October 20, 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.

Electrolux in Antarctica

I’ve seen many documentaries about scientists in Antarctica. I’ve seen one that focused on the staff of maintenance workers it takes to keep an outpost running smoothly. The base camps were large campgrounds of barrack-like buildings and with scientists, engineers, and crew, can at times host a large number of people.

On one show, the kitchen staff pointed out that although the outside was cold enough to keep food frozen, storing food outside attracts animals, and the temperatures are really too old for optimal storage. There is also a large amount of laundry to be washed. Electrolux had a plan.

At the Princess Elizabeth Station in Antarctica, you’ll find a high-tech living facility that has all of the home appliances that make life easier for those of us living in warmer climates, including six washing machines, six tumble dryers, ‘A+’ refrigerators, frost-free chest freezers, double ovens, ranges, microwaves and an ‘AAA’ dishwasher.

Due to its continued focus on designing energy efficient home appliances, Electrolux was approached to design the set of appliances for the station. Some of the appliances are even specifically designed for the scientists: the washing machines have larger doors to fit “bulky polar outdoor gear” and the freezers can freeze food for up to a year at -18 degrees Celsius.

According to cnet.com, the appliances are also run entirely on renewable energy: 90 percent of the energy is supplied to the station via wind turbines, and the rest is supplied by solar panels. Preheated water is used in the washing machines to save energy and elaborate waste and water management systems are used as well, contributing to the astonishing 95 percent of waste that the facility is able to recycle.

The Princess Elisabeth Station will focus on researching global warming and climate change, as well as CO2 emissions. On keeping the series of appliances in line with the principles driving the research, Station Manager Johan Berte remarks, “We want to show the world that if you can build a zero emissions facility in the forbidding climate of Antarctica, you can build them anywhere!”

You can read the whole story of Belgium’s Princess Elizabeth Station HERE.

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.

Appliances – Luxury or Necessity?

Americans are changing their view of which appliances are truly necessary. According to the Pew Research Center, many of our past favorites are losing their hold on our pocketbooks.

A microwave oven, a television set or even home air conditioning is no longer considered a necessity. Instead, nearly half or more now see each of these items as a luxury, the report found. Similarly, the proportion that considers a dishwasher or a clothes dryer to be essential has dropped sharply since 2006.

The study also found these recession-era reevaluations are all the more striking because the public’s luxury-versus-necessity perceptual boundaries had been moving in the other direction for the previous decade.

For example, the share of adults who consider a microwave a necessity was just 32% in 1996. By 2006, it had shot up to 68%. But it has now retreated to 47%. Similarly, just 52% of the public in the latest poll say a television set is a necessity — down 12 percentage points from 2006 and the smallest share to call a TV a necessity since this question was first asked more than 35 years ago. Most surprising to me is the change in response to the clothes dryer — down 17 percentage points since 1996.

Comsumer Rebate Program for Appliances

The US stimulus bill recently signed into law by US President Barack Obama includes a $300 million provision to fund the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program.

This program will be administered through the 50 US states and will  provide financial incentive to encourage consumer spending and target it to energy savings through consumer rebates for the purchase of Energy Star appliances.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) urge the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to quickly disburse funding to state energy offices for the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Programs so that consumer rebates will be available for the summer months to purchase ENERGY STAR appliances.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009  will stimulate demand for home appliances, provide consumers with tremendous savings on the initial purchase cost and long-term utility costs of appliances, and will also provide an important environmental benefit by way of a significant decrease in energy consumption.
“Once the states receive funding from DOE for their rebate programs, consumers can begin to benefit
from an immediate savings on the purchase cost of an ENERGY STAR appliance and on utility bills,” said
Joseph McGuire, AHAM President. “AHAM urges the Department of Energy to quickly provide this
stimulus funding to the states so they can get the money into the hands of consumers.”
In a joint letter, AHAM and RILA requested that DOE distribute the funds to state energy offices quickly
and simply and allow existing and new state programs the flexibility to establish programs that meet
regional needs. The associations provided DOE with broad guidelines for releasing the stimulus funds.
AHAM and RILA also believe the benefit should include consumers with non-working appliances and
consumers who are upgrading to energy efficient products before their current appliances cease to
function.

Cook Microwave Ready Meals Safely

After more than thirty people in twelve states contracted salmonella from microwaveable dinners, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a warning on February 12th about microwaving food.

“Foods cooked improperly in the microwave have the potential to make people sick,” said Graciela Padua, a research associate professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Padua added that one of the main reasons for the salmonella outbreak is because people simply don’t follow the directions on the food’s packaging. If consumers read the instructions more carefully, the risk of sickness would be minimized, she said.

When you heat up a microwave ready meal, be sure the food is heated thoroughly, all the way through the package. If possible, stir the food to distribute the heat and continue cooking until the entire meal is hot to the touch.

GE $2500 Sweepstakes

This is just like winning a new appliance in retroactively. All you need to do is register your GE appliance, and you will be automatically entered in a monthly drawing for $2500 from GE. The contest lasts until October 2009 and winners will be awarded a check for the full amount. You can enter the appliances you already own, no new purchases required. Just use the GE online registration or follow the instructions on their website.

Admit it – You Love Your Microwave

Microwaves are one of the great conveniences of life. They heat up our coffee and lunch at work, make popcorn for snacks and heat up leftovers for a quick dinner.  While most of us admit to using the microwave for these tasks, there are fewer who find they truly cook meals using them.

“Everyone says that all they use it for is defrosting, reheating and making popcorn,” Johanna Burkhard says at a recent Microwave Myth Debunking session put on by Panasonic at Toronto’s Calphalon Culinary Centre, “but when I tell them to write down everything they’ve put into it over a week, they surprise themselves.”

Burkhard should know. She wrote the book on it. Or rather, one of the books on microwave cooking, hers being 125 Best Microwave Oven Recipes. Other best-sellers include The Well-Filled Microwave Cookbook and Microwave Gourmet by Barbara Kafka, regarded as the bible on the subject.

Your may find that you mostly melt chocolate or steam some broccoli in your microwave but Burkhard shows that you can whip up several fast and nutritious dishes, including perfectly cooked asparagus with Gorgonzola and pine nuts, Mediterranean chicken, and an especially tasty one-dish meal of spicy ginger salmon with steamed vegetables.

Go ahead, try it:

JOHANNA BURKHARD’S SPICY GINGER SALMON WITH STEAMED VEGETABLES – 3 tbsp (45mL) orange juice – 4 tsp (20mL) soy sauce – 1 tbsp (15mL) rice vinegar – 1 tbsp (15mL) packed brown sugar – 1 tsp (5mL) cornstarch – 2 tsp (10mL) minced fresh ginger – 1 small clove garlic, minced – ½ tsp (2mL) chili paste or to taste – 2 centre-cut salmon fillets (5 ozs/150g each), skin removed – 1 cup (250mL) thinly sliced mushrooms – 2 cups (500mL) shredded Swiss chard or spinach – ½ red bell pepper, cut into 2″ (5cm) thin strips – 1 green onion, finely sliced

1. In a glass measure, blend orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and cornstarch until smooth. Add ginger, garlic and chili paste. Microwave on high for 1 to 1½ minutes, stirring once, until sauce comes to a full boil and thickens. Sauce will be quite thick. 2. Place salmon in an 8″ (2L) glass baking dish, pour prepared sauce overtop, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap and turn back one corner to vent. Microwave on medium (50% power) for 3½ to 5 minutes or until fish is just opaque.

3. Layer with mushrooms, Swiss chard, red pepper and green onion. Cover and cook at medium for 3 to 4 minutes or until Swiss chard is just wilted and pepper is tender-crisp.  (I suggest serving this with rice.) Makes 2 servings.