Fashion Plate

If you like Texas Jot, please take a look at my other blog, Fashion Plate. It is the home of my handmade retro Barbie clothes and lots of delicious recipes from my cookbooks.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Worst Microwave Messes

Is this your oven? Found it on Google.
I must be in a real cleaning mode, what with the search for crumbs last week and now the mega microwave messes.  I do have a bit of a fetish about a CLEAN microwave oven.  There is no way I'm going to even boil water in that contraption if there is food clinging to the upper regions or grease on the walls.  I've found that my biggest microwave food nemeses are:
1. chili/spaghetti - just about anything with a tomato base will do a number on the microwave.
2. popcorn - make sure the bag is correct side up and don't leave the popping corn for a minute.  When the pops get more than a few seconds apart, the popcorn starts to burn...and what a stench left in the microwave, burned or not.
3. butter - I love to melt butter in the microwave, but it spatters like crazy.
4. white chocolate- even more so than regular chocolate, white chocolate will burn in the blink of an eye. You can only semi-melt it and stir until the rest of it softens.  If it burns even slightly, you cannot save it.
5. baked beans, etc. - any form of dried beans in sauce forms  hard-core stalactites on the oven's ceiling.
6. potato - I honestly believe the potato and the microwave cannot co-exist.  Either it will make a starchy explosion (despite pricking holes) or it will never, ever, ever cook all the way through. 
Please feel free to add to my list. I'd love to read about your experiences.  Misery loves company.

PARTNER has a difficult time grasping the concept of covering things with waxed paper before you place them in the microwave.  This miracle product will eliminate splattering of tomato and bean products, as well as butter.  If someone at your house has the ill-conceived notion that as long as something fits in the microwave it is safe to nuke, then you too will be faced with trying to remove grease and food from the microwave's interior.  For minor spills, a cleaner with bleach will do the trick, but you'll have to follow up with something like Windex to remove the streaks.  If the oven is a pit, then you need to place a quart size pan of water with 2 teaspoons baking soda, along with a wooden spoon or skewer and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Leave the door closed for another five minutes to steam off the crusty bits. After you clean off the worst of it, resort to the bleach cleaner and Windex shine.  If you make popcorn at night and don't want to be blasted by the smell the next morning, try leaving the door of the microwave open overnight.  If you need to clear the odor immediately, cut up some citrus slices in a bowl of water.  Heat for about 3 minutes.

My parting shot on microwave messes must include the phenomena known as superheating.  When you heat just plain water in the microwave, the water can heat faster than bubbles can form.  If the water doesn't bubble, it can't release the built up heat.  Any movement of the cup, like trying to take it out of the microwave, can make the bubbles rise so rapidly that the water "explodes". I know this sounds like an urban legend, but I checked it out with MythBusters and those guys wouldn't lie. To avoid this phenomenon:
1.  avoid new mugs or cups - after some scratching has occurred it enables bubble formation
2.  stick a wooden spoon, skewer or coffee stirrer in the water- this diffuses the pent up energy
3.  add tea or sugar before microwaving
4.  use tap water rather than distilled - tap water has impurities that keep it from superheating
5.  allow heated water to rest in the microwave for a few minutes before removing the cup

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