My skillet recommendation for a great cooking

    I own several Lodge cast iron products and use them everyday. I have 3 teeneage boys that enjoy cooking, and after they destroyed a few teflon coated pans, I decided I would go heavy into cast iron. These pans are indestructible. You can use them in the oven or stovetop, and if you keep it seasoned properly food will not stick. Also, to avoid sticking problems, you may want to remember to allow the pan to get hot before applying oil or food.

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    As to seasoning, the Logic line now comes preseasoned. But don’t make a big deal about this. To season a cast iron skillet simply coat it lightly with oil and bake it for a half hour or so. I have also seasoned these skillets on the stovetop. Cast iron skillet is great because it does not easily scrap like stainless steel and aluminum pots. Aluminum pans are painful to me, as my teeth fillings react to the aluminum. With cast iron, you won’t have this problem. I also take my Lodge pan camping and set it right over the coals to cook. No melted handles or scorched bottoms to mess with. - Ron Atkins

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    “ Cast iron pans have been used for cooking for hundreds of years. There are a number of advantages to using cast iron for cooking. Since pans are cast as 1 unit, there are no separate parts to break, so they are very durable. Some pans are passed down in a family for generations. Cast iron pans conduct heat well, and can be used on the stove, in an oven, or on an open fire. Cast iron comes in a variety of sizes and shapes for many different types of cooking. There also are some disadvantages to using cast iron pans. They are heavy, and can rust quickly if exposed to moisture. Cast iron pans also require seasoning and regular oil applications to maintain a nonstick surface, and they can’t be washed in a dishwasher. If you’re considering a purchase, here are some tips on how to buy cast iron pans.” (Full post here: http://www.wikihow.com/Buy-Cast-Iron-Pans)

    More: Skillet that evenly cook

    High recommended automatic espresso machine to buy

    If you’ve been looking for an automatic espresso machine with the minimum acceptable 15 bar (this is 19), for under $100 US, though pump driven, the new Inissia is the model you and I have been waiting for. You will soon find, that for the budget, this little gem was worth the wait!

    For comparison, the U is about $150 (depending on model, and without frother), the Essenza can be found for under $100 from time to time, and the rest of the line jumps up (eg. Pixie, others with milk frother options) to over $200 and well upwards from there.

    The coffee, if bought on Nespresso’s website, ranges from .50 to .70, depending on whether you insist on pure Arabica (and you should!). Amazon and it’s vendors do both better and worse than this, so you HAVE to shop if you want to maintain your budget. Because of the skyrocketing popularity of this line, there are many more fulfillment by Amazon and Prime options now if you hunt for them.

    good-espresso

    Also, Sams and Costco have started carrying this line, but both of them locally (assuming Amazon charges tax in your area– some fullfillment by do not), are a $40 savings on this Inissia at this writing if you buy on Amazon. Because Inissia does not have the downside of ruining cups with experimentation you find with the Essenza, it is already becoming hard to find.

    How can ANYONE deliver 19 bar, in a dependable machine, for under $100? Well, they can’t. This machine costs about $290 to manufacture bare bones. So, yes, this IS razor and blade and you ARE married to buying the little cups from Nespresso. There is NO BETTER WAY to get low cost, high quality espresso, with the convenience of automated brewing as simple as drip, for far less than Starbucks, even with the razor/blade strategy.

    That said, I’m a Barista instructor, and if you do take the time to buy green, roast your own, and use a Moka pot, though technically not espresso at 6 bar, you can get better coffee, more controlled by you, for a LOT less per cup. But here comes some honesty my students would kill me for: YES, sometimes I prefer fast coffee, far better than Starbucks, fully automated, easy clean up, and zero work! I still roast my own and use a variety of techniques from Moka to Turkish to get a devlish range of wonderful tastes, but for the effort, this new little Inissia truly fills the bill!

    The Barista association has been kind enough to let me try a full range of espresso machines and techniques on their dime for over 7 years, and I’ve worked with espresso makers and systems that range from Mr. Coffee to $35,000 commercial machines. I can’t say much more than the fact that THIS is the model I’ve waited for, even though I was painfully tempted by the Essenza. And also be warned, if you move beyond Nespresso for a modular system, you are NOT getting true espresso, but razor and blade drip.

    If you read criticisms on the web that Nespresso has a poor range of offerings between first crack, City ++ and deeply dark, oily espresso, check the date on the review/complaint. I’ve now found that their range is just as broad and deep as any direct green or roasted bean you can get. Nothing is as good as roasting and grinding your own, but even with sophisticated taste buds, this system comes very close, and is certainly WAY better than Starbucks. Besides, even roasters/ Moka folk need a break once in a while, and will unlikely settle for drip when they can even get Americano if you like it less strong, with this system!

    The other models in this series are known for durability and ethical customer service from Nespresso, but at this writing no one can tell you that about their newer technologies. I can tell you that poor mechanical performance would kill this at Sams before they even got out of the gate, so I’m betting on durability, but can’t honestly opine on that parameter. (Related post: My review on 3 espresso machines)

    All in all, highly recommended. Please use the comment and question features for any details you need, or email me, or check out the Nespresso website for details between models, or questions you might have on this little gem. As a bonus, if you check their site, you get to see Jimmy Kimmel trying the brand with Penelope Cruz, not a reason to buy, but still FUN! ;=)

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    Three Cookware for All Your Cooking Needs

    pansReal Simple has a guide to the three basic pots and pans everyone needs. If you’ve ever picked up the molten plastic handle of a frying pan or cleaned a range top after making a marinara in a wobbly pot, you’re ready to learn about good cookware. First, you need to invest the money to get a good-quality pan made of the best metal for the job. Then you must care for cookware properly to give it the longevity you need. And remember―you don’t have to go out and buy whole cookware sets. Instead, select the individual pots and pans that work best with what and how you cook.

    Whatever type of pan you pick, it should above all be sturdy. Thickness means that a pan will not dent, warp, or have hot spots (which cause food in one area of the pan to cook faster or burn before everything else is done). Thinner materials won’t hold heat evenly. A deeper pot should hold heat all the way up its sides; a weighty one will also be more durable and withstand frequent use and washing.

    The three basic pots you need to start your cookware collection: a two-quart saucepan, a 10-inch saute pan, and an eight-quart stockpot. They’ll cover just about any cooking task, and if you buy high-quality pieces, you’ll have them for a long, long time. And if you’re buying only three, you can get the best.

    Stockpot
    While this should be of good quality according to cookware reviews, it doesn’t have to be quite as hefty as the other two. Although you want it to be sturdy, you’ll be using it mostly to boil water for pasta and blanching or steaming vegetables, so you want to be able to lift the pot once it’s full of water. Something in midweight anodized aluminum is a good choice, since you may also want to use your stockpot to make large quantities of soup, stock, or stews. (If you’ll be using it mainly for boiling water, buy the cheapest you can find.) Anodized aluminum is treated with a strengthening protective coating and will perform well without costing a fortune. The handles on a stockpot should be big enough to grasp firmly. If a colander insert doesn’t come with your pot, consider buying one separately. The insert is not crucial, but it makes it easier to lift out pasta or vegetables.

    Sauté Pan
    For searing and sautéing meats, vegetables, and chicken, pick a stainless-steel sauté pan. This pan will prove to be your most versatile. Not only can you sear anything to a golden brown but you will also be able to make a quick sauce with pan drippings. You can cook a whole meal and have only one pan to wash. The three-quart saute pan is the right size to make risotto and homemade pasta sauce, or even do some deep-frying. It’s great for stir-frying, so you won’t need a wok. With this type of pan, it’s important that the base be thick enough. A thin pan may buckle, making it hard to cook food evenly. Most good-quality stainless-steel pans have an inner core of aluminum or copper to enhance steel’s relatively poor heat conductivity. Handles should be heatproof and secured with heavy-duty, noncorrosive rivets. Stainless-steel, wood, and plastic handles all stay cool on the stove-top, but only steel and cast iron are ovenproof (wood will char, and plastic will burn). A pan with a steel handle, then, gives you the advantage of being able to finish the cooking in the oven. (And, obviously, use mitts when removing anything from a hot oven.) Lids should fit snugly (a tight-fitting cover helps keep moisture in the food), with a secure knob that is heatproof.

    Saucepan
    A two-quart saucepan is the right piece of equipment for making sauces and rice, or for reheating soup and pasta sauce. For handling all these tasks quickly, your best choice is a pan made of copper. It will look warm and inviting hanging from a rack in a country kitchen, but it has more going for it than mere beauty. Copper is extremely responsive to temperature changes, so it heats up and cools down immediately as you turn the stove dial. This means it’s especially good for making delicate sauces and candies or melting sugar. Look for a cast-iron or bronze handle with sturdy stainless-steel rivets. Apart from the aesthetic consideration, don’t worry about polishing copper pots. Tarnish does not affect performance. Copper cookware is usually lined with stainless steel or tin (exceptions being preserves pans and bowls for beating egg whites). Easy-to-use copper polishes are available in cookware and hardware stores.

    Why I cannot live without my rice cooker!

    If someone asked me to list out the kitchen gadgets I cannot live without, my Panasonic Rice-Cooker will definitely top the list. This regularly used item might not be the first thing that comes to your mind, but for me, it is a savior.

    riceWe women these days have adopted the role of Superwomen, handling multiple things at once. We have the daily chores to deal with, the kids and husband to manage, and the food to be prepared. Add to these things, the need for healthy cooking. A good rice cooker is a perfect gadget for the multitasking women who face these tasks.

    Rice cooker saves me from the need of standing beside the bubbling pot and constantly stirring the ingredients. It frees my time so I can focus on the side dish I need along with my rice (Yes, I am fussy that way!) I can measure and put the rice in the rice cooker and forget about it. The biggest advantage of the rice cooker is that if I have followed the instructions, my rice will never burn. Not only this, the rice cooker will also keep the rice warm.

    From simple boiled rice to creamy biryani to risotto, this gadget is perfect for all these dishes. For a person like me who eats rice twice or thrice a week, it is a necessity. Icing on the top is that I can also steam vegetables (or eggs or fish or whatever else that can be steamed) without using extra energy.

    Many people like me are in love with their rice cookers. A friend of mine lives in a hostel room and cooks all her food in her great looking rice-cooker. Not only this, she carries her rice cooker whenever she is traveling so she can cook her own vegetarian food anywhere she wants. Rice cooker can be used for other purposes as well. I have not tried this myself, but I have heard it being used for making a loaf of bread and cakes. My experience with rice cooker is limited to jasmine rice, wild rice, risotto, bibimbap, and biryani. But I think if one has Zojirushi rice cooker with its huge array of settings, the range of dishes that one can cook will be much more than my simple fare. You can use them for variety of dishes, without getting worried about overcooked rice.

    Are you also in love with your rice-cooker? What are the dishes that you have cooked with it?

    More reading:

    How to select a rice cooker

    The Best Brands of Air Mattresses for You

    Air mattresses are now very popular, as more people have realized the comfort and convenience that comes with them. Whether you are camping or you need additional accommodation for visitors, this is the best alternative. A good air mattress should be easy to use and durable. Don’t miss out on the best air mattress reviews of 2015.
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    Intex Pillow Twin Bed

    This is among the best Intex air mattresses. It comes with a built in electric pump. Within 3 minutes, the pump the air bed is inflated. The pump is also used to deflate it also. Its features include 20.8 gauge, 15-gauge vinyl beams, water flocked top and 16-gauge sides and bottom. If the mattress feels too firm or soft, you can customize the comfort with the touch of the button. This bed is raised 17.5 inches from the floor. It comes with AC power cord, a duffel bag and a shoulder strap.

    Wenzel Insta- Bed

    This bed is 22 inches above the floor. It weighs up to 700 pounds. Its size is 80 inches by 6o inches. It almost feels like an ordinary bed. Its built in pump inflates the mattress fast, and the tight bottom prevents it from sliding. It stays inflated and feels comfortable lying in it. It also comes with a carrying bag that users find convenient for storing and transporting. It is very sturdy and resistant to tearing. It has a one-year warranty. It is easy to store and transport.

    Coleman Single High Quickbed

    This mattress is available in twin and king sizes. It is best suited for camping. It does not have an in built pump though it is easy to fill with air and deflate. It stays inflated overnight to ensure you have a good sleep. It comes with an attachable carrying bag, making it easy to carry and transport. It is 8 inches above the floor. Its size is 73 by 38 inches for twin size and 78 by 75 inches for king size. It has a 1-year warranty.

    My Espresso Maker is My Best Friend Every Morning

    coffeeWhen I do wake up, it is all groggy and unseeing. That said, there are few things I want to see in the morning and the very first would be my automatic drip coffee machine. The single best coffee producer in the world, second only to the holy grail. There is no denying all we want in the morning is a cup of freshly refined coffee and apparently I found the best way of doing it having gone through various coffee makers. I want to find my cup waiting for me when I wake up and that is just what you would expect to find with the automatic drip coffee machine. So what would I be looking for in event I find myself in need of one. well, one would have to know what to look for and read espresso maker reviews. On a personal note my first consideration would be the brew speed, decent water filtration system, how easy it is to use, serving size, ability to clean easy and of course the appearance.

    This is a machine to be found in every home and I expect, in every hotel room. And I doubt there is a human to be found not addicted to this heavenly liquid. Whether you work for a living or are basically a soccer mum, coffee really is the answer. Not only to the various pressures and stresses in our ever more dynamic world but also to the quieter moments in our lives where we only need to sit back and meditate. Now that we have one at my work place, work has become my second most favorite place to be. Just kidding, it hasn’t but it surely has become more tolerable. Being that there are coffee machines everywhere conceivable I think that the most important places in our lives should be equipped with things we need most, maybe a charging port, WiFi and quite possibly a good espresso maker. As an I.T specialist I could survive on this three for days without a break. Not that it is advisable others, I wouldn’t especially recommend it.

    Not one of us would like going through a day without coffee and that is why I would definitely recommend the various espresso makers to automatic drip coffee machines. Its not that my life revolves around coffee but I have found it is an integral part of my being, defining the way I handle my day. So goodbye and good luck to you fellow coffee drinkers

    Selecting the Best Rated Kitchen Knives in the Market

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    With the types of kitchen knives available within the market, and numerous brands from diverse manufacturers, choosing the best kitchen knife may seem to be a daunting task to the consumer. The huge differences in product features and descriptions existing among these necessary items further make the selection process challenging. Checking out more on the highest rated kitchen knives set review 2015 in the market or online knife store; together with outlined buying guides is a great way to start.

    Any well furnished home kitchen would have at least five types of essential kitchen knives namely a paring knife, a utility knife, a slicer, a bread knife and a chef’s knife. The parer and chef’s knife are similar in design and shape with both serving all purposes, except that the paring knife is smaller in size.

    These conventional types of knives are of immense use within the home kitchen with the probability of being utilized on a daily basis, requiring a regular cleaning, sharpening and general maintenance as a result. When buying any of these essential items one needs to ensure they purchase the best rated kitchen knives among genuine brands that guarantee the consumer of their durability and sturdiness from credible stores.

    Knowing the features of the best kitchen knife is a prerequisite to making a good buying choice. Considering the material the kitchen knife is made of is important as it affects ease in sharpening, the kitchen knife’s durability and cutting ability.

    Stainless steel, carbon steel, ceramic, titanium and plastic are common materials which make up a wide variety of brands of these home products. Knives which gradually stain and develop loose handles and rivets with time are a sign of poorly manufactured brands and can further be potentially dangerous to use. Small and ineffective finger guards with weak bolsters are other signs of mediocre brands which any consumer should avoid.

    The best rated kitchen knives offer fantastic service in terms of their efficiency and effectiveness in slicing, dicing, chopping and cutting down to the desired sizes of vegetables, meat, bread and other foods without presenting any risk to the user or tainting food flavor. It is vital to check out on the highest rated kitchen knives set and knowing what good knives have to offer and their features before settling on the appropriate types and specific brands.