Showing posts sorted by relevance for query food storage. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query food storage. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two


Main image: More Ways to Prep for Success on a Keto Diet

This is the third in a series of posts in which I will be reviewing my experience and insights after following a very low-carb lifestyle for more than a year.

Quick update: Since my previous post on the importance of preparation in setting yourself up for success on a ketogenic diet was published 2.5 weeks ago, I was surprised to discover that I have lost another pound. So, my total weight loss since May 25, 2019 is now 58 pounds.

Choosing a Start Date

I was highly motivated to begin my new keto lifestyle, thanks to a medical scare that forced me to face the serious health risks of being both postmenopausal and obese, and of continuing to consume added sugar and highly processed foods. I understood the urgency of getting down to a healthy weight, and I was anxious to start lowering my risk for developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes or another serious illness as soon as possible. It was hard to resist the urge to just get started on keto as best I could, and figure things out as I went along.

At the same time, I knew how difficult it was going to be to overcome my food addictions, particularly to sugar and baked goods; cut out all grains, rice, and beans; and severely restrict my consumption of roasted carrots, parsnips, beets, white or sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables, which had been a staple of our weekly menus for years.

So, as impatient as I was to "get the show on the road," I understood the importance of preparing myself mentally, emotionally, and environmentally before committing myself fully to the radical changes that would be required—especially at the beginning, when my starch and sugar cravings would still be at their strongest.

Last but not least, I understood my need for a clear framework and road map to help me stay on track and make consistent progress toward any type of goal.

So, ultimately, I made the wise decision to choose a start date a few weeks out, so I could have the time to prepare myself properly and give myself the best chance of success.

When choosing the date for starting your own keto diet, I encourage you to consider your own fears and challenges, decide how best to prepare yourself to overcome them, and pick a start date that leaves you enough time to complete the preparations that will help set you up for success.

Deciding Whom to Tell, and When

The ketogenic approach to eating is widely misunderstood, remains controversial, and tends to provoke strong responses, whether positive or negative, whenever the topic arises. I knew that switching to this radically different approach to eating was going to be hard enough without the added stress of dealing with unsolicited, well-meaning, but unwanted opinions, advice, or criticism about my decision to follow a ketogenic diet. I chose to keep that decision private for as long as possible. 

When I started, no one except my husband (and my surgeon) would know. Once I became fat-adapted and overcame my cravings for high-carb foods, I would tell a handful of other people if, and when, they needed to know, e.g., telling my brother shortly before we flew across the country to stay with him for a week-long visit. Down the road, when I was noticeably slimmer and people began to ask about how I achieved my weight loss, I would need to decide what, and how much, I wanted to share about my new approach to eating. But I would have at least a month or two to make that decision.

Unless you live alone, the other people who live with you—your spouse, partner, children, roommates, etc.—will likely be affected by your decision to radically limit your food choices and, obviously, will need to be told. 

If you tend to be very social, you may prefer to tell your friends, family members, and co-workers up front about starting keto diet and ask them to cheer you on and help you through the rough patches. The important thing is to take a little time to think about and decide on a communication approach that will suit your individual needs and preferences.

photo of "ASK" sign hanging from brick building
Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Soliciting Support From Family and Friends

To achieve my health and weight loss goals, I knew I would need help from my nearest and dearest. What I couldn't be sure of was how my family, friends, and colleagues would react to my decision to adopt a moderately strict ketogenic lifestyle, especially given how anti-keto I used to be before I became better educated about this way of eating.

Fortunately, as I gradually shared my news with more people, as situations arose when they would need to know, they were surprisingly supportive, especially after I explained the medical necessity for me to lose my excess weight safely but also expeditiously.

Here's the approach that worked for me.

Think about the people whose support, or lack of it, could potentially bolster, or threaten, your commitment and progress the most, especially during the first few months, when you will be battling your cravings for sugar, baked goods, chips, candy, pizza, etc. before your taste buds adjust to enjoying and, perhaps, even preferring healthy, keto-friendly foods.

In my case, my husband would be my entire support system (other than online groups) during most of that crucial initial transition period. But since we also would be spending vacation weeks with my brother and, later, my husband’s parents, as well as joining my sister and brother-in-law for dinner from time to time, and going out to lunch or dinner with friends, when the time came, I would also need to enlist their support—or, at least, understanding—about my dietary restrictions. 

Think about what types of support you might want to request from each of the people in your inner circle, and be as specific as you can about the actions they could agree to that would help you the most. For example, if you have a friend with whom you go out often for brunch, and your favorite restaurant serves a brunch buffet featuring pancakes, waffles, French toast, bagels, and other tempting, off-limits foods you would find hard to resist, you might choose to ask whether they would be willing to change up your routine and meet for lunch instead, and suggest trying a different restaurant (one whose menu you’ve already vetted first so you know it includes a variety of keto-friendly options). 

If you need to tell someone that you’re following a ketogenic approach to eating and anticipate a negative response, you could try to explain up front that you have done extensive due diligence, educated yourself about the potential risks as well as benefits of this way of eating, and spoken with your doctor before choosing this path, and that it would mean a lot to you if they would accept your decision without challenge or criticism and, if they can, support your efforts to lose weight and improve your health.

Considering Ways to Get My Needs Met and Their Impact On Other People

Deciding to adopt a keto approach to eating also means accepting responsibility for making sure you have access to the types of foods you need to keep your commitment to yourself. At the same time, to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." So, throughout this journey, I’ve tried to think about ways to minimize the impact of my limited food choices on other people who had no say in my decision. 

As an example, six months after I started keto, by which time I had lost 50 pounds and my entire family knew about my ketogenic diet, my sister and brother-in-law invited us to their house for Christmas dinner. My sister asked me to help her understand my dietary restrictions so she could tailor the menu accordingly. After thanking her for her thoughtfulness, I asked what she would make if my diet weren’t a consideration. I was able to suggest fairly minor changes that would make most of those dishes keto-friendly, such as serving the salad dressing on the side, making a marinade for the pork that didn't contain any fruit juice, ketchup, barbecue sauce, sugar, honey, or molasses, and replacing one of the two high-carb side dishes with grilled, roasted, or sautéed asparagus or broccoli with butter and herbs. I told her I would bring my own keto-friendly salad dressing and dessert. When she expressed her reluctance to serve foods she knew I loved but would no longer eat, I explained that it was important to me that my decision to severely restrict my own food choices had the least possible impact on what everyone else was eating, and that it would give me pleasure to see my nearest and dearest savoring one of her decadent desserts while I enjoyed my keto-friendly sweet treat. The dinner was delicious, and a wonderful and festive time was had by all. A win-win!

Unless you live alone, minimizing the day-to-day impact of your dietary restrictions on the people you live under the same roof with can be significantly harder. Our household consists of just my husband and me, and when I was considering the keto diet as an option, I discussed the idea with him at length, and he said he would be willing to help me in any way he could in my efforts to get down to a healthy weight. I told him about the challenges and potential obstacles that concerned me the most, and we worked together to come up with solutions that would work for both of us. 

For example, I worried that having baked goods, chips, and other addictive foods in the house would be an unnecessary temptation, and we agreed that he would try to keep and eat those foods mostly at his office or outside the house without me. We also designated the lowest drawer of our refrigerator and the cabinets above the fridge as food storage “for John’s eyes only,” and he agreed to consume those foods out of my sight for as long as necessary, until I could see them—and especially, watch someone else eating them—without craving them. 

I’m blessed to have a very loving and supportive spouse, who was as invested in my success as I was. Many other people may have additional challenges, such as an unsupportive partner or having the primary responsibility for feeding the entire household, especially if it includes picky eaters, young children, or other people with different dietary restrictions. So, if you’re considering starting a ketogenic diet, it’s important to give some thought to what is and isn’t likely to be doable within the limitations of your individual situation, and to develop an actionable plan for how to get your own food needs met. 

It’s worth explaining to your family members how important it is to you to lose weight, give up sugar, lower your risk for developing a serious disease, or whatever other goals you have for starting keto, and ask the rest of the family participate in brainstorming ideas with you on what they can, and are willing, to do to help you succeed, including agreeing to changes in how their own food needs have been met until now. You might be able to negotiate making meal preparation a shared responsibility, for example. 

Be prepared for the possibility, or even the likelihood, that some or all of the other members of your household may be unwilling to inconvenience themselves or adapt to changes in the status quo to support your weight loss efforts. By the same token, they also might surprise you with willingness to help you achieve a goal that matters to you so much. your goals. 

Either way, accepting full responsibility for your own food choices will be the most important determinant of your long-term success. 


Exploring Online Keto and Low Carb Diet Support Communities

Since I had decided not to tell anyone about my lifestyle change who didn’t need to know, at least at the beginning, I checked out various keto support groups on Facebook. During the next few months, I joined eight or 10 of them, most for only a short time, and eventually winnowed those down to a handful that I still participate in roughly a year later, even after having met and surpassed both my original and "stretch" goals for losing weight. 

Searching for "keto group" on Facebook will return a dizzying number of choices. I recommend looking at the ones that have been around for a while and have successfully grown their membership, which is one indication that a lot of people have found the community to be valuable.
 
Screenshot of Facebook search results for "keto groups"

If you’re active on Facebook and are considering joining one of the many keto groups and communities, I suggest you start by thinking about which types of support would be most helpful to you. Are you most interested in: 
  • Learning more about this way of eating to help you decide whether to try it? 
  • Asking for and offering encouragement and help and celebrating success milestones?
  • Being with other people who are just starting out, or with a mix of newbies and people who have been following a ketogenic diet for a while? 
  • Getting meal planning or recipe ideas? 
Being clear about what you hope to get by participating in one or more Facebook groups will make it easier to find ones that might meet your needs. Reading the rules or membership guidelines as well as the "About blurb for a group you’re considering can provide helpful insight into its culture as well as its focus. Plan to try out at least a few different groups, and don’t hesitate to leave any that turn out not to be a good fit for your needs. 

Tip: Don’t assume that, just because a Facebook group is sponsored by a brand or other business, it will be less helpful and more self-serving than peer-run groups. When I began my keto journey 14 months ago, it really bothered me that the groups I found most helpful, informative, positive, engaging, and worthwhile were created or sponsored by companies and entrepreneurs whose primary business was to produce, sell, and/or promote keto-related products or services. My perspective has changed significantly, and I am grateful that the brands who make many my favorite keto-related products have chosen to invest financial and other resources to build, grow, and nurture a vibrant community of people sharing a common interest, create a continuous flow of new, informative, fun, and helpful content and activities, and provide knowledgeable, active, and helpful admins and moderators to vet posts, ensure compliance with the community guidelines, respond to questions and comments in a timely manner, and troubleshoot customer service issues. 

For example, Maya Krampf, who wrote one of my go-to cookbooks, The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook: 100 Simple Low Carb Recipes, 10 Ingredients or Less, and whose Wholesome Yum website is chock-full of helpful information and reference resources, as well as great recipes and her Besti line of sweeteners, has a terrific and very active Facebook group.

Screenshot of Keto Low Carb Support & Recipes - Wholesome Yum Facebook Group


Cleaning Out the Refrigerator, Freezer, Pantry, and Other Food Stashes

I systematically went through our kitchen cabinets, shelves, refrigerator/freezer, and pantry, the huge chest freezer in our garage, and anywhere else where there might be a snack, pack of gum, cough drops, hard candies, a chocolate bar, crackers, dried fruit, etc., including the pockets of my coats and jackets, my handbags, my bedside chest of drawers, the bottom drawer of my desk, and even the glove compartments and center consoles of both our cars. Then, my husband and I decided what should be done with each of those items to make sure they would be out of both my sight and my reach before my keto start date. 

Looking Ahead

Here's a peek at some of the topics I plan to address in future posts in this series:
  • My favorite keto-friendly food products and ingredients
  • My favorite keto cookbooks and recipe sources
  • Delicious ways to get enough fiber on a very low carb diet
  • Meal planning and grocery shopping lists
  • Avoiding the “keto flu” 


Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two 


Read the Previous Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey:




Read Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas):

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Contributors



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware Review

Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware has a diamond-reinforced, black ceramic coating and textured cooking surface that make these pans the most durable, scratch-resistant, best-performing nonstick cookware I've tried — and I've tried a lot!
Image - title and photo collage for Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware review by Margaret Schindel
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved
Several years ago, I began replacing our large collection of old nonstick cookware. All the pans had visible scratches in the coating after years of use, so they no longer had their nonstick qualities. I also didn't want to risk the possibility of accidentally ingesting a speck (or flake) of loosened Teflon, especially since the older Teflon coatings were manufactured with PFOA.

Since I had a lot of pans to replace (my husband and I both cook a lot!), I research the newest generation of nonstick coating options and cookware. I tried a T-Fal skillet and, later, an OXO Good Grips nonstick frying pan, both recommended by Cook's Illustrated at the time, as well as a highly-rated set of two skillets from Sur La Table, but I found they scratched too easily for my household's needs (my husband tends to be a bit hard on pans!).

Original Copper Chef Nonstick Cookware

A few years ago, my mother-in-law bought us a set of the original Copper Chef pans, after she had bought herself some and loved them. Admittedly, I was skeptical about the quality of "As Seen on TV" nonstick cookware purchased from an infomercial, and I didn't immediately understand the appeal of a square skillet or pot. But I soon discovered how much better and more durable the ceramic nonstick cooking surface was, compared to the others I had tried.

The set John's mother gifted us came with a square 9.5" fry pan, a square deep 9.5" pan, a square basket insert for deep frying or draining (e.g., pasta), a steamer insert, a slightly domed, square tempered glass lid that fits both pans, and a cookbook. Since the exact set she got us is no longer available, I've provided a link to a newer version, identical to ours except for the added set of 4 nonstick-safe cooking utensils. You can learn more about one of the original Copper Chef pans from my fellow Review This Reviews contributor Cynthia (Sylvestermouse), in her review of the original Copper Chef square fry pan.

After six or so months of heavy use, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised at how well the two pans his mother had given us were holding up, so we decided to start slowly investing in more Copper Chef cookware. We were using the shallow fry pan the most, so we bought the Copper Chef Square Fry Pan 5 Piece Set, which includes an 9.5-inch square griddle pan with a glass lid (that also fits the two pans we received as gifts), a larger 11" square griddle pan with a glass lid, and an 8" ridged grill pan.

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware — Even Better Than the Original!

A year or so later, we had enough experience with the durability of the CeramiTech coating and the excellent heat conductivity of the built-in stainless steel induction plates on our glass stovetop to confidently expand our collection further. This time, when I looked on Amazon to see what other sizes and types were available, I discovered there was a new, improved line: Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware.

Boxed 5-piece set of stackable space-saving Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware
My first Copper Chef Black Diamond 5-piece stacking non-stick cookware set
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

We chose the Copper Chef Stackable Black Diamond 5-piece Non-Stick Fry Pan Set, which comes with a 9.5" square grill pan (with grilling ridges), a 9.5" square griddle pan with the raised diamond pattern interior bottom, a 4.5-quart, 9.5" deep square pan with the same raised texture on the inside bottom, two 9.5" tempered glass square lids (which fit all three pans, as well as most of our other Copper Chef pans), and a recipe book.

View of textured interior bottoms of Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick pans in 5-piece set
Raised 3D interior texture on Black Diamond pans
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Diamond Reinforced Ceramic Coating + 3D Textured Interior Bottom = Even Less Sticking

Not only are these pans extremely attractive, with their copper-colored exteriors and black interiors, they also are more durable, because the CeramiTech nonstick coating is reinforced with thousands of tiny diamond particles. In addition, the inside bottoms of the Copper Chef Black Diamond pans (except the ridged grill pans, which don't need it) have a raised, diamond pattern surface, rather than the original, totally flat surface, which enhances their nonstick performance.

Oven-Safe Coating

The deep square pan also works well as a casserole, since the pans are oven safe. The CeramiTech diamond-reinforced ceramic nonstick coating on the inside, and the regular CeramiTech coating (the same as on the original CC pans) is temperature-resistant up to 850° F. The tempered glass lids, however, are only temperature-resistant up to 350° F, so make sure not to exceed that temperature (or let the glass lids get too close to the heating elements), or just cover your casserole with aluminum foil.

Quick and Easy Cleanup After Cooking

After cooking, just let the pans cool to room temperature before washing. They clean up quickly and easily with just a sponge, mild liquid dish soap and hot water. Alternatively, you can fill them with hot, soapy water and let them sit until you're ready to do the dishes after you've finished your meal.

Space-Saving, Stackable Design For Convenient Storage, Even in Small Kitchens


All three pans can be stacked, a space-saving feature we love and took advantage of until my husband finally built us a wall-mounted bar of hanging hooks for storing our growing collection of nonstick pots, pans and lids in our very small galley kitchen.

Image of 3 Copper Chef Black Diamond square nonstick pans, stacked, with lids
The pans stack compactly in this space saving cookware design
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

When the two frying pans (flat bottom and grill pan) and the deep pan (more like a saucepan or pot) are stacked, the collective dimensions, including the long handles, are 19.5" X 10 X 7.75" — not a lot of space for two frying pans and a pot, each with 25% more cooking area than round equivalents!

Not All Brands of Copper Ceramic Coated Nonstick Cookware Perform Well!

As we expanded our collection, we tried pans with copper ceramic nonstick coating from a few other brands and discovered that, while they may all look similar (and, in some cases, nearly identical), the quality of some brands isn't on a par with that of Copper Chef. For example, we bought an 11" square griddle pan for my husband, who wanted it to make French toast, that looked like it matched our collection. However, it didn't have the built-in stainless steel induction plate, so it didn't heat up as quickly or evenly as our Copper Chef pans.

SHINEURI 5-piece set of nonstick saucepans and saute pan on Amazon
We love the SHINEURI 5 piece nonstick
copper cookware set we purchased
on Amazon
The good news is that we also discover some winners among the competitor brands. At the time, Copper Chef wasn't making any round pots or pans, and we wanted a set of small and medium covered nonstick saucepans to replace the ones we threw out, as well as a couple of small to medium size round skillets for making omelets and such.

I was delighted with both the quality and the appearance of the 5-piece set by SHINEURI that we purchased, which has the reverse color scheme of our Copper Chef Black Diamond pans and looks terrific with them. The 1.5 quart and 2.5 quart saucepans with glass lids and the open 8" sauté pan look as though they were designed and manufactured by the same designer and factory as the original Copper Chef pans. Even the slightly domed lids and hollow stainless steel handles look exactly like the original CC pans, and they also perform just as well as those, although not as well as the Black Diamond pans.

Fortunately, the Copper Chef Black Diamond line has since expanded and now includes round pots and pans.

Another high performer we purchased from a competing brand was the Home Hero 8" round nonstick skillet with glass lid, which also had the built-in stainless steel induction plate and has performed as well as our original Copper Chef pans, although it doesn't look quite as nice, in my opinion, and doesn't have the textured interior bottom or diamond-reinforced nonstick coating of the Black Diamond pans.

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware Makes a Great Gift

We loved our 5-piece set of square Black Diamond pans so much that we bought two more sets as Christmas gifts, one for my in-laws and one for my brother. They agree with us that these are by far the best nonstick pans we've ever owned.

Set of copper cooking utensils with silicone tips for nonstick cookware on Amazon
You can buy this gorgeous set of
copper metal and black silicone
cooking utensils on Amazon

Anyone who cooks would likely be delighted to receive a set of these good-looking, durable, well-designed, nonstick pans. As a bonus, the company's packaging is attractive and perfect for gift-giving.

For an even more special gift, consider adding this set of beautiful set of copper cooking utensils with black silicone tips. I think they would look absolutely stunning with Copper Chef Black Diamond or original CC pans, or even similar pans from competing brands.

I admit that I'm really tempted to put these on my holiday wish list, even though I already own plenty of perfectly functional utensils suitable for nonstick pans. But they're so freakin' pretty. And they look as though they were custom designed to go with the Black Diamond pans, don't they?

If you prefer round pans to square ones, this Copper Chef Black Diamond 10-piece set is another excellent choice. It comes with 8-inch and 10-inch round skillets with curved sides (to make stirring foods and sliding or flipping omelets easier), a 2-quart sauce pan, a 4.5-quart casserole pan, three metal-rimmed tempered glass lids that can be mixed and matched to fit all four pans, plus a roasting rack and a nonstick-compatible serving spoon and slotted spatula. My husband and I both think we'd get a lot of use out of this set, which would complement our existing pieces nicely, and we hope to be able to add these pots and pans to our collection eventually.

Either set would be a wonderful gift for someone special — including yourself!

Care and Cleaning Tips

The manufacturer says these pans are dishwasher safe. However, I strongly recommend hand washing these (which is a breeze, using just a regular or silicone sponge and hot, soapy water as soon as the pan cools, or after soaking if you don't want to wash soon after using). Dishwasher detergent is abrasive, which is why glasses that are washed in the dishwasher frequently will become cloudy over time. The cloudiness is actually a result of the detergent gradually etching the surface of the glass!

When I noticed that my husband had repeatedly burned spilled Sloppy Joe mixture (and who knows what else) onto the underside of one of our original Copper Chef fry pans without cleaning off the burned-on food residue, I discovered the hard way that a Scotchbrite or similar scrubby sponge is too abrasive for cleaning the CeramiTech nonstick coating, which covers both the inside and outside of the Copper Chef pans (other than the stainless steel induction plate and handle). Also, if you use a steel wool pad to scour the induction plate on the bottom of the pan and don't take care to keep the steel wool away from the CeramiTech coating, the metal fibers in the pad will quickly remove the nonstick coating right down to the metal underneath.
Bottoms of original and Black Diamond Copper Chef nonstick fry pans after cleaning correctly and incorrectly
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Pan on the left: Original Copper Chef fry pan
with repeatedly burned-on food, cleaned with
a scrubber sponge, plus overzealous scouring
of the built-in stainless steel induction plate
with steel wool scouring pan.

Pan on the right: Copper Chef Black Diamond pan,
cleaned with regular or silicone sponge, induction plate
scoured with steel wool pad. I scoured the perimeter of the
stainless steel induction plate to avoid accidentally
scouring off the nonstick coating on the surrounding areas.

Similarly, if you want the CeramiTech coating on your pans to retain its nonstick properties as long as possible, I recommend using only plastic or silicone cooking utensils designed for non-stick cookware with these pans, something Tristar, which manufactures Copper Chef and other cookware brands, also advises.

Closeup view of inside of Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick grill pan
Close-up shot of the ridged interior bottom
 of the nonstick grill pan
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

As you can see from this close-up of our grill pan, our Copper Chef Black Diamond pans — which have been in heavy, daily use for a long time now — not only still perform beautifully but also hold up remarkably well, as long as you care for them properly!

The Inexpensive, DIY Pot and Lid Storage Rack My Husband Built for Our Copper Ceramic Nonstick Cookware

When our collection of copper ceramic nonstick coated pans continued to expand, my husband — my very own MacGyver — put together an inexpensive, space-saving pot rack next to our stove, using just leftover wood strips and some coat hooks. Sadly, the beautiful, half-round, French-looking wrought iron pot rack I had purchased long ago for my Manhattan apartment doesn't work in our ranch-style home now. (Not only do we have many more pots and pans to store, but we also have only a short, narrow "mini hallway" between the stove and the side entrance to our house, which opens into our kitchen. So, our pot rack needs to be fairly flush to the wall to allow the door to open.)

One of the things I really like about his design it that, because each coat hook has an upper and a lower hook, the lids to our collection of nonstick pots and pans now have a convenient "home" for storage when they're not in use, since the glass lids can't be stacked. As you can see, it even holds our two large stainless steel mesh spatter shields!

It was meant for functionality rather than looks, but you could easily stain and varnish the wood, and even use a router to shape a scalloped edge, if you like.
Homemade wall-mounted rack for storing pots, pans and lids
My clever husband's inexpensive DIY pot rack
for our nonstick pans, lids and spatter screens
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Happy nonstick cooking!

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware reviewed by
Margaret Schindel


You'll find a wide range of other reliable product reviews from our Review This Reviews contributors at ReviewThisProductReviews.com.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

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.




Read More Product Reviews On
ReviewThisProducts.com

 


House of Sylvestermouse




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

How to Prep and Store Organic Raspberries to Keep Them Fresh Longer

For the past year or more, I've been on a quest to find a way to prolong the time I can refrigerate fresh raspberries before they go bad. A few weeks ago, after extensive research and numerous failed experiments, I finally succeeded! In this review, I’ll share the preparation and storage method I developed that allows me to store fresh berries in the refrigerator successfully for days longer than any other method I tried.
The method I developed for prolonging the storage of ultra-perishable organic raspberries
was a labor of love that took more than a year of research and experimenting!

Organic Raspberries Are Extremely Perishable

Fresh berries are one of nature’s most delicious treats. Unfortunately, they don’t keep long in the refrigerator, especially the ones that you buy in a store rather than from a local farm stand. I try to buy mostly organic produce these days, and organic berries have even shorter lifespans than their conventionally grown counterparts. In fact, during the winter, many of the organic raspberries we get here in Boston are imported from Mexico, and after such a long journey, they rarely last more than a day, if that! That’s a waste of both food and money.

I adore organic raspberries and started eating them every week when I switched to a very low carb / keto lifestyle. That's when my search to find a way to prolong their edible life became a much higher priority.

My extensive online research produced lots of information and advice from reliable sources. Unfortunately, much of it was conflicting. Most sources advised not rinsing fresh raspberries until just before eating them. Some suggested soaking the berries in a vinegar and water solution immediately after buying them, then rinsing, drying and storing them. I remembered and looked up a 2015 article by my friend Grace who, after doing her own online research, developed a similar method for prepping and storing most types of produce that includes a 10-minute soak in a saltwater solution, followed by a 10-minute soak in a vinegar-water bath.

I tried them all. Many, many berries were sacrificed on the alter of my research! Unfortunately, none of the methods I tried succeeded in extending the storage life of my beloved organic raspberries. Nonetheless, I was determined to find a solution that would keep them going bad within a day or two of bringing them home.

Through Trial and Error, I Eventually Worked Out My Own Method for Storing Organic Raspberries Successfully for Several Extra Days

Undaunted (well, sort of), I started combining various aspects of some of the prior experiments. After each new experiment, I analyzed the results and tweaked the process for the next attempt. After a few more months, my stubbornness persistence finally paid off!

The prep work needs to start the minute the raspberries are brought home. After discarding any mushy ones, any remaining berries that have softened a bit are set aside to be eaten the same day. The rest get a brief saltwater bath, followed by a brief vinegar and water bath. The berries stay in each solutions for only 2-3 minutes, a much briefer soak than in any of the other methods I tested.

Next, they are rinsed, drained, and sorted further based on their firmness. Then they are set on a paper towel-covered cooling rack(s) for several hours to dry out thoroughly. As far as I know, mine is the first method to use this multi-hour drying time - an idea that turned out to be a game-changer in my experiments!

The storage method turned out to be as important as the prep process. Lining my storage container with two to three layers of paper towel was a step in the right direction, but not enough to slow down the berries' deterioration significantly.

The last piece of the puzzle fell into place when I stopped layering the berries between paper towels in a sealed storage container before refrigerating them. After another series of experiments and tweaks, eventually I was able to prolong the storage time by another 1-2 days by switching to a large, shallow storage container and storing the berries face down in a single layer, spaced apart so they didn't touch, and letting the lid rest on top of the container instead of sealing it.

Now My Organic Raspberries Remain Good for 5 or 6 Days!

Since I don't drive and I need to ask my husband to replenish my supply each week, my goal was to be able to have him buy me two 6-ounce containers of organic raspberries and keep them fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator. But once I started to make significant progress with my experiments, I raised my sights on a more ambitious goal.

Once I started experimenting with significantly longer drying times, my results improved dramatically! Obviously, how long fresh berries will keep depends on their condition when they are purchased. (Don't you hate not being able to see the berries at the bottom of the container, which are the most likely to be damaged or moldy, because they're hidden by the absorbent pad?)

After another month or two of trial-and-error, I finally achieved my new "stretch" goal: figuring out a way to prep and store three 6-oz. containers (18 ounces) of organic fresh raspberries so they stay fresh for 5 days. In fact, when I've been able to get a container of berries that are very fresh, firm, and unbruised, I've been able to prep them, store them in the refrigerator, and enjoy them for as long as 6 days!

A discovery like this is too good not to share. So, if you want to try my method for yourself, read on.

How to Prep and Store Organic Raspberries So They Stay Fresh Longer: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Gather your tools and supplies.

Some of the supplies for prepping organic raspberries
to help them last up to 5 days (or even longer) in the refrigerator
Here's what you'll need:
  • Fresh organic raspberries (or any other type of berry, organic or conventionally grown)
  • A small bowl
  • A medium-to-large mixing bowl
  • A large slotted spoon
  • Water
  • Table salt or sea salt
  • A timer (after trying out many different brands and models, this simple, inexpensive, and accurate kitchen timer is definitely my favorite, thanks to the intuitive buttons, a large, easy-to-read display, and a ring loud enough to be heard from another room!)
  • Easy access to the kitchen sink (preferably with a sprayer-type faucet)
  • A roll of paper towels, preferably with closer perforation lines (like these Bounty Quick-Size Paper Towels) that let you tear off only the length you need
  • Shallow food storage containers with lids - one large and one medium sized
  • Optional: Paper clips
  • Optional: FreshPaper Food Saver Sheets
*Heinz All-Natural Distilled White Vinegar is one of the few white vinegars that aren't made with petroleum (yuck!). It's made from grain, which could be GMO, of course, but since it's a choice of that or a petroleum-based product, I'll stick with the former. Since I use a significant amount of it for prepping my raspberries, making my sugar-free pickling brine for my refrigerator pickles, and diluting it 50/50 with water to make a non-toxic kitchen surface cleaner/degreaser spray, I sometimes buy it in the large, 1.32-gallon economy size jug.

Step 2: Pick through the berries.

Carefully transfer them from their containers and spread them out in a single layer.

Pick through the berries, throwing out any that were damaged and setting aside any that need to be eaten that day rather than stored.

Then gently place the remaining berries in the small bowl.

Step 3: Soak them briefly in heavily salted water and rinse.

Fill the mixing bowl partway with enough water to just cover the berries. (You'll quickly learn eyeball the amount of water based on the volume of berries you're prepping.) Add about 3 tablespoons of table salt or sea salt and stir to dissolve.
Preparing the saltwater bath for the berries
Set the timer for 2 minutes, but don't start it yet. Adjust the "arms" of the colander so it rests on the edges of the sink. (Alternatively, place a traditional, small-holed colander over another mixing bowl, resting it on the lip of the bowl to elevate it for better drainage.)

Hold the bowl of raspberries just above the surface of the liquid in the mixing bowl, then tip them into the salty water. Start the timer.

Give them a brief, gentle stir so all sides of every berry come into contact with the saltwater solution, then stir them gently again after a minute.

As soon as the timer alarm goes off, use the large slotted spoon to lift the berries out of the water and place them into the over-the-sink colander so they are spread out over the entire surface of the colander. (Try to avoid piling the berries on top of each other, which can bruise the ones underneath.)

Run the cold water faucet and use the sprayer to quickly and gently rinse the berries in the colander. Leave them to drain while you empty and rinse the mixing bowl.
Keep the water pressure gentle to avoid bruising the berries!
Tip: The less you handle the berries and the more gently you treat them, the longer they'll keep!

Step 4: Repeat, using a vinegar and water solution this time.

Refill the mixing bowl to the same level as before, this time substituting a mixture of roughly 3 parts cold water to 1 part all-natural white vinegar. (As an example, to make 2 cups of the vinegar solution, you would mix 1-1/2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of all-natural white vinegar.)

Gently tip the rinsed and drained raspberries from the colander into the vinegar solution in the bowl, then give them a gentle swish, soak, rinse and drain as you did in Step 3.

Gently spread them out on a double thickness of paper towels to absorb more of the water, turning them so the holes face down so any remaining water inside the berries can drain.

Step 5: Sort the raspberries according to firmness and let them dry for at least 3-4 hours (even overnight, if necessary).

Line the gridded baking rack(s) with three layers of paper toweling. Transfer the berries to the racks, one at a time, keeping them face-down and spacing them slightly apart so they don't touch their neighbors. Sort the berries into two groups as you do this, placing the firmest berries to one side of the rack (or on a different rack) and the softer berries to the other side.
Leave the raspberries on the rack until they are firm and the surface is very dry


Set the racks on the counter and set the timer for 1 hour. When it rings, use the lightest touch and the least amount of pressure possible to slowly and gently roll each berry onto its side and separate it from the paper towel, then return it to the rack. (If you don't do this, or if you wait too long, the berries can stick to the paper towel as they dry, making it difficult to remove them without rupturing the surface at the sticking point. Voice of experience here, lol!) After you roll and lift off each berry, check for any leaked juice stains and, if necessary, move it to another spot where the paper towel is clean and dry.

Leave the racks out on the counter for at least 3 to 4 hours, preferably longer, until the surface of the berries has dried out a bit and they feel firmer than they were prior to their brief saltwater and vinegar solution baths.

Letting the surface of the berries dry out enough before refrigerating them is key to extending their storage time. I've even left them out overnight a couple of times, when they hadn't firmed up sufficiently after 4 hours on the paper towel-topped racks.

Step 6: Prep the storage containers and refrigerate the berries.

The raspberries in the measuring cup were set aside to eat that night.
The ones in the containers are prepped and ready to be stored in the fridge.
Line both food storage containers with a double or triple thickness of paper towel, folding it neatly at the corners so the bottom to create a paper "tray" that fits perfectly flush against the sides and bottom of the container's interior. Holding four corner folds in place with paperclips helps keep the bottom of this liner flat and the sides at a 90-degree angle, which prevents that berries placed along the edges from tipping over and rolling toward the center.

When the berries have dried out sufficiently on the surface and are firmer to the touch than when you brought them home, place the less firm berries into the medium-size container, face down and spaced slightly apart. Then repeat with the remaining berries and the larger container.

Place the filled containers in the refrigerator, then lay the lids lightly on top of them and slightly askew, keeping the berries exposed to a small amount of air during their cold storage to help maintain their firmness. For the same reason, don't place anything on top of the lids.

Prepped raspberries in food storage containers with their lids askew
so the air can continue to circulate throughout the cold storage period 
Note: Moisture is raspberries' sworn enemy. So, before I made my multi-hour surface drying and unsealed lid breakthrough discoveries, I used to place a FreshPaper Food Saver Sheet inside each storage container before sealing the lids. Although the packaging says they can be reused for up to 2 weeks before tossing them, I found that the FreshPaper sheets absorbed so much moisture inside the sealed containers that I had to take them out and let them dry every other day. Now, I use them only when I get a container of out-of-season berries that are too soft to firm up even after leaving them out to dry overnight (although in that situation, being able to store them successfully for more than a day or two is unlikely). If you'd like too try a package, I got mine as part of a Whole Foods Market grocery delivery via Prime Now, a local shopping service that's free for Amazon Prime members.

Step 7: Eating the Raspberries

When you're ready for some fresh berries, simply remove as many as you want from the container and dig in. No need to rinse them again - they're ready-to-eat!

Store-bought, organic raspberries - still tasty (and not mushy)
even after they were stored in the refrigerator for 6 days!
Before you return the uneaten berries to the fridge, check that they are still standing up and spaced apart inside the storage container, then place the lid lightly on top.

Remember to eat the berries in the medium-sized storage container first, before starting in on the large container last.

Future Experiments

Over time, I've been swapping more and more single-use, disposable paper and plastic products for more eco-friendly, reusable alternatives. So, while this method works remarkably well for me, I'm troubled by how many paper towels it requires.

I could (and eventually might) substitute a dedicated set of cloth dish towels for draining and drying out the berries and cutting some to size for lining the storage containers. But since our bathroom towel racks are filled with towels and we have nowhere else to hang hand-laundered items to dry, hand-washing a bunch of berry-stained towels once or twice a week isn't in the cards. I'd be concerned about throwing the berry-stained towels into the washing machine with a regular laundry load because the dried berry juice might tint the water pink and ruin everything else in the washer. Running the machine with just the towels would be a waste of water and electricity.

I tried drying the berries directly on cooling racks with a grid design, but the openings were too large and many of the berries fell through.

I'm still hoping to come up with a way to reduce or eliminate paper towels from my process. At some point, I want to buy a couple of largish sheets of food-grade, stainless steel mesh and fold the edges down to make a drying tray. If I can figure out the right mesh to let the raspberries dry out over a period of hours without sticking to the metal, that might be a good solution.



How to Prep and Store Organic Raspberries to Keep Them Fresh Longer reviewed by:
Margaret Schindel








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

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, 3 PackCheck 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".








Read More Product Reviews On
ReviewThisProducts.com

 


House of Sylvestermouse




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Recipes & Food Reviewed on Review This Reviews!

Treasures from the Archives of Review This Reviews! 


The one thing we all have in common is that we all must eat to survive.   Beyond that one commonality, our choices greatly vary based on diet restrictions, ingredient availability, or simply on food preferences. 

Whether the focus is breakfast, lunch or dinner, we have reviewed food for every mealtime of the day.  Some of us prefer to start a meal with dessert, while others will mainly focus on protein, vegetables, fruit or fiber.  There is something here for everyone!

Since cookbooks are often a fabulous source of recipes, we frequently review cookbooks as well as individual recipes.

With over a dozen contributors, you are sure to find a new recipe, food, or cookbook recommendation reviewed on Review This Reviews that you will love.  We even have drinks! Enjoy our smoothie recipes, plus, our tea and coffee reviews.  

Small Appliances & More Reviewed

In addition to food itself, several of our contributors have tested and reviewed small appliances that help any cook prepare a delicious meal.  Rice makers, air fryers, Instant Pots, food dehydrators, and more small appliance reviews can be found in our Home Appliances section.  Why not make your life a little easier with the right appliance that takes some of the work out of cooking.

Presentation, cooking utensilsserving dishes and food storage are also reviewed here. We even have few hostess gift recommendations for those cooks who treat us with a special meal.


We may not eat together, but we can certainly enjoy the same delicious meal. 



A Review This Pinterest Board - Recipes Reviewed 


There are dozens of Recipes, Food, & Cookbooks
Reviewed by our Contributors!
The board below features 30 of our most recent reviews.


Click through to Pinterest to see all of the Recipes that have been Reviewed by Review This Reviews Contributors! 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:


The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010Renaissance
Woman2010
Lou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaMargaret SchindelMargaret Schindel Sam MonacoSam Monaco BuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecorating
forEvents
Heather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G

 

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

“As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement

X