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

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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Friday, September 4, 2020

Set of Stainless Steel Stackable Magnetic Measuring Spoons Reviewed

Set of Stainless Steel Stackable Magnetic Measuring Spoons Reviewed
I have always enjoyed cooking, but there are times when it is more of a job than a joy. Having the right tools in any endeavor can make a world of difference in the overall experience.  It was truly shocking for me to discover how much these particular measuring spoons improved my attitude.  I had not previously realized how much I was struggling with my older measuring spoons.

I am no longer a spring chicken, but I embrace my age and appreciate the good things about being at retirement age.  Still, there are a few things I miss when cooking.  I can't read small numbers without reading glasses or a magnifying glass.  My hands are not as steady as they once were.  I have aches and pains from standing too long now.  Plus, I seem to get annoyed by insignificant stuff more easily.  The latter issue is most likely a result of the previous 3 issues.  I hate not being able to easy sail through the preparation of a recipe or meal.  

Lest you think I am complaining, I am not.  I recognize these are simple inconveniences, not problems.  I am only explaining in advance why the measuring spoons matter.


Stainless Steel Stackable Magnetic Measuring Spoons - Set of 6 


There are many reasons why I love these measuring spoons and think everyone should have a set. Whether you cook often or only occasionally, you will want the best measuring utensils available.  These are the best measuring spoons and here is why:

Because I have found these measuring spoons make such a huge difference for me, I own two sets.  Being able to see the measurement labels without the aid of reading glasses, plus not having to hold the measuring spoon in one hand, while I pour ingredients with the other hand, makes the task extremely easy.  

As incredible as it may sound, these measuring spoons make me feel like a spring chicken in my kitchen again.  Attitude affects the whole process!









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Friday, August 28, 2020

Cast Iron Trivets Reviewed

Cast Iron Trivets Reviewed
My Cast Iron Cow Trivet
I like to surround myself with pretty things that are functional. After all, an item doesn't have to be ugly simply because it is utilitarian.  This is especially true in the kitchen.

I have cooked with a cast iron skillet for as long as I can remember.  I use a cast iron trivet, which I have also had for as long as I can remember, to protect my counter top from the extremely hot and heavy skillet.  However, I recently purchased a cast iron dutch oven for baking bread. I immediately realized that I needed a second cast iron trivet for my new dutch oven's lid which is equally as hot and heavy as the pot itself.

I happened to be exploring an antique store a few weeks ago when I came across an adorable dog cast iron trivet finished just like my cow trivet.  Well, of course, I had to have that!  The dog trivet had a hanger on it which gives it a dual purpose.  It is also kitchen decor.  Yes, I can hang it right on my wall where it will be very convenient and easy to find when needed.

After I got home, I looked at my long time friend, the cow cast iron trivet. I couldn't believe it!  She has a hole for hanging too that I never noticed before.  It was pretty exciting to discover that my pretty cow can also be displayed.  

Using functional cast iron trivets as "pictures".  I love it!


Functional Beauty of Cast Iron Trivets


Unlike many current day trivets that sit flat on a counter top, my cast iron trivets are raised on feet.  That allows the pot or skillet to cool from the bottom as well as the top and sides while protecting my counters from the intense heat.  Since they are also made of cast iron, they are perfectly designed for the weight of cast iron cookware.


Features of the Cast Iron Trivets

Puppy Cast iron Trivet
My Newly Acquired Puppy Cast Iron Trivet
  • Protective rubber feet to protect walls or counter tops 
  • Strong enough to hold heavy skillets, pots & pans
  • Tolerates heat from hot pan without sustaining damage
  • Available in a variety of designs 

My trivets are bronze, clearly from an era when brass was prominent in home decor.  New cast iron trivets are most often black, which match the standard cast iron cookware.  However, there are a few available that are painted like the rooster trivet shown below.

Now, if I only had more wall space in my kitchen, I could have a whole barnyard of animal trivets surrounding me.  





Antique Cast Iron Trivets


If you prefer the bronze or antique trivets, Ebay is the perfect source.  Keep it mind, if you don't see one you love on Ebay today (linked for easy access), you just might see one tomorrow.  Items on Ebay change constantly thanks to the vast numbers of sellers on the site.






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Friday, July 10, 2020

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles Reviewed

Cast Iron Dutch Oven and Lid Skillet
When fellow contributor, Dawn Rae, started tempting me with homemade bread recipes, I decided I needed a dutch oven.  My husband loves homemade bread and I enjoy cooking, so it was time to test my bread baking skills again.

It has been years since I have baked bread other than my banana bread.  I used to bake bread every week, but I got out of that habit when I let my sour dough starter ruin.  I would love to find another really good sour dough starter.  Until then, Dawn's Artisan Bread Recipe is great!  Actually, it is faster and easier than the sour dough bread I used to make and my family seems to be just as happy with Dawn's Artisan Bread. 

There are a lot of dutch ovens available, but I wanted the cast iron version.


The Versatility of Cast Iron


 Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven on Gas StoveI have cooked with a cast iron skillet my entire life.  It is heavy compared to other skillets, but you can't beat it when frying fish, frying pork chops, or baking cornbread.  

You can use cast iron on a stove top, electric or gas, as long as it has range burner elements (not recommended by some glass stove top manufacturers for a flat surface glass stove top).  
Update: Contributor Sam Monaco comments below that he uses his cast iron skillet on his glass stove top all of the time.

Cast Iron will also go in the oven, which is how my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother and I have all baked cornbread.  That is why I wanted the cast iron dutch oven.  I knew it would be most excellent for baking!

Cast Iron can also be used on a open flame, like a campfire.  I have been known to fish which is rather ironic since I don't eat trout or catfish.  However, when you come from a family with 4 brothers and a mother who loves catfish, you better fish or you are left behind counting the hours.  Besides, I love quietly floating down the river in a boat, soaking in the sun and the beauty of nature surrounding me.  

One year, Dad hired a guide.  We caught our limit by midday, but didn't have any desire to stop fishing.  So, we pulled to shore, built a campfire and cooked our fish in a cast iron skillet along with some potatoes the guide provided.  After lunch, we fished a few more hours and brought home fish for dinner.  That is how I discovered a cast iron skillet could be used over a open campfire!


My Cast Iron Dutch Oven


 Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles, 5 qtCheck PriceI purchased a 5 qt. Lodge brand cast iron dutch oven and I have be thrilled with it for several reasons.

  • The lid doubles as a skillet
  • I really like the handles on both the lid & the dutch oven
  • It is just the right size for the oven
  • Perfection in cooking due to even heating 
  • Easy to wash, dry & re-season* 
  • I know it will outlast me, which means I will never have to buy again
  • Lodge is a trusted name in cast iron.  Over 100 years in business

*Seasoning cast iron is simply rubbing it lightly with vegetable oil after washing while it is still warm from the hot water wash or you can place it back in a warm oven after applying the oil.

I chose the basic cast iron dutch oven mainly because I loved the dual purpose lid.  I knew I could flip the lid and bake cornbread on top while a roast baked below it in the dutch oven.  The top would not only be a lid for the roast, but also a skillet for the cornbread.  

One note about using the lid on the dutch oven.  In the photo, you see the lid and dutch oven handles are evenly aligned.  I prefer to offset them slightly so lifting the hot lid is much easier.

Dawn Rae chose an enameled cast iron dutch oven which should be fine for cooking on a flat, glass stove top.  You can read her review here: Enameled Cast Iron - Pricey But Worth It 


You too can Bake Dawn's Easy No-Knead Dutch Oven Artisan Bread! 
To make my bread in the intro photo, I used Dawn's recipe. 
I added 3/4 cup cranberries, 3/4 cup walnuts & 1T honey.
Simply click the image below for her recipe. 

crunchy-no-knead-round-loaf-bread





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Friday, February 28, 2020

Refrigerator Onion Storage Keeper Reviewed

Refrigerator Onion Storage Keeper Reviewed
Onions in the refrigerator are not always welcome! 

We all know it is not necessary to refrigerate onions before they are cut, unless you wish to extend their shelf life.  However, once they are peeled, sliced or diced, they should be refrigerated. 

Whether refrigerated or not, the great temptation is to store them in a plastic bag due to their strong odor.  However, according to the National Onion Association, you should never store a whole onion in a plastic bag.  They actually recommend wrapping them in paper towels or newspaper and placing them in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.  That allows for air ventilation.  

But wait!  Air ventilation for the onion is exactly what the rest of my food does not want.  Not only does the other food not like it, I'm not real keen on onion smell permeating my refrigerator, kitchen, or my pantry.  Therefore, it became necessary for me to seek out a different method for onion storage.   

I've tried keeping onions in a Tupperware containers, refrigerator sandwich bags when diced, Saran wrapped plates, tucked away in the refrigerator drawer, and even sitting next to an open box of baking soda.  I still smelled those onions!  Plus, I really hated that residual smell in my Tupperware, which I use for many other things.

I finally found a solution that works for me!


Refrigerator Onion Keeper


 Hutzler Onion Saver, YellowCheck PriceI will be the first to admit that I was really surprised when this inexpensive onion keeper actually worked.  Now before I go too far, the keeper itself always reeks of onion smell, even after being washed.  But, once it is closed, sweet nothing!  No more onion odor!!!  Made me want to buy 5 of them.  I have no idea what I would do with 5 onion keepers, but I was so pleased with the results, I somehow wanted to show my great appreciation to the little "onion".

I also love the looks of my onion keeper.  I know exactly where my onion is now.  It is no longer hiding in plain sight disguised as a Tupperware bowl. 

The Hutzler Onion Saver is dishwasher safe, but the inside still smells like onion after it is washed.  That is fine with me as long as it blocks the odor in my refrigerator, which it does!  I have washed it several times on the top rack of my dishwasher.  My onion keeper still seals properly and works perfectly.  You can safely store an onion, whole or cut, in the refrigerator for 7 - 10 days.  The Onion Saver has a circular grid in the bottom that keeps the onion elevated for better air circulation within the keeper.  Obviously, that is not as well ventilated as open air, or a paper towel, but it beats the odor!
  

I doubt seriously that the Hutzler Onion Saver will last for years, but sometimes we are pleasantly surprised.  Regardless, it cost less than a box of refrigerator sandwich bags and doesn't have to be thrown away after each use.




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Friday, December 6, 2019

Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container Reviewed

Airtight, Leakproof, Microwavable & Freezer Safe Storage 

 Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container Reviewed
I recently purchased 3 Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers. I needed an airtight container for rolls & crescents so they would last longer. I selected the 9.6 cup size which was perfect for my needs. As it turns out, there are many more uses for these containers than just bread storage. 

During the recent holidays, I discovered these containers will hold liquid or dry food.  Since they are leak-proof due to their tight seal, they will even store leftover homemade soup.  Plus, they are microwavable when it is time to reheat the leftovers.  Therefore, there is no need to transfer leftovers from their storage container to heat.  Less clean-up is always appreciated.

I love my faithful Tupperware, but sadly, if I can't see it, I am likely to forget it.  So much fruit is discarded simply because it is forgotten once it has been stored away.  Because these containers are transparent, it is easy to see at a glance what is stored in which container. 


 Rubbermaid Brillance Food Storage Container Reviewed


Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers


 Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container, Large, 9.6 Cup, Clear 1991158Check PriceNot only are they clear, airtight, leak-proof, microwavable and freezer safe, their flat design makes them stackable in the the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry.   

Since we don't have to worry about the spilling, transporting food from one location to another is easy.  Of course, if you are dropping off food, you might not get these nifty containers back. The recipient will be tempted to forget where they came from originally.

Now that I have had experience with the larger containers, I will definitely be buying the smaller single serve size as well.  That will make lunchtime so much easier! 

To use in the microwave, simply lift the locks for venting.  

The only possible negative that I have found with these containers is that they seal so tightly.  It takes more effort to remove the lids than it does with a snap lid.  But, after a few uses, I knew what to expect.  Now I grip the container with one hand and remove the lid with my other hand.  In my opinion, that is a simple inconvenience to enjoy the airtight storage.

Oh, and did I mention, the price is right!  No wonder they named these containers "Brilliance".








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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

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