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COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Must-Have Small Appliances for a Quick Breakfast | Being a First-time Parent

toasters and nespresso

toasters and nespresso

It is a fact that parents with babies are time-crunched. I begin my third week with my baby at home and I came to appreciate the efficiency of my toaster and our Nespresso machine.

Now, I frequently use the reheat function of my toaster. Before we have Zack, I only use once. Diaper changing or something else may disturb me and my toast will rest on the plate longer than it should. The reheat function means that I do not throw it away. This is important since going to buy a new loaf of bread is not always an easy task. Several brands propose it. I bought the Breville ikon 2-Slice Toaster. I saw that Philips seems to make a good one.

You will need a coffee boast a few times a day to stay awake. We switched to Nespresso because it is fast, easy and tasty. I still make me a small pot of French press in the morning but the rest of the time, I drink an espresso or lungo made with my Nespresso machine.

Food-wise, having instant oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruits charcuterie and soups are a life saver. As you can see, my eating habits are erratic during the day. But my husband and I try to find the time to eat a relax dinner, even if that means eating at 10 PM.

SOURCING:
+ For Canadians: Breville ikon 2-slice toaster $69.99 CAD
+ For Americans: Breville ikon 2-slice toaster $69.89 USD
+ Philips 2 slot 2 function metal curve toaster

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Small Appliances in Azure Blue by Delonghi UK

1950's italian azure blue kettle and toaster :: icona collection by delonghi

1950\'s italian azure blue kettle and toaster :: icona collection by delonghi

For an unknown reason, small appliance makers often omitted blue for their collection. I do not know why since blue is a classic color for dinnerware. This is not the case of the Icona collection by Delonghi.

icona azure blue espresso machine and toaster by delonghi uk

Event if their style is inspired by the glamour of 1950’s Italy, they are filled with modern features. The blue finish will not show finger prints. The 4-slice toaster comes with electronic controls for reheat, defrost, and bagel, an extra lift position for easy removal of small slices and more features that you expect today.

Sadly, neither Delonghi in the USA or Canada cared to bring the Icona collection home. If you live in the United Kingdom, you are the lucky ones.

SOURCING:
Icona Azure Blue 4-slice Toaster £69.99
+ Icona Azure Blue Kettle £69.99
+ Icona Traditional Pump Espresso/Cappuccino Maker £149.99

HOME + GARDEN KITCHEN design

Why to Splurge on a High-end Dishwasher?

perla series dishwashers by miele

perla series dishwashers by miele

I wrote an article 15 months ago when I was shopping for a new dishwasher. At the time, I compiled a list of must-have and nice to have. Since I enjoyed the features for a while now, let’s see how those features measure up. I talk about features that make a difference in your day to day chores, not the technical sheet that the salespersons repeat to the consumers.

Superior Cleaning

Having a new dishwasher simplified my chores in many levels. With my previous dishwashers, I used to clean the dishes in the morning because it took too much time to rinse everything before I put them in the dishwasher. Not anymore. My dishwasher cleans so well that I never rinse anything. I gained precious minutes every day.

When cooking, I put the bowls, pots and pans that I do not need anymore right on the dishwasher. And the dinnerware, glassware and flatware go straight from the table to the dishwasher. I start the cycle as soon as the dishwasher is full. We live in an open kitchen, dining and living space. We never hear the dishwasher.

Quiet Dishwasher

If you go with a high-end dishwasher, chances are that you will never use the delay start. I don’t. It is so quiet that there is no need to wait.

European dishwashers vs. U.S. dishwashers

The European models have no heating coil near the bottom rack. Therefore, you can put plastics anywhere. This is an enormous advantage. This simple fact means that my counters are always neat. In fact, I would never go back to a North American model simply for that reason. On the green side, the European models use less water per cycle than the U.S. models.

Another particularly is that the European brands do not have a food grinder. They use filters instead. You do not need to rinse the dishes but you need to remove all the food before putting it on the dishwasher. The filters  must be cleaned once in a while but it is quick and easy to do, after the first time. I do not have to keep track of when since my dishwasher alerts me when I need to clean the filter.

Cutlery Tray

If you can get a cutlery tray, I strongly recommend it. At first, the cutlery tray seems not efficient. After a couple of days, I read on the Miele’s manual that they suggest to sort the utensils as you put them on the tray. It takes the same time to fill up. The benefit is that you save plenty of time when you transfer the cutlery into your kitchen cabinets. I never remove the trays to bring the flatware to my drawers. I just take all the big spoons in one hand, the same one in the another and put them on the drawers.

Keep in Mind your Tableware

I carried to the store a large plate and my tallest dishwasher-safe wine glass. It is important that they fit. Pay attention to the tray configurations. Look at heights and widths of the sections. Ideally, opt for a model where you have the flexibility to change the configuration. Mine does and it comes handy with big bowls and pans. I put everything, except wood tableware, on my dishwasher. I made sure everything would fit inside.

Multiple Programs

I do not use the 19 wash programs but when required, I switched to the specialty programs. This was my first dishwasher with an electronic panel. I love it. I programmed a few cycles the way I like it. Having access to my own settings saves time.

Overall, my priority list has not really changed. I made sure that the dishwasher we bought would satisfy my needs. I think this is why I am so happy with my purchase. In fact, I often say to my husband how pleased I am with our choice. If you are curious, we bought the Perla. Yah! It would be hard to not feel spoiled. My best advice is that you have a clear idea of what is important for you before shopping. Learn about the new gadgets and see why which you think you would use.

I would not do that with my own dishwasher, but I found this old Miele advertising that is funny to watch. Have a look.

+ photo: Miele

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

I love my new Breville Variable Temperature Kettle

breville variable temperature electric kettle

breville variable temperature electric kettle

I first introduced it when I talked about innovations for tea kettles. Our electric kettle broke last December after 4 years of service. I started to use an Italian stainless stove kettle that I bought many many years ago. It works fine except that it takes ages to boil the amount of water I need to fill my husband’s tea pot and my pot of French press coffee. In fact, I had to rearrange my morning routine. This was not working for me.

My husband, who knew that I wanted one, bought the Breville Variable Temperature Kettle. I love it! We both love it. The hold temperature button, which can be activated anytime in the process, comes handy more often than we think. We enjoy our morning beverage at the ideal temperature without no fuss. I first make his tea, put back the kettle on its base, press on the French press button and wait a few seconds for my water to reach the ideal temperature. Voilà! I am very happy.

SOURCING:
+ Breville Variable Temperature Kettle $145 USD
+ Bodum Crema French Press Coffeemaker 12-oz (3 cups) $30.32 USD, 32-oz (8 cups) $49.99

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

What’s Hot in Tea kettles: Color and Water Temperature Gauge

colorful teakettles :: Cuisinart PerfecTemp :: Oxo Uplift :: Le Creuset Whistling :: Round Teakettle by Staub

When it comes to kettles, you first have to decide if you are looking for a stove model or an electric model.

My preference goes to a classic teakettle that you put on the stove. I own a beautiful Italian design stainless steel whistling kettle. Many  friends told me over the years that my kettle looks great. Unfortunately, my husband does not like a stove kettle. Therefore, we stopped using it. I stored it just in case.

But the latest innovation in teakettle, water temperature gauge may change my mind. The bright color of the porcelain enameled teakettle made me wish for a red Cuisinart PerfecTemp Porcelain Enameled Teakettle.

Breville Variable Temperature Electric Kettle

The ultimate feature I have seen is the variable temperature electric kettle. Since we drink several types of teas at home, this will be heaven. It will ensure that I get the right temperature for his morning tea and my French-press coffee. The Breville Variable-Temperature Kettle beeps when water reaches the selected temperature and can maintain that temperature for up to 20 minutes.

SOURCING:
+ Cuisinart PerfecTemp Porcelain Enameled Teakettles $99.95 USD
+ Oxo Uplift Teakettle $49.95 USD
+ Dijon Whistling Teakettle $69.95 USD
+ Grenadine Round Teakettle by Staub $131.95 USD
+ Breville Variable-Temperature Kettle $149.95 USD

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Impressed by Stadler Form’s Modern Household Appliances

stadler form household appliances at swiss style

I usually do not talk about household appliances on my blog. But when I saw the Otto Wooden Fan on the Finds and Trends blog on Canadian House and Home, I could not resist to learn more about the brand who elevates a mundane object.

The Swiss brand Stadler Form produces these cheerful and refined household items. Their line of products blends modern contemporary style with utilitarian function. It shows that they work with designers and artists. The human touch continues in how they named their products. I gave them a high mark for their concept.

1. Fred Air Humidifiers

Summer is not the time of the year where we need an air humidifier but Fred is so cute that I have to show it. Matti Walker imagined an air humidifier that produces hot steam. This results in adding humidity free from minerals and bacteria to your home.  Swizz-Style carries 2 colors on their site but Fred is available in more colors. I enjoy The Jetsons influence.

2. Henry Air Purifiers

Matti Walker also designed Henry, a quiet, powerful, and modern air purifier. The unique design will have all your friends asking “What is it?”.

3. Lisa Water Purifiers

Many people prefers to purify the tap water. If it is your case, here is a stunning hand blown glass carafe that wors with the Brita water filters. You will proud to show it off at your next dinner party. Lisa was created by the young Swiss designer Scarlett Dubois. This water carafe was made in a limited quantity.

4. Otto Wooden Fan

Featuring 3 fan settings and adjustable height, Otto is made of oiled sapele wood. The Swiss designer Carlo Borer chose sapele, a large deciduous tropical tree native to Africa. This wood is modernly beautiful with its smooth fine grain and deep warm sienna. I read on Otto comes with a 5-year warranty.

About Stadler Form

Founded in 1998 by Martin Stadler, Stadler Form produces a collection of hip appliances for your home. All their products are invented and engineered in Switzerland. Swizz-Style is the United States distributor. Unfortunately, I did not found a Canadian source.

SOURCING:
+ Stadler Form
+ Fred Humidifier in red $99.95 USD at Amazon.com
+ Henry Air Purifier in black or white $299 USD
+ Lisa Water Purifier $49.99 USD at Swizz-Style
+ Otto Wooden Fan designed by Carlo Borer $199.95 USD at Amazon.com

HOME + GARDEN KITCHEN design

Dishwasher Buying Guide

miele dishwasher and my buying guide

At last, we bought a new dishwasher to replace our old one that broke two days after my husband’s big birthday bash. At least all the mess from his party was cleaned.

Although I dreamed of a Miele’s dishwasher for a long time, we looked at other brands to compare. I analyzed the features carefully and made a list of what I consider important. I then check which models have the features I need and the ones I wish for.

Miele Dishwasher Sale

I am glad we didn’t have the time to place the order earlier because Miele Canada has a sale right now. The first ever Miele dishwasher sale runs until December 31, 2008. You can save 15 to 25% on any dishwasher. We used the rebate to indulge and got a superior model.

Fit Your Lifestyle

Before you buy any new appliances, take a moment to explore your lifestyle and how you like to use an appliance. All my entertaining tableware (dinnerware, glassware and flatware) is dishwasher safe. Easy entertaining means that you simplify your life from start to finish. For me, putting everything on the dishwasher improves my quality of life.

My Must Have Dishwasher Features

  1. A Delay Start
  2. Cleans better than average
  3. Run quietly
  4. Some type of barrier to make sure the broken porcelain and glass pieces cannot enter the mechanical parts. This is how my old dishwasher broke down for the second time.
  5. Excellent basket configuration tailored to my dinnerware. My everyday dining plates are big and square. I bring it with me to try it. The basket configuration is a matter of personal choice, so make sure to have a look at it. I put all my pans and pots in the dishwasher. It was also important that I can easily fit my big pots.
  6. My wine glasses are taller and they never fit inside my old dishwasher. I made sure they fit inside the new one.
  7. Be energy efficient and low-water consumption
  8. Good and long warranty

My Nice To Have Dishwasher Features

  1. The utensil drawer exposes all surfaces of the utensils. Moreover, I own a modern, organic stainless steel utensil set for entertaining that I rarely used because the handles are so thin that it does not stay inside regular utensil trays. I did not try but I hope this will solve the problem.
  2. Easy to operate
  3. Fits more place settings: useful when I entertain

The scheduled date of arrival is tomorrow. After more than a month without a dishwasher, I am very excited since I will be the proud owner of the dishwasher of my dreams.

By the way, the Canadian Web site of Miele looks like a 1998 Web site. The photos are not at pair with a high end brand. I went to the Australian Miele Web site to find inspiring pictures for my post.

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor TRENDS

Opening Night at the Architects and Designers Building

Architects and Designers Building websiteTonight is the opening of the Architects and Designers Building (A&D Building) in New York City.

What is in it for you?

What is great for all of us is that the showrooms at the A&D Building are open to the trade and the public. You will get to see premium products for your home from kitchen and bath accessories, appliances, tiles and furniture.

Stay tuned since Architects and Designers Building will host special events to introduce new products with leading experts and celebrity chefs. I would love to live in New York right now.

Hours

The hours of business are Monday to Friday from 9AM to 5 PM. The Opening Night is Monday, May 19, 2008 from 6 to 9 PM. Check out the A & D Web site for Opening Night RSVP or for the showroom listing.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Architects and Designers Building

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

How to Select a Cookware Set?

stainless stell cookware by lagostina all-clad j.a. henckels :: copper calphalon cookware

The high-quality cookware makes a difference when cooking. They last longer but more importantly they will cook better because they distribute heat more efficiently.

A set provides the basic pots and pans that you need on a daily basis. You will add specialized pots as you need them.

Although a superior cookware set can cost a lot, it is money well spent. Cookware in large retail chains go on sale at 50% off a few times a year. So check the store flyers to spot your favorite cookware.

Finishes and base compositions

Copper pots and pans work incredibly well. I like their charming look. But they require too much work to keep their beautiful shine. This is why, stainless steel rules on my house. The only exception is my enameled cast iron Dutch oven by Le Creuset.

My basic cookware set has a copper inlay base. Some higher-end sets have a copper core with a stainless steel finishes. This is the case of the Copper-Core collection by All-Clad. I just added to my wish list.

Stay away from non-stick

I know that non stick cookware is really popular. Believe me, I do not enjoy cleaning and modern stainless steel cookware is a lot easier to clean. Except for the average size frying pan to cook your eggs, stay away from non-stick cookware. I am sorry but you cannot cook properly in those.

I used the stainless steel cookware all my life. In the worst case, I do a couple turns with a light duty scour pad. I let my pots and pans soak in hot water and dish liquid (I used Sunlight or Dawn) for a few minutes after they cooled down. As clean as new!

What to look for when buying a cookware set

Bring this checklist when you go shopping for your next cookware.

  1. Extra-thick base. A superior cookware is heavy because of its 3 to 5-ply construction.
  2. Double-rivet handles are more robust and durable.
  3. For safety reasons, go for long, stay cool handles. But also select a handle that feels comfortable in your hands. Hold the pots and pans in your hands before buying a set. Like I said, you will use it for a long time. So take the time
  4. Heavy lids stay in place. Look for a shape that promotes water circulation.
  5. Oven safe cookware is a must; broiler safe is the ultimate solution. Make sure the lids are also oven safe.
  6. A 12″ (30-32 cm) everyday pan with loop handles and a lid is practical to move the pan from the stove top to the oven to the table. Buy it separately from the set. I own two such pans and use them several times a week.
  7. All metal handles, because they support higher oven temperature. I bought my second everyday pan with loop handles because the handles of the first one are not all in metal. I was preparing a delicious recipe that was calling for an oven temperature higher than 350 °F. Luckily, I bought my Jamie Oliver Italian Series Ragout pan at 50% off at The Bay two years ago.
  8. Buy a set that supports all stove top types. If you buy a gas, glass, ceramic and induction stoves all have their requirements. The finest cookware sets are typically built for all stove top types.
  9. Here is a quick test if you are tempted by the new Electrolux  Induction Hybrid cooktops, do the magnet test. You can use a decorative kitchen magnet. If the magnet sticks to the base, the cookware is induction cooking ready.
  10. Dishwasher safe is a matter of a personal choice; some people do not like to put their cookware in the dishwasher. I am lazy when it comes to cleaning; therefore dishware safe cookware is a must for me.

I selected 5 high-quality cookware sets for you or to give as a wedding gift. See Sourcing for details.

>>> Sourcing:
Buy online: Lagostina Pro-Clad 10-Piece Cookware Set [sears.ca] – price: $899.99 CAD
Buy online: Tri-ply Copper 10-pc. Cookware Set by Calphalon [cooking.com] – price: $449.99 USD
Buy online: Copper-Core 10-pc. Cookware Set by All-Clad [cooking.com] – price: $1,199.99 USD
Buy online: J.A. Henckels 7-Pc. Classic Clad Cookware Set [sears.ca] – price: $599.99 CAD
Buy online: MC2 Master Chef 2 7-pc. Cookware Set by All-Clad [cooking.com] – price: $339.99 USD

ENTERTAINING HOME + GARDEN HOME decor TABLETOP

New products by IKEA for 2008

New IKEA products - February 2008 press catalogue

A reader I. sent me an upcoming press document by IKEA announcing their latest collection for 2008. It is almost a scoop since the document is titled Press February 2008. The document was released earlier on the IKEAFANS Web site.

As I told you yesterday, red is strong. And you definitely get that feeling by reading this 68-page document.

I am presenting you the 5 items that were most interesting from a design point of view.

Double-duty purposes

Part of the innovative product includes an armchair that easily unfolds into an extra bed. The top left picture shows the ODDA bed with two pull-out storage containers. This is a practical idea for a small slumber party; so buy more than one. Then a hat and coat stand, storage space and a laundry basket combine in one unit; that is efficient!

Small and cute dishes

Designer Lovisa Wattman defined in this terms this cool tableware collection:

My idea with IKEA 365+ PLOCKA was to make a series suited for brunch and other times when you want to serve many small dishes. That’s why I decided to vary the shapes of the pieces, so you can combine them in different ways. For example, the niche in the plate can just as easily fit a bowl of café au lait as soya sauce to sushi. I hope the series will inspire you to create your own combinations.

With each pieces costing between $1.99 and $4.99, I will make sure to stock up a bunch of plates, eggcups and bowls for my Sunday breakfasts, friendly brunch events or simply when we eat a soup and a grilled cheese.

Refrigerated grocery drawer

My favorite thing after the IKEA 365+ PLOCKA dishes is the very cool NUTID kitchen drawer with its adjustable separators. This drawer puts your grocery items at an arm length. Unfortunately for most of my readers, the NUTID series would not be sold in the USA (and I guess neither in Canada). It was also a hit amongst the readers of IKEAFANS.

Stylish laundry room

The laundry room gets organically high-tech with more floor and wall drying rack options. Made of birch, the TVÄTTA series is on my shopping list because my 20-year wooden drying rack has seen better days. It has been a while since I am searching for a new one but I only find drying racks made of plastic. I prefer a wood rack.

Flexibility

Designed for school age children and pre-teens, the new series ODDA delivers versatile furnishings that fit into the daily activities of youngsters. That is a room where it feels natural that the red pops up. Easily reconfigure the room at any time of the day with the ODDA and MALM beds, tables and wardrobes.

Sourcing:
To download: February 2008 IKEA Press document at IKEAFANS
Via: New IKEA Products for 2008! discussion at IKEAFANS