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Cooking times vary among microwaves
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Cooking times vary among microwaves

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Dear Lisa: I have a 1000-watt microwave. I bought several Lean Cuisines. Could you tell me how to figure the time? The recipe needs 1100 watts. Linda F.

Dear Linda: Converting cooking times between oven wattages can be tricky, depending on the wattage differential, the food's characteristics, the oven's interior capacity and other factors.

In your case, the cooking time only needs to be increased by a few seconds for each stated minute because the difference between the wattages is so slight.

The key to success is to remember that microwaves heat food unevenly.

The edges cook first -- and with the shallow containers common with frozen foods -- the edges are even more susceptible to overcooking.

As much as possible, stir the food and rotate the container to move the areas getting the most heat during cooking.

Remember, too, that microwaved food is still cooking after it is removed from the oven, so allow a few minutes of standing time to allow for carry-over cooking.

That's probably the most overlooked microwave cooking guideline. Lean Cuisine meals recommend 1 minute of standing time before serving.

Lisa Fritz, a longtime Bryan food and nutrition educator, answers readers' questions about food, cooking and recipes. Her email address is cheflisa525@yahoo.com.

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