Any cook knows that a sharp knife is the workhorse of the kitchen — without one you can’t really do anything. If you’ve ever watched Top Chef, you’ll remember an episode in Season 8 where the contestants weren’t allowed to cook with knives for a Quickfire Challenge. It was practically impossible.
Even with the best knife on the market, it’s no good unless it’s sharp. But not everyone sharpens their knives regularly — or even at all. If you cook every day, you should be sharpening your knives every week. If you don’t cook as often, then every second week. To get into the hang of sharpening your knives, we’ve got some tips.
To get the results you want, first decide how much time and effort you want to put in. Here’s a breakdown of sharpening methods and the skills they require:
What is the best knife sharpener? For different people and different knives, this may mean different things.
Sharpening with an Electric Knife Sharpener
A major leap from the small, vicious grinding wheels of yore, many of today’s electric knife sharpeners offer a sophisticated, engineered approach to sharpening. The professional sharpener and others like it use small orbiting diamond plates in two stages of grit–rough and polish–to both set and polish the edge. All you need to do is slowly pull the blade of a knife between the plates. The angle is set automatically.
Sharpening with Knife Sharpening Stones
A very coarse stone, 220 grit or so, will remove a lot of material quickly. This is useful for repairing chips or setting a new bevel angle on a blade.
A medium grit stone, typically 1000 to 1500, is usually the first stone you’ll use if the knife is very dull, but not damaged. The finer grit removes enough material to restore the cutting edge, but not so much material that you’ll grind the blade down quickly.
A fine stone, typically 4000 grit, is used for polishing a cutting edge until it’s very sharp. This is usually as fine as you’ll want to polish a knife because it strikes a very good balance between sharp and durable.
A very fine stone is between 6000 and 8000 grit can be used to polish the blade to a mirror-like finish and hone the cutting edge to razor sharp. Such an edge is ideal for slicing delicate ingredients like seafood, but a cutting edge this fine will dull faster with use.
Watch the video on how to use the stones here.
I love espresso coffee with a passion. When I was in college, I used to set aside Friday evenings for coffee dates with my friends. The local deli near our campus had a marvelous Italian barista who made a wonderful cup of espresso coffee. When I remember how the delicate aroma and irresistible, refined taste of the espresso left an indelible mark on my olfactory senses, I immediately smile to myself.
My first pay, when I got employed a bank in the city was dedicated to an automatic espresso machine. My buy decision was based on a home espresso machine review I chanced upon. I purchased a basic Phillips automatic espresso machine and eagerly unwrapped it when I got to my apartment.
The Phillips automatic espresso machine was quite easy to set up. After reading the instruction manual, it took me 4 minutes to set up the appliance. It was quite compact and I could not wait to brew my first cup of espresso coffee. Apparently, the espresso machine delivered water forcefully through a pump mechanism. With my scant technical knowledge, I realized that it had what they called a grouphead. The grouphead had an in-flow meter which I realized had an automated brewing function. Technical details aside, I was however disappointed to learn that I still had to grind and tamp the coffee beans manual. So much for automation. Despite this downside, I was later able to enjoy my own home brewed cup of espresso coffee. I used the Phillips espresso machine for about 8 months. The manual grinding and tamping finally got to me and I decided to get a better espresso machine.
This time around, I ensured that I based my acquisition on the best espresso machine review.
I finally settled on a top of the range super automatic espresso machine. I purchased the Delonghi Magnifica Super automatic espresso machine. It set me back about US $ 1000, but I was determined to once again, enjoy a cup of hot espresso coffee made in my home. I realized that this is it! The Delonghi has a double boiler and I do not have to wait for brewing to stop for the steaming to commence. It all happens at the same time! The Delonghi has reliable, old fashioned dial controls and is quite durable. The Delonghi Magnifica espresso machine review was on point!
I am all the happier with my latest appliance. I now look forward to relaxing evenings with the tantalizing espresso aromas wafting through my nose, evoking nostalgic memories of my favourite Italian barista. From the comfort of my chair.
Renovating your kitchen will add ease to your lifestyle and value to your home. Here are the 10 most important things to consider when you’re updating your kitchen.
1. Use quality materials.
Top-quality drawer slides and hinges mean cabinet doors will stay closed and drawers won’t stick. Stay away from drawers that are stapled together or made of particleboard. For cabinet interiors, wood veneer is more durable than melamine, laminate, MDF or particleboard.
2. Determine cabinet heights.
If you have eight-foot ceilings, choose cabinets that go to the ceiling. They offer more storage, enabling you to use extra wall space for artwork or open shelves. If your ceilings are higher than eight feet, leave 15 to 18 inches above the cabinets.
3. Decide whether to paint or stain.
Though stained-wood cabinetry is forgiving, most finishes date quickly and aren’t easily altered. Brush-painted cabinets can lend a unique personality.
4. Select an elegant countertop.
White Carrara marble (honed or acid washed and sealed) and stained wood add elegance and warmth. We also like honed Kirkstone slate, soapstone and Wiarton limestone, and plastic laminate with a wood edge for a sophisticated look.
5. Install an island that works.
Beware of placing a bulky cube in the middle of the room. We like islands that have an open, airy look. Ideally, an island should be unencumbered by appliances, but if you want it to house a dishwasher-sink combo or a cooktop, try to maintain the light look of a leggy harvest table.
6. Don’t overdo the details.
Design accents such as pediments over stoves and plaster mouldings on cabinet fronts can represent decorative excess. Remember that the style of your kitchen should be compatible with the rest of your home.
One of the best ways to make cookware is to laminate aluminum to stainless steel, as in this All-Clad set. You get the durability and easily cleaner surface of stainless steel, and the great heat distribution of aluminum. The even heat distribution also means there are no hot spots, and that, in turn, means food doesn’t burn and stick as easily.
My first test with this cookware set was to fly a couple of eggs in the 8″ fry pan. Result: Perfect cooking, and very little sticking; everything came out after light scrubbing with a plastic scouring pad. Next test: Breakfast oatmeal in the small saucepan. I left the gas burner on low, and let the oatmeal cook without stirring. Again, the even heat distribution mean even cooking and no sticking. Fried eggs and oatmeal aren’t exactly the test of a good cook, but they are a good example of simple dishes that are made easier and less messy with the right implements. My usual stockpot is plain stainless, and for boiling water for pasta or making chicken stock there’s not a lot of advantage in laminated cookware. But if you’re making thick sauces or stews it’s a definite plus. Another nice feature: The metal handles stay relatively cool, even after the pot or pan has been on the heat for some time. They’re very solidly attached, too, and should stay on for the life of the pan. (Visit website: http://www.all-clad.com)
This is not a cheap cookware set, and I’m not the kind of person who’d normally be inclined to spend $150 on a saucepan or skillet (my most expensive piece of cookware is a very fancy Le Crueset Dutch oven I bought on sale for $90). But after using these for a few days, I’m convinced. They cook more evenly, make cleanup easier, and they’ll probably outlast me. I’ve probably spent many times what this set costs on the cheap cookware I’ve recycled over the year. Given all that, spending $600+ on the set seems like a good investment after all.
When you’re , you’re going to remember to get the big things like a couch or bed. But there are a lot of little things that you might not think of right away. Unless you read this list, of course. So Trulia has put together the essentials to make your apartment feel like home.
For the Kitchen
The cooks’ corner requires a few gizmos and gadgets, and if you don’t realize it beforehand, you just might have to run to the store in the middle of a recipe. To avoid any culinary catastrophes, make sure to pick up these quintessential kitchen items:
For the Living Room
In the living room, you’ll probably survive without these items. But there are certainly a few things you’ll want around to make your main living space feel more like home:
For the Bedroom
You know that you’ll need a bed and some sheets, but that doesn’t cover everything. Enhance your personal sanctuary with these commonly forgotten bedroom items:
For the Bathroom
With so many little things to think about, the bathroom has some of the most missed items. Here’s what you don’t want to overlook:
For the Laundry Room
Not all rentals have one, but if you’re lucky enough to have a laundry room, make sure to have the following items on hand:
For the Cleaning Closet
Another often-forgotten set of items for a new home is cleaning supplies. These will be used through the entire house. And while some will be used more in one room than another, all categorized here.
For Around the House
This last category contains general around-the-house items that are important to buy as soon as you get your place. You just never know when they’ll come in handy.
With so many things to remember, it’s no wonder that we often overlook many of these items. What are the most important small items you’ve forgotten about when moving into a new place?
Information from Forbes.com
Related article: My First Apartment
I cook rice regularly, and let me tell you, with a rice cooker it’s way easier than making your own bread. And faster. Possibly healthier, though it depends on how much butter you dump into rice—I don’t put any in, because I usually put something on top of the rice when it’s served, so butter is kind of superfluous. Any rice cooker automatically shuts off or goes into warming mode once the rice is done, and they automatically detect this. Cooking rice on the stove tends to be a hit-and-miss affair if you’re not experienced and/or not watching the pot. And of course, most college dorms don’t have extensive kitchens, so cooking rice on the stove is less feasible than cooking rice in a rice cooker.
There are two main types of rice cookers: the on/off rice cooker that many Westerners are familiar with, and the fuzzy logic rice cooker, which is the choice of many Japanese, and for very good reasons.
The on/off rice cooker is the cheapest, simplest, and can steam stuff. On/off rice cookers tend to be more fragile, and usually die after a few years, depending on the brand and how much you use them. Not surprising. Some models just turn off when the rice is done, and some go into a warm mode. Expect to spend anywhere from $30 to $60 on this type of cooker.
The fuzzy logic rice cooker is more expensive, usually in the triple digit range, a little bit more complicated (but not by much), and can’t steam but can do things like time rice to cook in time for you to wake up and make moist rice porridge without needing oversight. And of course they all have a warm mode. Fuzzy logic rice cookers last for quite some time, even under heavy usage, to the point where their little lithium batteries may run out—but that’s just for their internal clocks; if the battery runs out, you just have to reset the time when you plug them in.
Both kinds of rice cookers come in various sizes, from teeny 3-cup models (I’ve even seen a 1-cup model, though that’s very rare) to more average 6-cup and 10-cup models, to ginormous 40-cuppers. Generally it doesn’t really matter how big the cooker is, as long as the amount of rice you’re cooking will fit in it; a 10-cup beast will cook one cup of rice just as well as a 3-cup. (A 40-cup rice cooker, though, is… stretching it.)
Let’s move onto the cookers themselves.
Zojirushi 6-Cup Rice Cooker
This is a great size for single-person meals that you can put leftovers in the fridge for bento lunches the next day. All Zojirushi on/off models—except the 3-cup model, which doesn’t come with a steamer—have metal steaming trays, very fancy. All have the cook/warm modes, but their pots, while non-stick, have a much thinner lining and are far lighter than most other models. Definitely do not use metal utensils in this thing (nylon or silicon, the latter preferred, are okay).
Unlike other rice cookers, you can get replacement pots. I think most other brands are expected to die before you need a replacement pot. (Related post: Zojirushi: Highly recommended amazing rice cooker)
Zojirushi Neuro Logic 5.5 Cup Rice Cooker
Actually, that’s just Zojirushi’s cute way of saying “Fuzzy Logic.” The best rice cooker I have, feature-wise and hardiness-wise. I can make one of the rice pudding recipes from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook ((OMG, so good.)) in it.
It also plays “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” when it’s done cooking. Very vital feature. ((Okay, not really. But it’s so, ah, kawaii.))
The pot is again thinner than pots in other brands of rice cookers.
You know an awesome thing you can make in timed fuzzy logic rice cookers? Steel-cut oats. The dang oats need to soak overnight, because they’re so tough, but the timer in the morning can proceed to cook them in time for you to wake up and eat them. Perfect. (Source: An Overview of Rice Cookers from Someone Who Owns Five of Them)
Read more: List of the best recommended rice cookers
If you are looking to brew quality espresso coffee, then you have to know what kind of espresso machine you need.
Well, if you are looking to save up on some cash you can buy a steam driven espresso machine that costs considerably less than a pump driven espresso machine. If you are a true coffee lover, then I would recommend purchasing the Mr. Coffee ECM 160 4-Cup Steam Espresso Machine. This is the cheapest espresso machine which retails for just under $50.The pump driven espresso machines works on the principle of an electric pump driving the water through the coffee grounds. This is different from the steam which uses the steam pressure to drive water from the coffee beans.
If you are an avid coffee enthusiast, I recommend you purchase the pump driven espresso machine which comes in two categories; semi-automatic and super-automatic. If you would like the ability to control and customize different aspects of your coffee such as taste then the semi-automatic is the best espresso machine for you. Just in case you have no need in customizing your espresso, you prefer just having your coffee straight, then I would recommend the super-automatic espresso maker that is perfect for when you are always on the go and if you prefer convenience to control.
I recommend the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine if you want to purchase a semi-automatic espresso machine which retails for under $1000. If you prefer having the super-automatic, then be ready to splash out good money close to $3500 for the Jura Impressa Z9 One Touch TFT which makes coffee similar to Starbucks Coffee.
When it comes to knives, chefs know that it’s quality—not quantity—that really matters on the chopping block. Forget the artisan hand-forged cleaver with the $600 price tag. Your money is better spent investing in a few quality, long-lasting knives that do everything, no matter how advanced (or otherwise) your knife skills are. Meet five essential kitchen knives in action.
The king of the kitchen knives, a good chef’s knife is step No. 1 of outfitting a top-notch pantry. The prep duty workhorse does everything from mincing fresh herbs to slicing through thick slabs of raw meat and disjointing bones. Shun Fuji’s chef’s knife comes with its own stand, and can even be monogrammed if you want a little personal flair.
Ideal for slicing soft, squish-prone vegetables or bread without the massive crumb fallout, a serrated knife is a must-have for serving beautiful food. Zwilling’s sigma-forging and ice-hardening processes promise a dependable blade and, best of all, it’s dishwasher safe for easy cleanup (mise en place is everything, after all).
An essential in any carnivorous kitchen, a boning knife lets you debone poultry, meat and fish without clawing through rib by rib. Hand-sharpened on water stones and known for its sturdy quality, the heftier price tag on this Chubo piece is worth it—trust us.
For preparing firm fruits and vegetables like potatoes, a paring knife with a controllable, short blade is key. This 3.5″ Wusthof knife includes a full tang (a blade that extends all the way into the handle) and offers max precision.
After the cooking comes the feasting. If prime rib is what’s for dinner, be sure you’ve got the right set of utensils for slicing into those tender morsels. These top-notch Laguioles give you, the diner, a comfortable, contoured handle and a nice stainless finish.
I am an ardent lover of espresso coffee and while I was looking for a good espresso coffee maker, I discovered that there were many brands and models. They ranged from those that are complex, to those that are utterly exotic. Moreover, I discovered that some are steam driven while others coffee makers are pump driven. Also, there are automatic options while others are super automatic. I went on to test a number of them and developed a list of the best espresso machines that I would recommend to anyone. Among my recommended espresso coffee making machines are:
Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. I liked this espresso maker because its semiautomatic, so I can set some features and get my coffee ready within a short period of time. This product is incredibly affordable and guarantees great tasting coffee. For me, I couldn’t mind doing some extra steps to get the highest shot of espresso coffee with this fantastic machine.
Mr. Coffee ECM160 4-Cup Steam Espresso Machine. This is a steam driven pocket friendly espresso coffee maker. This option is good for those who are tight on budget and who are interested in a coffee maker that offers nothing more of the basic features.
Breville BES900XL Dual-Boiler semi automatic espresso machine. What I liked most about this semi automatic espresso machine maker is the fact that it offered a wide array of features. The fact that it is in the mid price range also makes it quite attractive for me. Most of its features are conveniently placed and can support a wide range of accessories. (Another similar model is just as good – the Breville Barista)
Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine. Gaggia Classic is an adorable espresso coffee maker that guarantees great quality coffee. However, it is built to serve the needs of a small family.
Jura Impressa Z9 One Touch TFT. Although the cost is a little on the higher side, it’s still an awesome espresso coffee maker that you can find in the market today. The features are awesome and are one of the super automatic espresso makers that you can lay your hand on today.
The worst thing that can happen to a beautiful sunny morning is a sticky pan. After many frustrations, I bring good news. I have searched for the best cookware and am proud to introduce a few sets that work. My mornings just got better, yippee.
Let us start with Woll Diamond Plus Cookware 10-piece set that is almost indestructible. It is resistant to cuts and scratches due to the diamonds embedded in its lining that makes it hard. It is oven safe and dishwasher safe. This set is a good way to spend $500 and no regrets whatsoever.
Next we look at Swiss Diamond Reinforced 10-piece set. It is made of aluminium which is a light material that makes handling the cookware easy. In addition the set evenly distributes heat to the food ensuring well cooked meals. Due to its nonstick quality it is easy to clean and contains a lifetime warranty. Above all else it is worth $600,and for a 10-piece set I must say that’s a really good deal. I personally recommend you try this one of the best cookware out, it will not disappoint.
Finally we have the Calphalon Simply Nonstick 10-piece set. It costs $200 and has a 10 year warranty. It is also made of aluminium, a light, durable material with even heat distribution.
Here’s a few tips for cookware shopping based on the type of material. Stainless steel is non reactive to the various food components, it is dishwasher safe and inexpensive for the basic models. Copper has excellent thermal conductivity. Aluminium is light in weight, has excellent thermal conductivity and is affordable. Finally cast iron is naturally nonstick, durable, inexpensive, has even heat distribution and retains heat well. I believe you are now able to make the right choice for your cookware. I hope you enjoy your new best cookware experience. Let’s start cooking!
Shopping for the best kitchen knives can be a time-consuming task for many people; not only are there numerous alternatives available on the market, there are also various things that have to be considered while shopping for kitchen knives. These include the quality, weight and durability of the knife, and no less the depth of your wallet.
Keeping budgetary constraints in mind, my opinion is that the best kitchen knives are those that are made of forged, high carbon steel. Although forged steel knives may be more costly, they are of better quality and durability compared to stamped steel knives. I also think that the strongest and best kitchen knives are those with a full tang because the entire length of the blade ensures stability and better balance.
It is also important to note that the most basic types of knives that every proper kitchen should have are the utility, paring and chef’s knives. Therefore, I would recommend that shoppers should buy knives individually and according to their particular needs rather than buying whole sets from which they will only use a few knives. I would recommend the Wusthof Classic chef knife which has a full tang and is evenly balanced. Its handle is triple-riveted with a very comfortable grip. For a cheaper option, I would recommend the Victorinox 40520 8-inch chef knife. Although it is a light stamped knife, it is robust and reliable and comes with a lifetime warranty.
For a buyer interested in an entire set, I would recommend the Wusthof Classic 8-Piece Deluxe Knife Set, which is German made. This set is made up of high carbon steel, well-balanced knives, full tang knives. The set comes with five types of the most commonly used knives, a knife block made of oak, a sharpening tool, and kitchen shears. The knife edges are very sharp, with a design that ensures that they stay sharp for longer. This set retails at around $350, and it has a lifetime warranty.
For a cheaper but good quality set, I would recommend the Ginsu 7108 Chikara 8-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Block Set, a Japanese-made set of knives. This set has all the necessary knives together with kitchen shears and a sharpening rod, contained in a block made of bamboo with a cost of less than $100. The knives in this set well balance and made of quality handles too. The outline knife brands are, in my opinion, among the best kitchen knives available on the market.
Before buying kitchen knives, I suggest you read these articles too:
Kitchen islands are a great addition to any kitchen, especially those starving for space. They can provide much needed storage and counter space or serve as a bar for people to sit at. They are handy for so many things that many modern homes have them built right in.
With the rise in the popularity of kitchen islands has come a wide variety of styles to choose from. They may be as simple as a flat topped table with little to no storage beneath or a multi-tiered behemoth with open shelves, cupboards, and a small range for keeping food warm sunken in the center.
Kitchen islands come in all shapes and sizes too. Do you have limited space and think you don’t have room? No problem! Just get one on wheels with fold out counters. You can move it out of the way when you need to and the counters fold away for easy storage in tight spaces.
Enjoy wine? Get an island with a wine rack and wine glass storage built into one end! And for those that do a lot of entertaining, design one that has a second range on which to cook for large parties.
Kitchen islands don’t have to be square either. They can be triangular, circular, elliptical, or whatever fits your kitchen space. Even if the only open space you have is a little triangle in the center that would be perfect for chopping vegetables, there is an island for out there for you.
You can either purchase your kitchen island pre-made, or visit your local home construction and decorating store and have one built to your design. There are thousands of styles and materials to choose from but if you are looking for something really particular it might save some headaches to have it made.
If having a kitchen island built there are a few things to think about. A good rule is to make sure that all of the corners are rounded. A sharp corner is just asking for trouble when rushing around to prepare for Christmas dinner.
It is also a good idea to decide how soon you are going remodel your kitchen. Don’t spend a lot of time and effort finding or building the perfect kitchen island only to have the design be completely wrong for the new wallpaper or countertops.
For a built in kitchen island that can’t be moved, make sure you have enough walking and working space around it. 38” to 42” is a good estimate. Pay attention when using your kitchen appliances and see how much space you need to comfortably work.
Another good rule of thumb when building your kitchen island is that too much storage is better than not enough. It doesn’t all have to be storage space, but that deep planter set in the center might no longer seem like such a great idea when you knock out the wall with the pantry closet to open up the dining room.
Whether you decide to look for a pre-made kitchen island or have one built just how you want it, the perfect island is out there and you will be glad you got it.