Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The IPad of Cooking-Why Induction?

I commented in an earlier post that several of our appliances broke at Christmastime, which prompted a kitchen remodel.
  I was responsible for destroying our last stove by 'storing' some plastic containers and plates in the oven during a quick clean-up for guests. A few days later, my daughter turned on the oven to bake some rolls and came yelling through the house, "The stove is on fire!" 
Lovely. Melted. Burnt plastic. Everywhere. The clean-up was bad enough, but afterwards, the oven simply did not work.  Not one of my brightest moments.  Surprisingly, I have a degree in chemistry and vaguely remember something about melting points.
Along with the disposal and the frig, we had to replace our stove.  We had been anticipating this, so gave the entire space an overhaul.
We researched and discussed pros and cons of induction or gas verses electric cooking.  I really, really love the nostalgic look of the gas stoves.  Plus, I actually know how to cook on a gas top stove after years of cooking with my Granny (not that I can cook anything as good as my sweet Granny!)  We quickly ruled out the gas range, because to run or vent through our ceiling would also mean having to move the hot water heater.  This would have been very costly, as would the additional wiring.

This Viking Range in Sage is available in a range of colors from Cobalt Blue to Dijon Yellow.

Here is my kitchen before.  I don't have a close-up of the stove, but it functioned well for about fifteen years.  We made many changes that allow this space to function so much more efficiently.

So why induction cooking?

1. The New York Times calls it the 'ipad of cooking.' I don't have an IPad, but I can tell you that this stove does function precisely and efficiently.  I love it and feel like I have become a better cook (Pinterest has helped, too!  Click here to see my 'Bake or Make' board.)  I also love the vintage look with the high-tech capabilities.

2.  You can adjust the cooking heat instantly and with great precision.  Electric cooking is slow to increase or decrease its temperature.  Induction cooking is as instantaneous and as exact as gas cooking.

3.  Induction cook tops heat 25-50 percent faster and distribute the heat more evenly.

4.  With induction cooking, the energy is supplied directly to the cookware by the magnetic field.  In comparison, only 40% of the energy in gas is used to cook, whereas 84% of the energy in induction cooking is used to cook.
5.  "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."  Because, most of the heat is used to cook with induction and not wasted, the kitchen remains cooler.  That old saying doesn't apply here!

6.  Induction cooking has been around for decades and is widely used in Europe.  Many restaurants now use induction cooking for its ease of use and rapid results.  Recent demands have driven prices down.

7.  With cooler surfaces, these cook tops are easier and safer to clean.

8.  I love this particular stove with only a few knobs, because it is simple and not fussy.  Too many buttons and things flashing confuse me.

Possible downfalls of induction cooking?

 1.  Induction cook tops require ferromagnetic cookware to work.  I had only one pot and a few cast iron pans of my grandparents that worked with my new stove.  I was still using the same pots and pans we received for wedding gifts almost twenty years ago.  You have to use pots made of magnetic materials, such as stainless steel or cast iron.  Most All Clad and Le Creuset cast iron pans will work with induction cooking; however, I bought a generic set from Costco that works great.  I am told IKEA pots and pans work, as well.  Keep a magnet in your pocket, so you can check!

2.  Induction cook tops are efficient, but it's not clear whether they're cheaper to operate than gas or electric.  I wouldn't expect the energy savings to make up the cost difference.  The upfront cost is more expensive than gas or electric stoves.

 3.  If you're replacing a stove or remodeling an existing kitchen, be sure that your wiring, voltage and amperage can handle the load.  We had to change the wiring, which added additional cost.

4.  Some recipes call for charring food over an open flame.  You can't do this with induction cooking or traditional electric cook tops.

I have not mastered the cleaning of stainless steel; however, I have found this 409 Stone & Steel, as well as, these microfiber cleaning cloths (Target) to work great.  Let me know if you have a favorite product for cleaning stainless steel!

If you are considering an induction cook top, please don't hesitate to contact me with questions.   I am not a chef and I don't know very much about gadgets, but this stove has challenged me to be a better cook for my family.  I did my research on it, and I am very pleased with it!

Several of my cabinet doors had to be repainted, so I am still waiting to take some final pictures for y'all.  Thanks for being interested in seeing the final product!  It has been a process, and I can't wait to finish it and to share with you what I have learned!

Thanks for stopping by!
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia    
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Restored Butcher's Block

After many years, I finally restored my mom's old butcher block and it has a new home in our kitchen.
The natural wood tone is so beautiful, but it wasn't always like this!
As I have mentioned before, my mother passed away many years ago.  My father put many of her things in storage at their farm.  This butcher's block sat in a shed for about a decade, before he cleaned the shed and gave it to me.  (I begged the stove delivery guy to move it in for me, and here it rests on it's side.  You cannot imagine how heavy this is!)
I found some 'Butcher's Block' oil at Lowe's and applied several coats; allowing it to dry for a day between each application.
In an attempt to study some of the major artists, I sketched with the kid's sidewalk chalk Picasso's Femme en Vert et Mauve.  Not one of his most famous works, but it was one I thought I could manage!  I'll post on the chalk board and our art projects later.

These radishes make for a lovely 'still life' to paint.
I believe the block is maple wood, but I am not sure about the legs.
Previously, I had a tall book shelf in this space.  The old French wicker trunk gives some needed storage.
Before my 'Picasso,' my daughter drew a self-portrait.  I had an early 1900's New England decoy on display with a box of my mother's, grandmother's and great-grandmother's rolling pins; such treasures to me!
Here is the kitchen in progress with the butcher's block on it's side.
I started by scraping off the dirt and cobwebs after years of storage.
Next, I poured Clorox all over it and scrubbed it.
I have such faithful helpers.  Poor kids...they have no one out here to play with, so projects seem like fun, I guess.  I am not complaining!
After many attempts to clean the block and to sand it with a small hand sander, I made a horrible mistake.  The block had lots of dirt and old blood stains that I couldn't get clean, so I stained the block with a dark stain...horrible, horrible.  Back into storage it went, until I could figure out plan B.
When we had the floors sanded, I had my husband drag the block to the front of the house and begged the floor people to sand it down for me.  They did a great job, and I was able to restore it the right way!

"The modern butcher block was developed in the 1880s and was called at the time ' The Sanitary Meat Block.' It was developed to address a need by the meat cutting industry for a more sanitary and stable cutting surface. Prior to the invention of butcher block, butchers cut on tree rounds or a section of tree trunk set on legs. Butcher block, because of its construction, was fundamentally more stable. Tree rounds were susceptible to cracking creating an unsanitary condition. Butcher block minimized this cracking. Solid northern hard maple was used because it is the proper hardness. This was important because the butchers cutting tools needed to be durable and a harder wood would blunt the edge of these tools and a softer wood would degrade quickly.

The modern butcher block was always solid and usually very thick. The thickness was important for the longevity of the block and also for the stability the mass provided. Butchers needed a block that was stable insuring that the block would not move as large pieces of meat were placed on the block. Additionally, the blocks were usually very thick to allow the butcher to work on the block for a long period of time. A butcher would buy a block as an apprentice and use the block his entire career. When the block became worn it would be planed down to create a rejuvenated cutting surface."

Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

1950's Style Picnic Basket

 I went to World Market today to purchase another counter stool for my kitchen (we are functioning and 90% done!)  While I was there, I found this adorable metal plaid picnic basket, which first became popular in the 1950's.  Perfect because I love picnics and because the Fourth of July is just around the corner!
While we all celebrate the Fourth of July, don't forget that July is National Picnic Month, too!
 The Fourth of July is the biggest holiday here on the lake!  We pack a picnic and sit with thousands of other boaters in the middle of Lake Wylie to watch the fireworks display from different counties.  This is serious business- our red, white & blue!
 I love these paper food trays from World Market; perfect for hamburgers or BBQ.
 These striped French Fry Liners; also from World Market, can be used to hold hot dogs, popcorn, corn dogs, Popsicles or other snacks, too.  The 2-tiered Tiffin box is great to hold pasta and fruit salad.  Who says the 'blue' has to be navy?  It is available in green, too.
I found these gingham melamine plates for our picnic in the dollar section at Michael's.
 Prefer paper products for your picnic?  These nautical plates and napkins came from the dollar section at Michael's, too!
 This mid-century metal picnic basket costs...
...only $14.99.

Striped Metal Water Tank Dispenser | World Market
I saw this striped metal water tank dispenser at the store, as well.  So many of you wrote to inquire about my red beverage dispenser (Great Outdoors Birthday Party) purchased from World Market a few years ago. I always check, but they haven't carried one just like it for awhile.  This one is cute and cost around $30.

I hope you all have a great week!  Slowly, we are returning to normal...although, I am told 'Normal' is just a setting on my washing machine!  The kitchen is almost done and I have cooked many wonderful recipes from Pinterest!  I'll share with you soon (hopefully!)

The white napkins are dish towels from IKEA and the red and white flatware set came from Homegoods a few years ago.  The denim blue napkin came from the Country Living set at K-Mart.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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