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

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".








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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Food Storage With Egg Holder Trays Reviewed

Convenient Food Storage Especially For Eggs

Need a place for your Easter Eggs?
With Easter rapidly approaching it might be time to think of food storage ideas that will accommodate those colored eggs you will have around after the "hunt" takes place. Eggs are not the easiest to store with their rolling tendencies. Know what I mean? 

One of the things that I like to do with those eggs that the kids find is to make deviled eggs with several of them. That requires a special kind of storage, too. I have a solution for those storage needs whether it is at Easter time or any time that you have hard boiled eggs or deviled eggs to store in the refrigerator. These little storage units are also useful for other types of foods but I particularly love them for storing my eggs.

Let's see what you think:

There are actually two layers for storing your eggs in! One layer sits comfortably on top of the other and then sit nicely on your refrigerator shelf. So, it acts as a space saver, too. That is really convenient when it is family dinner time and there is a lot of food to be stored.

What I love is that I have options. If I want to store hard boiled eggs to use later for egg salad or a different recipe these storage units work. I can also make my deviled eggs and store them until they are ready to be served. Either way the eggs are safely on the shelf and not taking up a whole lot of room in the fridge.

I've used this little two layered unit for transporting cupcakes too. It just comes in real handy when I have some taller foods that I don't want to get squished during transport. The other nice thing is that when I am not using these little containers in the refrigerator, they do not take up much room on my cabinet shelves.

I love my food storage containers with the egg trays and use them often. They make a great gift for a bridal shower or a house warming gift, too. How about you? Do you think you would use food storage with egg trays much?


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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








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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review

Freshware Helped me Freeze Individual Mug-Size Soup Servings


After a recent bout with the flu, I realized I had not really prepared very well. Everyone knows how important chicken soup is in helping respiratory illnesses, but few people are up to making it from scratch after they get sick. I wasn't, either, and canned soup just isn't as good. If only I'd been able to pull individual servings out of my freezer that were just the right size for my soup mugs! But I couldn't, since there weren't any there. Since then I've stashed many soup servings in my freezer. Here's how.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review




Fortunately I did have some frozen French onion soup I'd bought at Costco to get me though a couple of days of flu. Each portion was just right to heat in a soup mug. I decided to look for something that would help me freeze my own individual size portions, so I searched Amazon. I was actually looking for molds, but all I could come up with were muffin tins, and they weren't the size I wanted. I finally found these Freshware Food-To-Go Packs.

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I finally decided on the 16-ounce size. As you can see above, I wanted a portion just right for my soup mugs. My mug holds 12 ounces comfortably with a bit of room at the top. If I pour 12 ounces of soup into the Freshwear container, there is room left for expansion at the top.

My Soup Story


When my Freshware Food-To-Go packs arrived from Amazon. I was anxious to try them out. I chose them because they are BPA Free, and I didn't want to put anything hot  into a plastic container that contained BPA. I also liked that they could go from my freezer into my microwave so that I could partially thaw the soup before pouring it into my mug. It can stand temperatures from -40°F to +250°F. I liked that I could pour it straight from my crockpot into the containers without waiting for the soup to  cool.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review


This is my most recent batch of soup as it simmered in my crockpot. This time I made vegetable soup with just a bit of ground beef for added flavor. Here's how I made the soup you see here: I Made Soup Again Today.

I really like my crockpot. It's an older version of this one, and its shape makes it easier to cook many kinds of meat and poultry that are harder to cook in my round crockpots. I can also program it for specific cook times and temperatures, knowing it will switch to warm if the cook time finishes. I can't do that with my older crockpots.

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Freezing Hot Foods in Freshware


I found the Freshware very easy to work with. It stacks neatly in the cupboard for easy storage. When I need to freeze soup or anything else in a mug-size portion, the containers are easy to fill and stack.

I usually make a crockpot full of soup or another dish. I put about six servings in a casserole dish to store in the refrigerator to cover about three meals for two during that first week after cooking. I freeze what's left in the Freshware containers. Here's how that looked when I froze some beans I had cooked.

Here the containers have been filled and I've put the lids on them. The foods were still hot when I filled the containers.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review


Below I show them stacked.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review


Notice how snugly the lids fit and how neatly they stack for storage in the freezer. Because the containers are clear, you can see exactly what's in them.

Thawing My Soup after Freezing in Freshware Containers


I had planned my container size for filling mugs that comfortably held 12-ounce portions of food, mostly liquid. You can see the beans I froze above, before they went into the freezer. Below you see the soup after it came out of the freezer. On top you see the soup still frozen after I removed the lid, which kept its shape well. You can also see that the soup had plenty of headroom for the liquid to expand.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review

The middle photo shows the soup thawing in the microwave. I thawed it without the lid. When it was almost thawed, I transferred it into the mug, since I prefer handling a mug when the soup is hot. Had I wanted to take this to work as a hot lunch, I could have packed it frozen and heated it in the container at lunchtime and also eaten from the container.

Note: This week I cooked a large batch of lentils. I filled three Freshware containers to freeze and one to put in the fridge. I wanted to be able to easily add cooked lentils to soups and salad during rest of the week. When my husband was removing something else from the fridge, my lentil container fell out and fell on the floor from three feet up. The thin bottom of the container broke, but did not shatter. The top stayed on. I was able to safely remove the contents to a new container without adding any cracked plastic with the lentils. It was a very easy process.

Lunch is Ready


The soup is pretty hearty, with lots of protein and vegetables, so it doesn't need a lot to go with it. I toasted a slice of sourdough bread and peeled a tangerine because I love tangerines with anything savory. I can eat the toast on the side or dip it in the soup.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review


What do you like with your soup?

Get Freshware Containers to Make Your Life Easier


As you can see, Freshware Food-To-Go Packs make preparing and freezing meals in single portions very easy. Cook a large batch of your favorite lunch, freeze what you want to store for later, and thaw at home or take frozen to work to heat there. The containers are able to be washed in a dishwasher. I didn't try this because my dishwasher isn't working anymore and I'm waiting to replace it. But the containers are easy enough to wash by hand. Why not pick up some Freshware containers today while you're thinking about it?



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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Reviews of Silicone Kitchen Tools and Accessories for Cooking and Baking Enthusiasts

Silicone sponges, potholders, spatulas, baking pan liners, muffin pan liners, food storage bags, cooking utensil rests, chocolate chip molds, ice pop molds and other silicone molds have become some of my favorite and most-often-used items in my kitchen.

Although I love cooking and baking, I don’t enjoy washing dishes, so I appreciate being able to toss my silicone kitchen tools into the dishwasher. It’s often just as easy to hand wash them with just a soapy sponge, since even sticky foods wash off easily.
Read on for my reviews of the best silicone kitchen tools and accessories!

Silicone Scrubber Sponges

I started using silicone “sponges” a while ago to protect our nonstick pots and pans. I liked them, but found them hard to handle because they were thin, floppy and a bit small. Also, when something did stick a bit, they didn’t work at all to remove the stuck-on food.

When one of them eventually ripped, I decided to look for something a bit larger and sturdier. I was a bit skeptical when I ordered this set silicone scrubber sponges, but I really liked the fact that they had the nubby silicone sponge “fingers” on one side and a sturdier scrubber pad on the other side. I find it much easier to hold these thicker, less floppy scrubber sponges while washing dishes, utensils, pots or pans. And, like the ones they replaced, they’re made of silicone, so they protect the nonstick finish, don’t trap bacteria and don’t get smelly, as cellulose sponges can. They’re also dishwasher safe.
These silicone scrubber sponges won't scratch nonstick pots and pans
The set includes 3 silicone sponge scrubbers, so I can keep one at the sink, one in the dishwasher and still have a spare. I wish the colors were a bit less drab, like the thinner, brightly colored silicone sponges I purchased originally, but I’m happy to trade less attractive color for more effectiveness in my kitchen.

Silicone Potholders

My hands are very sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, so I've gone through a lot of potholders over the years. The first silicone potholders I tried were the OrkaPlus cotton-lined silicone mitts by Mastrad. These long mitts were like barbecue mitts, providing great coverage that protected my fingers, hands, wrists and the lower half of my forearms. This appealed to me a lot, since I'm prone to burning myself in the kitchen! They also came highly recommended by a respected cooking magazine and had great reviews. Unfortunately, I found them very clumsy and had a hard time getting a good grip on the edges of cookie sheets without smooshing the big silicone thumb part into the cookies (or whatever else was in the pan I was trying to remove from the oven). Next, I tried a pair of small, ribbed silicone pinch mitts, also called mini oven mitts, that just covered my fingers, thumbs and palms. But I found them very awkward to use.
These ribbed silicone potholders protect your hands without getting in the way
Finally, I bought two Architec Silicone HotGrip ribbed silicone potholders that turned out to be the perfect solution. I use them every day, throw them into the dishwasher every evening and they still look like new. They're thick, large enough to protect my hands and grip well, thanks to the ribbed texture. Mine are red, since at the time the pretty teal blue color wasn't available. I can't imagine them wearing out, but if they ever do, I'll definitely be buying the blue ones!

Silicone Spatulas

I frequently use nonstick cookware and bakeware and silicone spatulas help protect the nonstick coating. I’ve added to my silicone spatula collection over time because I use them for so many things.

The first ones I bought (many years ago) had silicone heads attached to handles of a different material (wood, metal or plastic). I soon realized I’d be better off with a seamless, one-piece design. This eliminates the possibility of the business end of the spatula becoming detached from the handle (something that happened to me several times with two-piece designs) and eliminates seams and crevices that can trap food and breed bacteria.

Two years ago, I purchased 4-piece silicone spatula set made by UpGood. I was unfamiliar with the brand but bought it because I liked the shapes and sizes in the set, the reviews were great and the price made them an excellent value. The set includes a long, slim spatula for scraping out jars, a curved spoon spatula and both long and short traditional scraper spatulas with one curved edge and one straight edge, These are very nice quality and they're still going strong in my kitchen a couple of years later, And the charcoal gray color is a neutral that won't clash with your kitchen's color scheme. Here's a photo of the spoon/spatula (AKA "spoonula") from the set.
One of the spoonulas in my growing collection!
I find myself using the spoon/spatula shape the most for cooking and baking. Since I rarely have only one pot or pan going on the stove when I cook, I decided to get a couple more in that shape. I was delighted to find one in a pretty aqua/teal, my favorite color, so I ordered the GIR (Get It Right) 11-inch Premium Silicone Ultimate Spoonula in Teal. This high quality, seamless spoon spatula is made of pharmaceutical grade platinum-cured silicone that's heat resistant up to 550 °F. It also has a sturdy fiberglass core that doesn't heat up like the more common iron or stainless steel spatula cores. It's still one of my favorite cooking utensils - I just love the color and using it makes me happy. (It's the little things, right?) It also comes in Red, Orange or Gray.

I use an iSi Slim Silicone Spatula to scrape out my very tall Vitamix blender. It works extremely well for this purpose and I am very pleased with it.
This iSI slim silicone spatula is perfect for scraping the bottom of my Vitamix blender
Note: Any silicone spatula that is used to scrape out the contents of a blender will eventually get cuts or nicks from the sharp blades, at which point it should be replaced for sanitary reasons.

Silicone Baking Pan Liners

I've been baking for decades and, as any experienced baker will likely tell you, silicone baking mats are a baking staple. When I was younger, I used baking parchment much more often than I do now. But the older I get, the more concerned I become about the pervasiveness of wasteful habits that wreak havoc on the environment. So, increasingly, I've been trying to switch from disposable to reusable items.

For many years, I've used Silpat baking mats to line my cookie sheets. This French brand is so closely associated with this type of silicone bakeware liner that it's most often used as a generic term for them. But when I lost the use of my full-size double oven, I needed to get some smaller ones that would fit the smaller rimmed baking sheets for my tabletop oven.

I had been planning to buy the iconic Silpat brand again, but the name commands a premium and my income is not what it was when I worked in the corporate world. So, when I looked at a pair of silicone baking mats from an unfamiliar brand that had both great reviews and a great price, I took a chance.

Both my husband and I have been using these Quarter Sheet Silicone Baking Mats by WildCow several times a week. They're great for baking, of course, but we also use them to line our tabletop toaster oven rimmed baking sheets before inserting a rack to oven-bake regular or turkey bacon. We much prefer this method to pan frying, since there's no splatter, no turning and no watchful eye needed. These 11 3/4” x 8 1/4" nonstick cooking and baking mats fit inside the 12" x 10" rimmed baking sheets we use in our tabletop toaster oven (although I may trim the tips of the corners on a diagonal at some point). Despite the excellent price, they're thick and sturdy and have held up great. I can hand wash them quickly with my silicone scrubber sponge and hot, soapy water or just toss them into the dishwasher. (I can't figure out why the mat looks stained in this photo, since it isn't in real life!)
This inexpensive silicone baking mat works as well as my expensive Silpat mats
Be aware that these are heat resistant up to 400 °F, so don't use them for something that requires higher heat, such as browning the top of something under the broiler.

If you're using regular 18" x 13" pans — known in  professional kitchens as half size pans — I recommend getting the AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mat Sheet, Set of 2 in the Standard size. AmazonBasics is one of Amazon's popular private-label "house brands".These silicone baking mats measure 11.6" x 16.5" and can also be used with 11" x 17" baking sheets (although they'll overhang two of the sides slightly). These mats currently have an average customer rating of 4.7 stars based on more than 4,300 customer ratings, are heat-resistant up to 480 °F and are also very well priced.

Silicone Mini Prep Bowls / Pinch Bowls

I've had a set of medium-sized stainless steel prep bowls for years that I still use. But when I set out and prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook or bake (an activity known in the chef / foodie / Food Network world as mise-en-place), it's also nice to be able to prep and measure out small amounts of ingredients, such as seasonings or garnishes.

My Norpro set of 4 silicone mini pinch bowls are perfect for that purpose. The four colorful bowls in the set are bright red, blue, yellow and green, respectively. These cuties are just 2.5" in diameter and 1.5" tall, so they take up practically no counter space, which is a big advantage if you're prepping a lot of ingredients. In the photo, you can see how tiny they are next to a 1-cup measuring cup.
These tiny, colorful silicone pinch bowls are perfect for small amounts of ingredients
The nonstick silicone means I can measure and set out even sticky ingredients, like a couple of tablespoons of molasses or honey, and easily scrape them into a pot, pan or mixing bowl. These bowls are also microwave safe and heat resistant to 500 °F, so I can melt small amounts of butter or coconut oil in them. And because they're flexible, it's easy to pinch the sides of these flexible prep bowls (hence the name "pinch bowls") to control and direct the ingredients as I'm pouring them into my pot or bowl or drizzling melted butter or chocolate or a sauce over a dish.

When I'm through with whatever ingredients I used them for, I just toss these brightly colored mini pinch bowls into the dishwasher.

Reusable Silicone Baking Liners / Baking Cups

I often bake in cupcake or muffin tins, and even more so now that I’ve switched to eating low carb. I love baking batches of low carb, high-protein, sugar-free chocolate muffins made with almond flour or low carb mini cheesecakes that I can keep in the freezer. Baking a recipe in muffin tins rather than full size cake pans helps me with portion control, since I can just grab one serving and defrost it.

While I could just grease the wells of my muffin tins for my protein muffins, that won’t work for recipes like the mini cheesecakes, since they're too soft to turn out onto a rack after they come out of the oven (and since if I chilled them first to firm them up, they wouldn't release easily from the greased muffin tin).

I stopped buying disposable, single-use paper cupcake liners a few years ago, so I decided to look for some reusable silicone baking cups. Also, since our wall oven died a year or two ago*, we’re using a tabletop oven that isn’t wide enough to fit a full-size, 12-cup cupcake or muffin pan. So, I wanted silicone baking cups that were sturdy enough to be used on a baking sheet, without the support of a muffin pan so I could bake a dozen muffins (or mini cheesecakes) at a time in my small tabletop oven. And, of course, they could also be used as cupcake liners for my 6-cup muffin pans, which do fit my tabletop oven.

After considerable research, I chose Pantry Elements Silicone Cupcake Baking Cups & Liners. They’re made from high-quality, 100% food-grade silicone with no fillers, as demonstrated by the fact that they pass the “pinch test” perfectly. (According to numerous sources, if you pinch or bend and twist a flat area on a colored silicone food preparation product and the color appears white in that stretched area, it can indicate the presence of fillers vs. 100% silicone.)
These reusable baking cups work so much better than paper cupcake liners!
They are also thick and sturdy enough to hold their shape after being filled with thick muffin batter. However, if you use them as stand-alone baking cups rather than as cupcake liners inside a muffin tin, place them on the baking sheet before you fill them with batter. Because they are flexible, moving them to the baking sheet after filling them with batter can be messy. (Ask me how I know, lol!)

Cleanup is easy. Sometimes I let them soak in warm, soapy water for a bit and wash them by hand with my silicone sponge, but they’re also dishwasher-safe. And they come in a rainbow of bright, pretty colors, which adds a nice, cheery pop of color to my kitchen.

Best of all, unlike paper cupcake liners, they release cleanly, so I don't end up losing the outer layer of crumbs to the trash. Just look at those sharp, crisp ridges on that muffin!
See how few crumbs stick to these cupcake liners?
I bake with these silicone cups every week and they still look and act brand new. You get 24 liners for around 50 cents each in a convenient, see-through, lidded storage tube. I can’t imagine ever having to replace them.

*In case you're wondering, our defunct double wall oven, which is original to this 1950s house, is too old to be repaired, according to several appliance technicians who have looked at it. Unfortunately, we also can't replace it because it’s surrounded by built-in cabinetry that runs the entire length of the wall and contemporary ovens don’t fit the opening. Believe me, we've tried!

Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags

Since I switched to a low-carb diet, I’ve been baking grain-free, sugar-free rolls, bread, muffins and brownies to make it easier for this former carbohydrate lover to stay on track. To make this process less time-consuming, I’ve started measuring the dry ingredients for multiple batches and storing them in freezer bags. Now, I can just pull out a bag of my “baking mix” for that recipe, let it come to room temperature, add the wet ingredients and put the batter in the oven. Easy peasy!

Since I am trying to reduce my use of plastic wrap and food storage bags that end up in landfills. So, rather than using disposable plastic freezer bags for this purpose, I decided to get some reusable food grade silicone food storage bags. The ones I chose have bottoms that let them stand up on the counter, which makes them easier to fill. The sliding closure is a bit stiff at first, by design, but loosens up just enough after the first few uses so they’re easier to slide but still airtight. They can also be used in the microwave and for sous-vide cooking and they’re dishwasher-safe for easy clean-up. The one in the photo holds the remaining 1/4 of a psyllium bun from my last batch — time to get baking!
These reusable silicone food storage bags keep disposable plastic bags out of landfills
At roughly 9.5 inches x just under 7 inches, they’re a good size for my baking mixes. And, unlike rigid food storage containers, these fold flat for efficient, space-saving storage when not in use.

Silicone Cooking Utensil Rest

For many years, we’ve kept a marble spoon rest next to the stove. I bought it because I thought it was pretty. However, pretty is as pretty does, and this kitchen gadget has been a thorn in my side for a long time! Marble is absorbent, so the surface frequently stained when I was cooking a tomato-based sauce or dish. Also, I rarely use just one utensil when cooking. So, even though the marble spoon rest was fairly wide, it wasn’t big enough to accommodate multiple cooking utensils.
This easy-to-clean utensil rest holds up to 4 cooking utensils
I finally got rid of it and replaced it with a multi-slot silicone utensil rest. It’s certainly not the prettiest thing in our kitchen and the only color choices are a medium grey or a bright yellow-green, but both my husband and I love it. The four slots are wide enough to accommodate the handles of any of our cooking utensils, but also narrow enough so that the business ends of the utensils are held at an angle, so four utensils can fit without resting on top of each other. That also allows the base to be narrower than it would need to be if the “heads” of the cooking utensils were lying flat. In addition, there’s a small lip or rim around the edge of the base, so if there’s a bit of liquid that drips off a utensil, it doesn’t spill over onto the stove or countertop. The only cooking utensil we have that it isn’t large enough for is our enormous slotted spatula, which is nearly 5” wide!

Best of all, because it’s made of silicone, it’s stain-resistant, non-stick, heat-resistant up to 450 °F and dishwasher safe.

Silicone Chocolate Chip Molds

Most commercially available chocolate chips aren’t as high quality as those same brands offer in bars or chunks. In fact, many of the best quality chocolate manufacturers don’t make chocolate chips at all. So, if you’re a true chocolate lover like I am, whenever you use chocolate chips in a recipe, you’re usually settling for second (or third) best.

In addition, as I’ve matured, my taste buds have evolved. Now I prefer really dark chocolate, which has the added benefit of being heart-healthy in modest amounts. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find high-quality, very dark chocolate chips. The so-called dark chocolate chips in the grocery store are 60% cacao; but for heart health benefits, dark chocolate should be labeled 70% cacao or higher according to the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.

If you want sugar-free chocolate chips, it’s even more of a challenge. The darkest I’ve found are Lily’s stevia sweetened chocolate chips which, while delicious, contain only 55% cacao – much too low to improve heart health.

Whether you prefer traditional or sugar-free chocolate, the lower the percentage of cacao, the higher percentage of other ingredients, which increases the number of net carbs per serving.
Sure, you can chop up a sugar-free dark chocolate bar instead, if you’re using them in a recipe. But sometimes you really want real chocolate chips!

So, I was delighted to find these silicone chocolate chip molds, which allow me to make my own healthy, sugar-free, dark chocolate chips that look as though they came right out of a bag from the store.
These adorable chocolate chip molds let you make better quality chips for less!
If I’m feeling lazy, I can just melt a sugar-free dark chocolate bar, smooth it into the molds, let the chocolate harden (or chill the molds for a bit during the hot summer months), then invert and twist the molds to release the chips. I store them in one of my silicone food storage bags until I’m ready to use them in recipes (or eat them just the way they are). The molds come in a set of three. I've shown two facing up and one facing down so you can see the shape of the chocolate chips it makes.

If I have a bit more time, however, I make my own sugar-free, melted dark chocolate from scratch and use that in the molds. Homemade chocolate chips are also less expensive for the quality you get. Either way, I can get sugar-free dark chocolate chips with a much higher percentage of cacao than I can buy commercially.

Silicone Ice Pop Molds

Who doesn't love to cool off with a sweet, refreshing ice pop during the dog days of summer? Many years ago I stopped buying them and started making my own at home. My homemade ice pops are healthier, more nutritious and much cheaper than what I can buy at the store. More importantly (to me), I have complete control over the choice and quality of the ingredients. I use organic produce, dairy, coconut milk and other ingredients as much as possible. No food coloring in my food, thank you! Now that I'm eating low carb, I've also cut out not only processed sugars but also organic honey, maple syrup, date syrup and other natural sweeteners. So, pretty much the only way to ensure that the ice pops I eat meet my strict criteria for food quality and nutrition is to make them myself.

One of the low carb ice pop recipes I've really been enjoying is called Creamy Keto Fudgesicles. Personally, I think they taste much richer and creamier than their namesake, more like a chocolate pudding pop. They're made by blending ripe avocado, unsweetened cocoa powder, full fat coconut milk, erythritol, vanilla and a little sea salt, pouring them into frozen treat molds and freezing them. The first time I made the recipe, I discovered that the pudding-like mixture was too thick to go through the silicone funnel that came with my Lebice Popsicle Molds (which are very nice unless you're trying to make a frozen treat such as pudding pops or cheesecake pops that involve a very thick mixture). When I tried spooning the mixture into the molds with a teaspoon, even though I was extremely slow and careful I was unable to prevent some of the mixture from getting on the lip and exterior of the ice pop molds.

Since I knew I'd be making this recipe often, especially during the summer, I decided to look for a set of molds with wider openings. I wanted these new molds to have not only wider openings but also reusable lids and sticks. Ideally, they would be dishwasher safe. They would need to be made of BPA-free, FDA-approved food-grade materials and release the frozen ice pops without a struggle.
These brightly colored ice pop molds make nice, big popsicles
The pudding pop recipe makes 6-8 pops, depending on the size of the molds, so I decided to buy a Silicone Popsicle Molds Set with two molds that can make up to 8 ice pops. One of the molds is a deep, bright pink (which the manufacturer calls "rose red" for some reason) and the other is a bright lime green. The set comes with integrated one-piece lids/sticks, two each in pink, lime green, orange and aqua-turquoise. (Kids probably would love getting to choose their favorite color.) And each well holds a generous 3.38 ounces.


Believe it or not, I've got even more silicone kitchen tools, and I'm sure there will be more in my future! If you have some favorites, I'd love to hear about them.



Silicone Kitchen Tools and Accessories for Cooking and Baking Enthusiasts reviewed by 
Margaret Schindel


For more product reviews, visit ReviewThisProducts.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.”


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Monday, October 17, 2016

Best Emergency Survival Kits

Reviewing Survival Emergency Kits for Earthquakes,
Hurricanes,Tornadoes and Other Disasters

best emergency survival kits
Emergency Earthquake Kit


Earthquake Survival Kits are essential for any family households living in earthquake areas. These Emergency Earthquake Kits keep your family safe in a time of emergency. You know the old saying, "It's better to be safe than sorry." Be prepared in case disaster strikes with an earthquake emergency kit.

I lived in Southern California almost on top of the San Andreas Fault line for many years so I know! California rocks, and it rolls too! We had more than a few major earthquakes when I lived there, and you never know when it might happen again. Be prepared!

And anything you need for earthquake emergencies holds true for all the other natural disasters that can occur. Right now it's hurricane season and the East coast has been battered with a huge one and there is lots of flooding. You never know when Mother Nature is going to decide to let loose! 

Here you will find wilderness survival kits and some of the supplies that are in them in case you already have a kit and are just adding more supplies.

In a hurry? Click here for Earthquake Survival Kits!


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"By failing to prepare, you are
preparing to fail."
~Benjamin Franklin

Short List of Supplies You Should Have in An Emergency Survival Kit

Survival Kit List

For most people who prepare for Emergencies, it means having a Bug Out Bag. A short list of supplies follows:

Food and water

Clothing, things that mix and match

Toiletries

Cash and Credit Cards

Vital Documents (Identification, Medical Records, Prescriptions, Family Photographs)

Shelter (at minimum a large poncho which could be tied down but a tent is better)

Useful Tools (such as flashlights, matches and other fire starting tools)

First Aid Kit

Small Knife

Solar Lights

Radio

Your Bug Out Bag should be packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice; food and water should be checked regularly and replaced when necessary. 

Set up a schedule to rotate your older items to your home pantry and add new ones to the Bug Out Bag.

So besides your Prepared Emergency Survival Kits with all the tools, add your personal items from this list , and you are prepared to survive if the worst happens and you need to get by without all the modern technology we are used to.

Emergency Humor Postage
Earthquake Survival Kits


In Case Of Emergency ... Run Like Hell postcard
In Case Of Emergency … Run Like Hell by GrungeFactory




Deluxe  Emergency Survival Kits

Emergency Earthquake Survival Kits~for 4 People 


One has a backpack, one has a bag, so choose what works best for you. Many people think these are the best survival kits overall.
Water and Food lasts 5 Years
Radio, Flashlight and Cell Phone Charger
First Aid Kit
Be Prepared!





2 Person Emergency Earthquake Survival Kit

Best Emergency Survival Kit for 2 people.
Great wilderness survival kit which includes a  backpack! If you need an Emergency Survival Kit for 2 People, this has everything you need. 



Emergency Survival Kit for 1 Person
Best Earthquake Emergency Kit for One Person


Ready America  Grab-n-Go Emergency Kits, 1-Person 3-Day Emergency. They are the same except one has a backpack and one has a bag. Sustains one person for three days. Food, water, emergency poncho, First Aid kit (33 piece), Safety light stick (1) You might want to add in some of the tools down below. 


Emergency Supplies for Earthquakes and Disasters

Water Filter


The most important thing you need to survive in the event of an emergency is clean water! If you do nothing else, prepare to be able to filter your water so it's safe to drink. Humans cannot survive more than about 3 days without water. We can survive without food for much longer. But water is essential to life. In case you run out of water, a water filter will allow you to have clean water from whatever water source you encounter. This would also work if you are traveling and are not sure the water is safe.


Water for Emergencies


In case you want to take water with you, these packets have pure water and will be safe to drink for at least 5 years.


Radio for Emergencies and Earthquakes


If all Hell breaks loose, you will need a radio to keep up with announcements. This is great in any emergency situation!
 Sangean LB-100 Compact AM/FM Ultra Rugged Radio Receiver

Emergency Tools


Everything you need to go camping or have in an emergency situation until life gets back to normal.



Emergency Survival Mylar Sleeping Blanket

 


Very lightweight but strong and warm, for those cold nights! Great for camping too. You would be amazed how warm mylar is to sleep under! 



Magnesium Fire Starter


A fire starter is very handy to have because who wants to rub sticks together to start a fire? Not me! This little tool makes it very easy. Hmm, maybe it would help in the fireplace too! 



Emergency Shelter Tent


If you are in an emergency situation and need shelter, a mylar tent will keep you cozy and warm and it is lightweight so easy to carry in a backpack or a bag. Then when you are ready to pitch your tent, it is very easy to do!
 Survival Shack® Emergency Survival Shelter Tent | 2 Person Mylar Thermal Shelter | 8' X 5' All Weather Tube Tent | Reflective Material Conserves Heat | Lightweight | Waterproof | Best Survival Gear

Chocolate Emergency!



Be Prepared With Survival Food Kits

3 Month Emergency Food Supply Kit


No matter what happens, earthquake, hurricanes, tornadoes, other natural disasters, political fallout, nuclear war, martial law, etc. you will have plenty of food to survive until you can grow more! This is a serious disaster kit! But maybe you and a few others are pooling your resources and looking for a complete long term food emergency kit. This is the one.

One Month Emergency Food Supply


If it's just you or a couple, this might be enough for a while till you can get to a place where there will be more food. 









"Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a Scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise."
~Robert Baden-Powell,
Founder, Boy Scouts of America



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