Microwave Cooking. Follow the Instructions

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instructions_cThe first and most important factor is to read the instruction book which comes with your microwave. Always keep this on hand for reference - models differ in power and in the way the controls arc marked - and follow it as you start to cook. Begin with something simple and straightforward - reheat a cup of coffee, cook a jacket potato or a dish of sliced courgettes - and gradually, you will get used to this new form of cooking method and gain confidence.

If you do have a series of disasters - and there's no reason why you should - don't despair and give up. Try to think logically where you might have gone wrong, refer back to your manufacturer's handbook and the control panel on your cooker and don't be afraid to try again. Remember that the dishes you use will affect the cooking time - some allow food to cook more quickly than others - and that food taken straight from the refrigerator will not cook as quickly as food at room temperature. Foods with a high fat, water or sugar content (bacon, tomatoes, a mincemeat tart) will cook more quickly than denser foods, such as root vegetables.

The amount of energy in a microwave cooker is shared amongst ail the food and, unlike in direct heat, the more food there is inside the cooker, the longer it will take. It's a common misconception to think that six potatoes will take the same amount of time as two potatoes: they won't - they'll take longer and they don't have those lovely crisp skins. A useful rule of thumb is to add half the time again for roughly twice the recipe quantity.

The best policy when first starting to 'cook microwave' is to follow the recipe exactly, then once you have mastered it, make notes on the timing, the dishes you have used, and any variation you then make to suit your family's own particular likes and dislikes.

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