December 20, 2014

Is Steam the Thing? – Ovens

Here we have part three in our “Steam” series – Ovens.

Steam ovens harness the power of super heated steam to quickly cook foods without drying them out. Use a steam oven to create healthy flavorful meals while using less fat. Most steam ovens will allow you to adjust the humidity level inside the cooking chamber to create the right environment for the individual foods you’re cooking.

New steam ovens on the market offer conventional dry baking. Users also have the ability to defrost, warm up leftovers and even simulate a high heat grill to finish meats.

“It’s a way to make nutritional food that tastes like it came from a restaurant,” says Portfolio Kitchen & Home in Kansas City owner Geri Higgins. “You don’t have to add butter or sauce to it to make it more moist or flavorful.” The design center demonstrates its Gaggenau steam-convection combination oven and in-counter steamer.

The steamer and the oven are self-cleaning; condensation needs to be wiped up after cooking. For an integrated countertop steamer, a plumber hooks up water and drainage lines. Because calcium can sometimes clog water lines, many models contain water cartridges. Ovens come with detachable water reservoirs and don’t typically require plumbing.

On a recent day, Portfolio made asparagus (3 minutes) and salmon with lemon and herbs (10 minutes) in an in-counter steamer. The texture was moist but not water-logged.

Portfolio baked bread in a Gaggenau combination oven using dough from the grocery store. Steam is misted on the dough toward the beginning of the cycle to create a flaky brown crust on the exterior with the goal of retaining moisture inside.

Steam-combination ovens cook fast, too. A 14-pound turkey takes 90 minutes.

Some opt to reheat food with steam instead of using a microwave. Leftover pizza, for example, tastes like it’s fresh out of the oven.

“You’re starting to see steam ovens as a second oven above a conventional one,” Higgins says. “Instead of a microwave.”

The Way to a Woman’s Heart is Through the Kitchen – Yours!

Hey guys – if your Valentine’s Day didn’t turn out as planned you may want to consider wooing your girl with a new kitchen.
The way to a woman’s heart is through your kitchen, according to the research by luxury appliance brand Thermador.

Its survey showed that 83 percent women fall for suitors with a luxury kitchen in their bachelor’s pad. Just 17 percent women go for guys with a fancy car in their garage.

Red convertibles may impress your friends, but they won’t make your Valentine’s heart race and cheeks flush like a top-of-the-line gourmet kitchen, said the luxury appliance maker on the findings of its survey.

In fact, 61 percent of women said a beautiful kitchen would better help them decide whether to ‘heat things up’ in a relationship than a romantic bedroom (38 percent ) or flashy garage (1 percent),” said the statement.

Steve Preiner, director of marketing for Thermador, said, ‘Not only is a well-designed and outfitted kitchen a great way to impress your date, it will also help strengthen your home’s resale value. ‘You can knock thousands of dollars off the value of a new car as soon as you drive it out of the dealership, but investing in a beautiful kitchen with quality appliances will only increase the beauty and the value of your home.”

If you are looking for a first date to turn into a second, then renovating your kitchen and installing luxury handcrafted appliances is the way to go, according to the survey.

But having an impressive kitchen is only part of the story, said the survey, adding that a lover also needs to be a good cook to impress his girl.

Forty-six percent women ‘swoon over men who can cook” and 44 percent over ‘who are fit, ” according to the survey findings.

Just one percent women are impressed by the guys who drive nice cars.

Appliance Prices Are Going Up

Top appliance makers Whirlpool and Electrolux are raising prices to pass soaring raw material costs on to customers, but their attempts may not pass muster with bargain-hungry shoppers.

According to Reuters, both companies reported quarterly profits that fell short of estimates as they grapple with tepid demand in major markets like the United States and Europe.
Many analysts questioned the timing of the move, especially since consumers in the developed world continue to look for incentives to buy expensive goods like appliances.

Korean manufacturer Samsung has not announced increases and appears to be planning to hold existing prices. Still, Whirlpool’s chief executive, Jeff Fettig, insisted it was not “economically feasible” for Whirlpool to remain indefinitely in the promotional mindset it adopted for the holiday season and last year in general. “For 2011, we expect positive but uneven demand levels around the world,” Fettig said, adding the company still hoped to expand operating margins in the year through price increases and boosts in productivity.

LG Electronics does plan an increase as well. The planned price increase matches moves announced earlier by Whirlpool and Electrolux.

Whirlpool has shut plants, cut jobs and moved some manufacturing to lower cost centers like Mexico. It has also started using common parts across its lineup of dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines.

Electrolux, which sells under its own name as well as the Zanussi and Frigidaire brands, is planning to raise prices by 8 percent to 10 percent in North America starting in April and gradually in Europe and other markets. The move comes as manufacturers around the globe plot price increases to offset higher materials costs and regain ground lost in the recession. Electrolux Chief Executive Keith McLoughlin said the rise in raw materials’ costs had been across the board.

Dacor Introduces the Distinctive 24″ Microwave and the Epicure 36″ Raised Ventilation System

Dacor has just introduced two new products – the Distinctive 24” Microwave and the Epicure 36” Raised Ventilation System.

Available in stainless steel, the Distinctive 24” Microwave is a classic combination of form and functionality, with an affordable price that has become a signature of the Distinctive Series. Equipped with state-of-the-art Sensor Technology the Distinctive Microwave takes the guesswork out of cooking by detecting the moisture and humidity level of the food inside and cooking it accordingly. A built-in electronic sensor automatically sets the time for cooking or reheating and then “senses” the vapor emitted from the food to determine the duration and power level needed to thoroughly cook the food.

In addition, the Menu Label is clearly displayed on the inside of the oven door, providing a functional list of automatic settings to assist in meal preparation and take the guesswork out of cooking. Users no longer have to worry that food is burning or remains cold in the center. The Distinctive Microwave also comes with pre-set options for recipes that can be made directly in the microwave. Complete with recipe cards so home chefs can prepare the ingredients, the Microwave display prompts users on the recipe’s next step. During the cooking process the microwave displays recipe instructions and pauses automatically to allow users to stir, season, or add ingredients as necessary. The Auto Start option allows users to program the oven to begin cooking at a pre-set time and power level. Food can be placed inside, and the menu used to set the appropriate time and power level.

Additional features of the 24” Distinctive Microwave:

Keep Warm – keeps hot foods heated up to 30 minutes after cooking is finished with no loss of quality

Four Defrost Options – quickly defrosts meats and poultry by weight. Specific programs for each category assure excellent, even results

Minute Plus – provides users one minute of high power cooking with a single touch

36” Epicure Ventilation System

An efficient, high-quality ventilation system is essential to improving air quality in the kitchen. Ventilation Systems not only eliminate kitchen odors, but also help to control the humidity in a kitchen, which inhibits the growth of bacteria. The 36” Epicure Ventilation System offers a stylish solution for homeowners who need a ventilation system but do not want the look of a large hood hanging from the ceiling. Designed in stainless steel, this innovative ventilation system is installed under the counter and remains out of view when not in use. When needed, the system rises 15” above the countertop to efficiently remove smoke and other cooking odors. When finished, the touch of a button lowers the system back into the surface of the counter for a clear, uncluttered countertop. The ventilation system’s slim profile makes it versatile and allows it to be installed behind an oven/cooktop combination.
Dacor specially designed the Epicure Ventilation System to compliment the Distinctive Cooktop and Distinctive Rangetop. The system has an infinite speed blower control and must be vented with a Remote Blower or In Line Blower, which reduce kitchen noise, or a Cabinet Blower. Powerful and efficient design allows Dacor blowers to easily remove the most persistent and dense kitchen pollutants – from heat and odor to steam and smoke.

The Distinctive 24” Microwave rolls out to authorized Dacor dealers in February 2011 with UMRP starting at $459 while the Epicure 36” Raised Ventilation System will be available to dealers in March 2011 and has a UMRP starting at $979.

GE Appliance Cash Sweepstakes

Beginning January 13th, GE is running an eight week sweepstakes, with weekly $250 VISA card giveaways and a grand prize of $20,000. You can enter each day for a chance to win. Here’s the link to get you there: GE Sweepstakes

Tips for Working with an Appliance Repair Technician

Appliance repair is something people generally like to avoid. Break downs never occur at a convenient time. Appliances fail when they are being used or are needed. In addition to not being able to use the appliance, people now have to find an appliance repair service and schedule an appointment. Continental Appliance, a San Francisco appliance repair and sales store, offers advice for working with an appliance repair service.

Below are some guidelines for working with an appliance repair service:

1. Gather necessary information before calling the appliance repair service, including availability, warranty information, brand name, model, and serial number of the appliance.

2. Be home when the appliance repairman shows up. Though it can be frustrating to be given a two to four hour time window, this is often the best they can do. The appliance repairman cannot always be expected to know exactly how long each job is going to take.

3. Don’t put off appliance repair when something is going wrong. If the appliance is making a grinding noise but still seems to work ok, chances are the repair will be relatively inexpensive if addressed right away. Ignoring the problem could lead to a more expensive problem.

4. Owners often like to watch the technician at work, but be considerate. Keep pets and children out of the way. The repairman doesn’t need a dog licking his face or children playing with his tools.

5. Payment is expected at the time of service. Do not wait until the job is complete then tell the appliance repairman to send a bill.

As expensive as it seems, appliance repair fees are generally reasonable when considering the time and money it takes to travel around fixing appliances, to keep up with advancing technologies and new products, and the convenience afforded. Imagine if the appliance has to be taken to the shop.

Ten Money Saving Tips – Read This Before You Buy

Here are some handy tips to consider if you really want to save money on your next appliance purchase:

1. Buy Last Year’s Model
If you don’t mind owning last year’s model, you can shave hundreds of dollars off of your appliance purchase. Best time to shop: September and October when stores are under pressure to clear space for the new arrivals.

2. Shop the Scratch and Dents
A small scratch or dent could become your best friend if you’re on a tight budget. Ask the sales associate if they have any damaged appliances for sale. Then, survey the damaged models to decide what you are willing to live with – even the smallest blemish can net big savings.

3. Buy What You Need
Have you ever noticed how the most expensive appliance models are typically the first that you come to in the store? No coincidence, I assure you. To keep yourself from falling for the latest bells and whistles, make a list of what you need before you venture into the stores. Then, buy the cheapest model that meets those needs. Just remember: that refrigerator with the built-in TV isn’t going to keep your food any colder.

4. Do a Trade-In
It’s no secret that trading in your car can save you money on a new car purchase, but did you know that you can sometimes do the same thing with your appliances? Check with appliance dealers in your area to see if any accept trade-ins. Then, find out how much your current appliance is worth. It could just be your ticket to a bargain.

5. Shop the Sales
Find something you like, but not thrilled with the price? Ask a sales associate when your pick is scheduled to go on sale. Waiting a week or two could be all it takes to reduce your purchase price by 25%. September and October are the best months to make major purchases but the second-best time is during the holidays. Merchants offer deep discounts at Christmas, when consumers want to spiff up their homes for the holidays. Also keep an eye out for sales on the less-celebrated weekends, like Memorial Day, Mother’s Day and Labor Day.

6. Look for a Package Deal
Need a washer and dryer or all new appliances for your kitchen? If so, an appliance package could be your biggest source of savings. Retailers frequently bundle appliances to boost sales, and these packages can offer significant savings over the price of purchasing each item individually.

7. Buy a Floor Model
Do you mind if your new appliance comes without a box? If not, consider purchasing a floor model. You’ll enjoy the same warranty that you’d get with a new-in-box item, without the new-in-box price. Sacrifice a little cardboard and save a lot.


8. Shop Box Stores

Shopping warehouse and box stores can be hit or miss. Sometimes you get a great deal and other times you may pay more. When it comes to appliances, however, you may be surprised at the bargains you can find. Such stores don’t usually honor price matches so what you see is what you get. Before hitting these cut-rate stores, research prices and quality online.

9. Avoid Rentals
It’s tempting to pay just $20 a week for a new refrigerator, but the interest you’ll pay for a rent-to-own appliance means you end up paying much more than the purchase price. These retailers thrive on consumers who pay the minimum amount each month or end up reneging on payments and losing the appliance.

10. Surf Craigslist
Keep an eye on the appliances section for low prices on brand new appliances. Dealers sometimes advertise their overstocks on Craigslist. Look for “dealer” notations to know if you’re working with a store and not a private seller. Realtors and remodeling contractors also offer new or nearly new appliances. You’ll likely have to manage your own delivery and installation, however.

Credit to about.com and couponshepa.com

GE’s Plans to Help You Manage Your Energy Use

GE Appliances & Lighting created the Home Energy Management (HEM) business, intending to be the first major appliance company to provide a whole-home solution for energy management.

When synchronized with the local utility company’s home smart-meter, coming into popular use, the HEM acts as the “central nervous system” for monitoring resource usage and controlling energy consumption within the home. The HEM, with the ability to collect data on multiple appliances, provides both real-time and long-term trend information on power and resource consumption and solar generation to the homeowners.

GE’s new Home Energy Manager (HEM) monitors all networked appliances which can include the refrigerator, range, dishwasher, washer and dryer, water heater, and will track all other home energy consumption including microwaves and televisions.

One of the primary goals of U.S. smart grid initiatives is to better use the energy production capacity the country already has. Home energy consumption efficiency can increase significantly when homeowners the option to participate in time-of-use pricing programs, which reward homeowners for lowering their consumption during periods of peak energy demand (usually 2-7 PM).

Simply providing consumers with energy consumption information motivates energy savings. A U.S. Department of Energy study showed that providing real-time pricing information to consumers via a smart meter helped reduce electricity costs 10% on average and 15% during peak periods.

“Knowing what is consuming electricity, and how much electricity that appliances are consuming, can be very empowering,” states Dave McCalpin, general manager of the new HEM business. “People will be able to make smarter choices if they have information. The once-a-month electrical bill provides no insight into your usage habits. We intend to change that.”

HEM’s design is targeted to include:

* Demand Response Integration, supporting communication standards Zigbee SEP 1.0, to enable demand response communication between a utility’s home smart meter and appliances on the home network, enabling real-time load shedding of networked appliances;
* Five-Day Weather Forecasts on Internet-enabled installations (communications supporting Ethernet, Wifi, and Zigbee SEP 1.0 standards);
* Electricity Usage Data Monitoring for the whole home for both short and long terms;
* Power Sub Metering for each GE demand response-enabled appliance;
* Solar Generation Monitoring of inverter output, including short- and long-term data where available;
* Water Usage Monitoring via household-wide data monitoring at 1-gallon resolution;
* Smart Thermostat Interface with full-featured seven-day programmable communicating thermostats that accepts demand response temperature offsets.