foodies at Hamer Hall, lecturing about his approach — part bowerbird, part boffin — and presenting videos of elBulli's methods and food.

                                                                        Dishes included flexible meringues that look like timber, astonishing replica fruit, leaf-like crackers, and sponge cakes prepared with a soda siphon and cooked in the microwave."

                                                                        And yet we don't know what we have in our kitchens ... we yawn at the microwave instead of being spellbound.

                                                                        Now I would have paid big bucks for that ... 1500 foodies watching AF microwave.

                                                                        Not one of his recipes but a starting point to begin exploring the brave new world of the microwave possibilities

                                                                        Beef "Cappuccino" with Parsnip Foam

                                                                      2. re: rworange

                                                                        I believe F Adria does one of his foam things in a paper cup in the micro.

                                                                      3. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        alan, i like your explanation. but...what *is* up with "roasting" vs. "baking"?

                                                                      4. re: applehome

                                                                        so what would you call pot roast:

                                                                        - on the stove top it becomes pot conduction or conduction roast
                                                                        - in the oven it becomes pot convection or convection roast

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          I've made pot roast on the stove top and on the grill and in a wood fire pit. Should I still call it pot roast. Same flavors, same seasoning, same vegetables, same flavor. Just a different method and same results. I still call it pot roast.

                                                                          Lots of ways, same results right?

                                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                            Absolute-a-mundo Ms K.

                                                                            Jfood needs to ask the little jfoods if there is an acronym for tongue in cheek, so for now Jfood will place TIC.

                                                                            BTW - the wet weather from FL just hitthe northeast.

                                                                          2. re: jfood

                                                                            Roasting and baking are generally considered synonymous, roasting is applied to meat while baking to breads, etc. But there is a more general definition of roast - in Webster, for example, they have "to cook meat, fish, or vegetables by heat". It also refers to the meat that this heat is applied to.

                                                                            A pot roast is made in a pot. The only time conduction is used is when it is being maillard browned, otherwise through braising or boiling, convection is the method of heat transfer. Whether the pot is on the stove top or in the oven, the main agent of cooking within the pot with liquid and air is convection.

                                                                            If you cooked pot roast in a glass or ceramic container in the microwave, it would be cooked with a combination of radiation and convection from the liquid and air within the container. But the result wouldn't necessarily be that different from a traditional stove-top/oven cooked pot roast. It would remain a pot roast, insofar as the term roast here has nothing to do with actual roasting.

                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                              Thanks for the obvious Appy. Jfood is really glad on this one "A pot roast is made in a pot". Whew...major mystery solved.

                                                                              So if someone takes a pot roast recipe, throws it in a bag and removes all the air and places it in the MV. Then he places the MV on low with a glass of boiling water next to it is it sous vide, radiated, convected?

                                                                              How doyou explain:

                                                                              1 - "I refuse to accept that a microwaved potato is the same as a baked potato" with
                                                                              2 - "But the result wouldn't necessarily be that different from a traditional stove-top/oven cooked pot roast. It would remain a pot roast"

                                                                              This is so confusing, maybe jfood will BBQ some dogs tonight on the Weber.

                                                                              BTW - in your last paragraph would you call it glass container roast?


                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                Well - I explained earlier, but let me repeat. Baking potatoes in an oven (or a grill over indirect heat, which means it's acting as an oven) is 90% convection 10% radiation. MW is 90% radiation and 10% convection. As I said, I'm making up the numbers, but the difference is obvious. Why would you expect it to come out the same, to create the same textures and flavors all over (including the skin)?

                                                                                A Pot Roast has fundamentally different properties, being cooked in liquid and air under all circumstances. So the difference between one method and another is not going to be as pronounced.

                                                                                Let me just say that I find the lack of scientific method applied here to be appalling. I tried to explain the three methods of heat transfer and how they might have different effects on foods, but few have understood the real physical differences that are occurring. I'm sorry that this is a difficult concept to understand, or that I seem to be explaining it wrong. I can only recommend that you read McGee on the subject - he is a far better explainer and writer than I. (and makes far more money at it...)

                                                                                Microwave cooking is a method of cooking - I never disputed that. That people, especially those leaning towards science and a true detailed understanding of food and the changes that happen with food when cooking, have experimented with this type of cooking, and have arrived at some wonderful new ways to use this method, is not at all surprising.

                                                                                But just like it is a huge shame to see vegetarian cooking creativity wasted on recreating meat based dishes, it is a waste to see Microwave cooking wasted solely on replicating other methods and devices. I don't believe for a second that Keller or Adria are nuking potatoes and serving them as baked potatoes. They are, instead, applying this different form of cooking to new recipes, taking advantage of what this method offers that cannot be done otherwise.

                                                                                As with sous vide (and microwaves have been around as long or even longer, in terms of modern culinary thinking), the method can only be done well by those that are taking the time to learn how to do it well. The majority of uses of Microwaves in restaurants (and in the home, most likely), are about shortcuts, not at all about creativity or quality. Once again, chowhound has become about celebrating the everyday, the mediocre. Microwaved potatoes are not GREAT. They are quick, they are edible.

                                                                                Please - call your microwaved potatoes, baked potatoes - be happy, live long. But I'll still send each one back that I get in a restaurant, and if you serve me one at your home, don't expect my good manners (?) to protect you from a rant about serving creative food, done with effort and pride, to your guests.

                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                  if you would indeed rant to me in my home about *anything* that I served you, I don't think there would be a need for the question mark, as your 'good' manners would be non-existent. But that's ok, because I wouldn't invite you back either, so you wouldn't have to be subjected to the horrors of a microwaved potato, or whatever, again, at least at my home.

                                                                                  and of course, if you really had good manners, and a bit of sense, you would know that the way to avoid getting a microwaved potato in a restaurant, where you are a customer and not a guest, would be to ask before ordering how the potatoes are prepared. (and obviously if they told you they were microwaved, you'd order something else. If they told you they were oven baked and they weren't, then by all means send them back).

                                                                                  I prefer oven baked to microwaved potatoes also, by a long shot. Which means that in summer around here I either go without or sacrifice taste for comfort (can't stand to use the oven for long periods). but I wouldn't dream of criticizing someone who was gracious enough to invite me to share their table.

                                                                                  1. re: applehome


                                                                                    Par 1-2:
                                                                                    So if there is a ~90/10 vs ~10/90 diffeential there is absolutely no comparion. Yet "A Pot Roast has fundamentally different properties, being cooked in liquid and air under all circumstances. So the difference between one method and another is not going to be as pronounced." So where does one draw the line? Is a 20/80 vs 80/20 or is it 65/35 vs 35/65. It appears your posts in and of itself are contradictory.

                                                                                    Para 3
                                                                                    Appalling? What scientific conclusions has anyone made other than you. Jfood fully understood the HS science you posted, and he understands the differnces, but has drawn a different conclusion than you. All the posters have been discussing potatoes in a MV. Thanks for the reference to McGee, looks right up Jfood's alley.

                                                                                    Para 4 -

                                                                                    Para 5
                                                                                    First part - jfood does not care where the method comes from but if a vegetarian wizard can create a great meat dish, yippee to jfood. Jfood again disagrees with the remainder. Jfood thought your position was you could not recreate a baked potato in the MV. If Keller can do that, jfood would like to understand, and he would guess that you would as well. Oops, that would disprove your conclusion.

                                                                                    Para 6
                                                                                    Oh please. As one learns any craft they get better. Another stating the obvious. And jfood would suggest you open your eyes to quick does not mean crappy, it means faster. Jfood is proud of progress and how he can make a great potato in the same time frame as his chicken on the grill. Calling that potato on his plate mediocre is appalling.

                                                                                    Last para
                                                                                    Good news for both you and jfood. His company is there to learn, discuss, teach, enjoy and have fun, not preach and denigrate. And "protect you from a rant about serving creative food, done with effort and pride, to your guests"...enough said

                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                      "So where does one draw the line? Is a 20/80 vs 80/20 or is it 65/35 vs 35/65. It appears your posts in and of itself are contradictory." The point, obviously, is that the extremes reflect greater differences. Where you draw the line is entirely up to you. If you can't tell the difference between fundamental cooking methods at all, you will be eating a lot of boiled foods - a fate that may await us all.

                                                                                      "jfood does not care where the method comes from but if a vegetarian wizard can create a great meat dish, yippee to jfood" I wasn't referring to the vegetarian creating a meat dish, but to creating a vegetarian dish to emulate a meat dish. I'll eat at vegetarian Indian restaurants all day long, but put a soy breakfast sausage in front of me, and there will be a gag reflex. Why waste your time and effort emulating something that can never be done to the original specifications? Similarly, if my original baked potato specification calls for a char-grilled skin, you and Keller and Adria and anyone else can work miracles in the Microwave - it would simply never get there. Of course, you can lower your standards and enjoy the simulation that comes out of the microwave. Like I said - ersatz food.

                                                                                      Of course, I was being hyperbolic with reference to being such a rude guest. Nevertheless, the point remains - do you have any pride in cooking for your guests? Do you serve them Kraft Mac'nCheese? Store-bought burritos? Microwaved baked potatoes?

                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                        1 - jfood can tell the difference.
                                                                                        2 - Boiled food may await those that refuse to grow and accept, so jfood is covered.
                                                                                        3 - totally agree. stop the nonsense of that tofu stuff mascarading as a pig with lipstick.
                                                                                        4 - jfood hopes the boys can figure it out
                                                                                        5 - jfood has great pride and if jfood did happen to serve store bought burritos, the dinner would be just as fantastic as if he served perfectly prepared, true to tradition, straight from the rosetta stone cookbook meals. Serving guests is about the company, not food perfection. BTW - jfood has served baked potatoes from the MV.

                                                                                        Ciao A

                                                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                                                          You continue to conveniently ignore my premise that a potato wrapped in foil and baked in an oven is indistinguishable from a potato cooked in a microwave. And many cooks in homes and restaurants everywhere wrap potatoes in foil before baking them.

                                                                                          Whether they do so because of habit, ignorance, or preference for the end result, the incontrovertible fact remains that they do. You would presumably claim that such a potato has been baked using a method that's less than ideal, and I would agree with you. But only an idiot would argue that it's anything other than a baked potato. Right?

                                                                                          Now let's assume for the sake of argument that a microwaved potato is absolutely, indistinguishably, exactly identical to a potato that's been wrapped in foil and baked in the oven. Neither of them meets your "original baked potato specification," but one of them is indisputably a "baked potato."

                                                                                          If you want to redefine "baked potato" to exclude anything that's wrapped in foil (or cooked in an electric oven, or prepared before noon, or whatever other arbitrary restrictions you care to impose), that's one thing. Good luck with it, and give Sancho Panza my best. But assuming that the foil-wrapped potato is indeed a "baked potato," please explain to me why it's not okay to use the same term for the absolutely identical potato cooked in a microwave. Why on earth would we would want to use two different names for two identical potatoes?

                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                            I submit that there is a difference in the fundamental chemical and physical reaction process between radiation and convective cooking. You're point is that who cares, if you can't tell the difference. My point is that there is a difference and that someone somewhere might be able to tell the difference, or maybe if you try to use that potato in some other way (hash browns, wgon wheels, twice baked, etc.) these kinds of differences might become more detectable. I'm not saying that for sure, I'm saying maybe. I'm starting with the fundamental understanding of the science, and assuming that there is going to be some detectable difference, somewhere down the line. It's not baking, not because of the end product, but because of the very, very fundamental difference in the cooking method.

                                                                                            Absolutely identical (for eating purposes) is not absolute. The difference between radiation and convection - now, that's absolute.

                                                                                      2. re: applehome

                                                                                        >>> Once again, chowhound has become about celebrating the everyday, the mediocre. Microwaved potatoes are not GREAT. They are quick, they are edible ... if you serve me one at your home, don't expect my good manners (?) to protect you from a rant about serving creative food, done with effort and pride, to your guests.

                                                                                        Chowhound is about what is delicious. Depending on the cook, the food from conventional cooking methods can be delicious or bad. You host might bake that potato in an oven in a way that is not to your personal liking.

                                                                                        Why do you equate fast with bad food?

                                                                                        Do you not use a food processor, or do you personally chop by hand, grind in food in a morter and pestle, etc, etc.

                                                                                        I tell you what was a bigger impact on the taste of food ... that silly appliance called the oven. No more chopping the wood, stoking the fire ... and the loss of flavor ... restaurants don't promote wood-fired for nothing. Damn time-saving devices.

                                                                                        You write ...

                                                                                        >>> it is a waste to see Microwave cooking wasted solely on replicating other methods and devices.

                                                                                        But they do it faster and in some cases better and not to mention more environmentally responsible. One dish can be used in the microwave, eliminating cleaning extra pots and pans. Less power is used. Depending how you feel about radiation, they are safer. You don't read about microwave burns or people catching their clothing on fire. No one is 50 miles down the road on a vacation fretting they forgot to turn the microwave off and the house might burn down.

                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                          All good points, as are the ones you made previously regarding the creative and expert use of microwaves. But I stand by the fundamental difference, molecularly between radiation and convection - and this does translate to some gastronomical differences. There is a best way to use both - as there is a best way to use conduction. Certainly, there are overlaps and certain recipes will appear indistinguishable whether microwaved or baked, But others shine when done in one way, and one way only.

                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                            Hey, App, I agree w/ you and prefer a good oven baked potato, but if the oven is not on for a meal and it is a week night; a nuked spud is "goodenuff".

                                                                                        2. re: applehome

                                                                                          >>> Microwave cooking is a method of cooking - I never disputed that. That people, especially those leaning towards science and a true detailed understanding of food and the changes that happen with food when cooking, have experimented with this type of cooking, and have arrived at some wonderful new ways to use this method, is not at all surprising ... I don't believe for a second that Keller or Adria are nuking potatoes and serving them as baked potatoes. They are, instead, applying this different form of cooking to new recipes, taking advantage of what this method offers that cannot be done otherwise. ... the method can only be done well by those that are taking the time to learn how to do it well. The majority of uses of Microwaves in restaurants (and in the home, most likely), are about shortcuts, not at all about creativity or quality


                                                                                          First of all neither Keller nor Adria would make anything as boring as a baked potato ... as delicious as it might be ... and what either would call a baked potato would be done with irony ... the deconstructed, reworked baked potato ... evocotive of the original

                                                                                          Second, Michael Richards, who Keller calls the chef's chef is duplicating other cooking methods using the microwave such as pudding and bechamel ... do you consider that a wasted effort?

                                                                                          Does Richards put that on his menu if this is how he makes it in the kitchen ... probably not ... for the same reason that there is lots of tapdancing done on menus ... calling squid, calamari, for example ... the public isn't educated enough to appreciate it and menus aren't exactly littered with ordinary cooking terms.

                                                                                          If using a stove vs a microwave is superior ... I guess StoveTop stuffing must be wonderful.

                                                                                          Again, it boils down ... so to speak ... to who is using the appliance. The person heating up their frozen dinner in a microwave was probably putting frozen dinners in the oven. A person who puts out tasty food in an oven will make equally tasty food if they know how to use a microwve correctly.

                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                            Michael Richards... Kramer? I know I'm being flip, but I can just see a Seinfeld episode with Kramer and the Microwave. Michel Richards, OTOH (and yes, of course Michael=Michel in French - but the chef prefers to go by the French version), has high standards - and he has figured out how best to include the microwave to meet them. I'm sure there are plenty of people who know what they're doing with the microwave. Nevertheless, I think that the science comes first. Radiation is different from convection - period, end of story. Knowing that is the first step to knowing what you're doing with a Microwave.

                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                              Another anology: Painting and printing. Ostensibly the same result, different technique. Bottom line: Distinctions are important.

                                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                                Yes, and night is different than day - period. But that doesn't mean that food is necessarily different when it's cooked after sunset.

                                                                                                First off, your distinction between radiation and convection is bogus. How do you think a broiler or an infrared grill cook things? Radiation. But a cook does not need to master the laws of thermodynamics before using the broiler. Rather, s/he just needs to understand what results a broiler will produce. Same with a microwave.

                                                                                                Second, while everybody agrees that microwaving can produce different results than other cooking methods, it's a logical fallacy to then assume that all foods turn out different when they're microwaved. When cooking a steak, oven-roasting, pan-frying, and microwaving will give you dramatically different results. But a cup of boiling water is a cup of boiling water whether it's been heated on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave.

                                                                                                A microwave is a tool, and a versatile one at that. Yes, it can be misused to abominable effect. But your broad disparagement of microwave cookery is akin to a claim that there's something wrong with ovens because they can be used to cook TV Dinners.

                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                    The key difference between radiation (as from a heat lamp or broiler) and the microwave is the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation. One uses infrared radiation, shorter wave lengths, which does not penetrate very far into food, exciting just the surface molecules. Microwaves are longer, and penetrate further into food, exciting water and fat molecules to about a depth of one inch.

                                                                                                    I'm not particularly happy with the term 'convection cooking'. Convection refers to the way the fluid (air or water) moves heat from the heat source (pan bottom, oven heating element), to the food. In natural convection hot fluid is lighter and hence rises. In forced convection as fan blows the air past the heating element, and into the oven cavity.

                                                                                                    Heat is transfered from the fluid to the food by conduction. That is, hot (excited) air (or water) molecules share their energy with molecules in the food. Hot surface molecules in turn pass their heat energy to ones further in the food. Only if the food is porous can we say that heat is transfer into the food via convection.

                                                                                                    With all these methods, heat passes further into the food by means of conduction - regardless of whether the surface is heated by radiation or by contact with a hot fluid, or whether radiation heats subsurface molecules. Frying uses fat as the medium to transfer heat from the pan to the surface of the food.

                                                                                                    There are several key differences in the microwave. Because it is the water in the subsurface that gets heated, the surface does not get hotter than the boiling point of water, and hence does not brown, or crisp. The exception is something that is already high in fat, such as bacon. Fat molecules, in the absence of water, can get hotter. Also the interior heats faster (if the food isn't too thick), so the surface is exposed to heat for less time. With less cooking time, less steam is generated, and less moisture is lost. Hence microwaved potatoes will not be as dry.

                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                      Your description of the physics involved is spot on. The distinction between the convective heating of the air in the oven and the conductive cooking from the outside of the potato particularly salient.

                                                                                                      And you're absolutely right that different kinds of radiation produce different results. A halogen cooker, a ceramic infrared burner, and a microwave oven each produce unique results. By the same token, though, different oven temperatures produce different results as well.

                                                                                                      Whether something is cooked using radiation, convection, or conduction is just one factor in how the final product will turn out. And it's a pretty minor factor at that. Even applehome would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a potato baked in a convection oven and one cooked with the radiation from a halogen cooker.

                                                                                                      The real question is the maximum temperature that various parts of the food reach, how quickly they reach those temperatures, and how long they stay there. Over 212F? If there's water present, you're going to have steam. Under 350F? No Maillard reactions for you. It doesn't matter if you use microwaves, charcoal fires, or magic spells - when food reaches a certain temperature, it will undergo specific and predictable changes.

                                                                                                      Those who understand how each tool in the kitchen will affect the food it's cooking can make better judgments about which method will produce the desired results with a given dish. But even if you've got no clue about the physics involved, trial and error, a little patience, and a keen palate can give you the same information.

                                                                                                  2. re: applehome

                                                                                                    And cooking in a pot is different from cooking in a pan is different from cooking in an oven is different from cooking on the grillis different from cooking in a smoker is different from broiling is different from steaming is different from not cooking at all - double period.

                                                                                                    And knowing that radiation and convection are different are nice to haves, not must haves in learning to cook with an MV versus an oven. Little jfood learned how to use both waaaaaaaay before high school science and jfood did not sit her down and say, "now honey, let's discuss radiation versus convestion before you can learn how to cook popcorn on the stove versus in the MV."

                                                                                                    And after Kramer learned how to use the disposal in the shower, using an MV was a piece of cake.

                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                      Yeah - but I'm wiling to bet that she could immediately tell the difference between microwave popcorn and pan-popped popcorn - who wouldn't?

                                                                                                      So we all seem to agree that some things are better done outside of the microwave - including baked potato with a nice crunchy, brown skin. So, apparently, it's a matter of standards. If you're willing to accept popcorn that can't hold salt, or baked potato that has inedible skin, then the microwave is certainly for you. Not a universal negative, to be sure.

                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                        this whole potato argument is a red herring.

                                                                                                        no a MW cannot make a baked potato that tastes like it was cooked in the oven. That does not mean it cannot cook a potato well, a potato that tastes good, or a potato suitable to fry or mash.

                                                                                                        If you try to sell me a car and i say that it cannot fly like a plane, it does not mean a car is useless for transportation. A MW is not a replacement for a stove. But it cooks many things well. including potatoes. but it can't fly.

                                                                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                                                                          Just because you haven't been able to cook proper popcorn in the microwave doesn't mean it can't be done. While I'll concede that nobody can get the same results microwaving a potato as cooking it in a hot oven, that is definitely not the case with popcorn.

                                                                                                          It's not a matter of standards, it's a matter of knowledge. It's certainly your prerogative to refuse to learn how to cook in a microwave. But don't assume that your ignorance extends past the doorway to your kitchen.

                                                                                2. There are only two things for which I really value the microwave: quickly reheating a mug of cold coffee or tea, and making popcorn without oil (using a microwave popcorn popper). Otherwise, as far as I'm concerned, it mainly takes up space. Anything else I do with it can be done just as well, or better, by some traditional method. You have the right idea!

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: chipman

                                                                                      Yup. (But I assume your question was rhetorical.)

                                                                                      1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                        I can't stand a MW reheated cup of coffee - the oils are bitter, almost as if they were rancid. Tea isn't so bad, there isn't as much oil. But if my coffee or tea is getting cold, I'm obviously not drinking it as quickly as I should!

                                                                                      2. re: chipman

                                                                                        we have to ,we cold brew at double strength

                                                                                    2. Outside of the peeps, which can't be blown up any other way, I guess I just don't make any of those things enough to have a seperate piece of equipment. Especially such a big thing.

                                                                                      1. Years ago I cooked a number of things in the micro. Barbara Kafka 's 1987 book is still regarded as one of the best on microwave cooking. I still use it occasionally, but not often.

                                                                                        Now the microwave is close to the dining table, and used mainly for warming leftovers. It is good for melting butter. I also have time down for warming flour tortillas and bread (without drying). It is also good for a quick defrost.

                                                                                        We also use it to warm a 'rice snake' - a sock filled with rice that serves as a heating pad.