Microwave cookery made easy (honest)

So your microwave's even more difficult to programme than your video? Don't despair. Rosie Millard found one that does it all itself
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The Independent Online
Everyone knows the implicit contradiction behind microwaveable, so-called "convenience" foods. What a bore all that reading up on the back of freezing-cold packages is. Endless information about times, wattage levels, stirring levels, temperatures. And then there's the stress of setting the timer, all before supper. It's enough to make you want to rush out and buy an Aga.

Yet the microwave market is now worth pounds 192m and over 1.4 million households have one. It seems as if we're all hooked on popping our trays on to dinky little turntables and watching our pre-prepared Lean Cuisine bubble, despite the tiresome preparation.

Enter the Sharp LogiCook, the first "artificially intelligent" microwave, which promises to cook your food for you all by itself, no further instructions necessary.Simply pop your desired "meal" on the plate, and the LogiCook will take charge. "Sort of virtual reality," comments my husband, viewing the machine with suspicion.

The LogiCook does sound like something out of Doctor Who. Armed with sensors, weight gauges and an electronic brain, it can tell the difference between a frozen chicken curry and a ready-to-eat cod pie simply by doing a few calculations and adjustments based on the steam emitted by whatever you want to eat. Freaky.

Eating is about all you have to do with food organised by a LogiCook. That, and piercing your food in five places. These culinary stigmata appear crucially important for those embarking on LogiCook haute cuisine. There are even little diagrams in the booklet showing you exactly where you are meant to pierce. And that's it. Goodbye pestles and mortars a la Elizabeth David: this is cooking with panache.

I advance upon my LogiCook bearing a properly pierced frozen chicken and broccoli bake. I place the tray on the turntable and press the FOOD button (there is also a DRINK button, when making that cup of tea seems just too much like hard work). I have deliberately chosen a tricky number for the LogiCook brain (developed by British academics for the Japanese company Sharp). The instructions on my bake are not straightforward: rather than a single temperature, it's high for six minutes, low for four. Will the LogiCook cope?

"Do not open the door during cooking," says the booklet sternly. "LogiCook technology senses humidity emitted from food and drink as it determines the heating time." Fine, I think, casually flicking through my accompanying LogiCook Recipe Guide. "God!" says my husband, getting very excited about the process. The LogiCook dutifully, nay, perfectly cooks the bake: it does high for six minutes, low for four and then bleeps and tells me, with flashing red letters, to stir. Humbled, I stir. We take our supper upstairs and eat it sitting in front of the television. Well, you have to do these things properly.

The Sharp LogiCook costs pounds 329.99.