If this is the major use of your microwave -- or maybe defrosting -- you are not taking advantage of this versatile workhorse.
- Disinfecting and deodorizing sponges -- Soak a dirty sponge in water and white vinegar or lemon juice. Without wringing it out, place it on a microwave safe plate and zap it on high for one minute.
- Disinfecting plastic cutting boards -- Wash the board well, rub it with the cut side of a lemon and then heat it for one minute.
- Making s'mores -- Put the marshmallow on a graham cracker, zap it until puffy (watch carefully). Immediately top it with chocolate squares and a second cracker, smoosh it down and enjoy! (Instead of expensive Hershey bars, I often make chocolate frosting and frost the graham cracker instead.)
- Watch a "Cheep" expand -- A silly but popular pastime when the traditionally yellow addictive chicks fill the candy shelves in Spring.
- Toasting nuts, bread crumbs or coconut -- Spread them out on a plate and heat on high for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Watch carefully, usually they will continue to toast for another minute after removing them from the microwave.
- Roasting Garlic -- Slice off the top of the head of garlic to reveal all the cloves. Place the head in a small, deep dish, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of water into the bottom of the dish, cover with plastic wrap and cook at medium power for 7 to 7-1/2 minutes. It takes 45 minutes to roast small garlic in the big oven!
- Getting more juice from citrus fruits -- If you need lemon, lime or orange juice and your fruit has been in the refrigerator, microwave the piece for 20 seconds before squeezing the juice out. More juice is released from room temperature or slightly warm citrus fruits.
- De-crystallizing honey -- If your honey has solidified, it can be restored to its liquid state by uncovering the jar and heating on medium power for 30 seconds to one minute. (Note: If it is in a plastic container that is not microwaveable, transfer it to an appropriate container before doing this.)
- Steaming vegetables -- frozen vegetables can be steamed without adding any water. Fresh vegetables can be steamed with just the little remaining water that clings to them after rinsing them. Simply place them, as much as possible, in one layer in a dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap and cook on high. Timing will vary so watch and check. Tender items (spinach, mushrooms, snow peas, etc.) should be checked after 30 seconds. Crunchy items like carrots, after 4 minutes.
- Partially cooking vegetables you are going to grill on the barbecue to save cooking time -- Prick new potatoes so steam can escape and heat them for 2 minutes, bell peppers for 1 minute.