Microwaves get dirty and smelly. It can be a pain to keep clean if you don't clean it immediately after splatters or spills. To clean your microwave with ease, simply add a microwave-safe bowl, a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 cup water (or 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water). Cook on high for three to five minutes or until steam condenses. Wipe down with a cloth. The first reader shares another hint.

Microwave cleaner and simmering potpourri:

There are no measurements.
Mix according to your liking:

-- crushed cinnamon
-- orange peel (I use my dehydrator for leftover peels, or dry on a cooling rack)
-- cloves
-- crushed bay leaves
-- optional allspice berries

Add 2 tablespoons of mix to a small pot filled with water, let simmer on stove. When finished flush mix down garbage disposal for a nice clean scent.
Add 1 tablespoon of mix to a bowl of water, microwave on high for about 3 minutes (keep an eye on the water so it doesn't boil over), let sit for about 5 minutes, remove mix and wipe down microwave with a towel. The steam loosens all the splatters and leaves a nice, fresh smell. -- Mel, Massachusetts

Stained plastic:

I use a mixture of about 1 part bleach to 3 parts water and keep it in a spray bottle. It is mild enough that it doesn't make everything taste or smell like bleach, but it is great for stained plastic. It gets out grape juice, tea/coffee, tomato sauce and turmeric. -- Contrary housewife, Kansas

No-knead bread:

I may very well not bother trying other basic white bread recipes for a bit because this was so easy and turned out perfect.

6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 packets instant yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons shortening

No kneading necessary on this one, folks. Preheat oven 375 F. In large mixer bowl, combine 3-1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix well. Add warm water (125 F or so) and shortening to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, gradually stir in remaining flour to make a stiff batter. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until double, about 30 minutes. Stir down batter. Spread in greased 9-inch-by-5-inch or 8-inch-by-4-inch bread pans. Cover and allow to rise until batter reaches tops of pans (about 20 to 30 minutes). Bake at 375 F for about 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the pans and brush with butter. Allow to cool.

Cook's notes: I did everything in my KA mixer. Once I got to the stage of gradually adding the remaining 3 cups of flour flour, I noticed that I did not need all 3 cups and stopped after adding 2 cups. It really does look like thick, doughy batter. I poured batter into two 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pans and let it rise for 30 minutes. It rose to the top of both pans. It baked for 35 minutes at listed temperature (it was clearly golden brown and ready), and it popped out of pans beautifully to cool and brush with butter. We only waited 15 minutes before slicing and it sliced very nicely!


I place a mason jar full of boiling water wrapped in a towel in a cooler. Then in goes my dough. -- Bridge, Indiana

photo by robynlou8