Smiles, and a New Pan

One of my sons came home from school, picked up the mail on the porch and started going through it. One envelope caught his attention and he started going, “awww” and “can we please give money to this baby?” It was from the SmileTrain – a charity that provides cleft lip and palate surgery for children. In this ‘want, want’ age, I was gratified for this display of empathy, so the answer was of course, yes (and please click on the link, too, if you can), and my son said, “Now those babies can smile again!” (more…)


October 6, 2010. American, Food Stores, House and Garden, Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Stuff, Stories. 5 comments.

Cool Range Find a Home

Long Branch beach had put me in the mood for a little an extended break and I returned to find myself smack in the middle of a house move and a kitchen makeover, plus two kids I can no longer afford to have away at summer camp!

It’s been fun picking out bits and pieces for my (hopefully) exciting new kitchen. One of the toughest decisions, though, was deciding on a free-standing range or stove.

I needed something practical, easy to clean, with a great oven and both a low-heat simmer burner (so I no longer have to use a bain-marie, or double boiler, for melting chocolate) as well as fast-boil super-BTU’d burner (so I don’t have to twiddle thumbs for too long for my umpteenth cup of tea). Did I mention the range also had to be good looking? (more…)

August 18, 2010. Tags: , , , , . American, House and Garden, Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings. 7 comments.

Eye Candy for Design-Hungry Kitchenistas

I have a weakness for shiny things. And colorful things. And sleek, cleverly designed things. If a shiny or colorful thing comes in a beautifully designed package, then I have no choice but to get the credit card out. From where we once lived in central London, I didn’t have to go far to find a plethora of design-centric stores inspired by creative geniuses in Britain or Europe, which offered me perfect visual inspiration, if not gratification for any urgent kitchen-related needs. Apart from the smaller stores on Islington High Street, there were Habitat, Heal’s and The Conran Shop, which luckily came across the Atlantic too.

I came across Joseph Joseph’s attractive website recently, set up by a pair of equally fetching UK-based twin brothers, and noted with glee that they will, for a fee, deliver to the US. As the items are priced as invitingly as the contents of Joseph Joseph’s online shop, I have already popped one (guess which) into my virtual shopping basket.

It’s sitting there for now because I don’t need this beautiful thing, I merely covet it. But if one of you has a special occasion coming up , let me know. It could inspire the right amount of pressure my finger needs (which isn’t much) to push that Buy Now button!

February 2, 2010. Tags: , . British, Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Stuff. 2 comments.

Non-Stick Pans Linked to Thyroid Disease: Whom Can I Sue and Will the Charges Stick?

The last of my formerly complete set of Circulon pans, a wedding present 11 years ago, was solemnly  sent off to the Cooking Pan Graveyard recently. As I researched the best replacement for the much-used, much loved matrimonial gift, I found that Amazon offered a fabulous deal on a new range of Circulon pans, which came with a free casserole dish worth $100. It would have been foolish to have let it slip. The purchase took place without a hitch – shopping online, time and money saved, prompt doorstep delivery, feet and nails intact.

The new pans, heatable to 400F (as high as I generally need the oven to go), are practically self-clean. Before I’ve picked up the sponge and doused it with washing-up liquid, the caked-up food has fallen off and the pan is, well, like new again. I hypnotically go through the motions still, of washing, as a matter of habit, as the pans themselves are bright and brimming with confidence.

So, I should be really, really happy.

But no, a dark cloud, reeking of burnt plastic, looms on the horizon. (more…)

January 27, 2010. Tags: . Health, Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings, Stories. 14 comments.

Best Thing … Since Bread was Last Sliced

Are you (like me) a klutz? Have you been avoiding sharpening your knives for fear of adding unwitting bits of meat to that chopped salad? Are you fed up of slicing stubborn heads of cabbage with spoons in knives’ clothing?

In the old days (2008 to be precise) in Canada, despite a fear of sharp objects, I would happily wait for the eerie music of our neighborhood Knife Sharpening Guy, whose tunes were only a touch less sinister than those of the Ice Cream Man and of Psycho’s shower scene (coincidence that a sharp shiny object is involved in the latter??) Thereupon I would grab my 20 once-super-sharp German kitchen knives and a stash of spare Ikea knives  – NOT by the blade end – and rush down the two flights of steep stairs to the street, across it and up to KSG’s van, sighing with relief that I had made it without tripping and falling upon all 30 knives, (more…)

January 20, 2010. Tags: . Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings. 2 comments.

The Recession-Safe Cuppa (or Caffeine-Pumped Delusion?)

In Toronto, where we last lived, we were extremely fortunate to have The Remarkable Bean at the bottom of our street – a charming neighbourhood cafe where they roasted and ground the finest coffee beans, and baked the most heavenly blueberry muffins I’ve ever had. It was a delight making the brief walk to savour its sights and scents on the streetcar-visited Queen St, which itself was home to a treasury of quaint shops and restaurants.

At the Bean I’d meet our stalwart family friend, Rob, and we’d dissect one of the above muffins ingredient by ingredient, later feverishly attempting to replicate them at home for the kids. We both had excellent results, although I really need one of those giant North Amerian muffin trays to get it down pat!

And so, Richard and I would get our just-ground remarkable beans and make the coffee fresh in our cafetierre, the good old low-tech way. Sadly, we have yet to spy a Bean-equivalent in our New Jersey neighbourhood and Richard’s had scant time to make coffee in the morning before he joins the throng of NYC commuters. Instead, he gets one at work – a detour which puts the household budget back about $60 a month (closer to $90 with my less-regular habit thrown in) and not necessarily providing the satisfaction of a home brew.

Enter the Krups Dolce Gusto coffee maker and a handy Bloomingdale’s coupon – we are now the proud owners of one of these caffeine-spouting ducks. With all the savings on offer to lure bean addicts, Richard figures the 15-bar coffeehouse-strength machine (which incidentally produces a very attractive cuppa with a layer of foam on top that’s very fit to drink) will pay for itself in three months. My latte macchiato was so delicious I frantically scoured the box for its calorie content, expecting to find all my optimism ground to bean dust. Thankfully, it was a neat 90 calories.

Meanwhile, we can have a perfect latte, cappucino, cafe lungo, iced coffee or espresso (and the kids a choccacino) whenever we feel like it. A tasty deal at *25-50c a cup, I say!

*25c for the coffee pod, another 25c for milk (if using)

(All text and photos or images are copyright protected. Please do not reprint any stories, recipes or photographs without the author’s permission.)

May 19, 2009. Tags: , . Beverages, Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings. Leave a comment.