I am almost embarrassed to admit that we traveled in our rig for about 18 months before I attempted to use the microwave/convection oven combination. Of course, I used the microwave the very first day we set out on our very first adventure: to heat something up. I used it to pop popcorn for movie nights. I used it to boil water for tea or hard-boiled eggs.
I used it to heat up soup or the occasional can of Chef Boyardee (yes, I’m admitting it all.) Mostly, I used it for storage. Conveniently, the microwave in our Ventana is up off the counter with plenty of storage space for a master packer like myself.
So, I mainly used the microwave to store bread, opened bags of chips, and anything else I either did not want anyone to see or find.
I am actually a pretty good cook. I’ve been making my Grammy’s sheet cake since I was about 8. I’m known back “home” for my lasagna, cheeseburger soup, and a slew of other desserts, all of which I learned to make in my Grammy’s kitchen.
I surfed around online a few times and skimmed over blogs and forums about cooking in a convection microwave oven. “Adjust the cooking time.” “Easy as 1-2-3” Blah, blah, blah. Back in the summer while at my family’s farm in Indiana, I decided to bake a pan of brownies in the oven. Of course, I did not read the actual manual that came with the oven.
I made them as usual and applied the half-baked knowledge I assumed I had and served them for dessert.
The reviews were mixed, but overall, they weren’t cooked consistently throughout. Although, the crew in my rig was ecstatic to have a baked item from my kitchen (it had been awhile), they weren’t quite right.
About a week later, I decided to look the manual up online. BINGO! The basis for the first rule of baking in your convection microwave oven:
1) Always use the rack provided with the unit when baking or roasting in the convection oven.
Always. (I hadn’t used the rack for the infamous brownie trial run several days before.) You have to get your dish up off the oven floor so that air can circulate around the pan. This brings me to the next item to always remember:
The convection oven housed in the same appliance as the microwave works entirely different from its predecessor.
Old microwaves are just microwaves. Most new units have this supernatural power.
The power of convection: consistent hot air circulating in the oven at a constant temperature. The result? Effortlessly baked and roasted delights!
Here are the other few things I learned not to do in my RV microwave/convection oven:
3) Don’t limit the use of the pans or dishes you would normally use in the microwave. The convection oven is like a real oven so treat it that way.
The use of metal or aluminum pans is a good thing. Nothing will catch on fire or explode (disclaimer noted.) A list of approved items for your model can be found in your owner’s manual.
4) Don’t overlook the convection roasting feature of the convection oven. Why? Because I used this dandy little button a few weeks ago and roasted the perfect Thanksgiving turkey in exactly 4 hours. Consequently, it was the best turkey I’ve ever rolled out on this famously fall holiday.
5) Finally, don’t sell yourself or your handy convection appliance short. Experiment with this kitchen gadget.
Read the basic tips from the manual for your model and get baking! Practice makes progress and you’ll be on your way to a creating dishes in the RV kitchen that everyone will appreciate.
For more convection creations, visit the Diary of a Road Mom’s Recipe Box.
And stay tuned to the blog as we are introducing a new series next week, 5 Days to Christmas Dinner in your RV Kitchen featuring your microwave/convection oven. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and receive a free ebook, Diary of a Road Mom’s Favorite 10 Recipes for RV Cooking, to be released soon.