September 19, 2014

MicroFridge-Sized and Designed for the Dorm Room

MicroFridge, the industry leader in compact specialty appliances, today introduced the next generation in small space convenience. The new product line includes patent-pending Safe Plug® technology and also features a Dual Outlet Charge Station that enables people to safely and conveniently charge a range of popular electronic devices such as laptop computers, MP3 players, cell phones, digital cameras and more.

Combining a spacious refrigerator, freezer and microwave in a single unit, a MicroFridge appliance is perfect wherever space is limited and there’s a need for food and refreshments – including hotels, college residence halls, assisted living residences, military housing, offices and at home too. The compact MicroFridge refrigerator features over two cubic feet of storage space, while the separate freezer boasts a 0.75 cubic foot capacity. For food preparation, there is a fully programmable 700-watt microwave oven. The refrigerator’s Smart Store Door allows the upright storage of two-liter bottles or half-gallon containers to eliminate leaks and spills that can result when storing tall containers on their side. And the roomy zero-degree freezer ensures that items like ice cream stay perfectly frozen.

The microwave features three, distinct “Express Cook” settings, along with pre-programmed recipes for soup, beverages, pizza and popcorn; the beeper volume is adjustable and can also be set to mute.  The patent–pending Safe Plug power management system technology is another feature that makes MicroFridge truly unique, automatically shutting off the refrigerator and charging station when the microwave is on, limiting the maximum electrical draw of the unit to just 11 amps.
“This reduces utility expenses and is good for the environment,” said Jim Russo, Vice President Product Sales of Intirion Corporation – the makers of MicroFridge. “Traditional refrigerators and microwaves can pull nearly twice that amount, potentially overloading electrical systems and creating costly problems.”
MicroFridge’s Safe Plug technology also enables users to operate both the refrigerator and microwave utilizing only one electrical socket. The blue plug on the refrigerator unit plugs into the back of the microwave with only the microwave plug required to power the unit. This oneplug-to-the-wall operation saves valuable outlet space as well.
The new Dual Outlet Charge Station makes MicroFridge the only company to offer this design and technology, providing exceptional convenience to safely charge personal electronics.  Located in the front of the microwave, busy consumers can power up their laptops, MP3 players, cell phones, digital cameras, or any device that draws four amps of power or less. This eliminates the need to reach into inaccessible places to plug and unplug devices that require charging. And the integrated Cord Clip prevents cables from getting tangled or caught in the doors of the fridge or freezer while the Dual Outlet Charge Station is in use.

MicroFridge is ENERGY STAR rated and has achieved the highest rating for energy efficiency: CEE Tier 3 status. In addition, the Safe Plug technology further enhances the products’ energysaving benefit by temporarily shutting off the refrigerator when the microwave is in use.

Price and Availability
The MicroFridge combination appliance is used by college students across the U.S., and is also found in hotel and motel rooms, assisted living residences and on U.S. military bases. Models are available in classic black, white and stainless steel. The MicroFridge 2.9MF-7TP model combination appliance retails for $425.00 and is available for purchase, along with other models, direct from the manufacturer online at www.microfridge.com.

KitchenAid Introduces High Performance Commercial Style Cooking Line

KitchenAid’s new Commercial-Style series includes high performance cooktops, dual-fuel ranges and powerful ventilation hoods, all designed to enable chef-worthy results at home, according to Debbie O’Connor, senior manager of brand experience for KitchenAid.

Premium features in the new collection include KitchenAid’s 20,000 BTU Ultra Power Dual Flame Burner, the most powerful burner among leading manufacturers. Its dual-flame stacked burner design with two flame levels is versatile enough to handle both the high temperatures needed for quick searing and the precise, low temperatures required for gentle simmering. Additional burners found on all models include 15,000 BTU professional burners and 5,000 BTU simmer/melt burners that can be lowered to as little as 500 BTUs.

Cooks will also appreciate an Even-Heat True Convection System that combines a 1600-watt hidden oven element and unique bow-tie shaped baffle design to promote more even airflow. This system allows for consistent temperatures and even cooking whether using one or all three racks simultaneously in the oven.

Steam-assist technology offers yet another way to help cooks achieve professional results in a full size oven. The easy to use Auto Steam function introduces steam into the oven at precise intervals and offers preprogrammed settings for everything from meats, fish and vegetables to desserts.

“The steam-assist function makes it even easier to achieve professional results at home by eliminating the need for manual steps like spritzing and basting for breads and roasts or having to use a water bath to evenly and gently cook cheesecakes and other custard-based desserts from center to edge,” notes O’Connor.

A new Even-Heat Chrome Electric Griddle option features a chrome-infused steel surface with a 1320-watt element that provides even heat distribution at temperatures of 150ºF to 500ºF. The durable chrome finish, similar to commercial restaurant quality material, is easy to clean, retains its bright appearance after use and creates less radiant heat to help keep the kitchen cooler. An 18,000 BTU Even-Heat gas grill option combines a log burner, flame spreader and wave tray to provide powerful and even heat distribution. Blue indicator lights on both the griddle and grill show when desired temperature is reached.

All the cooktops feature low-profile grates with a new single grate design for easier lifting when cleaning. Additional design features include die-cast metal knobs with precise alignment and a commercial style handle with die-cast end caps. A full-width oven door on the ranges has a large window for easier viewing of foods as they cook. A glass-touch menu-driven LCD display provides an easy-to-use interface.

Scheduled to begin shipping to retailers in the second quarter, the new dual fuel ranges and cooktops will be offered in 30-, 36- and 48-inch configurations. Options for a grill or griddle will be offered on 36- and 48-inch cooktops and 36-inch ranges. The 48-inch model ranges will be available with a

griddle option. All sizes of the new dual fuel ranges will offer the option of the KitchenAid brand’s dual fan convection with steam-assist technology and the 48-inch range will offer the industry’s only double oven range with steam-assist technology available in both ovens. Suggested retail prices will range from $4,099 to $9,299 for the dual fuel ranges and from $2,099 to $3,399 for the cooktops.

New Commercial-Style ventilation offerings will include wall-mount canopy hoods available in 30-, 36-, 42- and 48-inch sizes, and island-mount canopy hoods available in 36-, 42- and 48-inch sizes. Commercial-Style wall and island canopies will feature powerful exhaust systems with 3-speed fan control ranging from 600-1200 CFM. Select models will include two warming lamps to help keep cooked food warm while plating to serve. Other features in the latest KitchenAid ventilation line include an all metal Pro Motor, halogen lighting for better visibility and heavy-duty dishwasher-safe filters. Available in stainless steel, suggested retail prices will range from $2,099 to $2,999.

Grill Safety for the 4th and all Summer Long

Summer, the Fourth of July and barbecue, they all come together to create happy memories. Don’t let an accident spoil your summer fun; read these tips from HPBA (Hearth, Patio, Barbecue Association) and be prepared for a great Holiday and summer.

* Read the owner’s manual.

Always read the owner’s manual before using your grill and follow specific usage, assembly, and safety procedures. Contact the grill manufacturer if you have specific questions. (Be sure to locate your model number and the manufacturer’s consumer inquiry phone number and write them on the front page of your manual.)

* Grills are for outside, only.

Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use, only. Never barbecue in your trailer, tent, house, garage, or any enclosed area because carbon monoxide may accumulate and kill you.

* Use in well-ventilated area.

Set up your grill in an open area that is away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves, or brush. Be sure to avoid high traffic areas and always barbecue in a well-ventilated area. Be aware of wind-blown sparks.

* Keep grill stable.
When using a barbecue grill, be sure that all parts of the unit are firmly in place and that the grill is stable (can’t be tipped over).

* Follow electric codes.

If electrically-operated accessories are used (rotisseries, etc.), be sure they are properly grounded in accordance with local codes. Electrical cords should be placed away from walkways or anywhere people can trip over them.

* Use long-handled utensils.
Use barbecue utensils with long handles (forks, tongs, etc.) to avoid burns and splatters.

* Wear safe clothing.

Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills, or apron strings that can catch fire, and use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.

* Keep fire under control.

To put out flare-ups, either raise the grid that the food is on, spread the coals out evenly, or adjust the controls to lower the temperature. If you must douse the flames with a light spritz of water, first remove the food from the grill.

* Be ready to extinguish flames.

Use baking soda to control a grease fire and have a fire extinguisher handy. A bucket of sand or a garden hose should be near if you don’t have a commercial extinguisher.

* Consider placing a grill pad or splatter mat beneath your grill.

These naturally heat resistant pads are usually made of lightweight composite cement or plastic and will protect your deck or patio from any grease that misses the drip pan.

* Never leave a grill unattended once lit.

* Stay away from hot grill.
Don’t allow anyone to conduct activity near the grill when in use or immediately following its use. The grill body remains hot up to an hour after being used.

* Don’t move a hot grill.

Never attempt to move a hot grill. It’s easy to stumble or drop it and serious burns could result.

Put it on Ice – Using Your Freezer to Save Money

Every house has one – the freezer that is attached to your fridge. The problem is most of us don’t use it to its full advantage. Check out the contents of your freezer. Most likely it contains a frozen pizza or two, some ice cubes, ice cream and maybe some mystery meat and leftovers you thought you’d reheat someday.

Well, Mark Bittman at the New York Times has some very helpful suggestions for putting your freezer to work for you.

In terms of reducing waste, the most important step you can take is to freeze things the moment you realize you’re not going to cook them in time. If you get a last-minute dinner invitation, you might freeze that fish you bought; if you take the kids strawberry picking, get the excess in there as quickly as you can; if you have a superharvest of vegetables (or a good score at the farmer’s market), blanch them and freeze them.

After all, few foods improve in the refrigerator. They don’t improve in your freezer, either, but they degrade more slowly, especially if you keep the temperature at 0 degrees or below. While you’re freezing, remember that your enemy is freezer burn, a freeze-drying on surfaces exposed to air that imparts unpleasant flavors and dry, fibrous textures. To help maintain quality, avoid freezer burn by double- or even triple-wrapping food, filling containers to the top and squeezing the air out of containers (zippered bags are good for this).

One more thing, easy to overlook and impossible to overrate: Label. It is incredible how much things grow to resemble another in the freezer. Use a permanent marker, write exactly what it is (“fish” or “stew” isn’t as helpful as “monkfish” or “lamb/veg stew”), and date it.

STORAGE

In addition to produce and meats, there are some less obvious ingredients whose life can be extended by freezing. Most of them can be used straight from the freezer: Fresh noodles; flours or meals; grains; nuts (which taste kind of good frozen); whole coffee beans (supposedly not as good after you freeze them, but most of us can’t tell the difference); banana leaves (nice for plating or wrapping, but they come in huge packages); and more, detailed below.

LEFTOVERS

Make extra of any dish, with leftovers in mind, then freeze in smaller portions that can be taken to work, sent to school or reheated for a solitary dinner. Freeze in individual containers, topping up with water, cooking liquid or oil to prevent freezer burn, or freeze in sturdy zippered bags, then squeeze out as much air as possible. Defrost in the fridge, in cold water, or in a microwave, or not at all — many items can be reheated straight from frozen. (Yes, I’m talking about homemade TV dinners.)

BEANS AND GRAINS

I’m tempted to say that you should never cook beans or grains without making more than you need. Freezing them (covered with water or cooking liquid, leaving room for expansion) works that well, and saves loads of time.

STOCK

For home cooks, the biggest problem with stock is having it around when you need it. So make as much as you can manage — three gallons, say. To save space, you can reduce the stock so that it’s extra concentrated, and reconstitute it with water to taste when you’re ready. Refrigerate and skim the fat, if you like, then freeze in containers of varying sizes, or in ice cube trays.

STOCK-MAKING MATERIAL

Scraps of poultry (most of the chicken parts we don’t eat are good for stock), meat (again, especially the less-used, bonier parts) or fish (heads and skeletons in particular), vegetable trimmings, bones and more. Keep separate bags for each, adding to them when you can. Remember, though, that stock is not garbage soup: Carrot and potato peels, cabbage cores, and the like can be used, but in moderation. Animal organs are best avoided (fish gills and guts must be removed, and offal in general makes bitter stock).

BREAD, BREAD DOUGH, BREAD CRUMBS

Freeze dough in well-wrapped balls; defrost until it regains springiness. (It will never rise quite as high as unfrozen dough, but it works nearly perfectly for pizza or focaccia, and well enough for other uses.) Good crusty bread, wrapped in aluminum foil, can turn lighter dishes into meals — just defrost in the foil at 350 degrees or so for 10 minutes, then crisp up, unwrapped, at slightly higher temperatures. (I’m talking about crusty bread; sliced bread can be defrosted on the counter or in a toaster.) And stale bread can be made into crumbs in a blender or food processor, stored in a container, and added to at will.

PASTRY AND PASTRY DOUGH

Most cake and cookies freeze pretty well, carefully wrapped. Or make a frozen log of “refrigerator” cookies to slice and bake later. Same with biscuits: make a whole batch or double batch of biscuit batter, bake just enough for dinner, and freeze the rest.

TOMATOES AND TOMATO SAUCE

Tomato sauce is best frozen in zippered bags with the air squeezed out. If you have ripe tomatoes, core, quarter, and throw them in a bag; as they thaw the skins will slip off, a bonus. (The frozen chunks separate easily so you can just break off a couple for soups, stews, salsas, sauces and so on.) You can also freeze unused portions of canned tomatoes, preferably in their juice.

BACON

Or pancetta, prosciutto, smoked ham hocks, prosciutto bones, etc. Wrap tightly in plastic and cut off pieces as you need them. (Or cut before freezing — you might need a butcher to do this in the case of big bones.)

FRESH HERBS

If you have extra herbs, your four best options are: Make pesto by puréeing the herb with oil and whatever other seasonings you like; make “pesto,” a purée of herb and water, with or without other seasonings; make compound butter; chop herbs, and freeze in ice cube trays covered with water.

FISH

When I’m in a good fish market I buy too much and later wonder what I was thinking. Fortunately, squid, shrimp and the meat of lobster, clams and mussels all freeze well. Even fillets, steaks, and cleaned whole fish — wrapped carefully in plastic — will keep most of their quality in the freezer for a couple of weeks, and there’s no reason they should spend any longer there. Another note: If you’re buying fish that has been frozen to begin with, ask for still-frozen rather than thawed fish, then store it in the freezer or thaw in the refrigerator.

FRUIT

Easier than making jam: Freeze berries or stone-fruit halves spread out on trays, then bag or put into containers, so they don’t all freeze together in a block. Or cook down a bit and store in their juice. Or purée and freeze.

VEGETABLES

If you find yourself with too much corn, greens, carrots, peas or snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, string beans, put them up. Blanch them for a minute before spreading them on a tray, the same way you freeze fruit. Tomatoes (as noted above) and bell peppers are the exception; they freeze well raw.

BANANAS

When my kids were young these were a staple. Peel and individually wrap overripe bananas in plastic; freeze. Use within a few weeks for banana bread or smoothies.

TORTILLAS

Wrap two corn tortillas at a time in wax paper, then in a plastic bag; freeze flat. When you’re ready, stick the wax paper packages right into the microwave for a minute to warm. The same technique works well for cooked waffles and pancakes. Where do you think General Mills got the idea?

EGG WHITES

If you make a lot of ice cream, custard, or other recipes that call for a lot of egg yolks, you will have extra whites. Freeze them in batches of two or three for making meringues, macaroons or angel food cake.

Parmesan rinds

Most cheese freezes well, but there’s not much reason to do it. Parmesan rinds, however, add a great deal to risotto and soups (and can be eaten; they’re delightfully chewy and a little rubbery). Freeze them in zippered bags.

CHICKEN OR DUCK LIVERS, FAT, ETC.

As noted above, they don’t make good stock, but they have other uses. Three livers or so and a small handful of fat makes a nice little batch of chopped liver, for example.

WINE

That last quarter of a bottle? Freeze it, then use it for cooking wine as needed. See stock for best methods.

CITRUS

If you have a surplus of citrus — perhaps someone sent you a case of oranges from Florida or you found lemons for a dollar a pound and went overboard — squeeze them. The juice freezes fairly well. Lemons, limes and oranges also can be frozen whole. When a recipe calls for juice, defrost what you need in the microwave.

BURRITOS

It’s a bit of a project, but you can mass-produce breakfast or other burritos, wrap them individually (first in wax paper, then in plastic), and microwave in a couple of minutes.

This burrito idea can be expanded to include any cooking you do, make a bit extra, or take those leftovers and turn them into one serving frozen meals for future lazy days. No more store brought frozen dinners for you – now you can have a favorite, homemade meal anytime, just look in the freezer.

Cuisinart’s Slow Cooker

If you just have to have the shiniest, sleekest slow cooker on the block, Cuisinart has it for you. But it’s apparently got more than good looks. It holds 6.5 quarts, more than enough to feed a family a hearty dinner. It also features a 24-hour programmable cook time, a digital countdown timer, and three cooking modes. When the cooking is done, it automatically shifts to a Keep Warm mode.

Product Features
• Touchpad control panel with LCD timer display
• 24-hour cooking timer
• Off/On, Warm, Simmer, Low, and High settings
• Removable 6.5-quart, oval ceramic cooking pot
• Automatically shifts to “Warm” when cook time ends
• Brushed stainless steel housing with chrome-plated handles
• Glass lid with stainless steel rim and chrome-plated knob
• Dishwasher-safe lid and ceramic pot
• Nonslip rubber feet
• Includes cooking rack for use with ramekins or other bakeware
• Spiral-bound recipe book with 70 basic to gourmet dishes
• Instruction book
• Limited 3-year product warranty

Of course, all this comes at a price – the Cuisinart 6.5 quart slow cooker, model # PSC-650 retails for about $100.

Retrospective: Appliance Advertising From the Fifties

Some of you might remember these; for everyone else, yes,  this is how the fridge and stove really looked.

My childhood best friend had the whole matched set – in pink!- I was so envious.

 

Did anyone sit down to breakfast dressed like this?  And where are the kids? 

Is the jam part of this toaster?  Nooo… It came as a set with small dishes for butter and jam and a plate for the toast.

Use Your Appliances to go Green in the Kitchen – Plus a Few Other Helpful Suggestions

Another Earth Day has passed us and just as we make resolutions on New Year’s Day, you might have planned to change your energy wasting ways. Those New Year’s resolutions are difficult to maintain, because we often try to do too much. Making just a few small changes is helpful and can be the key to lasting change.
Lisa Abraham at Ohio.com has compiled her tips for saving energy in the kitchen. They include being creative when using kitchen appliances and modifying some eating habits.

Limit the time the stove/oven is used

Never light the oven or turn on a burner when a small appliance will do the job. Microwave ovens, toaster ovens, electric griddles, panini makers and, yes, even a slow cooker all consume less energy than a traditional gas or electric stove.

Consistently using these small appliances can make a huge difference in your energy consumption, Jackie Newgent a dietitian, cooking instructor and cookbook author of the newly released Big Green Cookbook (Wiley, 2009). said. Even though slow cookers are typically on for hours at a time, they will burn less energy than a traditional oven to prepare the same dish, such as a roast.

Look for ways to lessen the amount of time the oven and burners are on. When cooking pasta, Newgent recommends using skinny varieties, like angel hair, that will cook more quickly. She also uses a method she dubs ”lid cooking” to turn the stove off sooner.

Newgent brings a pot of water to a boil, adds her pasta and brings it up to a boil again. But then she turns the heat off, puts a lid on the pot, and lets the pasta finish cooking from the heated water.

When baking something, turn the oven off five minutes before the item is done and allow the residual heat in the oven to finish the job, she said.

Consider making one meal each week that doesn’t require using the stove at all, such as a salad.

Eat more fruits and vegetables, less meat

Newgent suggests eating one meatless meal per week. It requires more energy to produce meat than vegetables and fruits. Cutting meat out of just one meal per week can lead to significant energy savings over a year, she said.

That salad fits in well here. Think of it as a chance to be a more adventurous eater.

Run an energy-efficient kitchen

While new major kitchen appliances may not be in the budget for many homeowners, most would see an immediate savings on electric bills with the conversion.

Refrigerators should be away from sunlight and heat sources, like ovens. The warmer the environment, the harder the appliance will have to work and the more energy it will use.

Refrigerators also need breathing room — at least two or three inches of open space between the coils and the wall behind them to allow for better air circulation. Keeping refrigerator coils clean of dirt, dust and pet hair also will improve performance.

The harder an appliance has to work, the faster it will wear out.

Constantly opening and closing the refrigerator causes it to lose cold air. The same goes for the oven — keep the door closed as much as possible while in use to keep the hot air inside.

Gas stoves typically are less expensive to run than electric ones.

Always have the dishwasher fully loaded before running, and consider scraping your dishes instead of rinsing them before loading, to save on water.

Newgent also noted that when cooking outdoors, choose a gas grill over charcoal because gas emits less carbon into the atmosphere.

Here is a sample recipe from Jackie Newgent’s Big Green Cookbook:

CITRUS CREAM OF CAPELLINI

13/4 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
12 oz. whole wheat capellini or angel hair pasta
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted organic butter
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp. juice)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black or white pepper, or to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated organic or locally produced Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup raw pine nuts (optional)

Bring 6 cups fresh water and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the pasta and return to a boil. Cover and turn off the heat. Let the pasta ”lid cook” (cook covered while the burner is off) until it is al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Place the drained pasta back into the dried saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the cream, butter, lemon juice and zest. Cook while stirring until the pasta is hot, about 1 minute. For a thinner sauce, add the reserved pasta cooking water. Add remaining salt and pepper.

Pour the pasta into a serving bowl or serve directly from the saucepan. Sprinkle with the cheese and parsley. Top with the pine nuts, if using, and serve.

Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each.

Recall: Toaster Oven/Broilers by Haier America Due to Burn or Electrical Shock Hazard

Name of Product: Toaster Oven/Broilers

Units: About 106,000

Importer: Haier America Trading L.L.C., of New York, N.Y.

Manufacturer: Lun Dar Electric Ind. Ltd., of Taiwan

Hazard: Electrical connections in the toaster oven/broilers can become loose, posing electrical shock and burn hazards.

Incidents/Injuries: Haier America has received two reports of minor burns and one report of a minor electrical shock to consumers, and one report of minor property damage.

Description: This recall involves toaster oven/broilers with model number RTO1400SS. The units are stainless steel and black plastic. “Haier” is printed on the front and the model number is printed on a label on the back of the toaster oven/broilers.

Sold at: Mass merchandisers and specialty retailers nationwide from September 2006 through January 2009 for approximately $20 to $40.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled toaster oven/broilers and contact Haier America to receive a free replacement toaster oven/broiler.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Haier America at (866) 927-4810 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.haieramerica.com