Mix It Up In Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls

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Wait…what? There is more than one type of bowl out there (it is hard to type with sarcasm)? Of course. We’ve already taken a closer look at Pyrex mixing bowls, so let’s change things up and focus in on stainless steel mixing bowls.

One major difference between stainless steel bowls and Pyrex bowls can be discovered with a little test. Hold both bowls high in the air…then let go. They both MAY survive the fall, but stainless steel definitely will. It may get a dent, but you can pound that out. You can’t really pound out “shattered.”

A) slicepeelsmash.com doesn’t recommend actually doing this test
B) slicepeelsmash.com has done this test via poor cooking karma on separate situations

As with anything else, when you’re looking into commercial mixing bowls you want to be aware of what your general use is going to be. If you’re looking for kitchen mixing bowls that can help maintain the temperature of the food, be it cold or hot, you might want to stick with Pyrex or ceramic mixing bowls. Stainless steel is much more quick to heat up and cool down in comparison to those other types.

But, if you’re planning on doing a lot of aggressive mixing, stainless steel isn’t going to shatter or crack on you.

sizes and textures

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The nice thing about mixing is that it is a common part of any cooking process. So, you will find a wide array of sizes from small to large stainless steel mixing bowls. When I went out to get some for my kitchen I found a pretty affordable 3 piece mixing bowl set that has done me well.

The set I bought has a brushed stainless steel exterior and a mirrored stainless steel interior. My KitchenAid mixer has a stainless steel bowl that attaches to it, and it has a brushed interior. I haven’t really found a huge variance in pros and cons between having mirrored or brushed. The only thing I’ve notices is that it is easier to see scratches in the mirrored surface, but I use a silicone coated whisk for most of my mixing so the scratches don’t happen often.

You do want to make sure you’re getting bowls with a higher grade of stainless steel so that you’ll have a stronger and easier to clean product.

Some of the other added bonuses that some brands offer help keep the bowl in place, protect your hands, or keep the food in. Let’s look at some specific brands in this stainless steel mixing bowls review.

stainless steel mixing bowls

If that doesn’t seem like a specific name brand name, well, it isn’t. This represents the bowls I actually own. I don’t remember if they even had a brand name. What does that tell you about a product? It says it was probably mass produced overseas. I only barely remember that I DID find the stainless steel grade on the packaging.

This is the set that I’ve been referring to above. My three mixing bowls (1.5 quart, 3.5 quart, and 5.5 quart) are pretty basic and don’t have any extra features other than a ring on the side in case I ever felt like hanging them from my pot rack, I guess. So, I’m probably on the low end and definitely running bare-bones as far as features.

oxo good grips

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The OXO Good Grips 3-piece stainless-steel mixing bowl set takes things up a notch in features. The interior is brushed stainless steel, but the exterior is covered in plastic to help insulate your hands in case you’re dealing with hot foods. It also wouldn’t be OXO Good Grips with out some sort of grip, right? The base is a non-skid surface to keep your bowl from sliding around on your kitchen counter as you use it.

pampered chef

Pampered Chef stainless steel mixing bowls are another great option and probably have the most features. One big bonus is these are stainless steel mixing bowls with lids. If you’re prepping items that you want to save until later, or that you might need to take with you to another location, it doesn’t hurt to be able to secure the contents inside with a lid.

Similar to OXO, the Pampered Chef mixing bowls have a non-skid base to keep it stable on the counter. As far as differences, in addition to having lids, the Pampered Chef bowls have measurement markers inside to provide better accuracy, AND they have spouts for pouring. Spouts are definitely something I wish I had on my set. I’ve made more than a few batches of popovers and the batter takes a little extra effort to control while pouring.

top chef

Now, while I am normally a little hesitant to go for the items that are fame-based (cookware with a name like Paula Deen or Rachael Ray), there was something interesting about one of the Top Chef stainless steel mixing bowls I saw. They offer a set of three bowls with non-skid base…sure. They offer that same set with lids…okay. But the thing that caught my eye was the Top Chef 5 quart mixing bowl with lid and graters. The lid for this mixing bowl has a hole in the middle that is big enough for one of their three stainless steel grater inserts to fit into. You can grate right into the bowl without the food flying out the other end all over the place!

kirkland

Kirkland stainless steel mixing bowls were a popular search online, but they are hard to track down. Kirkland Signature is the brand name for items made for CostCo. I tracked down some on Amazon to see what people were saying about them. The general consensus was that the non-skid base was great, but that the lids didn’t work in the refrigerator…the cold temperature would effect the lid and make it curl enough to lose the freshness seal.

Like all kitchen gadgets and cooking utensils, there are many more out there. Try some for yourself!

Already using stainless steel mixing bowls? What do you like about them?

Cutting with Clay! Ceramic Knife Set Pros and Cons

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You’ve probably seen these around. Any time I’m walking through a store that sells kitchen ware, over in the corner of the knife section will be that white ceramic knife set. Just looking at them and seeing the word “ceramic” didn’t give me any sense of durability. It would conjure up a vision of when I was in 7th grade pottery class and not-so-perfect anteater found its way from the post-kiln cooling area to the floor. When hard clay meets hard floor…clay loses.

So, I could just envision these ceramic knife sets getting bumped during cooking and shattering on the floor (in anteater fashion). But, then I looked into how ceramic cutlery was made and was pretty impressed.

These knives aren’t necessarily made out of “clay” like you would make a vase, ash tray, or anteater with. Most are made from a much more sophisticated ceramic called zirconium oxide. Once pressed and heated, the zirconium oxide becomes much harder than stainless steel or high carbon steel. That hardness is the root cause behind both the pros and the cons of ceramic knives.

ceramic kitchen knife set cons

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With increased hardness comes decreased flexibility. If you drop or twist your stainless steel cooking knife hard enough, it has a little flexibility to it that allows it so bend and absorb the energy. Ceramic knife manufacturers warn to be careful of these situations because a ceramic blade with limited flexibility will be more likely to chip or crack in these circumstances.

Another downfall of increased hardness…sharpening. If you use your santoku ceramic knife frequently, it will dull just like other knives, albeit slower. The problem is, conventional ways used to sharpen metal knives won’t work on ceramic. Some knife sharpeners are made out of ceramics. This is fine for metal knives since metal is softer than ceramic whet stones. But since a ceramic knife and a ceramic knife sharpener are made of the same material the sharpening process won’t work.

Really, through everything I checked out, those are the major cons. I just wanted to get them out of the way before digging into the good stuff.

ceramic kitchen knife set pros

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As I mentioned, while hardness is the con of the ceramic blade, it is also the pro!

Since ceramic is harder than metal it will hold its edge 10-15 times longer than metal knives. So, while sharpening is tougher to accomplish, you won’t have to worry about it for awhile.

Being ceramic also means there are no metal ions in the blade. Sometimes when metal blades come into contact with foods that have strong acids or oils they can interact with the metal in a way that transfers a metallic taste to the food. Or it can cause rusting! Neither of these things happen with ceramic knives. So, if you’re slicing into dinner with your ceramic steak knives, your food will taste like it is supposed to and clean up will be easy. Since these oils and acids don’t react with the ceramic knife, you can easily rinse and wipe it clean without need of throwing it in the dishwasher.

Another pro, even though ceramic is harder, it is much lighter and easier to handle.

who makes ceramic knives?

There are many different companies selling ceramic knives, but only a few seem serious about it…or at least that is how it seems to me. Looking online you can randomly come across Keuken ceramic knives or a Wolfgang Puck ceramic knife set. But, there is no official page for Keuken, and the Wolfgang Puck site doesn’t even list ceramic knives in their products…which isn’t that surprising. Products with a celebrity name aren’t usually about being top of the line, but more about being “good enough” for the celebrity to endorse.

Victorinox ceramic knives are available, but their strength and focus still lies in metal. The Home Shopping Network offers the Kitchen Logic 7-piece ceramic knife set, but that is pretty much the only place that offers it with any frequency.

my brand of choice

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If you’re looking for a company that specializes in ceramics, Kyocera is probably what you should focus on. Most of the other companies listed seem focused on kitchen tools and cutlery, and they offer a ceramic knife set. Kyocera is a ceramics company, so their focus is on ceramics and not just cutlery.

The Kyocera ceramic knife set comes in smaller numbers than others. You can find a 5, 7 or 9 piece ceramic knife set from some of the brands named above, but the Kyocera 2-piece ceramic knife set is the standard. This Kyocera knife set comes with a 5.5 inch ceramic santoku knife and a 3 inch ceramic paring knife…enough to get most of the cutting jobs done around the kitchen.

Here’s a look into how Kyocera makes their knives:

There are a few added bonuses that Kyocera kitchen knives have over the competition.

Bonus #1
Remember how one of the cons was that you can’t really sharpen ceramic knives on your own? Kyocera will sharpen your knife for you. It costs $10 to cover shipping and handling, but that’s a pretty decent price. Consider that the ceramic knife will stay sharp longer anyway and you have a good service on your hands. They’ll also replace it if it looks like it needs it and hasn’t been abused.

Here is how the sharpening process works:

Bonus #2
Kyocera ceramic knives have a lifetime warranty. Again, if you’ve been following their care and use instructions. If they don’t make the model of knife anymore, it will be replaced with an equivalent.

Bonus #3

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Most ceramic knives I’ve found come in the standard white. Kyocera also creates a knife that goes through a special extra process called hot-isostatic press. This Kyotop ceramic knife is made from black zirconium oxide. Firing the knife twice tightens the molecular bonding and makes an even stronger knife than the standard.

Obviously, if you’re looking for a ceramic knife set I would recommend looking into the ones that seem to fit your tastes and needs. For me, Kyocera is the ceramic knife I’d buy.

Mess-Free Baking On A Silicone Baking Sheet

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If you have yet to take a dip into the cooking world of silicone, you’re probably missing out. I’m pretty late to the game myself, but I have the bonus of having a brother-in-law who is a chef.

A couple years back he was dabbling in baking with silicone molds and some specifically shaped molds made his Christmas gift list. I went in search of these silicone solutions and my curiosity was piqued. Now, I had already been dabbling in silicone kitchen utensils, so I knew how resilient silicone was. While I wouldn’t be using the specific molds he was interested, I targeted my interest in on the silicone baking sheet. It seemed like an easy place to start. But there are many subtle variations out there.

silicone parchment paper

One tiny step in the right direction is using silicone baking paper like the unbleached parchment paper and baking paper sheets offered by If You Care. According to their site, most baking papers are coated in quilon, which has chrome in it. “Quilon is a chemical containing chrome – a heavy metal – which when incinerated becomes toxic and leaves trace elements. The reason for the majority of parchment paper to be quilon-coated is the cost, which is substantially lower than silicone. So, in order to be environmentally friendly, the paper should be silicone-coated.”

The nice thing is, you can use silicone parchment multiple times if the cooking doesn’t get too messy.

silicone cooking sheet

You probably won’t find a silicone cookie sheet that is rigid. Almost all of the silicone baking sheet liners are designed to line a metal cookie sheet. This is great when it comes to clean-up. All of the mess is stuck to the flexible and easy to clean silicon which can just be washed in the sink.

Silicone is quick to cool, so once you get the silicone cookie liner out of the cookie sheet you should be able to handle it rather quickly.

Most silicone baking sheets have a very good temperature tolerance of around -40°F to 480°F. This range is why many bakers have switched to silicone. One product is good for baking OR freezing. And because silicone is a nonstick surface, no greasing is required! That’s a huge bonus in my book.


specific silicone baking sheets

Demarle (or as some say, De Marle) makes some of the most popular products you’ll find in silicone baking sheet stores. All of their three main baking sheets are created in a very similar way: a fiber glass weave surrounded by silicone. But their subtle differences make them stand out just enough from each other to be used in different tasks.

silpat baking sheet

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Top of list in the silicone baking sheet shop is Demarle’s Silpat baking mat. The Silpat would probably be considered your standard cookie sheet liner in the silicone world. It is designed to insulate whatever you’re cooking just enough so that it doesn’t burn…unless you REALLY overcook it. Since it is insulated, you’ll have to adjust your bake time if you use the Silpat or any other silicone baking sheet with an airbake cookie sheet. Double insulation means less heat getting to your food.

But is the Silpat good for all uses? Watch this video for a general idea of how to use silicone bakeware, then read on!

silpain baking sheet

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If you’re working with a lot of breads or doughs, you’ll want to head the way of the Silpain silicone mat. The Silpain varies from the Silpat in that it is perforated. Since an important part of baking is letting all the water in the dough escape in the heat, the perforation lets that water get out instead of trapping it.

Want to see some examples? See the video, but there is more below!

roul’pat workstation mat

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The Roul’pat is made up from the same materials but with a different way to use silicone baking sheet technology. The bottom of the Roul’pat counter mat has grip to it. Now, just because it is a workstation doesn’t mean it is good for all preparation. A good rule of thumb is if it has an edge, keep it away. Knives and any edged metal can cut into and ruin a silicone mat. This goes for any of them, but a workstation would be more tempting of a place to do so.

Here is a video of the Roul’pat in action. But it’s not over yet!

general care

• To clean your silicone baking sheet, you only need to wipe it off with a damp sponge and then rinse. You can use a small amount of mild detergent, but since silicone is non-stick, not a lot will…you know…stick.

• As mentioned earlier, keep knives and other edged metal away from your mat. Once it is cut, the fiberglass is exposed and you don’t really want to risk eating that.

• Your silicone cooking mat should always be stored flat or rolled up. Folding the mat runs the risk of breaking the fiberglass weave internally and having it cut its way through the silicone barrier.

added bonus

The smaller sized silicone mats are also good for the microwave! You might have noticed that if you watched the videos.

Which Lodge Logic Cast Iron Should You Use?

If you’ve been following along, you probably realize that I like my Lodge Logic cast iron skillet. While it works great for me, it may not be the best piece for whatever your needs may be. So, I wanted to take a look at some of the other Lodge products to help you choose which one is right for you.

lodge logic cast iron skillet list

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Let’s start with a recap of what I use, the skillet. There are many different skillet sizes to choose from. In inches, you can get a 6.5, 8, 10.25, or 12 Lodge Logic cast iron skillet…OH! And the large 15.25 inch skillet as well. I have the 12 and find it is about the right size. The only time I feel like it is a little too small is when I’m trying to cook 6 pieces of bacon.

I checked out the Lodge Logic cast iron skillet reviews on Amazon.com before getting my skillet. A majority of the reviews are 5 stars. Some of the 1 star reviews mention problems with uneven heating and cracking, but I haven’t had those problems with mine…and hopefully I won’t have them at all.

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If you feel like getting a little extra fancy you can also find the Lodge signature cast iron skillet. As far as I can find, it only comes in the 12″ version and only available online. The difference between normal Lodge and the signature version is that the signature version comes with stainless steel handles that are riveted to the product. That means a cooler grip while cooking, and a little flash and flair on your cookware.

lodge logic cast iron griddle

If you’re only planning on making pancakes or are planning to go crazy with grilled cheese sandwiches, you might just need a griddle. Lodge makes a round 10.5″ griddle with a .5″ lip, and a square 12″ griddle with a slightly deeper lip of .75″. There is what I consider to be a better option, but I want to cover grills first.

lodge logic cast iron grill

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As you may have guessed or experienced, seasoning cast iron doesn’t always guarantee a 100% nonstick surface. Food can still stick, making the process of cleaning cast iron a little more troublesome. Lodge cast iron grills have the raised lines on the bottom to not only leave classic grill marks in your chicken or meat, but allow fat to drip out and have minimal contact with the food. With all that hot fat and oil rolling around, you’re going to be adding to your seasoning barrier, but you’ll also need the bigger lip.

You can find Lodge grills in the 10″ range in both square and round. They also make a larger 12″ square grill with a shorter lip.

Or…

lodge logic rectangular grill and griddle pan

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Now THIS is what I use. Two great products in one! When it is chicken for dinner, and I’m cooking for more than just myself, the grill side is perfect. And the griddle side is great for grilled cheese sandwiches (I prefer a flat surface for those), pancakes, and french toast.

This combo grill and griddle fits almost perfectly across two burners on my stove which, I feel, speeds up my preheat time.

lodge logic hibachi grill

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Technically, you wouldn’t have this guy going in the kitchen, but I wanted to make note of it as we slowly work our way out of winter and into spring. Really, I have no experience with this grill. I don’t even know if you would season it like you would season a cast iron skillet. It just seemed like a good, solid outdoor grill. And since it is cast iron you could take advantage of the slow cool time and have something to warm your hands on during those days when the nights cool of a little faster than expected.

Also technically, any of these cast iron items could be used out of doors on an open fire. But, let’s get back in the kitchen.

lodge logic cast iron dutch oven

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And for the last of the more normal items. What’s left? Soups, stews, chilis and roasts…in the main cast iron dutch oven Lodge offers. A 5 quart cast iron dutch oven. But, like the cast iron skillet the dutch oven also comes in a signature edition with stainless steel handles. The only difference being that the signature dutch oven is a larger 7 quart size.

Now, those are the “normal” items. And by that I simply mean the items that have multiple uses. There are also a few other items that I thought would be good to mention.

lodge logic cast iron grill press

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This little item can’t really be used without one of the others, or at least without some other cookware. The lodge logic cast iron grill press simply sits on top of your food while it is cooking to keep the heat in, keep it flat, etc.

lodge logic cornbread skillet

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One main dish that seems to be popular among cast iron users is cornbread. I’ve never made cornbread in my skillet, but I’ve seen various recipes specifically for it. The lodge logic cornbread skillet lets you make your cornbread in pre-divided wedges. That way each piece of cornbread gets extra crust.

There are other cast iron products out there, but these are the main ones that you should be thinking about and comparing to your lifestyle.

Cook away!

Smart and Worthwhile Kitchen Cabinet Upgrades

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Whether or not you are a passionate home chef, the kitchen is still the center of your home. It’s where you spend time in the morning before you head off to work. It’s also where your kids gather each morning to eat their breakfast and they tend to hang around there after school for a snack and to do their homework. When company is over it is in the kitchen where everyone seems to linger while appetizers are being prepared and the main meal is still cooking.

It only makes sense that since the kitchen is the hub of your home, if you do have some extra money, spending it to make improvements in this space makes a lot of sense. There is one area of your kitchen, your cabinets, which store all of your kitchen accessories, food items, and cookware. Making some basic enhancements to your kitchen cabinets will help to more efficiently store your items and make your kitchen a more pleasant place to hang out.

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If your kitchen is a typical one, your cabinets are probably overflowing. There are many different items in which you can invest to organize your cabinets and make good use of the space available. Kitchen cabinet organizers can take many different forms. One such organizer is called a turntable and also commonly known as a lazy Susan. If you have brand new kitchen cabinets there is a good chance that these rotating surfaces are built into the cabinets probably in a corner area. If you have cabinets that have been there for a while, you can purchase separate units that you can place within your cabinets. Turntables can be either single level or multilevel and they are great for storing related items such as nested cookware or for bottles of seasonings and spices. The spinning action allows you to quickly access everything on the various levels.

Another type of cabinet organizer literally transforms your shelves into drawers. This obviously requires you to do some work by installing drawer hardware into your cabinets after you remove the shelves. When you are done, you have pull-out drawers into which you can place anything that was on the shelves but the access to those items is a lot easier and more efficient. You don’t have to worry about losing something in the back of the cabinet because with a simple pull you can access any item desired. If they are deep drawers, pegboard organizers will help stabilize cookware or plates that could slide around in the drawer. What is so great about pegboard organizers is that you can instantly create a custom storage solution by placing the pegs anywhere you need them in the cabinet drawer.

One other upgrade that you can make to your cabinets that will enhance your kitchen experience immensely is to install soft close cabinet hardware. What is so great about this hardware is that within minutes you can go from having banging, annoying cabinets to quiet, soft close cabinets. For a few dollars each you can buy these soft close adapters from kitchen supply websites or at a bricks-and- mortar kitchen store. All that is required for installation is to place the hardware on the inside corner of your face frame cabinet doors, insert one screw to stabilize the unit and voila, you’ve instantly converted head-banging cabinet doors to quiet closing cabinet doors. There is also a knob that will allow you to adjust the closing rate so that it works perfectly for your cabinet doors. You’ll be amazed at the affordability of this upgrade as well as the calming effect it will have on your kitchen environment.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to make some positive changes to your kitchen. Investing in cabinet organizers and soft close door hardware will just add to the enjoyment of spending time in your favorite room of the house.

Single Cup Coffee Options

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If you love coffee then you certainly know that there is a lot more specialization in this area compared to days gone by when Mr. Coffee dominated the market. Today you can set your coffee maker the night before to grind your beans and brew your favorite coffee before your alarm goes off each morning. Waking up to the sweet scent of coffee in the air tends to lessen the blow of hearing that alarm each morning.

Single cup coffee makers are very popular these days not only for single people but also in the work environment. Keurig has revolutionized coffee brewing with the introduction of the K-cup. You can buy a single cup coffee maker that is made for the K-cup and within seconds you are presented with a decent cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate whenever you want. There are some drawbacks to this new type of instant coffee for the coffee fanatic. You are stuck with the amount of coffee that is contained within the K-cup. You aren’t allowed any variability when it comes to the amount of coffee you want in your cup or the strength of the coffee, for that matter.

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An option which adds a little more versatility and creativity to the serious coffee drinker is a one cup drip coffee maker. With this type of single-serve model you can easily adjust the amount of coffee and the proportions of various types of coffee. Perhaps you want to mix half caffeinated and half decaffeinated coffee so that you can have a toned down cup of coffee. A drip model will allow you to do this easily. If you are the creative type, you could even mix a few different types of coffee to make a unique special brew.

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One method of coffee brewing which is gaining steam in the coffee world is called pour over coffee brewing. With the purchase of a ceramic or glass funnel and filters you can brew your own coffee without the need of a coffee maker. This process entails placing the funnel on top of your coffee mug, inserting a filter into the funnel, and adding the desired amount of ground coffee into the filter. Then you boil up enough water to fill the mug and after it boils let it set for about 30 seconds. In this time the water should drop to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit which is the proper temperature to achieve full extraction of the coffee. You then pour the hot water into the funnel with the filter and the coffee grounds and use a spoon to stir the mixture. The coffee will then fill your mug leaving you with a personally-brewed single serving of java. This is also a brewing method that you can use anywhere as long as you have access to a heat source to boil the water. It is an excellent option if you enjoy a quality cup of coffee while you are camping or tailgating.

There are many different single-serve options available for the coffee addict these days. Whether you decide to buy a one cup coffee maker or if you decide to brew it on your own using the pour over method, you’ll be able to quickly satisfy those caffeine cravings.

Electrolux Stainless Steel EW23BC71IS Review for Modern Homes

Modern kitchen design has come on leaps and bounds in the last five years with the clean and minimal look becoming more and more popular.  Refrigerator design has had to adapt to the direction that modern home design is leading and as a result there are some superb stainless steel counter depth fridge freezers on the market that look good, and fit extremely well into high quality kitchen cabinets.

One such refrigerator is the new Electrolux EW23BC71IS Counter-Depth French Door model which comes highly rated and recommended in customer reviews on websites such as Amazon and RefrigeratorReviews4U.

Standard Features of the Electrolux EW23BC71IS

As a general overview, should you decide to buy the Electrolux EW23BC71IS French Door fridge freezer in stainless steel then you will benefit from the following functionality:

  • High Quality Ice Maker Fitted to Left Hand External Door
  • Fresh and Clean Water Filter for Drinks and Ice
  • Glass Shelves Easily Cleaned with Spill-Proof Edges
  • Crisper Drawer for Fruit and Veg with Seperate Humidity Controls
  • Unique Electrolux Air Filter Keeping Food Fresh

In addition to what you see above, the Electrolux 22.6 cubic foot capacity fridge freezers comes with alarmed doors.  These will sound if they are left open for longer than three minutes, plus will also alarm should the temperature drop below a dangerous level that could defrost foods.

It also comes with a bottom freezer which benefits the Energy Star rating that this modern fridge freezer benefits from.  Inside the freezer there is a wire basket which is best for the common frozen food items that you will need to reach on a daily basis.  In terms of energy efficiency this Electrolux scores highly in consumer reviews – which are essential for any considerations in modern home and kitchen design.

Inside the refrigeration aspect there are also energy saving concessions such as the small and blue LED lighting rather than larger light bulbs which use more energy.  This also helps with the capacity because it saves on space, giving more room for shelving and door gallon drums.

Comprehensive Electrolux EW23BC71IS Review

If you would like more information please visit the Refrigerator Reviews 4 U website as they feature a comprehensive Electrolux EW23BC71IS review including price comparison units, best price Electrolux fridge freezers and a full technical specification of all the features that come with this stainless steel model.

The website also contains videos and reviews on all other major refrigeration appliance brands and models – plus has handy guides and FAQs should you have any problems with installation or operation of your refrigerator.

Cooking Smooth with Silicone Kitchen Utensils

flickr photo by Jim MooreIf you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you can pretty much surmise that I’m not a big fan of Teflon. I like that it is nonstick, but I DON’T like that it gives off toxic offgas at high temperatures.

That being said, making an omelet in my Lodge Logic cast iron skillet is pretty near impossible. It is scrambled or nothing. So, assuming everyone is safe with the temperature of their nonstick cookware, you also need to be careful not to scratch the Teflon coating…and THAT is best avoided by using silicone cooking utensils.

silicone kitchen utensils

flickr photo by Jim MoorePretty much any of the utensils in your cooking utensil set can be found in a silicone version. If you checked my basic cooking tool list, I was able to find everything on that list in a silicone version except the serving fork.

There are plenty of benefits to having silicone kitchen tools around:

- Smooth yet Durable: This is the biggest one. Silicone kitchenware is great for your Teflon coated cookware, since it won’t scratch Teflon’s delicate barrier. Silicone is flexible and tough to break, crack or tear. This is a great quality for cool kitchen utensils, but makes it tough for cookware…more on that later.

- Great Insulator: Silicone doesn’t conduct heat very well, which is great for utensils and the silicone pot holders that are out there. If you have a silicone spatula with a stainless steel handle, the heat is less likely to make it through to the handle if the silicone isn’t passing that heat along. Because it doesn’t conduct heat it is also able to withstand high heat. Usually up to 500-600° F (depending on the product specifications).

- Safe: Because of both properties listed above, silicone can be used in the microwave and washed in a dishwasher with no worries or concerns.

flickr photo by Jim MooreWith all of these modern kitchen utensils at your disposal it is pretty easy to get a decent collection going. Another perk with silicone kitchen gadgets and tools is that it is easy for silicone to be manufactured in different colors. Not that that is an “advantage” per se, but if you want a pop of color, or just something beside black plastic utensils, stainless steel utensils, or wood utensils, silicone is a great go to.

silicone cookware

flickr photo by Jim MooreAs I had mentioned earlier, the flexibility of silicone can make using silicone bakeware and cookware a little more difficult. Yes, it is nonstick and will help you cook more evenly, but one common complaint is that the silicone is too flimsy and you’ll just end up putting the silicone bakeware on a metal cookie sheet so it doesn’t flop around.

And using a silicone baking mat to make flat cookies might be even easier than attempting something like muffins in a silicone muffin mold.

unique kitchen utensils

There are a couple cool little silicone kitchen gadgets that I’ve been seeing around.

flickr photo by Jim MooreOne pet peeve of mine is that my pasta strainer takes up a good amount of cabinet space. Anyone with me on that? There are now collapsible pasta strainers on the market that use silicone and its flexibility to fold in on itself for storage. Brilliant!

flickr photo by Jim MooreAnother cool little item I’ve seen (and will soon be getting) is a utensil clip. It is mad out of stainless steel and silicone and clips on the side of your pot or pan so you can rest your utensil over the food to drip instead of where ever else you might put it that you would later need to clean up.

Overall, silicone cooking utensils are a good choice, whether you have delicate Teflon cookware or not.

Find the Best Cast Iron Skillet For You

We’ve already taken a general look at cast iron cookware seasoning and how it applies to cast iron cookware in general, and the enamel cast iron cookware of Le Creuset and Staub, but I wanted to get a little more specific with some of the other cast iron brands out in the market.

lodge logic cast iron cookware

Although I’ve already covered the Lodge cast iron pan, it is definitely one of the top cast iron brands and worth re-mentioning. It is also the brand I personally use at home. My Lodge Logic skillet has been with me through a fair share of bacon, scallops, and chicken at this point, and it is doing just fine.

Lodge was founded in 1896 and has carried on quite well since then. Cast iron is so durable, if maintained properly that there some pieces of Lodge cast iron that are over 100 years old and still being used today.

You can find a 12 inch Lodge cast iron skillet for around $30.

Oddly enough, Lodge is the main known manufacturer of non-enamel cast iron cookware. You can find Griswold cast iron cookware or Wagner-ware on sites selling used items, but those brands have been gone since the 1950s.

And surely you might come across cheap cast iron cookware in random stores across the nation, but if you’re looking for a quality cast iron pancake griddle it will probably be Lodge or have a famous chef’s name attached to it like Emeril cast iron cookware.

celebrity cast iron cookware

Emeril cast iron is…well, cast iron cookware. I haven’t personally used it, but I’ve seen it in stores and it doesn’t look all that different from other brands. As with most of the “famous person” brands of cookware, you could find a normal cast iron skillet or an enamel cast iron skillet in the collection.

Pretty much though, it is a product manufactured so that a celebrity’s name can drive extra sales. The same goes for Rachael Ray cast iron cookware, except I think she only has an enamel cast iron cookware line.

enamel cast iron cookware

And then you have the more expensive enamel brands like Chasseur cast iron or Le Creuset. Enamel cast iron, sometimes listed as porcelain or ceramic cast iron cookware, seals the cast iron with enamel instead of layers of oil and grease from cooking. This saves you the need to season your cast iron, and gives you an opportunity to add a color besides black to your kitchen.

common cast iron cookware questions

I can answer one common cast iron skillet question for sure, but the rest of the common questions are best answered by yourself. Everyone has different tastes and preferences.

Can a cast iron skillet go in the oven?

This I can answer easily. Yes. Unless you managed to find an odd set of cast iron cookware with wooden handles, cast iron can handle pretty high temperatures. You have to put it in the oven at 250-350 degrees F just to season it!

The rest of the questions I will give my preference on and try to answer why.

What is the best cast iron skillet brand?

Like I mentioned earlier, I think Lodge has the best cast iron griddle. They say that their mould is created with precision so that the entire piece of cookware is the same thickness. I haven’t measured it myself, but it seems to be true.

I think they’re the best cookware to buy because they’ve been in “the game” longer, the cookware is affordable, and I don’t mind seasoning the cookware as opposed to paying more for an enamel cookware. If money wasn’t an object for me, I would go with enamel Le Creuset cookware.

What is the best size cast iron skillet?

I prefer the 12 inch cast iron skillet. It isn’t a huge 15 inch skillet, but it is big enough to cook bacon in.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. Do you already have cast iron that is NOT Lodge? What do you like about it and why?

Baking Popovers Right In A Popover Pan

Recently, I was in Bar Harbor, Maine and visited a place called Jordan Pond House. A nice little place to take a walk and then stop in and get the treat they’re most famous for: popovers. SO famous for that they even have a Jordan Pond popover mix for sale.

If you don’t frequent Maine you might not have even heard of popovers before. I know I hadn’t. The first time I went to Maine, the people I was with who had been there were very excited to go back and get some popovers. Once I got there I knew why. A popover is like a variation of Yorkshire pudding. It is a puffed up, hollow pastry that is so warm and delicious. Every time I’ve had them I’ve spread butter and jam inside. The trick is to eat them fresh out of the oven.

My friends in Maine had even gone so far as to buy their own Chicago metallic popover pan, so they could make popovers whenever they wanted to. Once I left Maine I was far away from delicious popovers…but my mother took it upon herself to send me a lovely gift: my OWN popover pan!

I had never cooked popovers before, but I had the pan to do it!

popover pan vs muffin pan

The difference between the metal popover pan and a muffin pan or some other popover pan substitute is that the cups on a popover pan are individual and connected by thin metal rods. The reasoning behind this is to allow the maximum amount of heat circulation, as this is what causes the popovers to rise and cook to perfection.

I happen to have the 6 cup popover pan. I find that 2 popovers is a suitable meal, but when I’m baking them for two people, and there are 6 popovers, I manage to find room for that extra popover. They do make a 4 cup popover pan if you want to cook in small numbers. Or, if you have more people in your household, or are cooking for a group, you can also find a 12 cup popover pan to make delicious popovers for everyone, or 12-cup mini popover pans if you want to make more of an appetizer-style popover.

One thing I could NOT find was a specifically designed cast iron popover pan. The closest thing was the lodge logic cast iron muffin tin.

baking popovers

I’ve never attempted to make popovers until I had my pan. After making them 4-5 times now, I’ve always found that they were easy to make and haven’t had any problems. Apparently, this isn’t the case for everyone.

I came across different websites with people attempting different mixing styles and temperature combinations to get their popovers right. A majority of the problems being that their popovers don’t rise.

When you attempt to make your own (which you will…they’re YUMMY!) a big “no no” is opening the oven to look at them. As I mentioned earlier, heat circulation is key to getting them to rise. When you open that door, you mess that up…even more so if you’re using a muffin tin without the extra breathing room of a popover pan.

Another part of the problem may be the recipe they were using.

popover pan recipes

It seems to me that a big source of frustration in the stories of popover failure was properly mixing in the butter. One person had even tested three different ways of mixing in one tray to see which worked best.

Now, when I got my popover pan, I wasn’t necessarily dead-set on cooking light popovers. It just so happened my popover recipe didn’t have butter in it. I didn’t know any better!

Ideally, you’re going to be filling the finished popover with butter anyway.

I checked out the food network popovers and their recipe called a tablespoon of butter. I’m telling you, it isn’t needed. Here is the exact recipe I used, and how I prepared it.

POPOVERS: recipe for 6

ingredients
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

While the oven is heating I grease and flour the popover pan. Sometimes I use real butter, sometimes I use a cooking spray, both have worked fine.

I beat the two eggs slightly in a stainless steel mixing bowl with a silicone whisk. You don’t want to over beat the eggs or the overall batter.

Most popover recipes call for sifted flour. As much as I love baking gadgets, the flour sifter is one baking utensil that is not in my arsenal. I lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup and that works fine.

I add the milk to the eggs, then the salt, then start hand mixing in the flour with the whisk. As soon as the chunks are gone and the batter looks smooth, it is ready.

Fill up each cup in the popover pan half-way, and place in the oven.

- Cook at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes
- reduce heat to 350 degrees F and leave in for another 20 minutes

I usually reduce the heat at the 19 minute mark so the transition to 350 starts a little sooner.

After that, they should be beautiful.

One last tip: if you take your popovers out and aren’t going to eat one or more of them right away, pierce the top of them to let the steam escape. Otherwise, they will continue to cook in the tin and be more chewy than you might expect when you come back to them.