So you have a really nice and shiny new microwave in your kitchen; it's the bestseller on Amazon and it cost $150 or thereabouts. There is just one little problem with this picture as it would apply to most people: there isn't much use that people have in mind for microwave ovens. Certainly, they use them to heat up leftovers that they get out of the fridge; they use them to pop corn, and they use them for ready-to-cook meals that they get off-the-shelf. Little do they know that a microwave is a kind of magic device that can be the answer to so many problems that come up around the home.
For instance, every morning, you need your butter for your toast; take it out of the fridge though, and it's as hard as rock. You're never really sure of how to soften butter without risking melting it. If you are wondering if a microwave could be of help, you'd be right. All you need do is to take out the bit of butter that you expect to use at the moment, put it in the microwave for about 15 seconds on low power, and get ready for some smooth, buttery, toast buttering. Actually, with a little more time, the microwave can melt butter wonderfully, too. If you need melted chocolate for a recipe, nuking it for 30 seconds on high power should do it.
Microwave ovens can be great at softening other things as well. For instance, most people don't realize this, but microwaving ice cream that's frozen rock hard can be great way to get it to be nice and edible. Ten seconds on high power gets it done. And the same goes for cream cheese. For some reason, the microwave is a great tool to have for softening anything. Let's say that you buy a package of brown sugar; you open the box and what falls out isn't smooth cascade of beautiful brown crystals. Instead, you get a thud as a box-shaped block hits your table. Most people use a hammer to break it up; but you know better. All you need do is to put your block of brown sugar in a covered bowl, put in a couple of teaspoonfuls of water for moisture, and to set the microwave turntable spinning for about 3 minutes. At low-power, the microwave loosens the sugar up right away.
Microwave ovens are good for actual cooking chores around the kitchen, too. For instance, let's say there is a recipe that you need toasted coconut flakes for. You have your desiccated coconut flakes; how do you get it all golden brown and aromatic? You just spread it on a dish, and microwave it for about 2 min. at full power. Toasting fresh breadcrumbs works the same way too. One of my favorite ways to use a microwave has always been to make apple sauce. Just take a pound of Macintosh apples, peel them and chop them up, and microwave them with a quarter cup of water, a little sugar and cinnamon. Give them the full power for about 10 min., mash them up, and you'll be ready with a great dip. For more options on the best microwave ovens, click here.