Keeping Your Cast Iron Cooking Like A Charm

Many of you out there already have some great cast iron cookware in your possession. Whether you purchased it, or it is an heirloom that has been passed down in your family. This might not apply to you…unless you are frustrated with your cast iron, then read on!

Keeping your cast iron cooking its best is all about upkeep. Unlike more modern Teflon cookware, you can’t just throw it in the dishwasher and call it a day. Also unlike modern Teflon cookware, it doesn’t create toxic off-gas at high temperatures (look that up, it will change your cooking world).

The main things you need to know are how to use cast iron, how to season cast iron, and how to clean cast iron.

CAST IRON USE
The nice thing about cast iron is that it is extremely durable when it comes to use. It is especially great for cooking at high temperatures, be it on the stove top or in the oven.

Also, there isn’t a frail nonstick surface to worry about. I have utensils that are labeled “flatware 18 10” stainless steel. Normally, they would scratch and breakdown a Teflon pan very easily. No problem with cast iron.

One thing to keep in mind is that you should always allow your cast iron cookware to get to an optimal temperature for whatever you’re using it for. So, always preheat it for cooking, and always let it cool all the way before cleaning.

Although it is slower to heat, it holds the heat longer. Since there is no rapid cooling, you’ll be cooking on an even heat and getting no hot-spots to throw off your recipe.

CAST IRON SEASONING
If you’re very new to cast iron, you’re probably looking at this cookware and thinking “Nonstick? Yeah, right.” With the proper seasoning process, it can be.

If you go out and purchase a new lodge cast iron skillet, it will say “preseasoned” on it. I offer these two pieces of advice: don’t pick eggs as the first thing you cook on it; and go ahead and season it yourself anyway.

To season cast iron:
• wash and dry (see next section for details)
• wipe on a layer of cooking oil
• place in a preheated oven
– either 250 degrees F for two hours or 350 degrees F for one hour. I prefer 250.
– I also put mine in the oven upside-down on a cookie sheet to catch drips
• remove from oven and wipe off excess oil
• let cool

We do this because iron is a porous metal. The pores open up as it gets hot. If the cast iron is not seasoned, these open pores absorb the food you’re cooking, effectively gripping it.

During the seasoning process the pores open up and absorb the oil. This is what makes cast iron nonstick. The seasoning will wear down with time, so this is a process that will need to be done from time to time depending on the amount of use.

CAST IRON CLEANING
Unlike stainless steel, cast iron REALLY hates water. The seasoning only offers so much protection, and cast iron WILL rust if you leave it sitting in water.

So, rule number one is never let cast iron stay wet. After you wash it, dry it right away.

To wash cast iron, I recommend just using very hot water and scrubbing with steel wool or an acrylic brush. Definitely never use the dishwasher, as this will devastate all of your seasoning efforts.

I have a separate scrubber sponge that I use just for cast iron. It gets pretty dirty looking, but as a lot of cast iron users know, that’s the color of flavor.

One last thing to keep in mind, just so you don’t get frustrated. Even though I love cast iron, and a lot of other people do to, one thing that is pretty common is to have your cast iron skillet, AND a smaller nonstick, non-cast iron skillet for cooking eggs.

It is really hard to successfully fry an egg on cast iron. Not impossible, but difficult. Just be aware of Teflon’s toxicity. Look for a skillet lined with Thermalon or Ceramica if you feel like you need nonstick.

Why Microwave Carts Are Better Than Microwave Stands

What Is A Microwave Stand?

A microwave stand is a type of organizational kitchen device that is designed to hold your microwave anywhere between 8 and 12 inches off your counter tops. They are particularly useful for people with small kitchens and low counter-tops because they bring the height of your microwave to a more desirable level, as well as providing you will extra storage space for small appliances, spices, and even foodstuffs.

What Is A Microwave Cart?

A microwave cart is similar to a microwave stand in that it gives you extra counter space, as well as de-cluttering your kitchen. However, a microwave cart differs from a microwave stand in the fact that it is a separate unit from your counters. Most microwave carts have wheels and extra shelving for other appliances and cookware, as well as racks for utensils, pots, and pans. While a microwave cart does give you the ability to remove the microwave from your kitchen for storage, it does take up extra floor space making it ideal for medium sized kitchens.

Microwave Cart Vs. Microwave Stand

Choosing between a microwave cart and a microwave stand is highly dependent on the size of your kitchen. If you are looking for space savings in a small kitchen, a microwave cart will likely be too bulky for your limited square footage. A microwave stand will give you about 2-4 square feet of extra counterspace for organizing and preparing meals. However, if you are looking to de-clutter or add counter-space in a decent sized kitchen, a microwave cart may be the perfect solution. The cart is essentially a movable addition to your counter tops. That way you have more space for organization as well as meal preparation in a smaller space. Both offer unique organizational features such as drawers, compartments, hooks, and shelves so be sure to explore all of your options.

Subzero Prices Make Large Expenditures

If you are willing to spend a large amount of money to own the very best for your kitchen, then Subzero is a good place to start.  Famed worldwide for their high quality appliances, the subzero refrigerator freezer model line-up is very popular for those who value functionality over price.  These beautiful refrigerators certainly are attractive, and if subzero prices do not scare you off make for a highly prestigious purchase for any high end kitchen.

Sub zero refrigerator prices being so high, this is a major limitation on the potential customer pool; with many people simply unable to afford these appliances.  No matter how much you may want a fancy Subzero fridge, if you cannot afford that large an expenditure you simply cannot make the purchase.  Due to this it turns out that most purchasers of refrigerators manufactured by sub-zero are in the upper tiers of the socio-economic ladder.

For those people whom find that sub zero refrigerator prices are unreasonable, or simply unaffordable, other options must be considered. Thankfully sub zero has plenty of competitors nipping at its heels.  Famous brands such as Whirlpool, Amana, GE and Maytag all offer some feature packed models at their top-end which can provide some – admittedly minor – competition to sub zero quality.  While they are definitely secondary choices, it is at least good to have the option of these refrigerators available if financial limitations apply.

If the purchase is completed, most buyers are pleased with their investment.  The combination of quality and efficiency gels nicely with the attractive design aesthetics.

For a kitchen that is truly remarkable, the large expenditures involved in the purchase of a sub zero refrigerator are well worth-while.  To really take things up a notch consider the addition of some Wolf – a sub-zero sister company – cooking appliances.  These two brands gel nicely.

Kitchen Flooring Options: Marble Tile For Kitchen Floors

The kitchen is the most important room in any house. It is often referred to as the “heart of the house” due to its important role.

Flooring Options for the Kitchen

The floor is one of the components used to define a room and should always match with the other components. There are several determining factors that are used to guide the choice of flooring. Some of these factors include the cost, durability, ease of installation, safety of the material, the taste of an individual among other factors.

Marble

Marble is a natural stone that is formed from limestone that has undergone a crystallization process.  It is usually exploited and used as kitchen flooring options. They come in different colors and patterns that make them unique when compared to other stones. In additional to its real beauty, it is strong and durable making it a good option for most house floors.

Marble tile for kitchen floors is a great flooring options nowadays because of some advantages.

flickr by Design Collector

Marble is used to make different types of tiles. Marble tiles usually come in different qualities, patterns and colors. Some have good grips while others are smooth. Due to their distinct characteristics, they are used on different parts of the house. They are also able to endure wear, damage and water making them last longer than other types of floor materials. On top of this they are also very easy to maintain and clean. Their major disadvantages include the fact that they are quite slippery and are likely to cause accidents in the kitchen, and they are also expensive.

Using Marble Tiles on the Kitchen floor

Marble tiles can be comfortably used to make a kitchen tile floor option. The best type of kitchen tiles to use is the marble tile that has a good grip as it will reduce the chances of accidents occurring.

There are other types of kitchen flooring options such as wood, vinyl and bamboo among others. The choice of flooring at the end of the day is determined by the homeowner.

Classic Everyday Dishware

A classic dishware is so called because it never runs out of astonishing features to amaze people, particularly those household owners who have a keen, precise eye for dishware and dinnerware sets.  Although we are currently living in a modern world today where there seem too many contemporary touches in almost everything.  However the love for the traditional and the classic style will always be there, even if it’s in the form of everyday dishware.

Who says that you can’t freshen up your table with grace and style with some several timeless designs for the typical dinnerware set?  Indeed, it is so hard to get away with all the stylishness and elegance of some of the best patterned place settings you could ever come across with.  Many distinguished dishware brands like Corelle, Mikasa, Fiestaware, Homer Laughlin (and many others) can help you set up a refined dining comprised of some stunning designs for platters, plates, bowls, and many more place setting pieces.  Eating at home can never be this luxurious with such delightful sight.

Classic everyday dishware are elegant to look at.

flickr by kcartoski

Some of the best reviewed dinnerware sets today are those that are spruced up with royal winter frost white color.  Very simple and pure in its utmost elegance, it communicates neat and clean set-up – from the smallest soup and cereal bowls to the basic dinner plates and stoneware mugs.

Other consumers would go for dishware sets that are designed with a simple image or graphic accent – like flower images like shadow iris or freesia in Corelle dishware sets and antique orchard design by Mikasa.  Very simple images that strongly capture anyone’s interests, such designs heightened the artistry and creativity that make up the overall aesthetic attribute of any dishware set.

Thus, you can always have that opportunity to dine in style with classic everyday kitchenware settings.

Taking Care Of Your Granite Countertop

One of the most common materials used for countertops is granite, as it is both highly durable and attractive. In fact, granite is typically chosen instead of marble, as it offers a harder and more durable surface. There are a few disadvantages of granite countertops such as the amount of maintenance it requires and the cost. However, with the proper care, a granite tile kitchen counter can be an attractive and useful furniture piece for your house.

Using granite material for the kitchen worktop areas is becoming increasing popular, as this material is naturally heat resistant and prevents scorch marks that often ruin other types of materials. Also, it is resistant to acids like coffee, orange juice and alcohol. Granite is a sanitary material, which means it does not encourage bacteria growth. Since granite is very solid, the risk of scratches and other blemishes are significantly reduced.

A granite countertop is wise to use.

flickr by granite-charlotte

Granite is composed of tightly packed and large crystals, which gives it a crystalline appearance. You can find naturally colored granite in red, brown, green and other darker colors. This variety of colors is ideal, as you can easily find a color that compliments the overall motif of your kitchen.

However, granite is a porous stone, which means in order to prevent stains from seeping in, you must regularly reseal the material. Also, if you do damage to the stone, replacing it can be extremely difficult, as it is hard to match the pattern of the new section to the rest of the countertop. Another drawback is the cost, as usually a granite kitchen counter is more expensive then a marble one.

Since granite is highly resistant to both damage and heat, it is considered to be more durable then marble. The mottled appearance of this material is perfect for hiding stains. Also, granite counters comes in a variety of colors which make it easy for you to choose a color that matches your kitchen’s decor. Granite tile countertops may be a more practical choice for you, as granite tiles creates a unique and attractive look. In addition, tiles are more easily replaced.

Beautiful French Style Counter Stools

French style, or shabby chic, is very popular these days and French style counter stools can add an element of real style to your kitchen area. When you are buying counter stools in a French style however you should know that the most well made of these types of seating are actually made of painted French style oak. These stools are made of 100% solid oak and they are handcrafted by experts who try to keep the knurl and knots intact to give the chair a great deal more character.

French style counter stools are not just for bars but are also good for home use.

flickr by bricemilano

The French style uses cornices to overhang the tops, and curves to detail the bottoms and then dark metal is used to complement the lighter oak. These stools bring a sense of the old world to your cooking and dining areas and not only are they very beautiful but they can be fairly inexpensive is you use some creative shopping techniques. These techniques include using the internet to first learn about the different styles of counter stools, finding the style you like and then finding the distributor that offers the best prices.

Of course French style stools are not the only choices you have for counter stools, While you can find them fairly inexpensively they are still more expensive than some stools. There are many more economical brands and styles on the market to choose from if you are working on a budget. The best places to find these other chairs are at furniture stores or flea markets. These are budge chairs and do not have the same life span as more expensive chairs and you will find them wearing out faster but they can be purchased much less expensively. This can allow you to use the savings to add more color or decorations to your cooking areas or other areas of your home.

Espresso Machines At Home Let You Have Coffee Whenever You Want

If you brew your own espresso, perfectly flavored, it is likely that you would have its potent and invigorating aroma going through all the rooms in your house. The process of this brewing of espresso has moments which you will love to anticipate. And then you can enjoy this European style luxury at any time as you sip on a cup of espresso coffee. And you can do this any time of the day, depending on when you have the urge to drink coffee.

There are a number of such espresso machines meant for home use and selecting the right one can be difficult. However the rich flavored coffee that has high caffeine content is so popular that demand for the espresso machines have gone up. And because of this increase in demand, suppliers have come in with quality products that are just as concerned about costs. The price range on espresso machines is now about the same as that of standard coffee makers.

The value of having espresso machines at home.

flickr by journeyscoffee

Most of these espresso machines, dispense the brew directly into cups for serving an individual and you would have to be aware of this when you are looking for the right model to buy. These machines are not suitable for coffee pots which most people are used to, and once you have an espresso machine you would probably also have to buy coffee mugs that are enough for the single serving. This can be a lot of fun, and it can set the mood for you and your guests after dinner or when they visit you at other times of the day.

Most people feel that the bean quality is what decides the flavor of the espresso coffee. While this has some truth in it, the quality is also determined by the machine used to make the espresso. So using a high quality machine will allow you to brew your dark roast brand of beans into a concoction that will really excite the pallet.

Home owners may find themselves restricted to a budget of $100, but they can look at retailers of many websites to show them models that have options from the simple machines to those that are more sophisticated. The machine that produces delightful cups of the espresso need not be very costly. Spend some time online, going through the reviews of the machines , and you may find enough information to help you to make the right choice which would suit your tastes and your budget.

Post provided by Home and Garden Co

Waterford Crystal Wine Glasses And Other Glassware Considerations

Stocking your kitchen and dining area with all the dinnerware, glassware and other kitchen gadgets you need can seem like a monumental task, especially for those with larger families, who may be just starting out in a new home. Whether you own your own home, or simply rent your current dwelling, choosing your dishes and glassware need not be as painstaking as it seems at first glance.

The first thing you’ll want to do is set a budget that you’re prepared to stick to as rigidly as possible. This way, any new purchases won’t leave you feeling as though you’re simply throwing good money after bad. By setting a budget and sticking to it, you’re exercising the discipline that will leave you feeling good about the project at hand.

Now, where to start with regards to choosing your glassware… First, you’ll obviously want to select some water glasses, or some general utility glasses that can be used for almost anything. All else will fall into place after this, so choosing some great water glasses is a fine start. Pint glasses work well for this, as they can be used for a plethora of beverages; including water, juices, teas, mixed drinks, smoothies, etc. Can you start to see how flexible a good water glass can be?

There are many ways to take care of your glassware at home.

flickr by calloohcallay

Then, you can move onto more specialized glasses; like wine glasses, champagne glasses, beer glasses, and other such selections. Wine glasses are handy, because they too can be used for many drinks, even water if you decide to go that route. Be sure to choose wine glasses with a sturdy stem, as this is where most wine glasses tend to break if improperly handled. If you really want to impress those around you, then consider adding some really nice pieces to your collection, like Waterford crystal wine glasses for example.

Glassware can be found for very reasonable prices online at sites like Amazon and Overstock, as can other home furnishing items, like triple bunk beds for kids for example…

Creating The Perfect Cooking Station In 8 Simple Steps

Whether you are a budding Jamie Oliver, a domesticated goddess like Nigella Lawson or a complete and utter novice in the kitchen it is important that you create a suitable cooking station in which you can work. Follow these 8 simple steps to achieving the cooking station that will perfectly nurture your culinary talents and ambitions.

1. De-Clutter and Simplify

When it comes to kitchen planning the simplest rule is to de-clutter and simplify. It may seem like the perfect cooking station should have an appliance for everything but the result would be chaotic. Instead you should restrict the appliances you have to those you actually use on a daily basis. Yes having an ice-cream maker is a fun idea but in reality that ice-cream maker could probably be tucked away in a cupboard and taken out on the rare occasion it is used.

Keep the really important appliances like a food processor readily accessible as this will save you time on a daily basis. It is also a good idea to keep the most important utensils such as knives in a convenient location as well as those ingredients you use daily such as herbs and spices. Check out kitchenware stores for attractive ways to store these items on show.

2. The Work Triangle

Kitchen planning is the foundation of creating a cooking station. When planning the layout of your kitchen it is always important to consider the ‘work triangle’. This is comprised of three important areas which must be close together and without any obstructions between them.

They are:
– The cooker
– The sink
– The refrigerator

Unless you have established a clear work triangle you will always struggle to create a workable cooking station within your kitchen.

3. Storage

Storage is often a problem in smaller kitchens and how you approach this problem can make or break your cooking station. Be creative about your storage problems. If countertop space is premium then take advantage of the many different ways of hanging utensils on the walls. That way they are close to hand but you still have plenty of preparation space. If cupboard space is limited then only keep what you really need in the kitchen. That beautiful wedding present china set could be displayed in another room rather than hidden away in a kitchen cupboard. Also think outside of the box and investigate the range of kitchen trolleys that you can buy. These could offer a movable storage option which may prove more convenient for you. Remember it is your kitchen and how you store things is a personal choice.

Know tips on how to arrange or design your cooking station.

flickr by New Inspiration Home Design

4. Kitchen Islands

One solution for storage problems is a kitchen island. This will give you another preparation area and also can act as a divider between the cooking area and dining area for kitchens that incorporate both. You can choose between permanent fixed kitchen islands or moveable islands. Both have advantages and disadvantages. With a more permanent fixture it can be fitted with electricity and therefore become an extra cooking area. However it is then fixed and may take up a large area of floor space. Moveable kitchen islands on the other hand can be moved out to open up the kitchen floor space for socializing or dining space for a growing family.

5. Worktops

Worktops are an important consideration in any kitchen. If you have the choice of which kind of worktop you will install it is important to carefully consider the options within your budget. Granite has a beautiful finish and is both heat resistant and durable. However it comes with a larger price tag than other options such as quartz. Stainless steel is a popular choice among professionals however scratches easily. If you have young children that like to help with cooking such a surface could very quickly become scratched. Also consider how many people will be involved in food preparation and therefore how much counter space will be dedicated to preparation.

When considering worktops and preparation areas it is also important to fully understand what you want from a kitchen. Will it be used as a focus area for socializing? If so perhaps preparation areas such as kitchen islands are more suitable as they allow the chef to engage with others whilst preparing, rather than standing with their back to people.

6. Maximize Your Space

Small kitchens can cause stress for a number of reasons including storage and preparation area. They can also look more cluttered and disorganised. Trick your mind into thinking your kitchen is bigger by painting it in light tones and using more layers of lighting to open up the space. You may not actually have any more space to work in but at the end of a long day at work it will definitely look more inviting to cook in than a dark cluttered kitchen which will have you reaching for the pizza delivery number.

7. Make a Budget

Depending on what kind of cook you are different aspects of your kitchen will take priority. It is important therefore to make a budget at the outset. You may want to spend money on a traditional Aga stove and therefore opt for cheaper options on worktops and other appliances. Alternatively you may choose to spend money on a free standing food processor which will both take up a large portion of the budget and of the available space within your kitchen. The main thing is to understand yourself and what you and your family want from the kitchen. Then prioritise and budget accordingly to get the kitchen of your dreams. There is no point buying granite worktops and never being able to afford any of the appliances you dreamed you would be using to make your soufflés.

8. Light Up Your Kitchen

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any room design and the kitchen is no different. Use spotlights and under cabinet lighting to aid in the functional needs of your kitchen such as food preparation and cooking. Invest in a dimmer switch for overhead lighting to add to the ambience of your dining experience. By layering your lighting you will be able to make your cooking station both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Using these 8 simple steps you too can have the perfect cooking station for your needs. However be honest with yourself from the outset. Create the kitchen you will use not the one you dream you will use. There is nothing worse than spending lots of money and ending up with a kitchen that the mere thought of entering is overwhelming.