Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Life After the Microwave

In an effort to improve my diet and culinary skills(!), I have officially passed on my microwave in favour of a brand-new worktop oven. Another reason for returning the microwave to my mother was because I don’t have a lot of worktop space close to the all-important electrical sockets. I do believe I’m going to miss the microwave somewhat, but only for the convenience of microwaved rice puddings and other quick deserts.

I’ve bought myself a halogen oven, on the recommendation of Doug on one of my YouTube videos. They’re generally regarded as being very energy-efficient while cooking at around 20% faster than a conventional oven.

This post is going to be a look at what I bought, what you get for your money and also why I chose this particular model. I will apologise for the fact that I am still using my phone’s camera for illustrations as the replacement part for my camera has yet to arrive from Russia.

The ‘deluxe’ model with its hinged lid and a bucket-load of accessories.

You can see that you get a lot for your money, with a range of accessories included. These include a baking tray, two stands at differing heights, another tray, a pot for steaming rice or fish, a set of tongs, a spare bulb for the oven and, although not pictured, you also get the instruction manual and a recipe book written by Norma Miller specifically for halogen ovens.

This is the Andrew James 12lt Premium model and it was £50 plus the additional cost of delivery (sadly, you can’t use the Collect+ service for this item due to its weight an size but one of my neighbours happened to be home while I was at work). Similar models are available for £10 less but I liked this one for its hinged lid. As I’ve already mentioned; I don’t have a lot of worktop space in this corner and I dread to think of having to store the lid (an optional rack is available). This model also has the advantage of an all digital display – which is a more than I could say for the unit my landlord has fitted!

I looked around at a few other models before settling on this about a month ago. The JML halogen oven appears to be popular but at £20 less, I’ve read of many people experiencing faults and less-than-satisfactory results (God bless the internet). I’m a big believer in that ‘you get what you pay for‘ and while I wasn’t prepared to spend £200, I decided to target a known brand. Between this and the others, I couldn’t see much between them and even the prices looked even.

Indeed,  a spare bulb is included with this pack. I’ve no idea of how long one is expected to last (how long does a light bulb last?!) but that is the sole source of heat within these ovens. Below, you’ll see how powerful their emittance can be in a large room with all other lights switched off. It’s also worth mentioning that the bulb dims once the optimum temperature has been achieved.

It reminds me of an episode of Home Improvement, where Tim and Al baked a potato in a matter of seconds, using some kind of radioactive oven… But you don’t need the dark glasses or lead protection with a humble halogen oven!

My first test-subject happened to be a store-bought pizza. As advised in the instructions; you can invert the spare stand and place it on top of pizza-like items, where (as I first discovered) loose toppings can become displaced by the near-cyclonic motions of heat within the sturdy glass bowl.

This oven comes with many presets for default food ranges and also for self-cleaning and then sterilising the bowl after cooking meats. You can of course manually enter your own cooking time and temperature but I was a little saddened to see that you cannot tinker with or tweak any of the presets (you must then cancel and enter them manually).

It’s advised to use the taller of the two racks when possible, to ensure maximum circulation around and underneath your food (something you rarely get from a microwave). This was by far the best tasting pizza that I’d eaten for a long time! Yes, the peperoni burned but it is typically recommended that with a halogen oven, you’re typically looking to reduce the cooking times that would otherwise be set for standard gas or fan ovens. It’s going to involve a bit of trial and error but with a clear glass bowl, you can clearly see what’s going on inside.

I’ll warn you that the bowl does get very hot in use an takes a while to cool down after cooking. It’s also important not to half-fill it with cold water (for cleaning) until after the glass has cooled, or else it could crack. This bowl sits in a plastic stand but seems to generate an amount of heat underneath. Mine’s currently sat on my worktop, which I think should be okay (it won’t leave a ring like a hot saucepan). If you are concerned though, I’d advised you to purchase a heat-proof mat to sit underneath.

Ah, Chinglish, I presume…

Like all instruction manuals, this one includes some classic lines… My two favourite being:

Do not place the appliance on or under the appliance.

Do not use the appliance in the oven…

I now look forward to seeing more of what this new-toy can do and particularly, how far it can excel beyond the limitations of my microwave combi. oven. This cooking could well be my new ‘thing’… I’m not about to start uploading weekly videos or recipes but for as long as I’m without a workshop, I reckon I could take a keen interest in preparing and working with food. It is another way to be creative, after all.

Most importantly, I hope that this summary has been useful for you and I thank you for taking the time to read.

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6 responses to “Life After the Microwave

  1. John 09/02/2014 at 20:43

    A heat proof mat?

    Surely a wooden trivet would be more appropriate? 😉

  2. Jeff Branch 10/02/2014 at 02:33

    Is there ever a bad pizza? Even one with burned pepperoni? I have a love/hate relationship with our microwave. I can never seem to get anything totally warm without at least part of it being cold or over-cooked. Hope you get to be an expert with your new oven.

    • Olly Parry-Jones 11/02/2014 at 19:50

      Thanks, Jeff.

      Absolutely! I can only think of ever having eaten a cheap pizza that tasted ‘too cheesy’. Even under-cooked, I loved pizza! I like my crust to my a little crunchy as well. I once read somewhere that mircrowaves apparently use moisture to cook… I can’t recall how that works but it explains the deposits of water I could find underneath (well, that could be condensation, as I’m living with insufficient heating). I’m loving the halogen oven so far, thanks! 🙂

  3. Chris Hall 06/10/2015 at 15:52

    How do you sterilise the oven?

    • Olly Parry-Jones 06/10/2015 at 18:19

      Hi Chris,

      There’s a preset button for cleaning, with a temperature of 250 degrees C for ten minutes. You add about an inch of cold water to the bowl (when it’s cool), add washing up liquid and press start. It’s simple but works quite well with regular use.

      Or, if you have a dishwasher and the bowl will fit, you can remove it and place in there.

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