Showing posts with label Kitchen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kitchen. Show all posts

Friday, May 13, 2022

Cerama Bryte Ceramic Cooktop Cleaner Reviewed

Cerama Bryte Cleaner
The Cerama Bryte Ceramic Cooktop Cleaner really does make your stovetop look new again!  

My smooth surface cooktop is 20+ years old, I cook on it almost every day, and it will still clean and shine up beautifully.  My secret to a beautiful smooth surface cooktop is really no secret, but I am often surprised by how many people do not know about Cerama Bryte.

It easily removed splatters, grease, fingerprints, etc. Even when potatoes or pasta water overflows and makes a burnt-on mess, the Cerama Bryte, along with a Scrunge sponge, will clean the burner.  Occasionally, I will need to clean an area twice to get it spotless, but it will come clean. 

When I first had my smoothtop cooktop installed, I was hesitant to use the Scrunge scrub sponge for fear that it would scratch the surface.  However, in over 20 years of cleaning, it has not scratched it or harmed the stovetop in any way.

To this day, I love my smooth cooktop.  Sadly, I have heard several people lament that they removed their smooth cooktop because they couldn't get it as clean as new. That is a shame!  If only they had known about Cerama Bryte and the Scrunge scrub sponge, they would still be enjoying their lovely smooth surface cooktop.

 

Cerama Bryte Cleaner

Cerama Bryte Ceramic Cooktop Cleaner

 Cerama Bryte Ceramic Cooktop Cleaner 28 OzCheck PriceWithout Cerama Bryte, I know I would be listed among the disappointed customers who gave up on their smooth-surface cooktop.  Being able to thoroughly clean the cooktop without damaging it, really does make all the difference in the world!

I think my smooth surface cooktop looks almost as good as it did the day it was installed 20 years ago and it certainly looks just as clean, maybe even better.

A bottle of Cerama Bryte lasts a long time. I purchased two bottles the last time I bought it a few years ago and my second bottle (shown in the pictures) is still half full.

I replace my sponge about every six months.  I rinse it and squeeze it out thoroughly after each use, then let it air dry.  After it is dry, I store it in a Ziploc sandwich bag.

To clean a smooth top cooktop:   

Squeeze Cerama Bryte Cooktop Cleaner on the cooktop. With the rough side of a damp Scrunge sponge, spread the cleaner across the entire surface, bearing down slightly on any burnt-on food.  Wipe the cleaner off with the smooth side of the sponge, then completely dry the cooktop surface with a soft cloth or kitchen towel.  

Rinse your sponge and allow it to air dry for multiple uses. 




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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Original Lysol Concentrate - Reviewed

 This 12oz. little brown bottle of the original Lysol concentrate will make 9 gallons of cleaning solution.

Lysol Concentrate

With all of the convenience today of easy-to-use cleaners in spray bottles, and wipes, it makes me wonder does anyone still use this little brown bottle of Lysol concentrate? Well, we always have a bottle under our kitchen sink.

Lysol concentrate cleans, disinfects, deodorizes, and eliminates germs on non-porous surfaces. It will eliminate bacteria and viruses that I can't even pronounce. 

Some of the many uses for Lysol Concentrate:

  • Floors
  • Washable Walls
  • Appliance exteriors
  • Counter Tops
  • Bathtubs
  • Showers
  • Doorknobs
  • Toilet Bowl exteriors
To clean and deodorize just mix 2 to 3 tablespoons with one gallon of warm water. To disinfect and remove heavy dirt, grease and grime use 5 tablespoons to one quart of warm water.

True Story about this little brown bottle:

Many years ago in high school my buddy and I needed some extra money to take our dates to the prom. We had to buy flowers and take our dates to dinner. Since it was early in the spring we knew that people would be spring cleaning their homes. So we advertised for washing walls.  

Well, the ad worked and we had several customers lined up. So we gathered up our buckets, ladders, and rags. My mother handed me the little brown bottle of Lysol concentrate and told us to add a couple of cap fulls to every bucket, it will leave a fresh scent in their home. I still use the little brown bottle today.

Oh, and by the way, I married my prom date. Fran and I will soon be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary.


Find more Product Reviews Here:

LYSOL Concentrate Disinfectant, Original Scent 12 oz (Pack of 5)LYSOL Concentrate Disinfectant, Original Scent 12 oz (Pack of 5)LYSOL Concentrate Disinfectant, Original Scent 12 oz (Pack of 5)LEAKTITE 500 5-Quart Plastic PailLEAKTITE 500 5-Quart Plastic PailLEAKTITE 500 5-Quart Plastic Pail

 




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Friday, April 22, 2022

Pampered Chef Boil-Over No More Pot Cover Splatter Guard Reviewed

Boil-Over No More
When I was invited to a Pampered Chef party recently, I attended only because a friend was hosting it.  I have a few Pampered Chef items in my kitchen and love them, but I wasn't shopping their catalog or seeking more of the products before I received the party invitation.  I ended up finding several new products that I really wanted in my kitchen. One of those products was the large Boil-Over No More. 

I was shocked by how much I love the Boil-Over No More pot cover. The first time I used it with my T-fal 5 quart dutch oven stockpot, I was dancing around the kitchen praising the cover.  I could not believe it actually kept the pot of boiling chicken from boiling over.  After that experience, I could hardly wait to try it while boiling potatoes, which makes a huge starch-water mess on my smooth top stove when they boil over. I was thrilled to see that the boiled potato water did not boil over.

Needless to say, this is my favorite new kitchen cooking accessory! Now I always use it instead of the pot lid and my smooth top stove stays clean. 

 

The Pampered Chef Boil-Over No More 

There are two sizes available.  I only purchased the large Boil-Over No More for my large dutch ovens or stockpot, which are the pots I use most often when when boiling anything.

The Boil-Over No More sinks slighting into the pot and has little flaps on the top for steam release.  It is almost 13" wide and will fit most standard size skillets too.  The small handles on each side allow you to easily lift the cover off.  To check the water level, I simply lift one of the flaps to peak inside the pot without removing the Boil-Over No More.  I do remove the entire cover if I need to add water.

The Boil-Over No More is dishwasher safe.  I store my cover by leaning it against the wall inside my cabinet, next to my stacked pans. That makes it very easy to locate and pull out when needed. 

 

You can purchase your own Boil-Over No More by clicking the E-bay link below.


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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Wing Recipe

 My air fryer crispy chicken wing recipe and method reviewed

Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Wing Recipe

Everybody in our family likes crispy chicken wings. I have never quite mastered crispy wings until I made them in our Ninja Foodi Grill and Air Fryer. So, if you like your chicken wings crispy this is the way to do it.

We had a crowd the day we made these so I used a 5-pound bag of chicken wings. Normally I would do about 2-pounds.

How I prepared the chicken wings:

one gallon zip lock bags
2 tablespoons olive oil per bag
3 to 4 tablespoons baking powder per bag


Seasoning:

1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar

All of the above ingredients are per one bag of 15 or 20 wings. The first thing I did was, rinse the wings with cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.

You can really use any already made chicken seasoning, just add a generous amount to each bag. Place the wings in a zip lock bag, add all the ingredients and mix well. Set the bags in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

I sprayed the air fry pan with non-stick cooking spray. Then, I set the air fry temperature to 390 degrees and the timer for 22 minutes. When the air fryer was preheated I added the wings, fitting about 12 to 15 wings in the pan. After 11 minutes I turned the wings over for the remaining 11 minutes.

Preparing the hot sauce:

1 stick of butter (melted)

Mix this together well in a large bowl. If you really like your wings hot add a dash of cayenne pepper. For me, the hot wing sauce is hot enough. Toss the crispy wings in the sauce and enjoy.

Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Wings

These crispy wings are perfect anytime for a snack or party. Your family and friends will love these air fryer wings.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Best Large, Sturdy, Adjustable, Over-the-Sink Dish Drying Rack

If you hand wash a lot of dishes, nonstick cookware, etc. or have a small kitchen with limited counter space, a large, over-the-sink dish drying rack with two or three tiers can be a great solution.

I recently purchased a large, sturdy, adjustable over-the-sink dish drying rack that easily spans our nearly 33-inch wide double sink. The over sink dish rack we chose easily accommodates our nonstick pots, pans and bakeware, measuring cups and spoons, dishes, mixing bowls, cups, glasses, cutlery, kitchen utensils, and even our large salad spinner and cake carrier. It also gets our bottle and dish brushes, sponges and dish soap off the counter, freeing up valuable kitchen counter space and helping to keep those items neatly organized and easily accessible.

We couldn’t be more thrilled with our new Boosiny stainless steel, 3-tier over sink dish drying rack. Here’s my in-depth product review.

Free Up Valuable Kitchen Counter Space! Over-the-Sink Dish Drying Rack - Adjustable & Customizable

Since my husband and I are the only ones in our household, we only run the dishwasher every few days, when we have a full load, to save energy and water. So, in addition to our handwashing our nonstick cookware and baking pans, cast iron skillet, carbon steel knives, Thermos Stainless King Vacuum-Insulated Travel Tumblers, etc. we also hand wash quite a few dishwasher-safe items that we use every day, such as our tall Vitamix blender (for our smoothies), extra-long Vitamix curved silicone scraper spatula, an extra-large cutting board, chef's knife and 5-quart salad spinner for our nightly dinner salads, two tall shaker bottles for our daily electrolyte supplement drinks, 12-inch pizza pans for our countertop oven, and measuring cups and spoons.

With the exception of our cast iron cookware and carbon steel knives, which need to be towel-dried immediately after washing to prevent rust, we prefer to let our hand washed kitchenware items air dry on a rack. Until recently, however, we haven't had a proper dish drying rack. (In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit that for a long time we were using one of our large stainless steel wire cooling racks as a makeshift countertop dish drying rack until we could figure out a better solution.)

Our old, very small kitchen has extremely limited counter space. The usable surface of those small counters is even smaller, because our Ninja CE251 programmable coffee maker, microwave, food processor, Vitamix blender, KitchenAid mixer and Instant Pot pressure cooker are lined up along the far edge. (We use most of these every day and the built-in kitchen cabinets are too full to store them when they aren't actively in use.) Finding a dish rack with the capacity to handle all our hand washed kitchen items that wouldn't take up any more of our limited counter space than necessary proved challenging.

Types of Dish Drying Racks to Consider

When I started researching dish drying racks, I found four types worth considering for our kitchen.

Traditional Countertop Dish Drainers with Drainboards

Traditional dish drying racks sit on the counter right next to the sink. They are placed over a rimmed rubber drainboard with a lip, where the water collects and drains into the sink. These are very popular and work well for many households. Unfortunately, this type was neither spacious or sturdy enough for our needs, and we didn't have space in the kitchen to store it when not in use to free up that counter space.

Roll-Up Dish Drying Racks

Roll-up over-the-sink dish drying racks can be a great choice if counter space is at a premium or if you like your kitchen counters to look clean and uncluttered. The biggest advantage of this type of drying rack is that it can be rolled up compactly (similar to a bamboo sushi rolling mat) and stored in a kitchen drawer or under the sink when not in use.

One that I considered is the Ahyuan roll up dish drying rack, which is made from high quality 304 stainless steel rods held together on either end with food-grade silicone strips. It comes in several sizes, including one large enough to span the front and back lip of our kitchen sink surround. However, since the base of our kitchen faucet fixture is very close to the edge of the sink, only half of the dish rack could rest on the lip of the surround, while the other half would have to lay on the counter. Also, even the largest size (20.5" x 19.6") would not have enough room to dry all our hand washed dishes, pots, pans, cooking and eating utensils, blender jar, food processor bowl and accessories, etc.

2-Tier or 3-Tier Countertop Dish Drying Racks

Tiered countertop dish drying racks have become increasingly popular in recent years. The very attractive 3-tiered X-cosrack black stainless steel dish drying rack would be fantastic for someone who has enough space for a rack that lives on the countertop. This well designed, adjustable dish rack is large and sturdy enough to accommodate plenty of hand washed dishes, cookware, etc., yet has a fairly compact footprint (15.7" long x 11.2" wide x 22.8" tall). I love that it comes with a utensil holder basket and removable plastic drainboards for each of the three wire shelf baskets. Each shelf basket can be removed and put back quickly easily to adjust them to your preferred height or for cleaning.

This excellent, well made dish rack has nearly 1,000 rave reviews on Amazon. I was sorely tempted to order one, but since we don't have enough counter space to leave it out all the time and it would prevent access to the blender and food processor that would live behind it, I knew it wasn't the right solution for our needs.

2-Tier or 3-Tier Over-the-Sink Dish Drying Racks

These are very similar to the tiered countertop dish drying racks, but they have the advantage of taking up only about an inch of counter space on either side of the kitchen sink and draining directly into it. Unlike roll-up dish racks, they also do not interfere with access to or use of the sink or faucet while your dishes, glasses, pots, pans, etc. are drying.

During my research I read numerous product reviews of highly rated tiered over-the-sink dish drying racks on Amazon. It quickly became apparent that there are significant differences in design, materials and manufacturing quality as well as adjustability, dimensions and capacity between brands and models.

Many models could not be adjusted to span our nearly 33-inch wide double sink. Some did not seem deep or sturdy enough to accommodate a large, heavy casserole dish or Dutch oven, for example. Some were harder to assemble and adjust, and some were more prone to rusting.

Fortunately, I found one that ticked all the boxes for us.

Boosiny 3-tier stainless steel adjustable over sink dish drying rack
Our stainless steel 3-tier over-the-sink dish drying rack doesn't block the view out our kitchen window, even when we pile it high with hand washed dishes, mixing bowls, storage containers, etc.

Reclaim Valuable Kitchen Counter Space With an Over-The-Sink Dish Drying Rack

Given both our limited storage and counter space and the eclectic nature and varying sizes, shapes and weights of the dishes, glasses, pots, pans, cooking and eating utensils, etc., we typically wash by hand, we decided to go with one of the tiered over sink dish racks.

The one we ultimately chose is the Boosiny stainless steel, 3-tier over sink dish drying rack, which I recommend highly.;

Here's why we love it.

Note: We purchased the regular stainless steel version. There is also a less expensive stainless steel model with a gray coating that is slightly different in size, design, and number and style of accessories (for example, it has only six hooks instead of 10).

Sturdy, Stable and Roomy

  • This well made Boosiny stainless steel rack is roomy, stable and solidly built. In fact, it can hold up to 180 lbs. of dishes, pots, pans and other kitchenware and dishwashing supplies!
    • Even when our hand washing load is large and includes one of my heavy vintage ceramic Corningware French White casserole dishes or my enameled cast iron Le Creuset stockpot, this heavy-duty 3-tier dish drying rack can handle it with ease.
  • Some days, my husband and I end up using only part of its generous capacity. Other days, especially if I am baking or cooking something that involves a lot of prep (or measuring cups and spoons), we fill up every inch.

Useful Accessories

The Boosiny 3-tier over-the-sink dish drying rack comes with several accessories that clip onto or hook into the frame:

  • A utensil holder basket with a removable plastic bottom for easy cleaning.
  • A slotted knife holder, also with a removable plastic bottom.
  • A clip-on cutting board holder (we love this thoughtful feature!)
  • A handy small basket compartment for sponges, dish rags, steel wool pads, etc. (which the manufacturer refers to as a "detergent holder")
  • A cup rack that clips onto the side of one of the main shelf baskets
  • A set of 10 long clip-on hooks
    • We use some of ours to hold dish and bottle brushes, and use the rest to hang measuring cups, measuring spoons, cooking utensils with loops or holes, and our stainless steel mesh scrubbing "cloth" for cleaning cast iron pans.

Note: We are planning to bend the arms on the cup rack at a more acute angle, since some of our drinking glasses won't stay on them as is.

Adjustable and Customizable

  • The width of the frame is adjustable from a minimum of 25.6" to a maximum of 33.5" to fit most sinks.
  • The two main racks baskets also slide telescope-fashion to match the desired frame width.
  • Hooks, baskets and other attachments are also completely configurable as desired and can be changed quickly and easily without tools.

Extremely Easy to Assemble and Adjust to Your Liking

  • Minimal assembly required. You can fully assemble and customize the rack to your preferences in about 10 minutes!
  • Start by using the included hex key to connect the horizontal bars to the upright posts and use the small wrench to attach the feet. There are also suction cups for the two back feet for added stability.
  • Next, adjust width of the frame by sliding the horizontal bars and turning the knobs to tighten and stabilize the frame at the desired width.
  • Extend or collapse the two main wire shelves (baskets) to match the width of the frame and hook the tabs into the slotted frame posts at your desired height.
  • Attach the accessories wherever you wish by clipping the utensil holder, slotted knife holder, cutting board holder, sponge/soap holder, cup rack and hooks to the frame or the main wire shelf baskets.
  • You can also rearrange them quickly and easily to find the perfect configuration for your needs.

Easy-to-Clean, Rust-Resistant and Scratch-Resistant Stainless Steel

  • This heavy-duty dish rack is made from high-quality grade 304 stainless steel and is rust- and corrosion-resistant. According to the many glowing product reviews on Amazon, it holds up well over time without rusting issues.
    • Per the manufacturer, this unit passed a 24-hour salt test, an excellent predictor of its resistance to rust and corrosion.
  • Since the wire shelves and accessories attach with tabs or hooks, they are easy to remove and replace, as needed, for periodic cleaning, if desired.

Doesn't Obstruct the View

We are lucky enough to live on a pretty, tree-lined street. One of our concerns when we purchased this 3-tier over-the-sink dish drying rack was that it would be an eyesore and block or partially obstruct the view out our large, counter-to-ceiling kitchen windows. As you can see from my photo, even when the rack is loaded up with dishes, bowls, cookware and even a huge, opaque plastic cake storage box, we can still enjoy the view.

Need a Smaller Dish Rack?

If you like the features of the Boosiny stainless steel, 3-tier over sink dish drying rack but prefer something smaller and more affordable that sits on your counter, this manufacturer also makes several excellent 2-tier dish drying racks, including the Boosiny 304 Stainless Steel 2 Tier Large Dish Rack and Drainboard Set with Utensil Holder, Cup Holder and Dish Drainer.


The Best Large, Sturdy, Adjustable, Over-the-Sink Dish Drying Rack Cards by Margaret Schindel


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Friday, April 8, 2022

Cobbler Aprons with Pockets & Snap Front Closure Reviewed

cobbler apron
Anyone who cooks knows the value of a great apron, but you may not be familiar with the snap front cobbler apron.

For as long as I can remember, my mother has preferred the cobbler apron style which resembles a lightweight vest with pockets. Because she has several, all of my siblings and relatives (men included) have been seen sporting one of her fabulous aprons. 

I must confess, I like to wear them to cover my clothing when I am eating spaghetti or soup. Certain meals tend to "find" their way to my blouses regardless of how careful I am.  My mom's cobbler aprons have saved a lot of beautiful blouses and shirts over the years.

Cobbler aprons are easy to slip on and snap closed, plus they have pockets for cell phones, jewelry you may need to slip off while cooking, or recipe cards.  Because they are lightweight, they don't make you hot while cooking and there are no ties that come untied or hinder you when moving around the kitchen.

In the past, the lightweight cobbler aprons my mom prefers, were very hard to find. However, thanks to online shopping, they have become much easier to acquire.

Even though my mom is small, we buy the aprons in the large size which truly allows anyone in our family to wear them when needed. Mom and I have found them to be fabulous when crafting too!


Cobbler Aprons with Pockets & Snap Front Closure

AmeriMark Easy-Care Snap Front Cobbler Aprons Vest with Two Patch PocketsAmeriMark Easy-Care Snap Front Cobbler Aprons Vest with Two Patch PocketsCheck PriceCobbler aprons are available in a variety of fabric patterns that include flowers, animals, birds, butterflies, nautical, holiday, and even abstract art designs are options.

If you have trouble tying apron ties, or keeping them tied, you will love the cobbler apron which simply snaps in the front.

Because they are made of a cotton-blend material, they can be machine washed and dried often.  

Like my mom, the cobbler apron could easily become your favorite apron to grab when working in the kitchen, for light gardening, or crafting. The pockets really do make them more universal in appeal and practical use.




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Friday, April 1, 2022

12" Baking Pans & Casserole Dish that Fit Calphalon Countertop Ovens

Countertop Oven Cookware
Last year I purchased a new Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Oven, which I still love and use often.  The biggest challenge I had when I purchased my countertop oven was finding baking dishes that were large enough for meals, but small enough to fit inside the oven.  

The interior rack is approximately 13" x 11" which is misleading because it sounds like most standard baking pans would fit, however most do not fit due to handles or depth size.  Therefore, I needed new cake pans, pizza pans and a casserole dish that didn't slant at the top or have handles.  Surprisingly, the casserole dish was not easy to find.

Most cookware is measured at the bottom.  A standard cake pan bottom will be 12" x 8½", but the top measurement is closer to 15" x 10" and will not fit in a 13" (interior measurement) countertop oven.

In addition to handles, casserole dishes often have rolled edges or "lips", which means the lovely top of the casserole dish ends up making that dish to big for a countertop oven.  Needless to say, when I found a plain, flat sided 12½" casserole dish, I was thrilled. 


My 12½" White Casserole Dish that Fits My Countertop Oven

 HIC Oblong Rectangular Baking Dish Roasting Lasagna Pan,
Fine White Porcelain
Check Price
During my search, I found I had to rely on customer reviews by individuals who actually measured the cookware.  Ironically, in most cases, they were complaining that the dish was slightly smaller than advertised.  For me, that half-inch made all the difference.  I assume the seller measured the outside of the box instead of the actual dish, which is actually a pretty common mistake when writing a listing online. 

Not only does this awesome casserole dish fit my countertop oven, it is also dishwasher safe

I have used this casserole dish for lasagna, lemon chicken, pork chop casserole and more.  All of these dinners easily fit inside the dish and cook splendidly. I have not cooked a cake yet, but other reviews indicate that it is also great for a cake or brownies. 

This is a must-have casserole dish for 13" (interior) countertop ovens!


12" Pizza Pans & Other Bakeware

 Pizza Baking Pan Pizza Tray - Deedro 12 inch Stainless Steel Pizza Pan Round Pizza Baking Sheet Oven Tray Pizza Crisper Pan, Healthy Pizza Cooking Pan for Oven, 2 PackCheck PricePizza pans were another challenge.  I had never considered the size of a pizza pan before.  It simply isn't an issue in a regular oven.  However, all of my pizza pans have handle grips and are over 14" wide, which is too large for the countertop oven.  Therefore, the pizza pan search began and it was just as hard as the casserole dish.

My Calphalon Countertop Oven included one pizza pan.  Since my husband and I do not like the same toppings, I always prepare two pizzas for dinner.  Therefore, I needed a second pizza pan.

I was very excited to find the pizza pans featured on the right.  They come in a set of two, which is actually great.  That means I now have 3 pizza pans that will fit in my countertop oven.  That is pretty awesome when our son is here for dinner too.

I have also used these pizza pans as baking trays under pies.

In addition to the casserole dish and pizza pans above, I bought a set of small baking trays & pans for cookies, toast, cobblers, etc. A separate bread pan is not necessary since loaf pans already fit the countertop oven.





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Monday, February 21, 2022

Reviewing Open Shelving in the Kitchen with a Focus on Plate Racks

I love open shelving in the kitchen. And not because it seems to be a recent popular trend. I don't know how I developed this preference but I did. Now that I'm in my new home I made sure to stress to the builder that I did not want the typical kitchen wall cabinets with doors. I did not have a solid plan for the layout with the exception a plate rack. I HAD to have a wall-mounted, wooden plate rack. I repeated that so many times that I'm sure people around me grew tired of hearing me say it. My kitchen is still a work in progress but I've got my plate rack!

my beautiful and functional hanging plate rack


Wall Mounted Wooden Plate Racks

There probably isn't much that I dislike more than lifting plates in and out of a cupboard with a door. Stacking and unstacking them. My stoneware plates are heavy and the rub against each other as I move them. And how frustrating if the plate I want is one of the larger plates at the bottom of the stack! I have always had assorted plates so maybe typical families don't experience having to unstack half of the plates in order to get the desired one out of the cupboard. But it is my pet peeve and happened to me frequently.

My wonderful wooden plate rack solves that issues. The plates stand upright, separated from each other by wooden dowels. No stoneware clunking against stoneware. And no digging in a pile to get a big plate. 

While my plate rack is not designed to hold small saucers, my saucers do indeed fit into the rack. 

I purchased my wall mounted plate rack from a woodwork shop on Etsy. If you are looking for plate racks I highly recommend checking there first (unless you personally know a talented wood worker). 

The holliwalt shop made my custom plate rack. 

my handmade plate rack by holliwalt on Etsy


Because it was custom, it took almost a month to receive it. It arrived unstained, as advertised, and I put a coat of clear stain on it to protect it but also allowed the natural wood grain to show. 

If you are looking for a plate rack and the holliwalt shop doesn't have what you want they do take custom orders.  Or entering "plate rack wall mounted"  in the Etsy search bar gives many results and a large variety to choose from.

Such as this beauty from 1766Co.

made by 1766Co

I think it is clear that I prefer minimal or no crown molding. But if molding is your preference, there are several styles between these two Etsy shops that have crown molding. And if you notice in the holliwalt shop, there is one shelf that includes wine cubbies. I was very tempted to order that one instead of the one I chose.

Open Shelves in Kitchens 

We may or may not remember that periodically many kitchens throughout history have had open shelving. A quick search of the internet shows that the open kitchen shelves design is not a flash-in-the-pan fad. 

Here we have a photo depicting a kitchen in 18th century Sweden

photo courtesy of CC By-SA 3.0



Here is a photo of a historic farm house built in 1889 in Montana, US. This is reportedly the kitchen in the Tinsley Living Farm - Museum of the Rockies.

photo courtesy of SA-2.0 Generic


And an example of open shelving in a 1948 issue of Ladies' Home Journal. 

photo courtesy of Flickrs The Commons

In my opinion, open shelves are beautiful and functional. While the "clutter" of your items are visible, I always feel as though a kitchen with open shelves appears more spacious. There are fewer upper cabinets blocking light and views. Yes, the items on open shelves are not protected from gathering dust. That is perhaps the one and only down-side of open shelves in my opinion. But the ease of being able to see what you have at a glance makes up for that. I also feel as though open shelves in kitchens versus full upper cabinets save resources. There are no door, hinges, or handles that have to be made and someday refinished or replaced. 

When my kitchen is finished (or closer to finished) perhaps I'll share an update of my shelves. I love having large jars of my pasta, dried beans, tea, flour, sugar and similar items visible. I do not have to move from the counter while working to reach those items which is extremely convenient. And, more importantly, I think those items are pretty to look at. For example, seeing my mullein tea leaves in a jar on that shelf is pleasing. 

Open shelves in kitchens are not for everyone. For sure. But they make me very happy. Especially that wonderful wooden plate rack that hangs just above my sink and keeps my plates from clanking against each other as I put them away.




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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Best Affordable Programmable Large- and Small-Batch Coffee Maker

One of my husband's holiday gift wish list items this year was a coffee maker that he could use to brew just one or two cups of really good java. He had been looking online at small-batch coffee makers that brew and hadn't found a reasonably priced one that had mostly good reviews. After doing my own due diligence on his behalf, I chose to buy him a Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer with a 12-cup carafe and a small batch setting.

It makes delicious coffee in a choice of two brew strengths, brews at an appropriately hot water temperature for great flavor without bitterness, can be programmed the night before (so you wake up to the smell and taste of freshly brewed coffee!) and comes with a permanent gold-tone filter that you can use instead of disposable paper filters, if you prefer. It's also easy to fill and clean.

Most importantly, unlike most of the other coffee brewers I reviewed during my research, this Ninja programmable coffee maker with a superior-performing small batch function makes just one to four ups of Joe that's just as rich, hot and flavorful as when you're brewing a full carafe for up to 12 cups. 

Whether you want to brew a full pot for several people or a party crowd, or prefer to brew just one or two (or three or four) cups for yourself and maybe someone else, you'll love this Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer with small batch settings. 

Image of Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer with text "Program & Brew Delicious Coffee for one person or a crowd!"
Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer

You Don't Need to Be a Gourmet to Appreciate Good Quality, Hot, Freshly Brewed Coffee

I grew up with a dad who was a coffee connoisseur (dare I say coffee snob?). He was fussy about his beans, insisted on buying them freshly roasted and grinding them just before brewing them in a drip coffeemaker (although, late in life, he eventually replaced his classic Chemex drip carafe with a programmable coffee maker) and refused to drink coffee that had been brewed more than 30 minutes earlier and wasn't practically scalding hot.

To dad's dismay, for most of my life I drank coffee only with sugar and cream. Even with that dilution, it tended to upset my stomach, so I became primarily a tea drinker. Even so, however, dad did instill in me an appreciation for freshly brewed coffee made from freshly ground beans over coffee that was made with lesser-quality, stale beans or has been sitting in the carafe on a warmer for an extended period of time. 

Then, in 2019, after I adopted a ketogenic diet that helped me lose nearly 60 pounds, my husband and I read "biohacker" Dave Asprey's bestselling book The Bulletproof Diet and I started drinking "bulletproof coffee" most weekday mornings, using Asprey's official Bulletproof coffee recipe made with freshly brewed Bulletproof brand coffee frothed in a blender with grass-fed ghee (clarified butter) and Bulletproof Brain Octane C8 MCT oil. The fat keeps me full and satisfied for hours, and the C8 MCT oil not only helps burn fat as part of a very low carb or ketogenic diet but also helps keep my brain and attention more sharp and focused while I'm working, while the caffeine helps keep me awake and alert. This mixture is so smooth and creamy and the low acidity of the Bulletproof coffee beans agrees with my digestive system far better than ordinary coffee beans, so I no longer need to add cream. Instead of sugar, I sweeten it with one of my favorite keto diet-friendly sugar replacements, such as BochaSweet granulated or Besti monk fruit and allulose blend granulated sweetener.

My husband also has been drinking bulletproof coffee twice a day, a cup first thing in the morning and a second cup mid-afternoon. He finds that it helps tremendously with maintaining his mental acuity, focus and energy during his long and stressful workdays without making him feel wired and jittery, which regular coffee always does but Bulletproof brand coffee does not.

Integrated coffee measuring scoop on side of Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Brewer
The Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Maker has an integrated coffee measuring scoop

Don't Brew More Coffee Than You Need

Before I bought my husband his new Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer, we were using my dad's 20-year-old coffee maker, which also had a 12-cup glass carafe but no small batch settings. Using it to make a small batch of coffee (4 cups or less) produced terrible coffee, so he would brew a full carafe's worth. Unfortunately, that was also the case for most of the coffee makers with small-batch settings I looked at that didn't cost a fortune, as well as the single-serve coffee makers that weren't inordinately expensive and didn't use K-cups or other coffee pods, which he have stopped using as we are trying try to minimize our consumption of single-use plastic disposable items.

Good Coffee Is Too Expensive to Waste

Good quality coffee, including sustainably grown, Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee beans that have been tested for mycotoxins (harmful mold toxins), like those in Bulletproof brand coffee, is expensive and a shame to waste. 

So, after brewing a carafe of it, my husband would pour out a cup of the fresh brew for himself (and one for me, if I was having some that morning), then let the rest cool in the carafe to room temperature, pour it into a couple of large hydration bottles and refrigerate them. In the early afternoon, he would decant and reheat a cup of the refrigerated Joe in the microwave it before blending it with grass-fed ghee and MCT oil to make his second Bulletproof coffee of the day.

Coffee Should Be Consumed as Soon as Possible After Brewing

Unfortunately, the coffee oils that give the brew its rich flavor and aroma oxidize when they are exposed to oxygen, both in the air and in the water used to brew it, especially when heated. So, the longer the coffee sits after you brew it, the more the oils oxidize, making the beverage taste more bitter and smell stale. So, the sooner you drink your coffee after brewing it, the better!

That's another reason not to make more coffee than you plan to drink in the next 30-60 minutes. 

Photo of Ninja CE251 programmable coffee brewer with 60-oz. removable water reservoir
The 60-oz. removable water reservoir is easy to bring to the sink to fill

Why the Versatile, Affordable, Programmable Ninja CE251 Is the Best Small Batch Coffee Maker Option

Here are the features and benefits that make the Ninja CE251 the best programable coffee maker for brewing both large and small batches without breaking the bank.

Delicious, Rich Flavor and Aroma, Whether You Make a Single Cup or a Full Carafe

Unlike most other 12-cup carafe programmable coffee makers with a small batch option, this versatile Ninja model delivers the same excellent, flavorful, piping hot brew when you use the small batch settings (for 1–4 cups) as when you make a larger 6–, 8– 10– or 12–cup batch.

Note: Virtually all electric coffee makers consider a "cup" of coffee to be 5 fluid ounces, not the 8 fluid ounces in a standard US measuring cup.  

Affordable

The Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Brewer was available on Amazon for less than $80 at the time this post was published, a great price for a coffee maker with such thoughtful design, excellent performance and consistent brew quality for both large and small batch brewing.

Two Custom Brew Strengths

A choice of Classic or Rich strengths and Ninja's Thermal Flavor Extraction® Technology produce hot, flavorful coffee with no bitterness. The Rich strength setting provides a darker, more robust brew and maintains its smooth flavor when you add milk or cream.

Removable Water Reservoir 

One of the things my husband and I really disliked about my dad's 20-year-old coffee maker that we had been using was the fact that the water reservoir was permanently attached to the machine, so we had to use the carafe to measure the water and then pour it into the reservoir, which was hard to do without spilling any. The water reservoir was also black opaque plastic with a window, which made it inconvenient to see the water level.

The water reservoir on the Ninja CE251 large and small batch coffee maker is see through, BPA-free plastic with clear, easy-to-read markings and indentations that make it easy for even small hands like mine to hold it securely when pulling it out to fill at the sink and carrying it back to reattach to the coffee maker.

24-Hour Programmable Delay Brew

You can program your brewer as much as a day in advance, so you can set it up at night to wake you with the aroma of fresh coffee. One of my favorite childhood memories waking up to the smell of Dad's strong, freshly ground and brewed coffee in the morning!

Flavor Straw and Mid-Brew Pause

The "flavor straw" keeps the coffee circulating as it's brewing so the heat and flavor are uniform throughout the batch, while the mid-brew pause lets you remove the carafe briefly to pour a cup or two while waiting for the rest of the batch to brew.

Adjustable Warming Plate

Although I highly recommend drinking your coffee within an hour of brewing it for the best flavor and aroma, the Ninja CE251 gives you the option of programming the warming plate to stay on for up to 4 hours.

Permanent Gold-Tone Filter

A permanent gold-tone metal coffee filter is included with this Ninja coffee brewer. You have the choice to use either the permanent metal mesh filter or disposable #4 cone paper coffee filters; do not use a paper coffee filter inside the permanent metal mesh filter.

If you use the permanent metal mesh filter, you will retain more of the coffee oils for a more flavorful, aromatic brew. If you fill it with ground coffee with a medium grind in the permanent metal filter, as recommended, there should be minimal sediment from the "fines" (finely-ground, powdered coffee too small to be filtered out by the metal mesh). 

Alternatively, you can remove the gold-tone filter and use #4 disposable paper filters instead, which will absorb a lot of the coffee oils and make the brew less flavorful and aromatic but also filter out more of the fines, if having even a small amount of sediment bothers you. I highly recommend using natural, unbleached #4 cone paper filters for both flavor and health and safety reasons. 

Twist-Lock Carafe Lid

Unlike the lid to the glass carafe of my dad's old coffee maker that we had been using, the lid to this Ninja programmable coffee brewer easily locks and unlocks with a simple twist. Now I don't have to risk breaking a nail to attach or detach the carafe lid!

Easy to Clean and Maintain

One of the things my husband hated about our old coffee maker was that, because the water reservoir was not removable, in order to clean it he had to put the entire machine into the sink, even though the built-in electronics needed to be kept dry. In addition, the opaque black plastic made it almost impossible to see whether it was properly cleaned or needed descaling.

The Ninja CE251’s see-through removable plastic reservoir can be carried to the sink for filling or cleaning while keeping the electronics well away from any water. 

Although it is preferable to hand-wash the permanent gold-tone coffee filter, the removable water reservoir and the glass carafe, all three are top-rack dishwasher safe. The manufacturer recommends using a ball-shaped, soft foam brush for thoroughly cleaning the inside of the glass carafe.

As with any electric coffee maker, periodic descaling is recommended to remove buildup from the heating element inside the machine. Although you can use a special descaling solution made specifically for cleaning coffeemakers, 16 ounces of ordinary white vinegar works fine and is significantly cheaper. Follow the simple instructions in the Ninja CE200 series product manual and quick start guide for pouring the descaling solution or vinegar into the removable water reservoir and pressing the Clean button on the control panel on the front of the coffee maker, followed by running a Classic brew cycle with just clean, fresh water. 

You Don’t Have to Be a Coffee Connoisseur to Appreciate the Difference in Taste!

My husband doesn’t consider himself a serious coffee enthusiast like my dad by any means, which is why he was surprised and delighted at how much better the same freshly-ground Bulletproof coffee “The Mentalist” medium dark roast beans tasted after being brewed in his new Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Brewer compared to the previous batches brewed in our old coffee maker.

A Great Gift for Any Coffee Lover

Although we haven't had our Ninja CE251 Programmable that long yet, so far we are both thrilled with this purchase. My husband couldn't be happier! It would make a great gift for yourself or someone else who enjoys a great-tasting cup of coffee, needs to brew small amounts most days but also appreciates the ability to brew a full 12-cup carafe when company comes, as well as ease of use and easy cleaning and maintenance. 

Close-up photo of Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Maker control panel
The control panel on this programmable large- and small-batch coffee maker is simple, intuitive and easy to read

For those of us who work from home, it's also a treat to be able to brew a small quantity fresh throughout the day.


The Best Affordable Programmable Large- and Small-Batch Coffee Maker by Margaret Schindel


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