Tips for Bending Wood Using Microwave Oven

 

One method for quickly adding heat and moisture to small pieces of wood is to use a microwave oven. As long as the wood and a means of keeping the wood moist can fit into the oven, this is an extremely efficient method for softening wood. Through experimentation, I have found there are several things to take into consideration when steaming wood in a microwave oven.

 

A microwave oven works by focusing tightly shaped radio waves on the water molecules within whatever is placed inside the oven. The molecules become slightly agitated and as a result, they give off heat. A dried piece of wood will heat up quickly when placed into the oven because it still contains enough water molecules to create heat. When the wood is removed, it is very hot, but it dries out very quickly because the water molecules have broken down and so they easily evaporate. This process actually makes a microwave oven a good tool for drying small pieces of wood for turning and other small projects – but only if the moisture content is lowered slowly enough to prevent cracking.

To make the microwave useful for bending, you need to add some moisture to the equation, just as you do when steaming wood. There only needs to be enough water present to surround the wood. Any extra water will just slow down the process. Wood can be wrapped in a soaking wet rag or placed in a shallow microwave-safe bowl with just enough water to cover the wood. There is no set time for heating wood in a microwave, so a little trial and error will be needed. Usually 5 to 10 minutes will do the trick. Keep a close eye on the progress, because if all of the water evaporates …

Coconut Rum Layer Cake

For Lauren’s Sweet 16, I was inspired by the coconut cake served at Solace and the Moonlight Lounge (her favorite). The inspo: Coconut Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce, Sugared Macadamia Nuts, Cream Cheese Frosting.

I used the cake recipe from Beth Cakes Triple Coconut Rum Cake paired with the Homemade Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting from Living Well Spending Less. The whole cake turned out super dense, and I kid you not, probably weighed around 20lbs because I didn’t end up leveling the layers.  The flavor made it taste like a humongous coconut macaroon.

For decor, I used a big rhinestoned “16” Jen purchased from Amazon and a variety of pink roses. Fresh flowers have been my favorite decor lately. They dress up a cake without requiring a steady or artistic hand for some ingenious floral frosting.…

Spaghetti Squash Boats & My P.O.V.

If I was auditioning to be the Next Food Network Star and needed to have a P.O.V. (point of view) mine would be: simple, flavorful and healthy.  Short prep time, good.  Few ingredients, better.  Not laden with calories, most excellent!  This recipe is all 3: simple, flavorful and healthy.  Although it did leave me hangry for some dessert afterwards…my sweet tooth is a whole other story

 

Spaghetti Squash Boats
Adapted from Taste of Home circa 1997!
INGREDIENTS:
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 lb. bulk sweet pork sausage
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1 tsp. dried basil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut side down, in a baking dish. Fill pan with hot water to a depth of 1/2 in. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  2. When cool enough to handle, scoop out squash, separating strands with a fork; set shells and squash aside.
  3. In a skillet, cook the sausage, broccoli and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add the mushrooms, basil, salt and pepper; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes; cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Turn of heat and stir in squash.
  6. Fill shells; place in shallow baking dish.
  7. Turn down the oven to 350°. Sprinkle with cheese; bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Makes 2 main-dish servings, with enough filling leftover to refill one shell.