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Steaming Veggies in the Microwave
Old 02-07-2010, 09:46 PM   #1
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Steaming Veggies in the Microwave

Living in an RV has motivated me to use the microwave when possible and I'm really glad when I find an easy technique that gives me superior results.

Over the past year I have had tremendous luck steaming veggies in the microwave using the Ziploc Zip'n'Steam bags. I really love them because you don't have to add water or deal with any dish or lid or stirring. My veggies usually have a little water from washing them. There are special vents on one side of the bag so you have to have the correct side up. Excess steam escapes - the veggies never come out watery.

Times are printed right on the bag for half bag or full bag and they are very reliable. Then let sit for 1 minute before opening. I do green beans a lot - they come out just perfect, and I don't think any other method has worked just right for me - or come out with all the beans even. I rinse and let the bags dry and reuse since I don't put any seasonings or sauces on them in the bag.

Well, tonight I got ambitious and decided to try artichokes. I'd tried once or twice to microwave artichokes in a covered dish years ago but they came out overcooked and unpalatable. Looked up some recommended microwave times on the internet. Rinsed an extra large one, trimmed it and cut in half, rubbed cut surfaces with lemon. Microwaved 8 mins. Didn't look quite done, so rotated and did 2 more minutes. Came out perfect!

You can bet we're going to be eating a lot more artichokes in this household! Now I have to wait until they are in season and much cheaper. I paid a lot for tonight's jumbo artichoke, but I had some leftover cilantro aioli that was just screaming to be used as a dip.

These bags are available in the plastic wrap/bags aisle. I have both the large and medium sizes. [I'm not going to link to the product web site as I could kill the Ziploc web site designer. The site is so heavily flash animated it's almost impossible to use, and I can never get the individual recipes to display - grrrrrr!!!!!] OK - here is a fun and useful link (and you can download a Steamy Chefs (male) calendar - well, it is 2008, but do you care?) Ziploc Zip 'n Steam Microwave Bags

Anyone else use these?

Audrey
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Old 02-07-2010, 11:13 PM   #2
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Anyone else use these?
Meal prep at Hale Nords has been stripped down to its essentials. 90% of what we call cooking can be accomplished in the microwave/convection oven with the other 10% done on a range burner.

"Veggies" consists of ripping open a bag of frozen corn (or green beans or mixed veggies, whatever's next in the rotation), pouring about three cups into a cereal bowl, and microwaving for 2:30. Stir and give it another 30-60 seconds. Shovel onto plates and ring the dinner bell.

Works fine for peas & lima beans, too, but I'm the only one who cares for them so we rarely have them in the house.

"Baked potatoes" take about five minutes per potato. Corn on the cob is wrapped in damp paper towels and heated until the kernels turn yellow. I'm still getting around to microwaving Okinawan sweet potatoes.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:07 AM   #3
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I steam my vegetables on the stove. Its quite simple.

I don't even have a microwave.
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:01 AM   #4
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Well, it's not simple enough for me! Using a pan on the stove is somewhat of a pain in the RV. So I reserve stovetop only for something more involved.

I'm sure glad I have a microwave. It's become pretty essential.

It used to take me 30 mins or more to steam artichokes on the stovetop steamer, plus it was usually difficult to get them to fit properly in my steamer! So 8 to 10 mins in a bag in the microwave is just wonderful.

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Old 02-08-2010, 08:06 AM   #5
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I need new glasses, I thought this thread said, Screaming Veggies in the Microwave.
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:11 AM   #6
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Another option is the "silicone steamer."
These things are amazing when it comes to steaming veggies in the micro.
Very easy to use and wash, and the finished product tastes great. They are light as air and unbreakable, so they travel well.
The link is to Amazon, but you can find them in kitchen stores.

Amazon.com: Orka Personal 20-Ounce Silicone Steamer, Green: Home & Garden
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:20 AM   #7
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... the "silicone steamer."
I think I saw her dance at a topless bar about 40 years ago....
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:44 AM   #8
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I think I saw her dance at a topless bar about 40 years ago....
And I thought we were already recycling everything that could be recycled.


Gosh Honey, this broccoli is great..I'm not sure what it is, but it just seems "perky."
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:46 AM   #9
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"Baked potatoes" take about five minutes per potato.
Potatoes coming out of a microwave resemble nothing like "baked" potatoes. They have a completely different texture and flavor. There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with that but try this experiment: cook a potato in the microwave and compare it to a potato (from the same batch) baked in an oven at 375° for two hours. (Use a large "baker"-sized russet.) This side-by-side taste test will take away any thought of using "baked" and microwave in the same sentence.

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Another option is the "silicone steamer."
The OP was speaking of a certain problem with the RV life -- the weight/storage/cleanup issue. Most RV owners struggle with this issue all the time. Sure it is great to fill up a permanent structure with all the little conveniences one would ever need... no matter how seldom they are used. A RV brings a whole different mindset to the want/need issue. (I suspect a person living in a small apartment suffers similar restraints.) The old saw, "You can't have everything... where would you put it" is never more true than for RV folks. Even beyond that, the fewer dishes that need washing after a meal is a requirement for the most enjoyable RV experience. These Microwave Bags seems to be (IMHO) the perfect solution to all of those issues.
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:58 AM   #10
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Potatoes coming out of a microwave resemble nothing like "baked" potatoes. They have a completely different texture and flavor..
Actually my DW has mastered this. Potato wrapped in wet paper towel 4:30 minutes (medium potato), then remove and wrap in tin foil for 5:00 minutes. (You may need to play with the time based upon the size of the potato.) She now gets results that I consider just like the hour+ baked potatoes. YMMV.

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Old 02-08-2010, 10:08 AM   #11
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Potatoes coming out of a microwave resemble nothing like "baked" potatoes. They have a completely different texture and flavor. There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with that but try this experiment: cook a potato in the microwave and compare it to a potato (from the same batch) baked in an oven at 375° for two hours. (Use a large "baker"-sized russet.) This side-by-side taste test will take away any thought of using "baked" and microwave in the same sentence.
Nah, in the philosophy of "stripped to its essentials", that's not gonna happen.

I've cooked potatoes in the oven, in a pot of boiling water, on the grill, buried in the beach sand under the hibachi, and in the microwave. They pretty much taste the same to my "pearls before swine" taste buds.

Many of you see cooking as a form of entertainment. I see cooking at home as mostly refueling-- the frugal acquisition of essential nutrients that's one step healthier than having McDonald's delivered daily.

For real culinary entertainment, we'd go over to your houses and help you eat the fruits of your labors!
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:10 AM   #12
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I haven't used the zip locks, but I do have one of the silicone steamers in my rv. It is handy, I use it all the time.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:13 AM   #13
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Another option is the "silicone steamer."
These things are amazing when it comes to steaming veggies in the micro.
Very easy to use and wash, and the finished product tastes great. They are light as air and unbreakable, so they travel well.
The link its to Amazon, but you can find them in kitchen stores.

Amazon.com: Orka Personal 20-Ounce Silicone Steamer, Green: Home & Garden
Does this take care of the water issue? One of the things I always hated about microwave steaming in a covered dish is how wet the veggies are because of the added water. Also, you have to stir. The fantastic thing about the bags is that they steam the veggies without adding water, letting any excess escape. So the veggies come out evenly cooked but not wet.

I see the Amazon review that someone switched from the bags to the silicone steamer so they must work the same? (I'm not convinced about venting out the steam though). But I have not had any trouble so far reusing my bags.

Audrey
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:19 AM   #14
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I usually zap my taters in the microwave, hollow them out, add cheese to the jacket then mix sour creme, bacon and chives with the potato. Then fill the jacket. Twice baked potatoes....yum...I love them!
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:23 AM   #15
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Reading various websites I see that some users consider these bags not to be reusable and so they don't like the expense. But I would only throw the bag away if I cooked meat or had some oils in it. Plain veggies - no problem.

The "official" word from Ziploc (FAQ) on reusability is:
Quote:
4. Are the ZiplocŪ Brand Zip 'n Steam™ Bags reusable?
To avoid cross-contamination of foods, it is not recommended to reuse the ZiplocŪ Brand Zip 'n Steam™ Bags. You can, however, reseal and refrigerate your leftovers right in the bag for 2 to 3 days; then simply place the bag in the microwave to reheat.
Which I interpret as this is the only reason they can come up with not to reuse the bags. Since I don't worry about "cross-contamination" between my unseasoned veggies, I just rinse them well and let them dry really well before putting them away.

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Old 02-08-2010, 10:54 AM   #16
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I have a nice kitchen and cook for myself for most meals. However, 99% of the time I only need to use my Geore Foreman grill and microwave. About the only thing I ever use the burner for is fry some eggs once in a while. Oven has been used twice in 3 years, both times for a frozen pizza.

I microwave either a potato or mixed veggies for nearly every dinner. They come out just fine for my taste. I do the frozen veggies in a plastic bowl with just a splash of water added. You really don't need to add near as much water as they suggest on the bag.

I tried the Ziploc but decided it wasn't worth the added expense to me. Didn't really detect that the veggies turned out any better than using a cover plastic bowl. I would be wary about reusing those plastic bags in the microwave due to the plastic breaking down and getting embedded into the food. Dr. Oz had a show recently where he discouraged microwaving things in plastic due to the chemicals it may leave on your food, especially those not designed to be re-used.
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:44 AM   #17
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Ziploc has some very convincing language about the safety of their plastic bags in the microwave so I am really not worried about that at all. Yes, there are issues with some plastics and heat or microwaving, however, not all plastics are the same, and most product manufacturers are very clear on their web sites about safety of their plastics.

And Ziploc doesn't say there are any safety issues with reusing the bags. They even say that reheating in the bag is fine. They just warn against cross-contamination of foods.

I don't heat food in the microwave in general plastic storage containers, but I don't worry about plastics specifically designed for microwaving (although I do read the manufacturer's product FAQ to be fully informed).

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Old 02-08-2010, 02:28 PM   #18
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Many of you see cooking as a form of entertainment. I see cooking at home as mostly refueling-- the frugal acquisition of essential nutrients that's one step healthier than having McDonald's delivered daily...
For the first 40 years of my life, that was how I felt about food. In fact, I looked down on people who paid too much attention to food, and viewed them with suspicion. Did I once post that compared to many others here, I lived like a monk?

All that changed when I saw what happened to my father. With his kidneys totally failed, he had to limit his fluid intake. Even a small cup of tea came with a heavy price, leave alone all the diet restrictions. Eventually, he was bed ridden and fed with a tube threaded through his nose for the last 3-4 months of his life.

That was when I became a convert. I want to enjoy what I can now, before I lose it. I do not possess a fine palate to become a snobbish gourmet. But I do not mind to be a foodie, someone who is interested in how food is prepared, and wants to learn how to make it myself. Wikipedia has an entry to expound on the difference between a gourmet and a foodie. Prior to this, I barely knew how to make eggs sunny side up and my hands had never touched a piece of raw meat.

At this stage in life, I have to limit my calorie intake, so the joy of food preparation serves nicely to complement the joy of consumption. I still do not cook very well, but I am more willing to try different things than my wife who just likes to stick with what she already knows.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:39 PM   #19
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I usually steam veggies in my pressure cooker. I like it because it is fast and preserves the natural goodness of the veggies. But I will try steaming veggies in the microwave next time DW goes out of town. When I am by myself at home, I prefer quick meals that require little dish washing.
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:41 PM   #20
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Ziploc has some very convincing language about the safety of their plastic bags in the microwave so I am really not worried about that at all. Yes, there are issues with some plastics and heat or microwaving, however, not all plastics are the same, and most product manufacturers are very clear on their web sites about safety of their plastics.
I'd keep a skeptical eye on that research. Remember when 3M suddenly discovered ScotchGard chemicals in everyone's systems?

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That was when I became a convert. I want to enjoy what I can now, before I lose it. I do not possess a fine palate to become a snobbish gourmet. But I do not mind to be a foodie, someone who is interested in how food is prepared, and wants to learn how to make it myself.
I hear you, and I'm not claiming that either attitude is better, but the difference still appears to be pearls before swine. Gotta have the tastebuds that care before you can tell the difference. And I see food prep as a chore to be accomplished as seldom as possible with minimum required effort. I get quite a thrill out of being able to put together a balanced Nutrisystems meal in about five minutes. And the Nutrisystems supplies come from deprived/depraved Craigslist sellers at a lower monthly cost than our grocery bill.

If I had to do a blind taste test I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference among different brands or brews of coffee. But I've spent so many years at submarine commands drinking two-day-old caffeinated beverages out of overheated containers (cleaned semi-decennially) that even today, nearly eight years after ER, it still gives me great visual & olfactory pleasure to contemplate a bag of 100% Kona as it goes into the nice clean coffee maker.
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