Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts

Friday, September 3, 2021

Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Toaster Oven Reviewed

Countertop Oven Review
When my oven went out for the second time in a year, I knew I needed an alternative so I searched for the best countertop oven for baking. Discovering the Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Toaster Oven has been like finding a riverbed of gold!

Not having a working oven in our home is a major inconvenience. It has taken months to get the circuit board parts for repairing our built-in double ovens (twice). I understand there is a backlog and some parts are simply not available at this time. However, cooking dinner for my family can't wait for months, or that proverbial "slow boat".  

Of course I cook on the stove, in my Instant Pot, in my Crockpot and in the microwave. However, we love pizza, lasagna, manicotti, chicken enchiladas, roast, salmon, casserole style dinners, plus various breads, baked sides & desserts, which require an oven. I use my oven for something almost every day.  Therefore, this time, I had to find a separate countertop oven to carry us through until my double ovens are fixed.  

At the time of writing this article, my double ovens are still waiting for repair and I have been using my Calphalon Cool Touch Countertop (Convection option) Oven multiple times each day for weeks now. I am here to tell you, this little countertop oven is fabulous!  I have decided it actually does a better job of baking bread than my large convection oven. Therefore, even after my ovens are repaired again, I will continue to use this magnificent work-horse appliance.


Why Choose the Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Toaster Oven

Countertop Toaster Oven Review
Previously, I did not want a countertop oven because I was warned that they get really hot on the outside.  Plus, most have small interiors and are very limited on what they can cook well.  It seemed like it would be a waste of counter space.

When desperation forced me to reconsider and research countertop ovens, I chose the Calphalon Cool Touch Countertop Oven simply because it is "cool touch".  The outside of the oven doesn't get hot! Plus, I read that the interior cooking space was a little over 12" x 12", which is large enough for a variety of pans. Even though I have needed to purchase smaller cookie sheets and a casserole dish without handles separately, I would like to note that the oven did come with a 12" pizza pan and a baking pan that fit the oven. That allowed me to start cooking immediately.

My first baking experiment for the "little oven" was my banana bread.  My standard loaf pan fit in the oven without any problem.  You can imagine my surprise when I pulled out a beautifully browned loaf of bread, followed by the real test of cutting into it to find it was fully baked with no under-cooked center spots.

Calphalon Cool Touch Countertop Toaster Oven
I was beyond excited to serve it to my family for breakfast.  I admit, that was the best ever banana bread and I've been baking banana bread for decades. Next, we baked biscuits and they were also cooked to perfection.

Then we tried pizza and it was perfect!  Followed by broiled beef sausages.  Admittedly, my husband prefers a charred skin on his beef sausage, but I thought the beef sausages were better than usual because the skin wasn't burnt.  Then came the clincher, the one meal that sold me on believing this convection countertop oven is better than my built-in ovens. I baked my lasagna and it was cooked perfectly.

In the midst of a stressful major appliance outage, this little oven has delivered peace and perfection! 

I give the Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Toaster Oven my highest recommendation.

 

Features of the Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Toaster Oven

 Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Toaster OvenCheck Price
  • Cool Touch Exterior
  • Large Interior Capacity
  • Convection or Standard Oven Settings
  • Oven Light
  • Non-stick Interior
  • Easy to Select & Set Cooking Options
  • Easy to Set Timer
  • Preheats Really Fast
  • Preset cooking functions: Toast, Bagel, Bake, Roast, Broil, (Bread) Proof, Pizza, Cookies, Reheat, & Dehydrate 
  • Keep Warm & Defrost Buttons
  • Wire Cooking Rack with Optional Upper or Lower Position
  • Included Accessories: 12" Pizza Pan, Baking Pan, Dehydration Basket, & Crumb Tray
  • Does Not Heat Up the Kitchen like a Regular Oven
  • 3 Year Warranty - Product Registeration at Calphalon.com


A Few Placement Notes
  1. While the sides and top are cool touch, the bottom and back are hot, therefore I pull the "little oven" out about 4" from the wall when using
  2. The Electric Cord is on the right side of the back, not the center.  This keeps the cord away from the heat of the back, but might limit placement depending on where your electric outlet is installed
  3. The Cooling Vent is on the right side and should not be blocked.
  4. Rubber Feet on the Bottom create a 1½" separation between the counter and the bottom of the countertop oven
  5. Exterior Measurements:  19" wide x 12½" height x 17" depth (including handle)
  6. Do Not Place Hot Food on the Glass Oven Door  
  7. Print the User Guide Here

My New Lasagna/Casserole Dish That Fits This Countertop Oven




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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Is the Lemon Pod the Best Lemon Keeper?

Let's review why I love my Lemon Pod and why I think it most definitely IS the best type of lemon keeper or lemon saver around.   You could always try and convince me otherwise of course!

The Lemon Pod Review
The Lemon Pod (photos Lou16, design Canva)


I do love lemons and have over the past year discovered lemon and blueberry proats which have become my absolute favourite breakfast.   When making these proats I only use half a lemon.   What I would do before I had the Lemon Pod was - I placed the remaining half of the lemon in a plastic sandwich bag and stored it in the fridge until the next day.

Obviously, this is not very environmentally sound so I decided to look for a lemon keeper or lemon saver.   During my hunt I discovered the Lemon Pod and I thought it was the best one available so I brought it.   I absolutely love it and use it along with my lemon squeezer several times a week.

What attracted me to the Lemon Pod?  It's not a rigid container that you just pop your lemon half in, it has a top that actually stretches to fit the lemon.   The different sizes of lemons that I get throughout the year can all be catered for with the Lemon Pod.

The Lemon Pod is actually made up of two pieces.    A bottom solid piece of heavy plastic is where you put the half lemon, cut side down.   The top piece has a heavy plastic ring around the outside which twists into the bottom locking it in place.   The middle of this top piece has a stretchy material that stretches over the lemon.   When you take the lemon out the stretchy material goes back to its 'normal' size.

I believe that as this stretches to 'fit' the lemon it helps it to stay fresh longer because less air can be trapped in there.  To be honest, I couldn't tell you exactly how long the lemons will stay fresh because the longest I've kept half a lemon is two days, but I won't part with my Lemon Pod and I won't swap it for another Lemon Keeper.

If you don't fancy trying proats and you don't add lemon juice to your hot drinks you might be interested in trying a couple of sweet lemon recipes a couple of our contributors make.   First Sam makes fresh Lemon Hand Pies which sound absolutely delicious and then Mary Beth makes some amazing Lemon Cookies.





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Friday, July 2, 2021

Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-stick Baking Pan, Size 18" x 12" Reviewed

I have been baking with Wilton pans pretty much all of my adult life. Once I discovered the non-stick Wilton pans, I never looked back! They are fabulous pans that are available in a lot of different shapes and sizes.

I confess that as a newlywed (over 30 years ago), baking in my own first kitchen and having very limited funds, I was enticed by the lower price of the basic aluminum cake pans.  It didn't take very long for me to realize they weren't worth the cost of an ugly cake.  I don't remember burning any cakes in those old aluminum pans, but they did stick, even when coated with shortening, and tear chunks out of my cakes when trying to remove the cake from the pan. Then I had to force the chucks in place & "glue" them with icing. That simply didn't make a very pretty cake, even if the cake did taste good. I kid you not, once I tried the Wilton non-stick baking pans, I tossed those aluminum pans and never shed a tear. 

Of course, there are a few downsides to the non-stick coating.  For one, you don't want to use a sharp knife to cut a sheet cake still in the pan.  Plus, it is best to wash the pans by hand and not in the dishwasher.  Yes, they are dishwasher safe, but the coating will last a lot longer if you hand-wash them.  Is it worth it?  You bet!  I would much rather hand wash a non-stick pan than to try to "glue" a cake back together.

You now know why I love Wilton baking pans, but I have found another use for a specific size Wilton pan that I must share!  The 18" x 12" Perfect Results pan is my favorite to date.  


The 18" x 12" Wilton Perfect Results Cake Pan

Of course the 18" x 12" size is perfect for baking a huge crowd pleasing cake.  It is simply doubling or tripling a cake recipe (16 cups of cake batter) to fill and will serve 54 people depending on the serving size.  The number 54 is based on cutting 2" square cake pieces.  If you need to serve more, you could cut smaller piece.  If you use boxed cake mix, according to Wilton, it will take 4 boxes.  

But, this huge cake pan is NOT JUST for cakes!

I use mine for dinners like my manicotti (holds 14 stuffed manicotti shells - 1 box) & enchiladas (holds 18 stuffed enchiladas).  Using this one pan is so much easier than splitting the meal and cleaning two standard casserole dishes. Plus, I love how lightweight it is when filled!  I can easily put it in the oven and lift it out myself.  Because of the 12" width, I can easily place the enchiladas end to end without mashing the ends together to force a fit like was required in a 10" wide casserole dish.

In addition to the manicotti & the enchiladas, I recently baked 6 pork chops on a bed of wild rice & soup. The meat was perfect and tender, and so was the rice.  Therefore, it can be used for meat as well as pasta meals. 

The size fits in my 27" wall oven without touching the oven sides.

It is so nice to be able to cook an entire recipe of manicotti or enchiladas all at one time in one oven.  Previously, I either had to use both of my ovens for just the main course, or cook one dish, set aside and cook the second dish.  

When cooking for a large family, or cooking a recipe that will provide enough leftovers for a second meal, having this 18" x 12" baking pan is essential.

One word of caution: I found out the hard way that reheating leftovers is this pan is not advisable.  Sadly, I ruined my first pan that way.  When reheating, the residue on the sides from the eaten half burned on the pan and took the non-stitch coating off with it when cleaning.  So, do move leftovers into a different pan for reheating.

Wilton is a name we all associate with baking cakes, cupcakes & desserts.  However, their non-stitch pans should not be limited to just baking cakes in our homes. They can do so much more!

 



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Friday, June 25, 2021

Mini Increment Measuring Spoons for Tad, Dash, Pinch, Smidgen & Drop Reviewed

Small Increments Measuring Spoons
When I first started cooking and saw the words pinch or a dash in a recipe, or had verbal instructions to add a pinch of salt to something, I was confused by those words.  Exactly, what is a "pinch" of salt or a "dash" of cinnamon?  

Because I tend to take things literally, I would pinch the salt and drop it into the bowl or grab a shaker and dash the ingredient into the mix.  But, it still bothered me that I didn't know exactly how much to add.

This past Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a set of mini increment measuring spoons.  I love them!  Now I know how much a pinch of salt is (1/16 tsp) and I have a measuring spoon in that tiny increment. How awesome is that!!!

I prefer to take the mystery out of a recipe so I can duplicate a cooking creation that is perfected.

Also, I love having measuring spoons that are in such tiny increments.  After all, it is pretty hard to measure out 1/16 of a teaspoon!  


Tiny Increment Measuring Spoons

These measuring spoons take the guesswork out of those not so well defined measurements in recipes.  

  • Drop - 1/64 teaspoon
  • Smidgen - 1/32 teaspoon
  • Pinch - 1/16 teaspoon
  • Dash - 1/8 teaspoon
  • Tad - 1/4 teaspoon

I never would have guessed that a drop is only 1/64 teaspoon!  Plus, I never would have been able to accurately measure it.  I would have previously thought a smidgen and a pinch were the same thing.  Clearly, I would have been wrong.

These measuring spoons have the words and the measurement engraved in the stainless steel, which means they won't have the measurement plate knocked off. 

My mini increment measuring spoons are dishwasher safe and come with a ring to keep them together in my kitchen drawer.  I also like the brushed stainless steel appearance. It just looks clean and rugged by design. No need to worry that they could be melted when cooking or cleaning. Plus, I don't have to worry about them picking up smells with years of use.

For those of you who enjoy cooking, I highly recommend these must-have kitchen utensils. Why guess when you can know for sure!

Oh, and they make a great gift!








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Friday, April 16, 2021

CorningWare 20-ounce Pop-in Mug with Vented Plastic Cover Reviewed

Corningware Microwave Soup Mugs
There is nothing better for lunch than a cup of hot soup, especially on a cold or rainy day! These Corningware Pop-In Mugs make heating soup in the microwave fast, easy, and without any mess.

We received a set of the Pop-in Mugs several years ago as a gift. At the time, I had no idea how much I would end up enjoying these Corningware microwavable mugs.  Not only are they microwavable, but they are dishwasher safe.  Therefore, the entire meal from beginning to end is easier.

If I make a pot of soup or stew, I can fill and store the mugs in the refrigerator or freezer.  When I am ready to reheat the soup, I simply pop the vent on the lid, stick it in the microwave, and heat.  That plastic vented lid is the only cover needed to keep my microwave clean and clear of splatters or overflows. 

At 20 ounces, it is also the perfect size for a can of soup. I enjoy Campbell's Tomato Soup.  The mug would be large enough for the entire can contents as well as water.  However, I don't add water to my tomato soup. I heat the soup in the microwave for 3 minutes and I'm ready to go. Because the mug handle is not hot, I can "drink" my tomato soup while continuing to work at my computer.  I know it is best to take a real lunch break, but that is not always possible.  It is nice to have a good hot lunch that I can easily eat/drink while working.

If I still worked outside of the home, it would be a very easy and practical way to carry soup, stew, chili, etc to work for lunch, ready for the microwave.  The lid is tight enough that liquid will not spill, although I wouldn't test it by turning it upside down for a prolonged period of time. 


 CorningWare Colours Pop-Ins
20-oz Soup Mug with Lid - 2 Pack (Tomato)
Check Price
Features of the Corningware Pop-in Mug

  • Comes with a vented lid for easy microwaving
  • 20 Ounce size 
  • Stoneware - Available in a variety of colors
  • Freezer Safe
  • Oven Safe
  • Dishwasher Safe

The only downside that I have found to these mugs is that my tomato soup has stained the inside of one of our lids.  No big deal for me.  I know it is clean, but I suspect that would bother some people.  I have tried baking soda, vinegar, soaking, and several stain removal suggestions, but none have removed the tomato soup stain on the lid.




Corningware
Old Versus New Corningware Designs
I am a huge fan of CorningWare!

The current day line of products are not always the same as the Corningware of 30 years ago.  However, the items I have replaced with the newer version have been fine. I understand the new Pop-in Mugs have smaller handles than mine.  Also, it seems manufacturing has moved to China.  Mine were made in Thailand.   
If you prefer the older versions, I recommend searching eBay for the older versions of CorningWare.



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Friday, February 5, 2021

Brown Sugar Keeper Reviewed - I Love My Brown Sugar Bear!

If you have ever had brown sugar harden in your pantry, you will understand the need for the brown sugar bear.

Brown Sugar Keeper
Not only is he adorable, but he keeps your brown sugar soft for months.  He can also be used to remove moisture from salt, spices, and other food products that are prone to go stale after the package is opened.  

Many years ago, I was given a brown sugar stone.  It looked like a flat terracotta disc or flat rock.  Not pretty, but it did the job.  I have no idea what happened to that disc.  I fear it got thrown away at some point when cleaning out my pantry. I may have looked at the date on my box of brown sugar and simply tossed it, not even thinking about the brown sugar keeper.  That seems like the most likely scenario since I haven't been able to find it anywhere.

When I opened my brown sugar a few weeks ago, I discovered it was hard as a brick.  That hardened box of brown sugar could easily be used as a weapon.  Since I have no need for a brown sugar weapon in my kitchen, I went in search of my brown sugar keeper.  That is when I discovered it was missing.  Such great sadness enveloped me until I thought of Amazon and how they might have a brown sugar keeper.  The website search began and I quickly found a variety of options.  Success!  But, now I was faced with another dilemma.  I had to choose a design.  After all, I don't really need a dozen different brown sugar keepers just because they are cute.

Choosing a design took me all of about 3 minutes. As soon as I saw the brown sugar bear, I knew the one (well, 2) that I needed.  I promptly ordered my bears and anxiously awaited their arrival.  The bear siblings arrived in perfect condition 3 days later.  

Isn't he just the cutest brown sugar keeper you ever saw!  His sister awaits her opportunity to come out and play.

Brown Sugar Keeper


How to Use a Brown Sugar Keeper

 Brown Sugar Bear Harold Import Co Original Sugar Saver and Softener, Terracotta, Set of 2Check PriceFor keeping your brown sugar soft, you simply soak the brown sugar keeper of your choice in water for 20 minutes.  Dry him off with a paper towel, and place him in your brown sugar.

For keeping moisture out of other spices or food items, you don't get him wet.  Place the dry keeper in the bag or container and let him absorb the moisture.

If your brown sugar is already hardened, like mine was, soak him and put him in the container (box or bag).  Within 24 hours, your brown sugar will be soft again.  He is a magical little bear! 

Well, they all work the same way, but you know I love my little bears.   


Brown Sugar Keeper





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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Review

I discovered the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Baking Pan line while researching options for replacing my old Teflon nonstick baking pans with ones that had newer, more durable, and safer PFOA-free coatings. 

I purchased the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 1-Lb. Loaf Pan recently, and I am quite impressed with its value and performance so far. In fact, I'm seriously considering buying other pans from this line to replace my older Teflon nonstick bakeware.

Main image - text over textured background reads "Why the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Deserves a Place in Your Kitchen"
This durable one-pound loaf pan features a durable molded, seamless construction, sturdy square-rolled edges to prevent warping, and a PFOA-free nonstick coating in a light champagne-gold color and micro-textured bottom surface that promote even baking.

Pre-2015 Nonstick Bakeware Is Not Safe to Use

Until six years ago, most nonstick bakeware (and cookware) used a Teflon coating made with both PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PFOA has been linked to cancer and other health risks, and is one of a group of manmade chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In 2006, because of concerns about the impact of PFOA and long-chain PFASs on human health and the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a PFOA Stewardship Program, asking the eight leading companies in the PFAS industry to commit to voluntarily eliminating PFOA and related chemicals and emissions by 2015. 

PTFE continues to be used in Teflon and other nonstick coatings, and while some people have concerns about its safety, most experts consider nonstick bakeware and cookware with coatings containing PTFE to be safe, as long as they are:

  • treated and cleaned with care to avoid scratches or abrasion
  • not overheated or preheated empty
  • replaced after a few years, when the coating begins to show signs of fine scratches or abrasion
  • discarded as soon as the coating is scratched or chipped 

Time to Replace Old Nonstick Baking Pans!

Last year, I replaced all my old nonstick pots and frying pans with Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware. During my research, I discovered that some of the newer nonstick coatings not only are safer, but also perform better than older types. Now, I'm starting the process of replacing my large collection of older nonstick baking pans, too. (Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware has a diamond-infused ceramic nonstick coating that is both PFOA-free and PTFE-free, and that I know from experience delivers excellent performance. If only they made baking pans, too!)

I became an avid home baker at the tender age of nine. During my mid-twenties and early thirties, when I was married to an attorney at a prominent New York City law firm, we did a lot of formal entertaining, and our dinner parties always ended with a choice of elaborate cakes or pastries for dessert. Now, more than 30 years later, I am happily married to a man in a different profession, and we live in the Boston suburbs, and if I never host another five-course dinner party extravaganza, that will be just fine with me! Since I live a very different lifestyle now than I did back then, I've decided to replace only the pans I use on a regular basis, rather than the entire, extensive collection of both basic and specialty bakeware I am getting rid of.

Since trying out nonstick pans from a few different companies was a successful strategy that helped me determine which brand and type of coating performed best in my kitchen, I'm planning to follow the same approach as I begin the process of replacing my old nonstick baking pans 

Ever since I switched to a low carb keto approach to eating in May 2019, I have been baking, rather than buying, the majority of the low carb bread I use. So, I decided to shop for a nonstick loaf pan first. 

After doing a bunch of online research, as usual, before deciding which one to buy, I recently ordered an OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan (with fast, free shipping, thanks to Amazon Prime!). I thought it might be helpful to share the things I looked for in narrowing down the available options, and why I ultimately chose this particular pan. I will need to see how well it performs over time before I can recommend it without reservations. 

I often like to bake two loaves of bread and put one in the freezer, which doesn't take much more time and effort than baking a single loaf. Given my strategy of testing individual pieces from a few different brands (or with different coating materials), I'm still trying to decide which one to buy for my second nonstick loaf pan. However, when I do, I am looking forward to comparing how the two measure up against each other. Stay tuned for future updates!

Key Features and Benefits of the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan

Amazon product image of OXO nonstick loaf pan
Product image courtesy of Amazon

I have long been a fan of the OXO kitchenware brand, and have been buying and using their products for a very long time. However, I was quite surprised to discover the OXO Good Grips brand (which I have always associated with kitchen tools and cooking utensils) on a line of bakeware, as I was doing my online research! 

It's definitely not a brand that comes to mind when I think about baking pans. But, since the kitchen tools and cooking utensils I have bought from them over the years have been durable, well made, and well designed, I decided to give OXO the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind. I'm glad I did!

Here are the most important features and attributes that influenced my decision to choose the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan, rather than one of the many other nonstick loaf pans on the market from competing brands.

Ceramic-Reinforced, Two-Layer, Commercial Grade Nonstick Coating for Durability

Obviously, the most important among my selection criteria when researching and shopping for a new loaf pan was a PFOA-free nonstick coating. I also knew from my experience with my Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick pots and pans that a ceramic component adds durability to nonstick coatings, so I was pleased that the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro line uses what the company describes as a "Swiss-engineered, PTFE, ceramic reinforced, two-layer, commercial-grade coating," ILAG Non-Stick Ultimate Resist R Plus, that resists scratching, staining, corrosion, and abrasion. These qualities help give these pans a longer, safer, useful life, as long as they are treated with care and not preheated empty or allowed to get too hot. (For example, I would never use a pan with a nonstick coating to bake a recipe with a topping that needs to be caramelized under the broiler.)

Light-Colored Nonstick Coating and Micro-Textured Surface for Even Baking

Most nonstick loaf pans, cake pans, muffin tins, and other bakeware has a dark coating. Unfortunately, since dark colors absorb heat, the sides and bottom of whatever you put in them bakes (or cooks, in the case of a meat loaf, for example) faster than the top or center of the pan's contents. In fact, by the time the center tests done, the bottom and sides are often overbaked or even burned. Until recently, all nonstick baking pans had dark-colored coating, which is why some recipes tell you to reduce the oven temperature if you use a nonstick pan. 

By contrast, light colors reflect heat instead of absorbing it. So using a pan with a light-colored nonstick coating promotes more even baking (or cooking). 

I first discovered bakeware with a light, metallic gold- or champagne-colored nonstick coating quite a few years ago at Williams-Sonoma. Then Nordic Ware came out with gold-colored nonstick versions of their gorgeous, elaborate, specialty baking pans. I confess, I have secretly coveted them ever since! But back when I was drooling over them, the prices for pieces with the light-colored coating seemed exorbitant, compared to the cost of their counterparts with the much more common dark-colored coating, and I refrained from indulging. 

When I started my current product research product, I was surprised and delighted to find that the prices for pans with a lighter champagne- or gold-colored nonstick coating have come down quite a bit, which makes these a much more affordable and practical option. 

I also love the look of these lighter-colored coatings. Since I usually make myself choose function over form when buying something practical, like a nonstick loaf pan, it's quite a treat to find one that whose excellent performance is also paired with a beautiful finish.

Extreme close-up photo of micro-textured surface on the bottom of the pan
The light-colored ceramic-reinforced PFOA-free nonstick coating promotes even baking, and the micro-textured bottom surface of the pan promotes airflow. 

There is also a unique, micro-textured surface pattern on the bottom that minimizes contact between the food and the pan, and allows some airflow under the loaf. I've found that this not only prevents my bread loaves from having a burned bottom crust, but also avoids sogginess that can occur from steam condensation when a freshly baked loaf needs to stay in the pan at the start of the cooling cycle before being removed to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Seamless Interior and Rounded Corners for Easy Clean-Up

One of my pet peeves about nonstick baking pans is the seams, especially the corner seams. I always grease my pans, even those with an anti-stick coating, before adding a dough or batter, sometimes followed by a thin coating of cocoa powder or low carb flour. Thoroughly cleaning the residue from the narrow points at the bottom corners, using nothing narrower or firmer than the edge of a soapy sponge (to avoid abrading the coating), can be challenging. 

I always dreamed of having nonstick baking pans with rounded corners and no seams, like my old glass cake pans. When I saw this OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro loaf pan, it felt like someone had overheard that dream and decided to make it come true.

The seamless interior and rounded corners really do make this loaf pan is an absolute breeze to clean! I'm pretty sure that the lack of seams or sharp corners will also make the nonstick interior less prone to wear or cracking.

Strength and Structural Rigidity for Warp Resistance

I have a few pieces of cookware and bakeware that, despite being constructed from heavy-gauge metal, tend to warp after they have been on a hot stove or in a hot oven for a while. This really bugs me, and especially on a nonstick pan, whose coating was not designed to hold up to repeated flexing and twisting! So, now that I'm shopping for new pans, I'm looking for ones that are made to resist warping. 

One of the things I liked about the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan it that was designed with structural integrity and rigidity in mind, which increase durability and help prevent warping. 

Square-rolled edge increases rigidity, creates a wider lip/more secure grip
This metal pan is made from commercial grade, heavy gauge, aluminized steel, which not only has excellent thermal conductivity for fast, even heat distribution, but also provides durability and structural stability. The micro-textured bottom also contributes to the pan's structural rigidity. 

The square-rolled edge is another important feature for better structure, strength, and durability. Unlike most loaf pans, whose rim is formed by folding the sheet metal over a piece of wire, the rim around the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan is formed from a single piece of steel, molded into what the company calls "a unique square-roll shape." This uniform construction and substantial, square-rolled edge creates a thick, solid rim that not only adds structural rigidity, it also makes the pan easier to grip and lift. That's a design feature I really appreciate, especially when I'm moving a full, hot metal loaf pan from the oven to a heatproof mat or cooling rack!

Commercial Grade Materials and Construction for Superior Performance

While it may be tempting to buy the cheapest nonstick pans you can find, since they have a limited recommended lifespan, in my experience, that approach is penny-wise and pound-foolish. I've only made that mistake twice, when I was much younger, and it taught me the value of spending a bit more to get nonstick bakeware made with high quality materials and durable construction. Commercial grade materials and construction, designed to meet the much more demanding requirements of a commercial kitchen, will perform better, last longer, and resist not only warping but also scratches and abrasion, significantly extending their safe, useful life before they need to be replaced. 

I have found that in the long run, the cost of buying well made, commercial quality bakeware and cookware is almost always a better investment than buying cheaper, lower quality, less durable pans that don't perform or hold up as well and need to be replaced much sooner.

Versatile Size for Different Types of Recipes

The OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan is designed for a 1-pound loaf, which is pretty standard. Since my previous loaf pans had always been 9" x 5" and this one is 8.5" x 4.5", I wanted to make sure the slightly smaller dimensions would work for the majority of recipes. 

The baking pros at King Arthur Baking Company are a trusted, authoritative source of professional expertise. Their advice (like their recipes) is consistently excellent, helpful, and reliable. So, when I was researching nonstick loaf pans, their website was one of the resources I turned to.

The King Arthur blog post on "Choosing the right bread pan" explain that some yeast bread doughs can be baked successfully in either a 9" x 5" or an 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan, while others turn out better in one size pan or the other, depending on both the type of flour and the number of cups of flour the recipe calls for. 

According to the post, any yeast bread loaf recipe that uses 3 cups of flour (or slightly less) should be baked in an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pan. A recipe that uses 3 1/2 cups of flour can be baked in either size pan (although the smaller loaf pan is recommended for whole grain breads and the 9" x 5" pan is preferred for yeast doughs made with all-purpose or bread flour). The only yeast bread doughs that definitely should be baked in the larger pan are single-loaf recipes that use at least 3 3/4 cups of flour, regardless of type. 

Since I can't foresee many occasions when I might want to bake a really large loaf of bread, the article confirmed that an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan would be fine for the majority of recipes, including the (yeast-free) low carb bread I'm mostly baking these days, most of which specify this pan size. It's also a nice size for baking a meatloaf whose slices fit neatly between two slices of bread. (Meatloaf sandwich, anyone? Yes, please!)

photo of length and width markings stamped into the inside of the nonstick loaf pan
The length and width markings are permanently stamped into the metal, instead of the more common printed dimensions that can wear off over time

I also really appreciate having the dimensions in both inches (4.5 x 8.5 in) and centimeters (11.5 x 21.5 cm) stamped permanently into the metal, in large, raised letters and numbers that are very easy to read, without having to turn the pan over to see them.

Note: The exterior dimensions of the OXO pan are 9" x 5", due in part to the wide square-rolled edges; however, the interior dimensions, which are the ones that count, are 8.5" x 4.5".

Made in the USA

It's getting harder to find well made, reasonably priced products manufactured in the USA. I prefer to buy American-made goods, when possible, so the fact that this OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro loaf pan is made in the USA was definitely a big point in its favor. It feels good to support American businesses that make high quality products and continue to manufacture them in this country and providing employment opportunities for American workers, especially now that so many companies have relocated or built plants in countries where they can lower their labor costs by paying cheaper wages.

Note: This pan is "Made in the USA from globally sourced materials." That's not surprising, since fewer and fewer products are being manufactured exclusively with USA-sourced materials. 

Excellent Value

For me, the value of a product is a function of both price and quality: is what the product provides in terms of function, form, useful lifespan, etc., worth the price? It's common for manufacturers to compete for market share by identifying popular, successful, highly rated products from other companies and creating their own versions (knock-offs) that look and sound extremely similar and cost less. But in order to sell the product for less, they need to manufacture it for less (or use a different distribution model, such as direct-to-consumer sales). And, often, the way they bring down the retail price is to cut corners, either by removing certain features or using less expensive (and usually lower quality) materials or manufacturing/construction methods. 

Since the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan looks quite similar to the higher-priced Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Loaf Pan of the same size, I decided to compare their technical specs and product descriptions before finalizing my decision to purchase the OXO pan. Here's how they stack up against each other, as of this writing, with differences highlighted in green (better value) or orange (not as much value):

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick ProWillams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro
Size:8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches high 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches high
Capacity:1 lb.1 lb.
Where It's Made:Made in the USA with globally sourced materialsMade in the USA with globally sourced materials
Materials:Commercial-grade aluminized steelCommercial-grade aluminized steel
Light-colored, ceramic-reinforced, PFOA-free nonstick coatingLight-colored, ceramic-reinforced, PFOA-free nonstick coating
Max Temperature:Up to 450 ℉Up to 450 ℉
Dishwasher Safe:Yes, but hand washing recommendedYes, but hand washing recommended
Construction:Seamless, molded constructionSeamed, folded construction
Square-rolled rim formed from a single sheet of steelRim reinforced with coated wire
Micro-textured diamond-patterned bottom surfaceSmooth bottom surface
Price as of 1/12/21:$17.99 on amazon.com$21.95 on williams-sonoma.com
Shipping Cost:Prime FREE delivery (for Amazon Prime members)$6.99 shipping and processing fee for standard shipping (3-Day Select)
MA Sales Tax:$1.12$1.37
Total Cost (Delivered):$19.11$30.31

Based on the product information I was able to find on Amazon, Williams-Sonoma, and other retailers' sites, the two pans are extremely similar in some ways. However, the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan's seamless, molded construction and rounded corners give it an edge in terms of durability, warp-resistance, and ease of cleaning. Best of all, those superior features and attributes also come at a better price. The total cost for this pan, including the purchase price, sales tax, and delivery, is 30 percent less than the total delivered cost of the similar Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Loaf Pan!

Getting a better pan for less money definitely makes the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro pan an excellent value.

Timing is Everything!

The day before this post was published, I noticed this pan wasn't in stock on Amazon, but could be ordered with an expected delivery date in late February. However, it is a few minutes before this post is set to publish, and it appears that, at the moment, the pan is no longer available to buy new at the $17.99 price with free delivery. A couple of sellers are offering new pans for twice that price, and it's currently available in Used - Very Good condition from Amazon Warehouse for $16.55 with free Prime Delivery. If you're interested in getting one or more of these nonstick loaf pans, I suggest checking back once a week over the next few weeks to see when it becomes available to order new for $17.99 again with free Prime delivery.

Wouldn't Someone You Know Love to Receive a New, High Quality Nonstick Loaf Pan?

Most home cooks and bakers own at least one loaf pan. But chances are good that either they don't yet have a well-made, nonstick loaf pan that's in good shape and has a PFOA-free coating, or that they have a nonstick loaf pan (or two) that is starting to show a few scratches and is no longer safe to use, but they haven't yet gotten around to buying a new one to replace it. 

Either way, I'm sure that one (or a pair) of these OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pans would be a welcome addition to their kitchen cabinet, pantry, or wherever they keep their baking pans. And with a price tag of only $17.99, it's an affordable as well as thoughtful gift that they will likely get a lot of use from. 

Happy baking!


OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Review by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


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Friday, November 27, 2020

Deluxe Spicy Shelf for Spice Organization in Kitchen Cabinets or Pantries Reviewed

Spice Organization
Two years ago, I added gripper clips to my cabinet pantry door for easy access to the spices I use most often. They are truly fabulous and convenient. However, I still had dozens of spices, seasonings, baking extracts, powders, etc. tucked away and often lost in the depths of my pantry.  

I've had a carousel tray on the top shelf of my pantry to at least keep the spices all together, but the small containers somehow managed to flip off the carousel and get lost.  Or worse, they would keep the carousel from turning and cause an avalanche of spice containers.  Of course, that always happened when I was cooking and trying to find something quickly.

My son often heard me complain about my pantry cabinet and spice organization.  This past Mother's Day, he surprised me with the Deluxe Spicy Shelf.  I was thrilled!  I had never seen one before, but the picture on the box looked totally awesome and perfect for my needs.  Then, I opened the box!  Yikes!!!  The number of pieces to assemble my new deluxe spicy shelf intimidated me immediately.  I set the gift aside to construct "later".  Even I didn't realize "later" meant 5 months later.


Assembling My Deluxe Spicy Shelf

Deluxe Spice Shelf
Knowing the holidays were fast approaching and I would soon be seeking out those least often used spices, I set aside an afternoon to assemble my much needed organizer shelf.  With no small amount of dread, I opened the box once again.

Imagine my utter shock that it took me less than 30 minutes to assemble the shelves, remove the content from my pantry, and set it all back in completely organized, easy to see and so much easier to find a specific item.  I was so giddy that is was all accomplished in so little time that I considered putting it all in alphabetical order.  I stayed my hand there though because I wanted the things I would need for Thanksgiving toward the front.  Extra, unopened spices went to the back, but I can easily see them!  

As you can see in the photo below, I even found a great use for my carousel.  It has been serving me for so long, I didn't have the heart to toss it.

Spice Shelf

Because my cabinet pantry is so deep, I set one shelf in front of the other, instead of stacking them.  As you can see, that is perfect for me.  My short spices now tower over the taller bottles.

Because I have a few economy size spice bottles, I set them just in front of my carousel.  They are very easy to lift out and grab what I need from behind them.  No more tearing the cabinet apart to find one small bottle.

Spicy Shelf Organizer




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Friday, November 20, 2020

White Turkey Serving Platter for the Holidays Reviewed

turkey platter
One of the first gifts my husband's grandmother gave me, was a large white turkey platter.  At the time, I had no idea what a treasure this one serving tray would become to our family.  It is now a part of our holiday tradition.  

Thirty-five years ago, my mother hosted Thanksgiving in her home and we all gathered at my grandmother's home for Christmas.  Both women cooked a lot for the holidays, but my mother always cooked the turkey for both celebrations.  Clearly, I didn't have a need for the large turkey platter when I first received it, but I still loved having it.

Over the years, responsibilities have shifted as needed.  Mom & I prepare the holiday food together, but we moved the cooking to my home for convenience when my children were younger.  The hosting house of the day of the actual meal varies and is determined by the number in attendance or convenience.  I don't remember exactly when it happened, but baking the turkey became my primary responsibility when cooking for the holidays, and that large turkey platter became a necessity.  

Since my Christmas china platters are not large enough for a turkey, I use the large white turkey platter at Christmas too.  Because it is white, it is the perfect compliment for my Christmas china.


 HIC Turkey Oversized Serving PlatterCheck Price

White Turkey Platter


There are several beautifully colored turkey platters, but I prefer my white turkey platter.  It coordinates with almost any china and looks pretty in any room regardless of the table settings or wall colors.

The embossed (raised) fruit pattern around the edge adds a touch of elegance to Mr. Turkey and is perfect for the holiday season. 

The porcelain platter on the right, which is similar to my platter, is microwave, oven, freezer and dishwasher safe, which makes using it a lot more pleasurable.  

It is 17½" wide, large enough for a a whole turkey if desired. We usually slice our turkey before serving.


 







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