October 26, 2014

Smeg Retro Washer

I love the look of Smeg’s retro refrigerator that we wrote about Here.

Smeg adds to the look with its  free-standing washing machine sink combo.

Washing Machine:

  • 15 washing programs
  • Variable spin speed from 600 up to 1600 rpm
  • Delay timer
  • Max 5 kg of dry laundry
  • steel drum and tank
  • Extra large 300 mm porthole
  • Door safety lock
  • Automatic variable load
  • Self cleaning pump & filter
  • adjustable feet

The washer is available in pink or blue, the only catch is that these are still sold only in Europe!  We’ll have to wait…

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.

Avoid a Service Call – Troubling Shooting the Freezer

We’ve just taken delivery here of a new Frigidaire Gallery upright freezer which we plan to review for you in depth. While sorting through all the paperwork that comes with a new appliance, I found a handy tip sheet that Frigidaire includes to help you prevent the need for a service call. Some of the tips may seem obvious, but hey, if it’s one that might have been forgotten, I want to be reminded of it.

To be certain your appliance is running properly:

The outside walls of the appliance should be warm. They can be up to 30 degrees warmer than room temperature.

You should be able to hear the compressor running ( as long as the surrounding noise level is low).

Check to see that the appliance is leveled and installed properly.

  • Be sure the wood shipping base is removed
  • Level the appliance from side to side
  • Tilt it slightly backward to insure proper door seal
  • Allow enough air space around the appliance and avoid high temperature locations.
  • Do not store items on top of or close to the appliance

The appliance must be plugged into a proper circuit.

  • It should not be plugged into a cicuit that is protected by a ground fault interrupt. If it is tripped, it will disconnect power to the appliance.
  • Use a properly grounded three prong outlet.
  • If you are unsure about the outlet, have it checked by an electrician.

So go check your fridge, see if it’s warm and has enough air space, then come back and see what we have to say about the Frigidaire freezer.

Freezer Sales Increasing

Consumers across the country are trying to find ways to save money. The cost of food keeps going up and no one can predict when it will stop. While the appliance market has cooled down a bit generally, the sales of freezers has gone up.

According toTheTimesTribune.com, across the country, shoppers bought more than 1.1 million freezers during the first six months of the year — up more than 7 percent from the same period last year, according to research firm NPD Group. That rings up to nearly $400 million in freezer sales — a staggering figure compared to the rest of the home appliance sector, where industry data shows shipments are down nearly 8 percent.

And, experts said, it’s a trend that’s expected to continue at least through much of next year as penny-pinching shoppers buy in bulk to take advantage of deals or bundle grocery shopping trips to conserve gas. About half of all U.S. households already have a chest or upright freezer, separate from the refrigerator-freezer combo that’s a kitchen stalwart, according to industry statistics.

To accommodate the rest — or cater to shoppers who want to upgrade to newer or more spacious models — some appliance makers are redesigning their products and marketing them as a way to put the freeze on rising food prices.

This summer, Frigidaire’s revamped upright freezers began hitting stores, as the brand owned by Swedish manufacturer Electrolux AB added specially designed shelves, baskets and other features to accommodate the appliances’ growing popularity.

How Your Automatic Ice Maker Makes Ice

A tall glass of iced tea or lemonade seems to symbolize summer, and it seems we are all adding ice to our drinks. I remember those old fashioned metal ice cube trays with a lever that was lifted to release the cubes. Those were followed by plastic trays that we twisted to get to the ice. Now I have noticed that it is nearly impossible to find a new refrigerator without an automatic ice maker built into it. If you’ve ever listened to your freezer making ice and wondered exactly how the system works, howstuffworks.com has the answer for you. We’ll share the gist of for you:

An ice maker works like those plastic trays, but the process of pouring water and extracting cubes is fully automated. A home ice maker is an ice-cube assembly line.

Most ice makers use an electric motor, an electrically operated water valve and an electrical heating unit. To provide power to all these elements, you have to hook the icemaker up to the electrical circuit powering your refrigerator. You also have to hook the icemaker up to the plumbing line in your house, to provide fresh water for the ice cubes. The power line and the water-intake tube both run through a hole in the back of the freezer.

When everything is hooked up, the ice maker begins its cycle. The cycle is usually controlled by a simple electrical circuit and a series of switches.

  • At the beginning of the cycle, a timed switch in the circuit briefly sends current to a solenoid water valve. In most designs, the water valve is actually positioned behind the refrigerator, but it is connected to the central circuit via electrical wires. When the circuit sends current down these wires, the charge moves a solenoid (a type of electromagnet), which opens the valve.
  • The valve is only open for about seven seconds; it lets in just enough water to fill the ice mold. The ice mold is a plastic well, with several connected cavities. Typically, these cavities have a curved, half-circle shape. Each of the cavity walls has a small notch in it so each ice cube will be attached to the cube next to it.
  • Once the mold is filled, the machine waits for the water in the mold to freeze. The cooling unit in the refrigerator does the actual work of freezing the water, not the ice maker itself. The ice maker has a built-in thermostat, which monitors the temperature level of the water in the molds. When the temperature dips to a particular level — say, 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-13 degrees Celsius) — the thermostat closes a switch in the electrical circuit.
  • Closing this switch lets electrical current flow through a heating coil underneath the ice maker. As the coil heats up, it warms the bottom of the ice mold, loosening the ice cubes from the mold surface.
  • The electrical circuit then activates the ice maker’s motor. The motor spins a gear, which rotates another gear attached to a long plastic shaft. The shaft has a series of ejector blades extending out from it. As the blades revolve, they scoop the ice cubes up and out of the mold, pushing them to the front of the ice maker. Since the cubes are connected to one another, they move as a single unit.
  • At the front of the ice maker, there are plastic notches in the housing that match up with the ejector blades. The blades pass through these notches, and the cubes are pushed out to a collection bin underneath the ice maker.
  • The revolving shaft has a notched plastic cam at its base. Just before the cubes are pushed out of the ice maker, the cam catches hold of the shut-off arm, lifting it up. After the cubes are ejected, the arm falls down again. When the arm reaches its lowest resting position, it throws a switch in the circuit, which activates the water valve to begin another cycle. If the arm can’t reach its lowest position, because there are stacked-up ice cubes in the way, the cycle is interrupted. This keeps the ice maker from filling your entire freezer with ice; it will only make more cubes when there is room in the collection bin.

It’s quite a system, and one we should appreciate on a 100 degree day.

Newly Expanded GE Café Series of Appliances

The newest additions to the GE Café series include two counter-depth refrigerators, and a new electric range.

Refrigerators:

The counter-depth styling allows the appliances to blend seamlessly with the surrounding cabinetry, achieving a built-in look without the added expense of a built-in model.
The new counter-depth 25-cubic-foot side-by-side refrigerator is available with ClimateKeeper2™ technology, featuring a dual-evaporator system to create two zones of air circulation that help foods stay fresh. Because air is no longer circulated between the fresh-food and freezer compartments, the freezer’s cold, dry air won’t prematurely dry out foods, and odors won’t transfer between the compartments. Suggested retail price for this refrigerator is $3,249.

For home chefs who prefer the convenience of keeping produce and meats at eye level, GE will launch the 21-cubic-foot GE Café counter-depth bottom freezer with French doors. Now available with an internal water dispenser. Suggested retail price is $2,899.

Offered as a free-standing, slide-in range, the new GE Café Electric Range offers consumers without a gas line the ability to have a restaurant-inspired range. The range includes a fifth center burner and cast-iron griddle on the cooktop, a PreciseAir™ convection oven, and a double-oven configuration with a drawer that heats up to 450 degrees for added cooking flexibility. An optional stainless steel backsplash is available (model JXS80SS). The GE Café electric free-standing range (model CS980SNSS) will be available November 2008 with an estimated retail price of $2799.

Samsung’s Flexible Fridge

Samsung has a creative refrigerator idea. The Quatro Cooling Convertible Refrigerator allows the consumer to switch the refrigeration and freezing compartments as needed. If you plan to cook and freeze food in preparation for a big event just switch use to make room. The same applies to needing more room to cool drinks for a party. The unit has to bottom drawer that can switch modes at the push of a button.

The refrigerator is a french door style with each compartment controlled and cooled separately with its own evaporator and fan. The bottom two drawers adapt to become refrigerators as needed.

Here are some basic specifications:

Capacity Net Total 24.8cu.ft.

Dimensions
Net Width 35.7″
Net Case height w/ hinge 69.7″
Net Depth w/ door handle 33.1″

Cooling Features Cooling System Quatro Cooling

Freezer Features Icemaker

Exterior Features Display & Control Digital LCD

Color Stainless Steel

Whirlpool Earns Third Energy Star Award

Whirlpool Corp. has been recognized with its third consecutive ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award. Provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the award honors Whirlpool Corp.’s contribution to providing innovative efficient products that help consumers reduce utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Whirlpool will accept the award at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2008. This is the company’s ninth ENERGY STAR award win.

“Whirlpool Corporation is proud to again receive the ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award,” said Mike Todman, president, Whirlpool North America. “At Whirlpool, we believe that focusing on energy, water and the environment isn’t about narrowing the field of choices, it’s about broadening horizons. We continually strive for efficiency improvements while always keeping in mind that exceeding the expectations of the consumer is our goal.”

The company has been a long-term ENERGY STAR partner, helping create the guidelines for the Green Lights Program, the EPA’s precursor to the appliance ENERGY STAR program. “We are proud to recognize Whirlpool Corporation’s continued efforts with the 2008 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award,” said Robert J. Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air & Radiation. “Year after year partners like Whirlpool are examples of the benefits of a long-term commitment to energy efficiency. Their actions are leading the way in saving energy and helping to protect the environment.”

While other appliance manufacturers have been talking about sustainability, Whirlpool Corporation has been taking action for more than 30 years. The company is the global industry leader in developing high-performance appliances that help conserve the earth’s resources and allow homeowners to use energy and water more efficiently. It is the only appliance manufacturer that brings an “across the board” focus to energy and water conservation, from design to manufacture and distribution, to the end of the product life-cycle.

Whirlpool Corporation offers consumers the largest breadth of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. Its more than 700 innovative models include:
The Whirlpool(R) Duet(R) Steam Washer. The washer naturally steams away tough stains, from grass to grease, without pre-treating. This model also saves consumers 73 percent water and 77 percent energy, compared to top-load washers manufactured before 2004, and using the normal cycle.
The Whirlpool(R) Cabrio(R) Steam Dryer combines mist and heat in the dryer to naturally steam away wrinkles and odors, reducing trips to the dry cleaner and providing front-load laundry efficiency in a top-load configuration.
Energy efficient refrigeration combined with flexible technology options through the Whirlpool(R) centralpark(TM) connection. The refrigerator offers a plug-and-play platform right on the door, providing support to consumer electronics including a digital picture frame and digital music player without compromising on energy efficiency.
The Maytag(R) Bravos(TM) high-efficiency, large-capacity top-load washer. The Bravos system features an impeller wash system with Sensi-Care technology and a commercial-grade stainless-steel wash basket – providing the thorough, dependable clean of a front-load system in a top-load configuration.
The Maytag(R) EPICz(TM) high-efficiency front-load washer’s space-saving design, providing dependable performance features and commercial-grade components, is one of the most energy efficient in the industry. The washer received NSF International (formerly National Sanitation Foundation) certification for its sanitary cycle, which heats wash water up to 153-DegF.
The Maytag brand Dishwasher with a SteamClean option. SteamClean delivers enhanced cleaning performance on glassware for soil and spot removal.. Whirlpool Corporation was the first in the appliance industry to launch a steam option in dishwashers.
A new SteamClean option for Jenn-Air brand dishwashers. The SteamClean option enhances an existing wash cycle, such as the China/Crystal cycle, with improved soil and spot cleaning to produce an even more lustrous shine. In addition to steam, these models also have a new silent sound package, making an already quiet, energy efficient dishwasher even quieter.

Whirlpool works to exceed expectations with appliances that help building professionals create homes of distinction. For this purpose, the company developed – The Inside Advantage(TM). This targeted program offers Powerful Brands, Innovative Products, Targeted Services and Consumer Insight to support building professionals. By staying closely involved with the building industry, Whirlpool Corporation is able to help support sustainable construction that ultimately saves energy and natural resources while providing homebuyers with comfortable, efficient and healthy homes.