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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Kitchenware/Tabletop

TIP OF THE DAY: Nogent Knives

nogent-serrated-w-bread-230sq

If you use your serrated “bread knife” to slice
much more than bread, check out the
Nogent line of knives, where the other knife
styles are microserrated. Photo courtesy
Nogent.

 

Some people use their serrated knives, often called “bread knives,” for slicing bread.

Other people have discovered that, beyond bread, a serrated blade cuts tomatoes, meat and other foods better than the chef’s knife, utility knife or other choice from the cutlery set.

We’re one of those “other people.” We used our bread knife for much more than bread.

And then we discovered Nogent, a French cutlery manufacturer founded in 1923.

The bread knife (photo at left) has a familiar serrated edge; but all of the other knives are micro-serrated.

Almost invisible to the naked eye, these precision edges comprise 100 micro-serrations per inch and are terrific for anything—chopping, dicing, mincing and slicing. We can slice a tomato thinner with our Nogent chef’s knife than with any other knife we own.

 

We only have one Nogent knife—a gift received at a trade show. But we use it almost exclusively, ignoring the fine cutlery we own for many times the price.

The knives never have to be sharpened! We’ve been using our knife for three or more years, and it’s as sharp as ever.

The blades are handcrafted of molybdenum, a compound that is used in high-strength carbide steel and carbon stainless steel.

The handles are molded polymer of an design. The polymer feels good in the hand, as does the ergonomic grip.

 

If there’s anything to mar perfection, it’s that the handles are plastic and “authentic hornbeam wood” that looks like plastic.

Our chef’s knife is two-toned ecru and what looks like faux wood but is actually real (see photo above). To us it looks very dated, like those beige and faux wood station wagons from the Eisenhower era.

But, Nogent has since moved to modern, if nondescript, black polypropylene handles, among other choices. They’re a much better look.

 

knives-tomatoes-230

You can still find some of wood handles, but the new handles are a preferable “basic black.” Photo courtesy Nogent.

 

WHERE TO FIND NOGENT

Nogent makes a complete range of cutlery, from peelers and paring knives to boning and carving knives. The challenge is to find them!

We found the chef’s knife on Amazon.com for $58.99.

The utility knife is $25.74.

The paring knife is $15.20; we also spotted the boning knife, bread knife, carving knife, steak knife, peelers and other pieces of the line.

The prices vary based on the line, which seems to be differentiated by handle material.

Looking for a gift for someone who likes to cook—or is starting to learn? One or more Nogent knives will make cooking so much more pleasurable.

Just as important, treat yourself to the chef’s knife. Then, book a vacation to France, and bring home knives instead of less useful souvenirs.

  

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VALENTINE GIFT: Pink Or Red Food Dehydrator

A growing number of people are switching to good-for-you snacks. If they like to make their own, an unusual and generous Valentine gift is a food dehydrator from Excalibur, in red or pink.

According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Americans consume a third of their daily calories from snacks. Many pre-packaged bars, cookies, dried fruit and jerky are high in salt, sugar, preservatives and additives.

Dehydrating your own food allows you to swap out those questionable ingredients for healthy, nutrition-dense alternatives that allow the true flavors of natural foods to shine through. Think dehydrated fruits and vegetables, or meats and fish jerky.

You can also dry herbs and flowers (to decorate cakes or make your own potpourri and sachets) and make granola. It’s easy to get hooked on dehydrating.

 

excalibur-red-dehydrator-230b

Instead of roses: a bright red food dehydrator. Photo courtesy Excalibur.

 
WHO’S DEHYDRATING FOOD?

Man has been dehydrating for thousands of years, initially to preserve meat and other foods in the millennia prior to refrigeration. Today, our most commonly enjoyed dehydrated foods include jerky and bottled herbs. Many “practitioners” dehydrate summer crops—berries, peaches, tomatoes—for enjoyment through the winter.

Dehydration is used everywhere from hunters’ cabins to Michelin-star kitchens.

Grant Achatz, Ferran Adrià, Dan Barber, Matthew Lightner, Sam Mason, Sarma Melngailis, Iliana Regan, Rich Torrisi and Ming Tsai dehydrate ingredients to intensify and concentrate flavors, decrease marinating time, thicken sauces and soften saturated fats like coconut oil or cacao butter.

 

excalibur-pink-230

Radiant Raspberry is another option, along
with Antique Copper, Copper, Radiant
Blueberry, Radiant Cherry and Twilight Black.
Photo courtesy Excalibur.

 

THE EXCALIBUR DEHYDRATOR

Compact enough to fit on your kitchen counter, the Excalibur Dehydrator has a patented airflow drying system to optimize speed in drying, among other features. It is up to 10 times faster than common round dehydrators, and available in a variety of color finishes and sizes, including commercial and non-commercial grade units.

You pay for quality, of course. Excalibur machines are top of the line, and these are $349 at ExcaliburDehydrator.com.

But if you enjoy kale chips, carrot chips, apple chips and the like, it will pay for itself in less than a year. Instead of baking cookies, bring your hosts your homemade snacks.

 
While even pricier than those pricey red or pink roses, it will be a permanent change in better-for-you food preparation.
 

You can package the dehydrator with a book:

  • Dehydrating Food: A Beginner’s Guide, with 167 recipes
  • The Dehydrator Guide, with more than 400 recipes
  •   

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Chopsticks Day

    It’s National Chopsticks Day, a reason to enjoy a Chinese meal or two. We’re making homemade dumplings with this easy video recipe.

    As we contemplate the history of chopsticks, the eating utensil of choice in Asia, let’s compare them to the history of the forks, knives and spoons used at table in the West.

    This information is adapted from a wonderful exhibit, The History Of Eating Utensils, at the California Academy Of Sciences, much of which is available online.

    No matter what the country of origin, utensils were historically made in costly materials for the wealthy, and humble materials for everyone else. Table utensils have been made from metals (gold, silver, and pewter—and today, stainless steel), bone, crystal, horn, ivory, lacquered wood, porcelain, pottery, shell and wood. And today, plastic.

    HISTORY OF CHOPSTICKS

    Chopsticks were developed about 5,000 years ago in China. Historians believe that people cooked their food in large pots which retained heat well; hasty eaters then broke twigs off trees to retrieve the food. The twigs evolved into chopsticks.

     

    singapore-noodles-NewAsianCuisine

    Singapore Hokkien noodles. Photo courtesy New Asian cuisine.

     
    By 400 B.C.E, a large and growing population taxed the fuel supply. Food was chopped into small pieces that cooked rapidly, requiring less fuel. Small pieces also meant that knives were not needed at the dinner table—a cost savings, among other benefits. By 500 C.E., chopsticks spread to present-day Vietnam, Korea and Japan.

    Chinese chopsticks, called kuai-zi (“quick little fellows”), are 9 to 10 inches long and rectangular with a blunt end. The English word “chopstick” was likely derived from the Chinese Pidgin English words “chop chop,” meaning fast.

    In Japan, chopsticks are called hashi (the word means “bridge”). The earliest chopsticks used for eating looked like tweezers; they were made from one piece of bamboo that was joined at the top. Known as tong chopsticks, today they are used as “training chopsticks” for children. See them here. Japanese chopsticks differ in design from Chinese chopsticks: They are rounded and have a pointed end. They are also shorter—8 inches.

    Proper Use Of Chopsticks

  • Chopsticks are traditionally held in the right hand, even by left-handed people. This practice prevents a left-handed user from accidentally elbowing a right-handed seated next to him/her.
  • It is a huge breach of etiquette to impale a piece of food with a chopstick.
  •  
    HISTORY OF FORKS

    Forks trace their origins back to the time of the Greeks. The original forks were large service forks with two tines, to aid in the carving and serving of meat. That design survives today in carving forks.

    By the seventh century C.E., smaller forks for individual use appeared in royal courts of the Middle East. They spread to use by the wealthy in Byzantine Empire*; in the 11th century, a Byzantine wife of a Doge of Venice brought forks to Italy. The Italians, however, were slow to adopt their use. Forks were not widely adopted until the 16th century.

    In 1533, forks were brought from Italy to France by Catherine de Medici, bride of the future King Henry II. The French, too, were slow to accept forks, thinking them to be an affectation.

    An Englishman named Thomas Coryate brought the first forks to England from Italy, in 1608. The English ridiculed forks as being effeminate and unnecessary. “Why should a person need a fork when God had given him hands?” was a refrain. Yes, it wasn’t all that long ago that even “civilized” people ate with their hands, spoons, impaled their food on knives or used bread to scoop it up.

     
    *The Byzantine Empire, which existed from approximately 330 C.E. to 1453 C.E., comprised the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe.

     

    beef-wellington-SFA-Allen-230

    Imagine eating without a fork. Yet, it was
    ridiculed and rejected by the British, French
    and Italians. Photo courtesy Allen Bros.

     

    But by the mid 1600s, eating with forks was considered fashionable among wealthy British.

    Early table forks were modeled after kitchen forks with two tines that ensured that meat would not twist while being cut. However, small pieces of food regularly fell through the tines or slipped off easily. In late 17th century France, larger forks with four curved tines were developed to solve the problem. The curved tines—used today—served as a scoop so people did not have to constantly switch to a spoon while eating. And forks were more efficient for spearing food than the knife.

    But the fork did not become common in northern Europe until the 18th century and was not common in North America until the 19th century.

    See the beautiful forks in the California Academy of Sciences exhibit.

     
    HISTORY OF SPOONS

    Spoons are the oldest eating utensils, in use since Paleolithic times. These prehistoric peoples—the first modern humans—probably used shells or chips of wood as eating and serving utensils. In fact, both the Greek and Latin words for spoon are derived from cochlea, a spiral-shaped snail shell (that also gives its name to the spiral-shaped cavity in the inner ear), suggesting that shells were commonly used as spoons in Southern Europe. The Anglo-Saxon word spon, predecessor of spoon, refers to a chip or splinter of wood.

    In the fist century C.E., the Romans designed two types of spoons:

  • The ligula was used for soups and soft foods. It had a pointed oval bowl and a handle ending in a decorative design.
  • The cochleare was a small spoon with a round bowl for eating shellfish and eggs. As a result of the Roman occupation of Britain (43 to 410 C.E.), the earliest English spoons were likely modeled after these spoons.
  •  
    See the beautiful spoons in the California Academy of Sciences exhibit.
     
    HISTORY OF KNIVES

    Knives have been used as weapons, tools and eating utensils since prehistoric times. Only fairly recently were they adapted for table use.

    In the Middle Ages in Europe, hosts did not provide cutlery for their guests; most people carried their own knives in sheaths attached to their belts. These knives were narrow and their sharply pointed ends were used to spear food and then raise it to the mouth.

    The multi-purpose nature of the knife—weapon and eating utensil—always posed a threat of danger at the dinner table. Once forks began to gain popular acceptance, there was no longer any need for a pointed tip at the end of a dinner knife. In 1669, King Louis XIV of France decreed all pointed knives on the street or the dinner table illegal, and he had all knife points ground down to reduce violence. That’s why today we have blunt-tipped “table knives” and separate “steak knives.”

    At the beginning of the 18th century, very few forks were being imported to America. However, knives were imported and their tips became progressively blunter. Because Americans had very few forks and no longer had sharp-tipped knives, they had to use spoons in lieu of forks. They would use the spoon to steady food as they cut and then switch the spoon to the opposite hand in order to scoop up food to eat. This distinctly American style of eating continued even after forks became commonplace in the United States.

      

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    VALENTINE GIFT: Red Moka Pot

    moka-pot-red-imusa

    The classic moka pot dons a red coat.
    Photo courtesy IMUSA USA.

     

    Here’s a no-calorie Valentine gift for someone who loves strong coffee: a red moka pot.

    You can purchase the six-cup version at Macy’s for $14.99; it also is available in pumpkin orange and cobalt blue. A three-cup version is available at Kohl’s.

    Bialetti, originators of the moka pot, make six-cup versions in solid red, orange, blue and violet.

    Up until few decades ago, before the introduction of electric-powered espresso machines for the home, people with money made espresso in a moka pot, a manual Italian espresso maker. People without money, space or a frequent need for an electric espresso machine still do.

    WHAT’S A MOKA POT?

    A moka pot is a stove top coffee pot that makes strong coffee. Instead of the more recent drip coffeemakers, where water drips down through ground coffee into a carafe below, the moka pot holds the water in its bottom half. When heated on the stove, the steam pushes boiling water up through the grounds into a top chamber, from which it is poured.

     

    HISTORY OF THE MOKA POT

    The aluminum Moka Express, with its octagonal body, was patented in 1933 by the Italian inventor Luigi De Ponti and acquired by Alfonso Bialetti. It enabled Bialetti, a metals engineer, to transform his company into a leading Italian coffee machine designer and manufacturer.

    Before the moka pot, only people of means could brew café-quality coffee at home, using large and expensive commercial machines that required training. Most people drank their coffee at a café or coffee bar.

    The creation of the small, efficient, user-friendly and affordable Moka Express allowed anyone to quickly brew at home the bold, robust-tasting coffee beloved by Italians. It replaced the more primitive coffee-makers developed in the late 19th century such as the Napoletana.

    Although today there are electric moka pots, it the original survives in its original form—a feat for a kitchen appliance designed more than 80 years ago. The major change has been a move to stainless steel by some the versions, as well as novelty designs like the one above and Bialetti’s cappuccino moka pot with a fun cow-pattern enamel coating (there’s also a plain, elegant cappuccino pot).

     

    WHY IS IT CALLED “MOKA?”

    The Red Sea port city of Mocha in Yemen was the major marketplace for coffee—grown in Africa—from the 15th century through the 17th century. The principal port for Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a, it was later eclipsed by the ports of Aden and Hodeida.

    Because the name is transliterated from Arabic letters, there are a variety of spellings: Mocha, Mocca, Moka, Mokha, etc.

    Even after other sources of coffee were developed, Mocha beans (also called Sanani or Mocha Sanani beans, meaning “from Sana’a”) continued to be prized for their distinctive flavor—and remain so today.

     

    moka-pot-red-coffee-imusa-230

    Be my Valentine—have an espresso. Photo courtesy IMUSA USA.

    HOW TO BUY A MOKA POT

    Remember that a “four cup pot” means four wee espresso cups. If you like a double espresso—or a standard coffee cup full—buy the largest pot you can find—typically nine cups. Bialetti’s largest makes 12 cups.

    If you have the option, stainless steel will look better over time than aluminum.

    Typically, Italian roast coffee is used in a moka pot; but you can use whatever you have.

     
    MAKE TEA IN A MOKA POT

    What if you have two moka pots? Use one for tea. See our moka pot tip from ten days ago.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 15+ Uses For A Culinary Torch

    bonjour-culunary-torch-230

    Making crème brûlée is just one of the
    numerous things you can do with a culinary
    torch. Photo courtesy BonJour.

     

    Many of us have purchased a culinary torch (a.k.a. chef’s torch or brulée torch) for the sole purpose of caramelizing sugar on crème brûlée.

    But a culinary torch has numerous other uses in the kitchen, for preparing both sweet and savory dishes. Here are 14 ways to use your torch, with thanks to Williams-Sonoma for some of these ideas.

    BREAKFAST

    1. Breakfast or dessert grapefruit brûlée. Cut a grapefruit in half and pat the cut surface dry. Sprinkle a thin layer of brown or white sugar and some optional cinnamon and/or nutmeg. Heat with the torch until the sugar bubbles.

    2. Brûlée your oatmeal. Sprinkle cooked oatmeal or other porridge with a thin layer of brown or white sugar; heat with a torch until it gets crisp.
     
    LUNCH/DINNER

    3. Caramelize beef and other meat.

     

    Meat that’s served rare, like roast beef, is best cooked at a lower temperature. But this technique doesn’t produce a caramelized crust. Chef Thomas Keller shares his technique for prime rib: Before popping the roast into the oven, char the outside with a blowtorch. You can also do this with lamb. And, it makes any bacon wrap (like bacon-wrapped shrimp) crisper: just torch the bacon before putting the appetizers in the oven.

    4. Char bell peppers. Instead of holding them over the stove, use your torch. You can also use the torch to roast small chiles (jalapeños, e.g.).

    5. Cook a pizza, no oven required! Your torch will brown a ready-to-eat crust, melt the cheese, even roast the veggies.

    6. Glaze a ham or a pork roast. Brush with chutney, honey mustard, preserves etc. If you’re adding fruit, lay the pineapple slices or other fruit over the ham. (If you need to use toothpicks, first soak them in water.) Sprinkle with brown sugar. Heat with the torch until the sugar caramelizes.

    7. Melt cheese. Add a finishing touch to the cheese atop onion soup gratinée, chili or any hot dish with grated cheese, including mac and cheese.

     

    8. Peel tomatoes. When making sauces, chili, etc., you can blanch the whole tomatoes in boiling water, or use your torch to sear and easily peel the skin. When skin starts to crack, set the tomato aside to cool, then peel.

    9. Sear fish. You may have seen a sushi chef use a torch to sear the outside of a raw piece of tuna or other fish. Try it at home for an appetizer, atop a bed of frisée, mesclun or seaweed salad; replace some of the olive oil in your vinaigrette with sesame oil, and garnish with toasted sesame seeds. For a more cooked alternative, use the torch to crisp the skin and of the fish that hasn’t gotten it crisp enough in the pan (how to crisp fish skin).

    10. Singe the pin feathers off poultry. Easy peasy!

     

    roasted-bell-peppers-zabars-a

    Charred bell peppers. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.

     
    11. Toast a bread crumb topping. Stuff tomatoes, bell peppers or avocado halves with chicken, crab, lobster, shrimp or tuna salad. Sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, then heat with a torch until golden brown. You can also torch the bread crumb topping on mac and cheese and spaghetti or other pasta dishes.

    DESSERT

    12. Brown meringue. Use the torch to brown the meringue atop Baked Alaska, fruit tarts, meringue pies and other desserts.

    13. Create burnt sugar garnishes. Place a greased cookie cutter on a Silpat liner and sprinkle a thin layer of sugar inside the cutter. Heat with a torch until crisp, then lift off the cutter. Use the burnt sugar decoration to garnish desserts such as frosted cakes, ice cream or pudding.

    14. Make s’mores. Do this in the kitchen; or if your guests are handy adults, place graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows on a platter and invite them to spear marshmallows with fondue forks and toast and assemble their own.

    15. Flambé your food. Make delicious, festive desserts: Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee, dessert crêpes, fruit compote, etc. Pour Grand Marnier or other liqueur into a metal measuring cup and heat with the torch. Pour the warmed liqueur over the dessert and then use the torch or a long match to ignite. How to flambé.

    16. Unmold frozen desserts. If they resist popping out of metal molds, the torch is neater and quicker than hot water.

    17. And of course, crème brûlée.
     
    Have other suggestions? Let us know!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY & GIFT: Knife Sharpening By Mail

    Want a holiday gift to make any cook happy? Sharpen their knives!

    Well not you, exactly. But for an online payment of $34.99, you can send them a shipping box from USA Sharp that includes four knife guards plus prepaid, insured priority shipping labels for quick and easy USPS turnaround.

    Then, just slip the knives into the knife guards and drop the box in the mail. The company promises a 24-hour turnaround, which means that the USPS will return the sharpened knives within 3-5 business days.

    And sharpen your own knives, while you’re at it.

    USA Sharp is a family knife sharpening service that founded in the 1930s by an immigrant to Massachusetts who hand-wheeled a pushcart around town. His granddaughter has taken to the Internet to sharpen knives from kitchens and foodservice operations nationwide.

    And that’s a good thing, since no matter how good (or average) your knives, if you don’t sharpen them regularly, it’s harder to cut. Worse, you run the risk of the blade slipping off the food and into your flesh. Using a sharpening steel or gadget at home is in intermediate step until you call in the big guns (professional sharpening).

    IT COULDN’T BE EASIER

    While you can get knives sharpened at local establishments and traveling trucks, there’s nothing easier than dropping your knives in the nearest mailbox.

     

    Even if you regularly use a sharpening steel, your knives still need to be wheel-sharpened a few times a year (depending on how often you use them). Photo courtesy Inside Woodworking.

     

     

    Put knives into cardboard box, drop box into the nearest U.S. Postal Service box.

     

    It’s worth noting that hardware stores and kitchen shops often use small tabletop machines—or even the knife-sharpening gadgets you can buy in their stores—in a “one machine fits all” sharpening operation. There’s little or no differentiation among the various types of knives and their unique requirements.

    USA Sharp inspects each knife to determine which a sharpening method will create the finest hard edge.

    Not only can USA Sharp sharpen the knives; they can fix most knives that have been improperly sharpened elsewhere and recondition most blades that are chipped, bent, or have broken tips.

    The company also has a knife recycling program for food pantries and soup kitchens. “Retired” kitchen knives are turned reconditioned to provide the gift of sharp cutlery to the chefs who help to feed the hungry.

     
    So get sharp: Send for your shipping box today at USASharp.com.

      

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    GIFT: WellnessMats

    One of the new styles—we have it in front of
    our kitchen sink! Photo courtesy Wellness
    Mats.

     

    In the search for holiday gifts that will be used and treasured, we recommend WellnessMats.

    Anyone who spends a lot of time standing on a hard kitchen floor will be thrilled. Every person who’s stood on our WellnessMat has expressed intent to purchase one.

    The anti-fatigue floor mats are ergonomically engineered and medically proven to provide unsurpassed comfort, safety, relief and support while you stand. If only the Earth were paved with wellness mats: No more back pain, leg pain, knee pain, foot pain (at least, for those moments when standing on a WellnessMat).

    Mario Batali, Todd English, Guy Fieri, Duff Goldman and Top Chef Sarah Grueneberg are all fans. Even people who are in tip-top shape and don’t spend hours in front of the stove or sink will appreciate the pillowy comfort.

     

    WellnessMats come in just about every size, color and pattern that a decorator could desire. There are also choices for the bathroom, garage, grill, laundry room, workplace and for fitness. There are even mat covers, so you can change the look with the seasons.

    Prices vary by size. Our 3′ x 2′ mat, shown in the photo, is $129.95—the best money you can spend for kitchen comfort.

    See the choices on WellnessMats.com. You can buy them online for the best selection, and at fine retailers such as Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table. WellnessMats come with a seven year warranty (you can’t puncture them with stilettos), and are 100% made in USA.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Le Creuset Dutch Oven Ornament & Candle

    A tree ornament for the serious cook. Photo
    courtesy Le Creuset.

     

    Here are two special gift items for a serious cook: new ways to enjoy the classic Le Creuset French ovens.

    Designed to look like a trio of French ovens, this tree ornament announces that a cook is in the house.

    The artisan-blown and hand-painted glass ornament is three inches wide by four inches high. It’s available in red, green and orange for $25.00.

    Not into tree ornaments? How about candles?

    The Holiday Mini Cocotte Candle is a gift-within-a-gift.

    A miniature cocotte holds a candle; when the candle is used up, it turns into a small dish for condiments, olive pits or whatever.

     

    The candle is 100% soy wax and blended with essential oils. It provides 25 hours of burn time and fragrance, in two options:

  • A cherry red cocotte with a vanilla-scented candle
  • A fennel green cocotte with a pine-scented candle
  • The Holiday Mini Cocotte Candle is $40.00.
     
    Both items are available at LeCreuset.com or at Le Creuset Signature Stores.

     

    The French Oven as a candle. Photo courtesy Le Creuset.

     

      

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Lenny Mud Ceramics

    Drink your milk or else! Photo courtesy
    Lenny Mud.

     

    Trying to track down a clever tea pot, we followed a trail from website to website and ended up at the Etsy store of Lenny Mud, based in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

    Lenny is the studio cat; the ceramist is Lorrie Veasey, who creates handmade ceramic cups, mugs, teapots, bowls, vases, ornaments and other pottery items.

    The Frankenstein mug in the photo has a built in holder for the cookies. The price for this work of art? Just $18.

    The ceramics are made from earthenware clay and kiln fired twice to over 1900 degrees. The glazes are lead free and the pottery is dishwasher- and microwave-safe.

    What will Lorrie think of next? Head over to Etsy.com to see her other nifty creations.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Electric Rice Cooker

    The more sophisticated rice cookers double as
    slow cookers. Photo courtesy Blendworx.

     

    An electric rice cooker can make fluffy, light, perfect rice every time, without the stove top mess-ups that some people encounter when trying to cook rice.

    You don’t have to lower the flame and watch that the water doesn’t boil over. Just add rice, water and salt, set the dials and walk away until it’s time to serve the rice.

    The rice cooker can cook other grains as well. So if your goal is to pack more fiber and nutrition via barley, brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains, consider adding a rice cooker to your countertop.

    Thanks to USARice.com and Blendworx.com for some of these tips.

     
    CHOOSING A RICE COOKER

    You can find an electric rice cooker for under $20, or a superpremium Zojirushi model for $150 or more (take a look at this beauty). You’ve got decisions to make, starting with capacity. Size: Is a a four-cup rice cooker enough, or do you want the option to make 10 cups? Then, consider your other options:

  • Slow Cooker: Some rice cookers double as slow cookers—a great idea. You can also use them to make soups, stews, breakfast cereals, even desserts.
  • Keep Warm Function: Rather than turning off, the rice cooker will switch to a lower temperature after cooking to keep the rice warm and moist until serving.
  • Steam Tray: A useful attachment that fits over the rice to simultaneously steam fish, meat and/or vegetables.
  • Delay Timer: You can program it in the morning so the rice is ready to eat when you return from work.
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  • Brown Rice/Sushi Rice: An option to cook rice longer.
  • Fuzzy Logic/Smart Logic: A microprocessor senses and adjusts the amount and type of rice to generate the right amount of heat at varying points in the cooking cycle. These tend to be the best rated and most expensive rice cookers, and are ideal for people who enjoy different varieties of rice.
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    Other rice cooker features include slow cook, quick-cook (a cooking cycle that bypasses the soak stage for faster rice), cake “baking” functions and more.
     
    MEASURING RICE FOR A RICE COOKER

    The rice cooker includes a measuring cup that conforms to rice cooker industry standards. Different from U.S. cooking standards, it measures 180 ml or about ¾ cup.

     

    Advanced rice cookers can make conventional white rice, brown rice, sushi rice and more. Photo courtesy Zojirushi.

     

    If your recipe does not call specifically to measure a “rice cooker cup,” you may need to adjust your recipe accordingly.
     
    TYPES OF RICE

    How many different types of rice have you had? Check out our rice Glossary and discover some new options.

      

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