Gary Lucier, an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service in Washington, attributes recent stability in figures for per-capita consumption of fresh potatoes partly to the ease of baking them in the microwave. Here is the technique recommended by Rosemary Dunn Stancil and Lorela Nichols Wilkins, authors of "The Microwave Cook's Complete Companion":
For each potato (about 7 ounces), scrub potato, pierce skin and place on paper towel in microwave. Cook on high for 4 to 5 minutes; turn over halfway through cooking. Remove from microwave, wrap in kitchen towel, and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. If you're baking more than one potato, space them at least an inch apart. For three potatoes, arrange in a triangle; for four or more, arrange in a circle.