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Home Appliances

The Cooking Crew!

Rice Cookers 1Rice is a staple food in many cultures, and it one of the most versatile foods to prepare meals with. For the kitchen connoisseur, it is a fun and challenging food to experiment with. You can add spices, herbs, vegetables and even fruit to make a unique and mouth-watering dish.

Rice can be tricky to cook though. Although minute rice is quick, it can turn out clumpy and sticky. Brown rice is among the healthiest but it can take more than 30 minutes to cook, and it can also turn out clumpy and sticky. So what’s the answer? A rice cooker of course! If you eat a lot of rice and like to experiment with flavors, this small appliance could become your best friend in the kitchen.

There are several types of rice cookers on the market today and each comes with its own set of diverse features. Here are just a few brands to consider if you’re in the market for a good quality product.

BUFFALO Smart Cooker New Generation: This is a versatile product that not only does rice, but oatmeal, soup, porridge and other foods as well. You may well find yourself using this small appliance more than your stove! Some of the features include a multi-layered stainless steel insert (easy to clean), intelligent control panel, and a 24-hour pre-set time. There are settings for both brown and white rice (including varieties such as basmati), quick cook, porridge, bake, stew and soup.

Instant Pot IP-LUX60 6-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6-Quart 1000-Watt: This 6-in-1 multi-functional pressure cooker allows for quick and easy cooking. Features include a large control panel with several settings include an automatic keep warm function, and 3 temperature settings that allow you for slow cook and browning options. It also has a delay cook function of up to 24 hours. That means you can put your ingredients in before you go to work, have the cooker turned on at a certain time, then come home to fragrant rice or soup!

As to which pressure cooker you should choose, it really comes down to how much you are going to use (like most anything else!). It will also depend on the types of foods you are going to use it for; just rice, or a variety of soups, stews and porridge? Of course, there are other varieties of cookers on the market, and you will have to do your own research to decide which one suits you best. Ask friends and family with pressure cookers what they like and don’t like about theirs. Consider your own needs and then make an informed decision of which one to choose. Never choose based on price alone – consider other factors like features, ease of use and safety measures.

Cleaning and Relaxing

pet hairMost of the vacuums looked at so far are bigger than average. You may be looking for a smaller and lighter solution and hence we have added this section to highlight some of the top choices when it comes to those that are cordless and handheld. Although the larger, more “traditional” vacuums pack a great deal of suction and power, sometimes it is just easier to grab something light and easier to move around. The next sub-sections are what we feel are the top-3 choices for both cordless, and handheld that still are effective against pesky pet hair.

The Black + Decker Platinum BDH2000FL20-Volt is a lightweight and cordless vacuum which comes with a 4-foot hose which allows homeowners to remove embedded dirt. The vacuum cleaner is an updated version of the FHV1200 which relied on a Nickel Cadmium battery with a long charging time and a short battery life. Black + Decker Platinum BDH2000FL20-Volt has a battery that charges 6 times than older NiCad’s and emits more power.

With shark perfect II, pet hair doesn’t stand a chance. The vacuum comes with plenty of features that ensure that all the dirt and pet hair in your house is removed. These include a powerful, rechargeable 18-volt battery. It’s also cordless and weighs 4.8 pounds.

With its appealing flavor, white tea is fast becoming a favorite with tea drinkers everywhere. Add the many white tea health benefits into the mix, and you’ll want to keep this delightful tea on hand in your tea cupboard!

White tea is an antioxidant powerhouse. Because white tea leaves are processed only minimally after they are harvested, they hold onto most of their naturally occurring antioxidants. Antioxidants are so important for good health – they protect us from free radicals, fight harmful inflammation, improve cardiovascular health, reduce our risk of chronic disease (like cancer and diabetes), encourage a healthy immune system, and much more.

White tea has impressive anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities, which means it can deactivate bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In fact, white tea is even more powerful than green tea in disarming bacterial viruses! White tea also kills the bacteria that cause plaque, tooth decay, and bad breath.

The health benefits of white tea include weight management. White tea has caffeine, which may enhance weight loss, and white tea’s high levels of antioxidants can help to boost your metabolism and curb your appetite. Even better, research about white tea and weight loss has shown that white tea can prevent new fat cells from developing and encourage the breakdown of fat in existing fat cells, as well. (Just remember, if you’re thinking of adding white tea to your overall weight loss plan, be sure to check with your healthcare provider first.)

Partners in Cuisine

Krups EA8250001 EspresseriaIt takes skill, talent and patience to create a mouth-watering masterpiece in the kitchenbut it helps to have the right tools to work with. Food is more than life-sustaining – it brings people together in ways nothing else can. That’s why it’s so important to have the right appliances in your kitchen. It will transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Guests will think you’re a professional chef and you will feel great knowing you are pleasing all who pass through your kitchen.  Espresso machines and small food processors are among the most important partners in your culinary needs.

With so many options for espresso machines, mini food processors and other kitchen appliances, it can be difficult to choose the one that fits your needs.

Espresso Machines

These come with many different options as well as a wide price range. Here are a few to look at that are reasonably priced under $300.

  • Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso Maker: Weighing in at 16 pounds with dimensions of 12” x 12” x 15” mean this will fit on any countertop, coffee bar or island. Equipped with a 15-bar thermoblock pump, you can be assured that this machine will extract the full flavor out of every coffee bean and granule.
  • Gaggia 16100 Evolution Home Espresso Cappuccino Machine (Black): While this is a popular commercial model, it is also great for home use. This machine promises quick brewing because of its high-wattage, dual-heating element boiler. It also comes with a Perfect Crema device which helps to create just the right amount and texture of foam without your intervention.
  • Philips Saeco RI9366/47 ViaVenezia Espresso Machine (Black): This is one of the heavier models, at 20 pounds, but has several great features. This unit is equipped with a pressurized portafilter which allows for maximum flavor from each coffee ground and granule. The Pannarello steam wand enables you to froth milk, and also provides hot water for other beverages like hot chocolate and tea.

Mini Food Processors

Don’t let the word ‘mini’ fool you. These are space-saving powerhouses that can process most foods quickly and easily. Here are some of the most popular models:

  • Cuisinart DLC-2A Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor: With simple control buttons and a powerful motor, this small processor can handle almost any job. The parts are dishwasher-safe, making clean up a snap. It has a reversing blade that allows for more powerful processing.
  • Ninja Master Prep Professional (QB1004): This one is a cross between a processor and a blender. The versatility makes it a great buy if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It is powerful enough to crush ice and frozen fruits, and comes with separate, interchangeable containers. The parts are dishwasher safe.
  • Pampered Chef Cutting Edge Food Chopper: This is great for quick, small jobs but is not recommended if you have a lot of chopping to do. Simply place herbs, veggies or fruits on a cutting board and ‘slap’ your hand down on the handle to activate the blade.

Both espresso machines and mini food processors can become your best friends if you love to cook and entertain.

The Smooth Operators of 2015

Electric SkilletsIf you love making smoothies and experimenting with different flavours and ingredients, blenders are an absolute must-have appliance in your kitchen. Without a quality blender, your smoothies won’t be very ‘smooth’.

With the variety of blenders on the market today it can be difficult to choose one that’s right for you. Here are some of the choices available.

  • Blendtec Designer Series WildSide Blender: With more than 1500 watts of power, this blender can handle all kinds of foods, like apples and cheese. Of course it makes great smoothies too! This is one of the more versatile products on the market, but it is also one of the most expensive. It’s well worth the price, though, if you want it for everyday use.
  • Breville Hemisphere Control Blender: This multi-speed blender combines great price and great results. It can be used every day and produces great results every time. It is also very quiet, so you won’t wake the whole house up when you use it.
  • Cuisinart PowerEdge 1000 Watt Blender: This is the most powerful blender that Cuisinart offers and is at the top of the price range. The stainless steel promises durability and the sleek design will look great on any countertop. Versatile and practical, this blender will be a welcome addition to your kitchen.
  • Vitamix S30: This just might be the gold standard of blenders. Blend in a 40 ounce jug, or a 20 ounce travel mug if you’re on the go.

Electric skillets are another ‘must have’ appliance if you love cooking healthy food quickly and easily. They stow away in a snap and most come with easy to clean components. Here are a few of the most popular models:

  • Presto 06857 16-inch Electric Foldaway Skillet: If you’re short on space, this unit has the ideal solution. The handles fold down and if needed can be detached. This makes for a compact unit that can be stored just about anywhere. The ample frying space means you can cook for the whole family. The glass tempered lid allows for easy viewing and the non-stick coating means easy cleanup.
  • De’Longhi BG45 Electric Skillet: This model is only 15” but compensates over other models because of its even heating system. This model has venting holes built-in to the handle, which can be opened or closed, depending on what type of food you’re cooking.
  • Presto 06620 11-Inch Electric Skillet: While the flat cooking surface is only 11 inches, the dome-shaped lid allows for more substantial foods to be cooked, such as whole chicken or pork roast. That makes for a more versatile skillet that can be used for weeknight family meals or more elaborate dinner parties.
  • Cuisinart CSK-250 GreenGourmet 14-Inch Nonstick Electric Skillet: What sets this skillet apart from the rest is the quality of the non-stick cooking surface. It is not made with harmful toxins or chemicals, like some other non-stick surfaces. This makes it a good choice for the healthy-conscious cook.

When it comes to healthy cooking and small appliances, there are no substitutions for quality blenders and electric skillets.

The Kitchen Winners of 2015

Electric Pressure CookerIf there are two appliances that no kitchen should be without it would be vacuum sealers and electric pressure cookers. Both of these powerhouse appliances can save you money (and who doesn’t want to do that?).

Vacuum Sealer

One of the best ways to save money at the grocery store is to buy in bulk. But most people can’t eat 10 pounds of hamburger in a week (nor do they want to!) Instead, use a vacuum sealer to pack and seal portions to put in the freezer.

So why not just use freezer bags? They may be ok for the short term, but they are not an ideal solution for most foods. The key is to make sure that there is no air in the bags; if air is allowed to get in, the food gets freezer burnt. Once that happens the food has to be thrown away, as it will not taste right and could potentially contain harmful toxins.

A vacuum sealer solves that problem by sealing your food so that it tastes just as fresh from the freezer after two weeks as it did on the day you bought it. Here are some of the best models currently available on the market:

  • FoodSaver FM2000-000 Vacuum Sealing System: Its compact size and practical price make this a popular choice for consumers. Features include an easy-latch closure and a 5-year warranty.
  • FoodSaver 4840 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealing System: This model is slightly larger but is great for sealing canisters as well as bags. Other features include a rapid marinade mode.
  • FoodSaverGameSaver Deluxe Vacuum Sealing Kit: This was designed with the hunter and sportsmen in mind. The press-and-release lever allows for hands-free operation when sealing game meat. It is also equipped with a built-in cutter and roll storage.

Electric Pressure Cooker

These appliances aren’t just for cooking up a mouth-watering rice dish. They can be used for just about anything including meat, vegetables and stews. These are great for making large batches of food and then freezing them (with your vacuum sealer of course!).

Here are some of the most popular models:

  • Presto 01362 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker: This six-quart capacity cooker provides lots of space for cooking veggies and meat. It is dishwasher safe and easy to clean. Other features include a cover lock indicator to show internal pressure.
  • Futura by Hawkins Hard Anodized 5.0 Liter Pressure Cooker: This cooker is available in various sizes and is known for durability even with consistent use. Features include a locked safety lid and a safety cool handle.
  • Cuisinart CPC-600AMZ 1000-Watt 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker: This has a large six-quart capacity and is designed to cook quickly without compromising on taste. Features include various pressure cooking settings and push button controls.

If your budget is limited and you can only choose one or two small kitchen appliances, vacuum sealers and electric pressure cookers should be at the top of your list. They are made to last and are sure-fire money savers on your grocery bill.