Cook'n with Betty Crocker
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Volume II
July 29, 2005

Make the Most of Your Microwave

1. disinfect and deodorize sponges

Soak a dirty sponge in water spiked with white vinegar or lemon juice, then heat it on high for 1 minute.

2. toast nuts, bread crumbs, coconut

Spread them out on a plate and heat on high for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute. NOTE: They will continue to toast for about a minute after removal.

3. get more juice from citrus fruits

A refrigerated lemon or lime is harder to juice than one at room temperature or warmed slightly. To get the most juice, microwave citrus fruits for 20 seconds before squeezing.

4. cook vegetables

All vegetables can be steamed in the microwave without adding water. Place them in one layer (if possible) on a dish, cover tightly with plastic, and cook on high. The timing will vary, but check tender items, such as spinach, mushrooms, and snow peas, after 30 seconds, and crunchy ones, like carrots, after 4 minutes.

5. decrystallize honey

Honey that has solidified can be brought back to liquid life by uncovering the jar and heating on medium power for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

6. partially cook foods for the grill

Cook vegetables partway in the microwave, before putting them on the barbecue, to cut grilling time. Heat new potatoes for 2 minutes (prick them first), and bell peppers for 1 minute. And why wait until your next campfire to make s'mores? Put the marshmallows in the microwave for 30 seconds

7. disinfect plastic cutting boards

Wash the board well, rub

it with the cut side of a lemon, then heat for 1 minute.

8. roast garlic

It takes 45 minutes to roast garlic in the oven but less than 8 in the microwave. Slice off the top of the head to reveal all the cloves. Place the head in a small, deep dish, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of good olive oil. Spoon 2 tablespoons of water into the bottom of the dish, cover it with plastic wrap, and cook at medium power for 7 to 7 1/2 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes before unwrapping

9. warm beauty products

Warm up a hot-oil conditioning pack for your hair in about 10 to 20 seconds, or briefly heat up a facial mask -- especially a creamy, moisturizing one. (Stir the mask and test the temperature with your finger before applying.) And if hot wax hardens when you're only halfway up your calf, reheat it in the microwave. It's much less messy than using a double boiler.

10. soften brown sugar

Keep the sugar in its plastic packaging, add a few drops of water, and heat on medium for 10 to 20 seconds.

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