Stainless Steel As An Odor Remover?

Note the question mark in the title. I HAD to write about this because I had never even heard about it before, and once I did, I couldn’t find any concrete info on HOW it works.

The other day I was walking around Sur La Table (name dropper!) and saw something I hadn’t noticed called the Wonder Bar. It looked like a metallic bar of soap in packaging boasting that it could safely and effectively wash away odors without soap. Specifically, it targeted onion, garlic, fish, and poultry…along with chemicals, solvents, fishing bait, and my personal favorite, human-scent.

does it work? if so, how?

But nothing on the package said exactly what it was or how it worked. It was a $10 mystery that I was willing to pay the price for. I figured it had to be some interesting mix of complex alloys and minerals. Essentially, it is stainless steel in the shape of a bar of soap. This ability of stainless steel to remove odors is also one of the listed features of the Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker.

As I started trying to look up how this thing even worked I came across a lot of literal wives’ tales. Or, more like moms’ tales. Someone would ask how stainless steel works for removing odors, and while no one had the exact answer, many people had stories about their mother saying after cutting onions, just run your hands under cold water and wipe them on the faucet. Or, run your hands under cold water and rub them on the flat part of a stainless steel knife…or a spoon…or a bowl…anything stainless steel with cold water seemed to be the consensus.

speculative theories

So, many people knew of it working, but no one knew HOW it worked. Most of the theories agree that when the cold water flows over the water that helps the odor molecules bond temporarily to the metal and then get washed away. Some feel that it creates an ionization process that eliminates the odor of the molecules.

You may remember learning about how stainless steel is made and that it is a mixture of steel, chromium, and nickel. As people continued to guess at how it worked, some said it was the nickel in the stainless steel that bonded with the odor molecules. But, some also said it was the chromium, and other said it was the steel.

It seems to work. It doesn’t get rid of 100% of the odor, but it knocks it down a couple notches for sure. The nice thing about the Wonder Bar, in regards to the hunter/fisherman types out there who want to keep fresher hands in the outdoors, is that it is hollow inside, so it floats if you accidentally drop it in water.

human-scent

One thing I can’t pass up sharing, in regards to it fighting “human-scent” is this little story from from Larasaurus at straightdope.com:

“Stainless steel worked great on garlic smell, yadda yadda. But what was really cool was our friend (and masseur) Jonathan showed up straight from a massage he’d given some icky old guy who wore a lot of icky-old-guy cologne. Jonathan reeked–I mean, reeked of it. He’d already washed his hands twice, and he washed them again after the smell was still knocking me out and I gave him shit about it. So we had him try the SS treatment. Now, it didn’t totally eliminate the cologne smell, but it reduced the offensivity factor by about ten: you couldn’t smell it unless you were sitting next to Jonathan, instead of across the room from him. True story.”

Wonder Bar Patent

The packaging didn’t have a website, but it had a patent number. The best explanation they give from good ole Patent 6,039,938 is as follows:

“The present invention is a permanent, hollow, buoyant, metallic bar which upon rubbing removes odor as odor molecules bond to the metallic bar instead of hands and are then washed away by liquid.”

So there you have it. Has this ever worked for you? What is your trick?

Sub-Zero: a Triumph in Food and Wine Preservation

flickr photo by citymamaThe world’s most loved refrigerator brand for built-ins has always been Sub-Zero Preservation. Whether we are talking about properly storing your food or preserving your wine, Sub-Zero delivers the most optimum performance needed, more than the consumers’ expectations. Even the luxurious side by side models and french door refrigerators from other luxury brands such as Amana, Jenn-Air, and GE Monogram cannot be at par with the considerable range of Sub-Zero fridges. The brand is just effortlessly designed to be triumphant both in the arena of technical cooling performance and ergonomic design and style.

Many consumers find new inspiration to restyle their kitchen settings with a Sub-Zero refrigerator on board. The Sub-Zero fridge, in its dashing exterior ergonomic design and a technical prowess for food and wine preservation, will enhance your lifestyle by not providing you any hassle as far as refrigeration is concerned. The idea that you can also transform your kitchen into a trendy area where you can enjoy food preparation best may also appeal to a greater number of consumers.

flickr photo by JoeInSouthernCAFeatures such as a dual refrigeration system, water filtration system, air purification system, microprocessor and low temperature storage zones and highly accessible storage are to be expected in Sub-Zero refrigerators. If you are banking on a wine fridge from Sub-Zero, then some of the features are still applicable – two storage zones, roller glide shelves, wired shelves and many more. The temperature is very precise with digital temperature control and the interior is well lit with a LED lighting system.

The wide range of technical cooling features draws many people into buying this fridge despite the fact that Sub Zero appliance prices are notoriously high and expensive. Still, if you’re really looking for a fridge that’s outstanding in all aspects – design or technical – you just have to pay hard for it.

The Best Restaurant Can Openers

In restaurants, the staff in the kitchen often open cans. Because of this, they need to have the best can opener in today’s time. Can openers are a necessity in the kitchen to help you open up cans safely and conveniently. If you happen to own a restaurant, or feel like you’re running one in your own kitchen, here are some examples of can openers to use.

Commercial Can Openers

In general, commercial can openers can be divided into two categories – electric can openers and manual can openers. The commercial can openers are widely used by these days, not just in restaurants, but in homes. Let us further discuss the two types of commercial can openers.

Electric Can Opener

flickr photo by jordanfischerElectric can openers are the most convenient type of can openers to use. They are easy to use and also portable. Most electric can openers are powered by a motor that powers the blade to cut even thick metal cans. The electric can openers come in two types – battery powered can openers and plug-in can openers. While the cord can openers use electricity straight from the outlet to let the can opener work and the battery powered can opener uses batteries, you can also find some that sit in a rechargable base…the best of both worlds. Most people prefer to use the can opener that has a cord since using a battery powered can opener will cost more in terms of buying new set of batteries (if it isn’t rechargable). Can openers with cords are also time-saving compared to the battery powered one.

Manual Can Opener

flickr photo by papalarsThe manual can opener has been around for many years now and they are still used by some people. These days, the manual can opener is rarely used in the market because it is time-consuming and unsafe. The cutting of the manual can openers is not smooth and the ragged edges may cut or hurt your fingers or hands. It will also take time to open a can with a manual can opener. It is also possible that the manual can opener will jam whenever it is used. Manual can openers are not recommended when dealing on large cans made of thick metal.

flickr photo by vasenkaAnd that is keeping in mind that manual can opener technology has come a long way. I can’t imagine trying to open a can with some thing as out-dated as this.

How to Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee

flickr photo by goosmurfHave you ever had Vietnamese iced coffee?

Neither had I.  I hadn’t even heard of it before a fellow blogger brought it to my attention, telling me that I just had to check it out and see how delicious it was.  So I looked up some instructions, figured out what I needed to make it – gathered the necessary supplies and made my first cup.  It was delicious.

Making Vietnamese Iced Coffee

flicr photo by INeedCoffee / CoffeeHeroIt’s pretty simple to make, actually, you need sweetened condensed milk and a ‘phin’ which is the contraption you actually use to brew Vietnamese iced coffee.  I ordered two ‘phins’ off the internet – the total cost was under ten dollars.  They’re just little metal ‘pour overs‘ that you set on top of a coffee mug, it has a screw top that you gently screw on over the coffee grounds.

You pour the sweetened condensed milk into the empty coffee mug before brewing, then put the coffee grounds inside the ‘phin’, fill it with boiling water and wait about three minutes.

Once all of the water has seeped through into the coffee mug, you take the ‘phin’ off and stir up the coffee and milk.  It mixes together creating a creamy substance equal to about five or six ounces.

Pour the coffee over ice, shake it up a little bit and give it twenty or thirty seconds to completely cool.

flickr photo by skampyNow you have Vietnamese iced coffee – it’s sweet and milky and often served as a dessert drink, especially on hot summer days, but even on an afternoon like today when it was cloudy and I was wearing a sweater, the iced sweet dessert drink proved very refreshing.

You can get started making Vietnamese iced coffee for under ten dollars, it takes three minutes to brew, and the instructions here are everything you need to know.  It’s really simple and produces a deliciously refreshing beverage.

Retro Kitchen Design with Modern Materials and Plumbing

flickr photo by ahisgettThere are a few things in retro kitchen design that are still applicable today. Consider the plumbing. You are often going to find some sort of copper repipe is necessary. Copper repiping gives you better durability and corrosion resistance than the old anodized or zinc coated steel pipes. Knowing where to invest your money wisely allows you the freedom to have a lot more fun with your kitchen decor without necessarily spending a lot of money.

flickr photo by Ian WilsonOf course, in a vintage kitchen, you’re going to see a lot of laminate and vinyl. At the time they were novelties, and at the height of fashion. However, since they are so cheap now they just tend to look quite dated. However, there are still some fun ways that you can bring this into your room. You can look for your favorite patterns, and then just print them off and turn them into artwork, or even look for vintage inspired wallpaper of this type. This is a way that you can still get a kitschy element to a room that still uses a lot of the more popular flooring choices and granite counter-tops.

flickr photo by Jim MooreOne of the more daring options would just be to use these more modern materials in fun color palettes. You can even find granite with red veins in it. You will need to consider the resell value of your home just because granite is one of your more expensive materials and so you usually want to choose a color that has mass appeal for everyone.

When shooting for a retro kitchen look, just remember that you don’t have to do everything the way it was back then. Many of the components behind the scenes can, and should, be modern. This way you can have the look you want, but the reliability that modern materials and engineering bring to the table.

The Best Kitchen Gadgets for Garlic: A Vampire’s Nightmare

flickr photo by carubaWith the Halloween spirit in full-force, and the latest Twilight movie on the way out, I can’t help bu think of garlic.

Always a classic way for keeping vampires away, I was inspired to go out and see what kind of kitchen gadgets for garlic were out and about in the world. There are many ways to prep garlic and I think I’ve found a gadget for each of them.

zak! designs garlic peeler

When I first looked at this thing on the shelves it didn’t seem right. It was marked as a garlic kitchen tool, but it looked like some kind of apple corer. This garlic peeler is made out of flexible silicone. You just pop some unpeeled garlic inside, push down and roll it, and you’re good to go. When you push and roll, the sides of the tube grip and rip the peel off. These peelers come in 6 different color, are easy to clean, and they keep you from having hands that smell excessively of garlic

The Zak! Designs Garlic Peeler costs around $10

Now that you have a way to easily peel your garlic, here are some cool kitchen gadgets for breaking it down.

zyliss garlic slicer

Holding onto garlic and slicing it has always been a precarious adventure for me. I’m always worried I’m going to cut my fingers. The Zyliss slicer is one of those food gadgets that is set up to protect while making it all oh so easy. You just pop your peeled garlic in and shuffle it back and forth. All of the slices are contained in the base for you to access once you’re done with your slicing.

The Zyliss Garlic Slicer costs around $10

chef’n garlic zoom

Now, I know I JUST talked about this when I was covering the great kitchen gadgets by Chef’n. But, that doesn’t stop it from being a great kitchen tool for garlic. The Garliczoom opens up, you put a couple garlic cloves inside, close the top, then roll it back and forth on your counter like a 5 year-old with a Hotwheels car! The wheels spin the blades inside to chop and dice your garlic up. Open it back up, take out the blade, and you have access to your diced garlic.

The nice thing is that they also have an XL version that allows you to chop more garlic, or throw some herbs in there to dice them up.

The Chef’n Garliczoom costs about $10, and the XL costs about $15.

joseph joseph rocker stainless steel garlic crusher

We’ve peeled, we’ve sliced, we’ve diced…but this is one of those food utensils that is an interesting twist on the old fashioned garlic press. The Garlic Rocker is very easy to use, just push down on the garlic while rocking it back and forth and you’ll get nicely crushed garlic. An added bonus that Joseph Joseph boasts is that the rocker is stainless steel, and that rubbing your hands on it under cold water will remove the smell of garlic. Why does this work?

The Joseph Joseph Rocker costs about $15

Get yourself some of these handy garlic gadgets and see how many ways you can thwart this season’s vampires!

The Weber 6511001 Genesis E-310 Home Gas Grill

flickr photo by like_the_grand_canyonWeber has made quite a name for themselves in the world of barbecue, and they’re one of the few companies who can afford to advertise nationally with a televised campaign. For many people, they are the undisputed kings of barbecue that provide you value and cooking power in one package. In a strange way, this makes it even more difficult to finally settle on one single barbecue that you bring into your backyard and home. The fact is Weber has so many great products in their line that you might not be able to decide which one to purchase. But if you have a budget of around $700, and you’re looking for a straightforward grill that will be in your backyard for years to come, then the Weber 6511001 Genesis E-310 is a great choice. There are barbecues that are cheaper and definitely ones that are more expensive, but this one is the perfect selection for a mid to high range budget.

One of the things to love about this grill is it combines size and cooking power perfectly to give you everything you want to feed your family. In fact, there is enough overall cooking space that you can feed to families (plural) if you wanted to. That makes it a perfect party machine that will allow you to invite your neighbors over for a great summer meal. You can accommodate large groups of people with a bit of organization and careful planning for each element that ends up on the grill. And remember, Weber grills are not just about intense power or temperature, they also allow you to incorporate a good degree of precision into your barbecue routine.

There are separate butane burners that line the bottom of the Weber 6511001 Genesis E-310 and each one has its own individual control. That means you can have one end of the grill running at a different temperature than the other. This will allow you to cook various elements at the same time, and you’ll really love the addition of a back warming rack that will keep everything piping hot until ready to serve. And it’s not just about direct grilling, you’ll love the ability to close the heavy lid and effectively read your own outdoor oven that can be used for entire roasts. Imagine how great it would be to cook a whole barbecue chicken or racks of ribs – you’ll never have to go to a restaurant again to get these classic barbecue dishes!

One common feature found with all of Weber gas grills are flavor bars that are located alongside the burners. These effectively trap and evaporate fat trappings which will give you a double dose of taste in to the food cooking above. It’s really a simplistic idea that is implemented to perfection, and the results all end up in more flavor for you. And thanks to a handy sear station you can ensure that you get that crispy first to layer on your food while retaining all of the yummy juice inside. A one touch ignition system is also a welcome addition that is much faster than a traditional charcoal grill, and you can be up and running within minutes of turning your grill on. In the end, not everyone is looking to spend this much money on a backyard barbecue but if you are a true fan of authentic grilled food, this is a safe bet that gives you the added confidence of a Weber quality all the way.

Curious about going from box to burn? I found this video with not just one man’s opinion on this grill, but a time-lapse version of his assembly process.



6 Unique Kitchen Gadgets from Chef’n

Last time I made a list it was about cool kitchen appliances and gadgets that make great gifts. While they definitely were some cool kitchen gadgets, they were a little expensive.

Recently, while on vacation, I walked into a cool kitchen gadgets store that had everything I’ll be writing about just sitting there all perfectly lumped together. They were begging to be looked at!

All of these unique kitchen tools are made by Chef’n (or “chefn” if you’re webbin’ it). Not only will their funky kitchen stuff go great in your own kitchen, but these items are great as unique kitchen gifts AND they are very affordable.

Chef’n Pepperball

This is one of the cool kitchen accessories that can solve a major problem in my kitchen. Spilling.

By that I mean that I keep my salt and pepper right by the stove and, more frequently than I care for, I end up knocking one or both of them over. Good thing I’m not superstitious! So, bonus number one: there is a magnet on the Pepperball! I can just attach it to the vent over the stove, the top part of the stove, the side of the refrigerator…anywhere metal that is nearby. It is also clear plastic so you can see when you’re running out of pepper.

The Chef’n Pepperball costs about $12.

Chef’n Palmzester

The next three unique kitchen accessories all caught my eye for one reason: I have big hands. Sometimes it is harder for me to use smaller kitchen utensils, but these attach right to your finger.

Just clip the Palmzester to your finger, grab whatever you’re going to zest, and the rest is easy. There is just one tiny blade, and a little compartment with a lid to collect your zest. With the long zest wand I have at home I’m always worried I’m going to cut myself. The Palmzester gives me a little peace of mind in that department since I only have to focus on the one blade.

The Chef’n Palmzester costs about $8.

Chef’n Palmpeeler

Another one of these cool cooking gadgets is the Chef’n Palmpeeler. Like the Palmzester, the Palmpeeler clips to your finger and lets you peel away.

My only worry with this one is carrots. As I said, I have large hands, and the problem comes more from holding a narrower carrot than the palm peeler. But, having the blade in my palm and obscured from view makes me just a little uneasy with smaller foods. With larger foods like potatoes and cucumbers, I have no worries.

The Chef’n Palmpeeler costs about $6.

Chef’n Palmbrush

The last of the cool kitchen tools in my list that attach to your palm is the Chef’n Palmbrush. This is just an overall handy way to scrub down vegetables before cooking. Again…large hands. The handle on the brush I have isn’t very big, and it is hard for me to grip it comfortably. Just like the other two unique cooking gadgets above, the Palmbrush slips onto your finger, then scrub away!

Since there isn’t a blade on the Palmbrush, this one is all pluses in my book.

The Chef’n Palmbrush costs about $7.

Chef’n Garliczoom

NOW we’re really talkin’!

For reasons I shouldn’t have to mention yet again (my hands), dicing is a little harder for me. The Chef’n Garliczoom is high up there among other cool kitchen gadgets. With the Garliczoom you put a couple garlic cloves inside, close the top, then roll away! The wheels spin the blades inside to chop and dice your garlic up. Open it back up, take out the blade, and you have access to your diced garlic.

The nice thing is that they also have an XL version that allows you to chop more garlic, or throw some herbs in there to dice them up. To me, this seems like the perfect chef gadget since garlic is a key ingredient in so many recipes.

BONUS: Dreamer’s Tips to a Work-Free Meal
- find a chef at place where you can find chefs cooking
- observe chefs cookware in place
- befriend chef by complimenting on their chef cooking skill and chef cookware
- chef makes you food
(this method has not been tested)

The Chef’n Garliczoom costs about $10, and the XL costs about $15.

Chef’n Flexicado

The last of the six items is the Chef’n Flexicado. This is one of those unique kitchen utensils that has a very specific purpose: cutting and scooping avocados. I’m sure you could find another use of some sort for it, but it has avocados in mind.

I personally don’t care for the taste of avocados, but my wife loves them. Cut an avocado in half, take out the pit, squeeze (a.k.a. “flex”) the Flexicado to match the size of the avocado, and slice away! Not one your standard chef utensils, but great for you “guac” fans.

The Chef’n Flexicado costs about $7.

BONUS ITEM: RSVP Onion Goggles

SURPRISE! A bonus item!

This is one of those funny kitchen gadgets that isn’t really the most necessary thing to have, but it was interesting enough to me that it was even a product on the market in the first place.

Sometimes cool kitchen ideas can come from just getting fed up with dealing with a problem. I think it is common knowledge that cutting onions can make your eyes water. If it is that big of a problem in your household, maybe it is time to get some?

I see this as more of a secret Santa type gift, but I don’t have a problem with onions. At least not as bad as the lady in the video.

The RSVP Onion Goggles cost about $15.



Making Great Coffee in Your Kitchen

Everyone wants to drink good coffee – and it isn’t as hard as it seems.  Day after day you fork a few dollars over a counter to get your coffee, but did you know you could be making the same coffee at home.  Yes, you could, well – you could actually be making it better at home, if only you had the right coffee gadgets in your kitchen.

A Conical Burr Grinder

All the professionals in the specialty coffee community agree: you can’t have good coffee without having a grinder that properly crushes the whole beans into grounds for the right extraction.  What kind of grinder do you need?

You need a conical burr grinder.

http://coffeenewbie.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-thoughts-on-hario-skerton-hand.htmlThese are not expensive, and an investment in one will last a lifetime.  The one I recommend above all others is the Hario Skerton hand grinder.  We use one in a lot of our exploits at Project Vvlgar and it has never failed us.  Not to mention, it is dishwasher safe, the burrs are made of ceramic, and the entire thing is very easy to take apart and clean, or put together for more use in the kitchen.

A Brewing Method Other Than a Drip Coffee Maker

Yet again, at Project Vvlgar we highly recommend trying pour over coffee with any number of apparatuses.

Our personal favorite is the Hario v60 ceramic dripper.  The first time that we ever used it the brew came out perfectly, I personally use it any time that I want to make a cup of coffee without brewing a whole pot at a time.  If you are drinking a single cup of coffee by yourself there is no better way to drink it than from a pour over extraction.

It is simple, the ceramic dripper can be purchased for under $20, and even a lot of espresso bars and cafes are starting to offer it to their customers because of the phenomenal taste associated with this method.

It Really Is That Simple

Making fantastic coffee at home isn’t difficult, it isn’t complicated, and it isn’t expensive.  You need a grinder with conical burrs and a brewing method other than a drip coffee maker.  Once you’ve acquired these simple appliances your coffee drinking experiences will reach an entirely new level.

Mix It Up In Pyrex Mixing Bowls

pyrex mixing bowls

I’d be very surprised if you haven’t heard of Pyrex bowls. My grandmothers both had them, my mother has them, I have them. I consider them some of the best mixing bowls for a few reasons.

First off, they’re durable. Made from a soda lime composition, the glass Pyrex mixing bowls, cookware and bakeware can take a lot of heat. Although, Pyrex does offer many safety tips because their products aren’t completely immune to thermal shock. Here are four tips to cooking safely with Pyrex:
- Preheat your oven to the desired temperature before putting in Pyrex
- Place hot Pyrex glassware on a dry towel after cooking is complete
- Add liquid to the glass cookware if cooking meat or vegetables
- Never put Pyrex glassware directly on the burner or in the broiler

Follow those simple instructions and you avoid the major factors that lead to kitchen bakeware breaking via thermal shock. If you want a little more info on those rules, see the video below.

I realize that those rules are more important for the Pyrex glass bakeware than the mixing bowls, but they are important enough to make note of.

Another thing I like about Pyrex glass mixing bowls is that I can see through them. Sometimes when I’m mixing in a hurry it will look like I’m done, but there will be a small chunk of unmixed flour at the bottom. With glass Pyrex mixing bowls I can see that flour trying to hide from me and take care of the problem.

Because they’re glass, they are also extremely resistant to stains and odors. It is nice to be able to have a completely clean mixing bowl each and every time I go to use them.

There is even a newer line of pyrex tear shaped mixing bowls that have a round side that is still good for mixing against, and a pointed side that makes pouring smoother and easier.

Some other things I like aren’t necessarily exclusive to Pyrex by any means, but it doesn’t hurt that these options are there. I use a mixing set of Pyrex nesting bowls, so they all store away nicely. And, they are Pyrex bowls with lids, so I can use them for storage too. You might not want to use one multi piece mixing bowl set as diversely as I do. Don’t worry. There are other options.

pyrex 10 piece storage set

If you’re read any of my other articles you probably are catching on to the idea that I’m trying to get rid of petroleum products in my kitchen. We have enough plastic being generated daily on this planet. With Pyrex glass storage containers I get a more durable product that will be reusable for longer, and that doesn’t have the possibility of leeching into any soups or liquids I might microwave in them. Yes, it is handy to have “disposable” plastic containers, but pyrex food storage containers are much more earth friendly.

I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a house or apartment that hasn’t had a Pyrex measuring cup set. I’m not talking about the smaller type of measuring cups (1/8 cup – 1 cup), but a stacking set of Pyrex measuring cups with a 2, 4, and 8 cup sizes. As I said, Pyrex has been around in my life since I can remember. They go a long way back.

antique pyrex mixing bowls

Since it is such a durable product, you can still find plenty of vintage pyrex mixing bowls still in existence today. A little history may be needed.

The idea for Pyrex was created when the wife of a scientist at Corning Glass Works was flustered with her cookware. She knew that the glass her husband worked with was strong and got him to create a glass piece of cookware for her. It has been around since 1915, and some of those old pyrex mixing bowls are still around today.

Although World Kitchen purchased Pyrex from Corning Incorporated, they still use the same formula and still manufacture Pyrex in the USA.

pyrex colored mixing bowls

At some point in the 1940s you could find colored Pyrex mixing bowls on the market. These were the “it gadgets” of their era. I distinctly remember the primary color set from my childhood.

You can still find many pieces from these sets today, although there is a higher likelihood that the extra large mixing bowl will be missing. Over time, the bigger the bowl, the more susceptible it is to breaking.

Pyrex doesn’t offer any colored glassware currently. You CAN find pyrex mixing bowls with LIDS that are different colors, but just the lids.

Whatever the option, mixing, baking, measuring…Pyrex is my choice for getting the job done.