Even though the tasks seem simple, prepping foods in the microwave can test your cooking skills. It requires your total attention and involvement, you must constantly evaluate progress, tend the food to ensure evenness, and gauge doneness frequently. But doing all this takes seconds or minutes, and you’ll have far less to wash in the end. One of the great things a microwave oven can do is soften foods quickly—like cream cheese, or butter, restoring honey, or softening brown sugar. The author lists tips for small tasks and shares her idea for a near-saute to soften vegetables before adding them to a soup.