Kuhn Rikon has a new line of fun brightly colored kitchen tools and the Strawberry Huller Knife Colori makes a great handy tool for hulling and slicing strawberries quickly and easily.
Ease of Use/Performance: 21/25 Convenience/Storage 24/25 Appearance/Design 24/25 How much I enjoy 25/25
Some kitchen tools stand the test of time; I still use the Epicurean Garlic Press that was a top rated kitchen gadget by America’s Test Kitchen. Simple and functional design makes for the best tools whether it’s a kitchen or handyman gadget and I am impressed with the Kuhn Rikon Strawberry Knife Colori.
The Strawberry Knife Colori is a fun colored strawberry hulling knife and a paring knife in a pocket knife design that is made from plastic and high carbon stainless steel with a painted coating for blade protection. The blade and strawberry huller blade folds into the handle for protection and safety when not in use.
I have done some research and found basic designs to a strawberry huller with a scoop like device such as Kuhn Rikon’s, tweezer like devices and a basic tube from Oxo. The designs have a lot to do with how you go about your daily use and I find that a general scoop works quickly and easily.
The scoop works well but the Kuhn Rikon design has little teeth to allow for a better cut through the fruits soft end while hulling. The knife also has the paring knife blade so you can simply turn the handle around and pull out the blade for slicing.
I made quick work of several quarts of strawberries and much to the delight of my family tested a lot of recipes with fresh strawberries. I used the huller on more than my fair share of strawberries over the last few weeks and was glad to see the price drop for a couple of weeks during the review.
When I first got the Strawberry Knife Colori I thought it looked like a useful gadget as long as it worked so I ran to the grocery store but strawberries were $3.99 a quart. Kuhn Rikon sends me a fruit knife for a fruit that is out of season but all is not lost, I like to find other uses for gadgets and one was as close as my fridge.
I went home with dashed hopes of trying out my new kitchen gadget until a few minutes of searching on the internet under strawberry huller turned up a few ideas. I ran to my kitchen fridge and pulled out tomatoes from the previous weekend that were fully ripe and quickly hulled the stems and that hard little spot.
I made quick work of several Roma tomatoe ends to be used for lunch and after a few days was happy to see the price of strawberries drop. I also went to The Taste of Homes Cooking School and found a few recipes for strawberry desserts that I wanted to try hence my families delight.
I have used the strawberry huller knife for at least 10 quarts of strawberries over the last three or four weeks and can definitely say that the Kuhn Rikon knife works well. The knife is simple to use and does not take any getting used to like some gadgets, you can pick up strawberries and the knife and get to scooping out hulls without any learning curve.
The motion of grabbing a strawberry and scooping one to the next is simple unlike having to be more careful with a simple paring knife. I also had no problem with squishing the more ripened fruit so the scoop end works well on both harder and fully ripe fruit.
I also saw a huller that has a claw like device and this seems to work well but again squishing the strawberries is a problem according to some users. The scoop with teeth cuts and scoops while you’re cradling the strawberry so there is less chance of crushing the fruit in your hand.
I have not tried other hullers like the Oxo or Chef’N Stem Gem claw but the basic scoop works well and you get a slicing knife on the other end to work those berries into your favorite recipes. I find that having the knife on the other side works well and even is handy when working on a recipe as you don’t have to dirty another gadget while cooking.
The Kuhn Rikon Strawberry Huller Knife Colori is a simple and useful gadget that hulls strawberries and tomatoes quickly and easily that comes with my full recommendation. You can find the Kuhn Rikon Strawberry Huller Knife Colori at the Kuhn Rikon website and online at Sir LA Table, Amazon and other websites for about $12.
The Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro replaces your flat beater on Kitchen Aid and other popular brands of stand mixers using a unique plastic blade to scrape the bowl and mix ingredients faster than standard beater blades.
Ease of Use/Performance: 24/25 Convenience/Storage 24/25 Appearance/Design 24/25 How much I enjoy 25/25
Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro are new blades for your stand mixer that adds a bowl scraping flexible plastic blade on each side of the beater blade to maximize mixing and scrape the bowl. The Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro are both replacements with a flexible plastic blade along both sides that helps to scrape the bowl and dimple at the bottom as well as mix faster.
The Beater Blade makes mixing easier and faster as it incorporates and moves the ingredients around inside the bowl as well as scrapes the sides and bottom while using your stand mixer. The Beater Blade Pro is the institutional and professional grade Beater Blade made for frequent use at schools and restaurants with a yellow color instead of white.
The Beater Blade costs about $22 and the Beater Blade Pro costs about $30 for a great replacement for the beater blade that comes with the stand mixer. The Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro come in models for the Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart, Viking and Kenwood stand mixers in various sizes.
I received the Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro for my Kitchen Aid 4 quart stand mixer and am very impressed with the new blades. The Beater Blade helps to mix ingredients faster and better, incorporating the ingredients better due to the flexible plastic on the sides of the blade.
The Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro are made from co-polyester plastic with a plastic blade that is adhered to the groove along the edge. On both the basic and Pro models the blade looks to be formed inside the groove or exceedingly well adhered or glued.
I really cannot tell any difference between the Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro other than the color, both appear to be made of the same type of plastic. Both the Beater Blade and Pro also have the flexible plastic scraper well adhered to the beater blade seemingly made into the groove but it does look like it is well glued.
While it would be hard to get a definite time frame the Beater Blade and Pro does mix ingredients faster as well as scrapes the sides and bottom of the bowl. Both blades mix better than the flat blade that comes with the Kitchen Aid because of the silicone rubber blades that scrapes the sides while mixing.
These blades scrape the sides and move the ingredients around the bowl faster because the plastic blades increase the area of the blades and force the ingredients around the blade. The ingredients are forced toward the center of the bowl and then around the blade but not much adheres to the blades while mixing or when you’re finished.
More ingredients stuck to the metal beater blade that came with my Kitchen Aid mixer than the Beater Blade or Beater Blade Pro when using all three on the same recipe. I made several recipes and used all three blades to check performance and compare the blades by mixing with all three.
The instructions tell you that adjusting the blades to fit snuggly against the bowl may be required but my stand mixer did not need any adjustment. The blades scrape well against the bowl and really do a great job of mixing and incorporating ingredients but if adjustments are needed it is easy.
The Beater Blade cuts down on mixing time and makes the job of cooking easier by cutting down on mixing time and mixing better than the blade that comes with the stand mixer. The Beater Blade will not cut down time by much more than half but it will scrape and get more ingredients mixed as well as help with getting stuff out of the bowl.
You can use the Beater Blade to scrape the bowl when a mix is done using the flexible plastic side as a scrapper which is explained in several of the recipes on the Beater Blade website. There are several recipes on their site which I tried as well as numerous others and had a lot of fun using both the Beater Blades as well as enjoyed the food I made.
The blades make fast work of mixing dry and wet ingredients and really does a fast job of working on recipes that require simple folding of ingredients. I had an easy time with several recipes that required a variety of mixing and blending with both the blades that worked as well as each other.
One final word on the quality for the Beater Blade, I recently attended the Taste of Home Cooking School demonstration and they use the Beater Blade in their on stage demonstration. The chef who was demonstrating the Taste of Home recipes used the Beater Blade, a better recommendation I could not give.
The Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro are both fantastic replacements for the standard beater blade and definitely the best accessory you could buy for your stand mixer. I highly recommend the Beater Blade and Beater Blade Pro for a great beater and mixer blade for your stand mixer that works better than the one that comes with the stand mixer.
The Clog Hog is a simple drain cleaning system or sewer jetter using your power washer or pressure washer to unclog and flush out the built up gunk in your drain lines including the main line.
Ease of Use/Performance: 25/25 Convenience/Storage 25/25 Appearance/Design 22/25 How much I enjoy 25/25
Clog Hog Drain Cleaner
Before and After Clog Hog Sewer Jetter
It’s not often that I enjoy cleaning out my sewer lines, drain lines or clogged sinks but now I can get those lines clear easily and with water. Using my pressure washer, power washer if you like, I can blast away those clogs and clean out the pipes to prevent clogs in the future.
Instead of using caustic chemicals or calling the plumber to get the job done you can use the Clog Hog to jet those lines clear easily at very little cost. A power washer is a handy tool around the home and now it becomes an essential plumber’s tool along with the Clog Hog sewer jetter hose and adapters.
After a little back and forth with the company, they will also work with customers, I found the exact model suited to my needs and for the review. The Clog Hog sewer jetter needs to be teamed up with a specific power washer because the power of the washer is an important factor in determining the strength needed for the hose.
A more powerful washer will need a hose that is reinforced so you need to know the rated flow and the working pressure of your power washer before ordering a Clog Hog. Once you know the pressure and flow you can find matching hoses, the brand of your pressure washer is used for the adapter needed to connect your washer to the Clog Hog.
The Clog Hog 50 foot Drain Cleaner Set I received comes with a fifty feet of hose with the attached nozzle and a threaded adapter that is sized for the included adapters. The sewer jetter set includes four adapters and a tube of LocTite to lock the adapter on the threaded adapter of the hose.
The sewer jetter set also includes instructions and a hose tie to wrap up the hose when not in use to keep it neatly coiled, the nozzle is already attached to the hose and an important part of the set. The nozzle has four holes with one pointing forward and three pointing backward to help propel the hose forward when in use and all are design according to the pressure rating of the washer you use.
The Clog Hog I received is rated up to 4000 PSI and from 1.5 to 2.0 gallons per minute flow rate so my Campbell Hausfeld electric 1600 PSI pressure washer works well with this set even if it is at the low end. Connecting the right adapter is only a matter of comparing the included wands for your pressure washer as the hose connects to your spraying wand.
The Adapter kit for the sewer jetter that comes with the set includes four adapters for common pressure washer like Karcher, Campbell Hausfeld, Bosch and Kew among some. The threaded adapter allows connection to other models along with the other adapters that Clog Hog has available for other models.
You simply screw on the correct adapter and connect the hose to your spray wand which is how you turn on and off the washer and the Clog Hog sewer jetter when you want to use it. Other systems of drain jetters require an on/off valve or foot control but the Clog Hog is designed to attach directly to your wand and use it for your controls.
Once you have the Clog Hog sewer jetter connected to your pressure washer you connect your garden hose to the pressure washer and power cord and you’re ready to clean those drains. Clog Hog hoses come in various pressure ratings for higher pressure washers and even gas operated washers so the better washers can be used and are even better at cleaning out your drain lines.
If you’re using the Clog Hog in a basement or other unfinished areas the mess is not much of a worry but for nice rooms like a bathroom you may want to do a little covering of the floor with a drop cloth or old blanket. Rags and gloves are also recommended as the gunk in drain lines can be a mess and even stain your hands which require a lot of soap and water to clean off.
In my bathroom it was an easy task of putting the pressure washer and all the hose in the tub and then using the Clog Hog through the under sink connection. The Clog Hog is meant more for the main lines of a houses plumbing from sinks and other attaching points to the main sewer line connection of the house.
The Clog Hog sewer jetter can be used in the smaller two inch pipes up to the four inch drain lines but they do have to be passed through lines and the hose is pretty solid. It does not bend easily but can handle the bends of a drain line like 90 degree elbows but not the “U” shaped drain traps under sinks.
It is not meant for clearing the traps under sinks or showers as the Clog Hog is pulled through the drain using backward facing jets of water. These jets not only propel the hose forward but would get water everywhere if you don’t have the hose at least a foot or two inside a pipe.
For my bathroom pipe I simply put a few rags over the hose as I fed it into the line until it turned its first corner downward toward the basement. The under sink work was the messiest but not nearly as bad as I had predicted it could be using a sewer jetter, I simply had the power washer in the tub while I worked.
When pushing the hose in and pulling it out I had several rags around the end of the drain pipe that leads directly into the wall and toward the basement drains. I also packed rags under the drain coming out of the wall and had an old blanket on the floor to soak up any water and catch anything else that fell on the floor.
In the basement where I actually had my problems the Clog Hog sewer jetter did wonders to my clogged drains with not only unclogging them but with cleaning out the pipes to prevent future clogs. I have included a video with this review which will be on both my Yahoo! Page and my own website but it is not as gross as you would think.
I made a video camera that I put down the drain to see exactly what the inside of my drain lines look like, it is simply a backup camera for a car inside an inch and a quarter drain hose for a sump pump attached to a TV and VCR. The video shows the drain and after getting past the first corner bend I come upon the tee of my floor drain, in the video you can see the water running from the floor drain branch.
After some more pushing I feed the camera which is about an inch and three quarters round to some blockage that I could not push the camera through. I marked on the camera hose with a strip of cloth so I could measure how far down this clog was and could show the same area after the Clog Hog did some of its work.
After a few minutes of running the Clog Hog with my pressure washer I removed the Clog Hog hose and sent my camera back in to take a look. The camera could now go further into the drain and you can see that the walls are now scrubbed of some of the gunk that it was lined with.
This was only after a couple of minutes with the Clog Hog washing down the inside of the drain pipe, I continued to use the Clog Hog some more to clear out more of the drain pipe. I also went outside to a cleanout and used the Clog Hog on my main sewer line that runs from my house to the street to get that nice and clear to prevent problems like Christmas Day, 2009.
The first year we moved into our home we had our first major plumbing problem on Christmas Day, the line clogged and I was outside in a snow storm digging out the sewer line so I could get to the clog. The sewer line for my house runs to a pit in our yard and then to the street and this pit was full of sewer water so the clog was somewhere between this pit and the street.
After bailing out the water and using a hose with one of those bladders to push the clog out I vowed to never have to do this again. I worked at updating the sewer line with a clean out and fully enclosed plumbing in that pit as well as looking for alternate means of keeping my sewer lines clear.
I finally got the drain lines enclosed and when I started having problems again with my drain lines in the basement clogging up I looked for a solution before they totally clogged up. I looked over the internet for some way to clean out a drain line without having to call a plumber, I am a do it yourselfer at heart, and found the Clog Hog.
The Clog Hog sewer jetter is a simple way to clear out the lines with the backwards facing jets pulling the hose along and one forward jet to blast through any obstructions that clog up your drain. Actual usage and drain configuration at your home will determine the amount of bends and corners the Clog Hog hose will take but the smaller diameter hose makes for a better turn radius.
When using the Clog Hog I know I made it past three turns on the plumbing but I am not sure exactly how or where this was, I think about three is the maximum my smaller pressure washer would push the hose through. The more turns you add to your length the more friction is added to the hose so it may be you can do a few more with a higher pressure washer and hose set up.
Professionals are now using power washers as a way to clear out clogs that do not wear down the pipe like augers can and they also clean out the pipe of greasy debris that sticks to the side much better. The use of a home version that a home owner can buy at a reasonable cost and use with their own pressure washer simply means not having to call the professional to unclog your drain lines.
The Clog Hog sewer jetter is a cost effective means that home owners can use to keep your drain lines clear and one that works with a pressure washer that you may already have. Doing a little math if you spend the $115 for the 50FT Clog Hog Set and another $100 on a pressure washer you’re about at the cost of having a plumber come out to your house to do the same job.
You get the secure knowledge of not having to call a plumber again and you can wash your car and keep your house siding clean as well. The Clog Hog is a simple to use drain cleaner and not only prevents clogs in the future when using it on pipes that are just slow but can clear out clogged pipes where water is not draining.
My only word of warning on fully clogged drain lines on vertical pipes like under sinks that run straight into the wall instead of down is use rags to plug the hole when you first use the Clog Hog and your pressure washer. I highly recommend the Clog Hog sewer jetter as an efficient and low cost way to keep your homes drain lines clear and running free.
The Capresso froth PRO automatic milk frother is a unique milk frother and heater to create your home brewed beverages with hot, warm and cold frothed milk.
Ease of Use/Performance: 24/25 Convenience/Storage 24/25 Appearance/Design 24/25 How much I enjoy 25/25
The Capresso froth PRO milk frother is a semi automatic appliance that produces frothed milk either hot or cold in a small metal pitcher. The froth PRO is an easy way to create espresso based drinks, hot chocolates and much more with frothed milk as one ingredient.
The froth PRO comes with the base unit, the metal pitcher and three heating/frothing discs along with the instructions. The Capresso froth PRO uses three settings for your frothed milk; froth, froth with low heat and froth with high heat.
The frother has the three lighted buttons on the front with a snow flake on one, a cup with three lines rising out of it for high and the low heat has two lines rising out of a cup. Once you choose your frothing blade for either frothing or just heating you snap it into place in the bottom of the frothing pitcher and set the pitcher on the base.
The froth PRO comes with two frothing discs and one heating disc, the two frothing discs are the same so you get a spare with your frother. The plastic discs are easy to insert or remove and store in the bottom of the base for easy access when not in use.
The base uses a magnet to spin the frothing blade so there are no gears or sprockets connecting the pitcher to the base like blenders use. The frother will spin the blade and either froth or heat while frothing the milk with the spoked frothing blade.
The smooth blade without spokes will spin but only heat the milk without any frothing action for drinks that you want with just heated milk. The frother works by heating the area of the base where the bottom of the pitcher is and there are two small push button switches there for safety.
The froth PRO will not heat up or turn on when the pitcher is not in place so you need not worry about a fire hazard when the pitcher is removed. The pitcher fits neatly on the base and has a recessed area that the pitcher sits in so you cannot knock the pitcher over by accident.
To warm milk you simply add milk between the minimum and maximum lines and press either the low or high heat button using the heat disc. To froth milk you simply use a froth disc and push any of the buttons to froth with or without heat.
The lid of the pitcher is clear so you can keep an eye on your milk frothing and is also easy to clean up, both the pitcher and lid are dishwasher safe in the top rack. If the base gets dirty from spills you can lightly scrub it with a moistened rag and some baking soda which takes off stains form the brushed aluminum of the heating area.
Cleanup is easy with the nonstick surface of the pitcher and the plastic discs that cleanup simply by rinsing and wiping out if any milk residue has stuck to any parts. I usually rinse out the pitcher with hot water and use a foam brush to wipe out any milk residue.
The Capresso froth Pro is a simple but effective way to easily warm and froth milk for coffee based drinks like cappuccino and lattes. You can also create drinks like chocolate milk from frothed milk and chocolate syrup or even with straight cocoa powder and your choice of sweeteners.
Capresso offers a wide selection of recipes for hot and cold drinks that are a great way to experiment with the froth PRO for some additional fun. Entertaining is simple using the froth PRO, I find the timing between frothing my milk and setting up and pulling a shot of espresso works well.
When making espresso based drinks using the Capresso froth PRO I pour and start the frother and then setup and pull my espresso shot. If all goes well I have pulled the shot and started to clean up the espresso machine and washing out the porta filter when the frother stops with my hot frothed milk.
I have had absolutely no problem at all with the froth PRO, it has quietly and diligently been frothing milk since I received it. Cleaning the base is the only word of caution I have along with not placing the pitcher back on the base after washing it, the base heats up where the pitcher sits.
When you put any water or spill milk on the base it will sizzle and any liquid getting in and around the buttons may cause damage to the frother. I keep a silicone hot pad on my counter to set the hot pitcher on after pouring my drink and use it to let the pitcher dry after washing.
The Capresso froth PRO costs about $60 which may seem a bit expensive, this would be the only downside to the product I could find, it is a bit expensive. I highly recommend the Capresso froth PRO for a fantastic milk frother, when you consider the cost of a good grinder and espresso machine this is not that much more for a frother that will heat and froth at the same time.
The 12” Stainless Steel Millennium Skillets by Farberware is a fantastic piece of kitchen cookware that works great both with simple things like eggs to more complex foods like Crepes.
Ease of Use/Performance: 24/25 Convenience/Storage 21/25 Appearance/Design 23/25 How much I enjoy 25/25
Low cost, great even heat from the aluminum core base with metal utensil safe DuPont Teflon non-stick coating and an oven safe design makes this a great purchase for any kitchen. The Millennium 12” skillet is a large cooking skillet for use on the stove or in the oven and includes a DuPont Teflon coating that is metal utensil safe.
The Millennium 12” Skillets is a stainless steel skillet with an aluminum core inside the impact bonded bottom with an oven safe handle. The DuPont Teflon Professional with Metal Guard non-stick coating is a high end coating just like those professional chefs use on their kitchen cookware.
The cooking area is nine inches across while the handle made of stainless steel is also about nine inches long, the handle is riveted onto the side of the skillet with two rivets. The Millennium skillets have an aluminum core in the stainless steel base that creates an even cooking surface for your food and recipes.
The stainless steel design is a nice one but the skillet can be a bit heavy for flipping food while you cook it, the skillets weigh 3.5 pounds. The weight is the only concern I have other than keeping the Teflon coating scratch free but using only silicon utensils will help in that area.
The DuPont Teflon coating is a high end coating that the company offers that includes a metal safe component but these coatings are an interesting feature. I usually learn a lot from my reviews but even before I received this skillet I learned about non-stick coatings.
Cookware companies can purchase the various levels of coatings on their pans and DuPont is one of the top rated companies that coat cookware with non-stick coatings. The various levels of coatings are usually referred to by their cost and the Professional series form DuPont is one of their higher cost ones.
The coating also has a scratch resistant technology, whatever that means, but mainly the coating is a higher end so should last longer than less expensive pans. The metal utensil technology is not one I am going to test other than to try it out a few times with some metal utensils.
The pan does exhibit a few scratches but not far enough to reach bare metal, I can only see surface scratches that do not go down to the stainless steel. I have stopped using metal utensils and will only be using silicon covered spatulas and spoons so I can have the coating last as long as possible.
Using the Millennium skillets has been a joy to not only cook the everyday things like eggs and parts of meals like sautéing vegetables but for special occasions. I have gotten pretty good at crepes and enjoy making things like sautéed vegetables and omelets.
I have gotten pretty good at flipping my food while cooking, very few times has food found its way to the floor or the stove top. Using the techniques real chefs use is fun and can make cooking easier as you don’t have to pick up a utensil to stir the food if you simply flip it real quick.
I tried some of the techniques for testing pans from the show America’s Test Kitchen like having eggs slide off the pan when cooked and seeing how evenly crepes cooked. Some things I did not do that they do because they can afford it such as cooking eggs till they stop sticking.
The pans non-stick coating has lasted just fine and my eggs still slide off with just as much ease now as the day I first tried an egg on the skillets over three months ago. I have used the skillet to brown onions and sauté vegetables, cook eggs several different ways as well as cook oddball dishes like several attempts at risotto.
The skillet is non-stick and the food can really slide out of the pan with no coaxing from a utensil even with meat like steaks and chicken breasts. The pan is great and the surface area for cooking, the area that is flat in the bottom is large enough to cook a decent amount of food.
I have seared large steaks and roasts prior to slow cooking in the crock pot or roasting in the oven, I have even roasted in the skillet to try out the oven capabilities. I have been using the Millennium Skillet for all kinds of cooking and have been very satisfied with the results from my cooking.
One feature I like is the aluminum handle that does not get so hot that you have grab an oven mitt to move or hold the skillet. The Millennium skillet has been a great addition to my6 cookware and one I have really enjoyed reviewing and using for both everyday meals and special events.
The Farberware Millennium 12” Stainless Steel Skillets is a professional grade cookware that works well with its non-stick DuPont Teflon coating. I highly recommend the Farberware Millennium Skillet for cooking your favorite recipes.
Totally Bamboo Puzzle Party Platter & Geo Square Cutting Board
Totally Bamboo has some great party platter trays for both serving and individual use as well as the unique bamboo cutting board from highly renewable bamboo.
Ease of Use/Performance: 23/25 Convenience/Storage 25/25 Appearance/Design 25/25 How much I enjoy 23/25
Bamboo is a highly renewable resource, the grass grows to 98 feet and at an incredible rate with some species growing at 39 inches a day. This common grass found worldwide can be used to make wood products and has been used for generations in the home.
Products made from bamboo range from paper for writing to fine furniture and cooking utensils but we mainly see bamboo in the kitchen. Bamboo grows like a grass but grows large and like wood trees has a main stem that is used for wood products.
While bamboo stems or culm is small compared to other wood trees, gluing pieces together is a common method to create larger pieces like cutting boards and even furniture. Bamboo has a unique end grain that can be used to create unique and individual patterns for cutting boards and even countertops.
When glued together using differing colored or stained pieces you can get unusual and often pleasing patterns in the end grain to make attractive products. The use of bamboo has gone back thousands of years in cooking and having the modern utensils and cutting boards made from bamboo only continues the traditional use of this versatile plant.
Totally Bamboo sells a wide range of bamboo products including utensils and cutting boards but also some unique countertop products and the mineral oil to care for them. The Puzzle Serving Party Platter is a unique serving tray that has an interlocking handle to daisy chain the platters for a visually appealing table.
The party platter is about eight by six and a half inches and 3/8 inches thick with a two inch handle that also interlocks with the puzzle jigsaw hole of the next platter. Each platter interlocks with the next to create a long serving platter on your table and can be individually removed easily by guests.
You do not have to use the serving platters individually for guests to carry around their appetizers but also as serving trays at each place setting or at a buffet. I have had a couple of parties where I used the serving platters as bread boards for sweet breads during a brunch as well as hot bread plates during a soup dinner.
You can use the party platter for appetizers, breads and snacks individually or as a center piece but the jigsaw ends have a unique use. The puzzle hole on the opposite end of the handle is designed to hold a wine glass so you have a handy way to hold you party drink.
I did not use the party platters this way but I can see the use of having a handy way to hold both your drink and your appetizer or tidbit tray while standing around at a party or event. The Puzzle Party Platters make a unique party and buffet serving platter for guests or for serving and the maintenance free food safe coating means easy clean up.
The Puzzle Party Platters have a food safe coating that is not a mineral oil or other coating that needs reapplication over time. The trays are not meant for cutting so the coating is a permanent tough waterproof surface for easy cleanup.
The boards are pieces of bamboo laminated together side by side and sanded smooth so you get the definite look of bamboo on each surface of the platter. The Puzzle Party Platters look great and make a great table platter and guest platter for serving food.
I also received the Geo Square cutting board from Totally Bamboo, a 12 inch square and one inch thick tough cutting board for heavy kitchen use. This is the sort of cutting board that not only looks fantastic and can be left on the counter for quick use because of its good looks but is tough.
The one inch thick board is great for everyday use and has a groove around the edge of one side for collecting liquids during cutting. The groove is deep enough to handle meat or fruit drippings so you can concentrate on the food and not making a mess while cutting.
The two tone design is striking but with a nice coat of mineral or Revitalizing Oil from Totally Bamboo the board looks fantastic. The bamboo cutting board is also tough and with the cross sections of bamboo laminated together it offers a solid and dense cutting surface.
Other cutting boards I have start to quickly get nicks and cut lines in it due to the grain going parallel with the face of the cutting board. All the cutting boards I have with the flat grain show signs of wear while the end grain of this cutting board reduces these cuts significantly.
Not only does the Totally Bamboo Geo Square make a striking countertop cutting board this board is a great size for table side service for things like bread and roasts. The slight depression or groove running around the board on one side allows you to serve meats from the cutting board and still keep drippings from pouring off.
This groove is about 3/16ths of an inch deep, 7/16ths of an inch wide and is rounded so it won’t hold a lot of drippings or juice. This is meant mainly as a drip catcher for small drips and not the main drippings like from a turkey or roast directly out of the oven.
I have used the Geo Square in my kitchen as a main cutting board for chicken, beef and pork roasts as well as a general purpose cutting board when making soups and other meals. Cutting vegetables and fruit is easy and the dense grain means less sticking from the smoother surface than my side grained cutting boards.
The cutting board works well, I especially like the dense end grain of the bamboo and how it hardly shows any signs of wear after heavy use for a couple of months. Other cutting boards I have purchased show signs of wear immediately, especially those long cuts when you’re doing hard to cut raw meats and want to really make sure you get through all the tissue.
The Totally Bamboo Geo Square Cutting Board makes a great everyday cutting board for use in the kitchen and makes a great table side cutting board for things like whole loaves of fresh bread.
Check out the Puzzle Party Tray and the Geo Square Cutting Board at Totally Bamboo for some great environmentally friendly products for your kitchen and dining room. You can purchase Totally Bamboo products from their site and from local stores such as Bed, Bath & Beyond.
The Crock-Pot Cook Carry Countdown Slow Cooker uses a handy front panel timer along with the usual settings but with a handy locking glass lid for easy travel.
Ease of Use/Performance: 25/25 Convenience/Storage 24/25 Appearance/Design 24/25 How much I enjoy 25/25
Crock-Pot has a wide variety of great slow cookers, it is no surprise that Crock-Pot is also a term used for slow cookers along with the brand name. The newer Crock-Pot with locking lid is the Cook Carry line and the countdown timer adds more functionality and a convenient cooking feature.
The Cook Carry Countdown Timer model I received is SCCPVL610-S and comes with a silver stainless side along with plastic trim and a black crock insert. The six quart capacity means soups and stews along with larger roasts and even small birds will fit easily for tasty meals.
Using the countdown timer is easy, it simply has minutes from thirty to 20 hours with thirty minute intervals so you have to set the timer by thirty minute periods. The timer has a unique feature where it goes directly to warm after the timer stops so you can cook and not worry about overcooking.
You can use this feature to cook a meal while you’re at work or out and have it warm and ready to eat no matter if you’re late or just need a shorter cooking time. You can set a soup or meal to cook for four hours and then it will go to warm and be ready after a full day at work without hassles.
The large black crock fits nicely into the plastic and stainless steel base that has an aluminum interior and the stainless outer body. The base has the front control panel right where you expect and the loops for the clips on both sides that clamp the lid on.
The lid is made of glass with a plastic heat resistant handle in the center and both clips on each end for clamping the lid down. The clamp works well and keeps the lid down tight for travel and not allowing the contents to slosh and spill.
The lid also has a rubber seal but also has a steam vent in the top so the Crock-Pot will not build up pressure when clamped tight. The clamps also make a handy spot to hold the power cord when not in use or when transporting to your favorite pot luck supper.
The usual Crock-Pot high, low and warm settings are available from the control panel buttons along with the off button and the timer adjustment. The crock has two side handles for the heavy lifting and the power cord is the usual short one for safety.
The Crock-Pot Cook Carry Countdown works like many other slow cookers to create meals like soups and stews, wonderful roasts or delicious chicken dinners. I have tried out several of my favorite recipes like tortilla soup and the usual beef barley soup along really good pulled pork for my sons graduation party.
I have a home based business so my work does not interfere with cooking, usually my work entails cooking for reviews like this one but this makes a handy appliance for anyone. The useful timer and going to warm after the timer is up makes for the perfect slow cooker while you’re at work and just don’t feel like cooking when you get home.
A sumptuous roast, pork or beef, or how about a full bodied stew or soup with lots of chunky chicken or filling ground beef with barley and chunks of veggies. Lots of the basics come to mind but how about some handy chicken or beef tacos when you get home, prepare everything the night before except plugging the crock in that morning.
The pork and beef roasts can be prepared and cooked with or without vegetables and potatoes so you have a one pot meal if you like for a simple meal without much preparation before serving. Many know the different uses of a slow cooker and meals are just one side, you can also cook desserts and side dishes as well.
The Cook Carry Slow Cooker allows you to set the timer and count down to a keep warm so you can eat when you want to instead of when the timer goes ding. The Countdown slow cooker is a fantastic appliance and I found the timer function along with the easy to use clips for the lid allow the cooker to be used on the go at those pot luck suppers.
I highly recommend the Crock-Pot Cook Carry Countdown Slow Cooker as a great slow cooker that any household would be grateful to have. You can find this model at online stores like Amazon and locally at stores such as Wal-Mart and Target for about $50.
Dadgum Thats Good is a great recipe book for a different approach to cooking using smoking, grilling, frying, boiling and steaming methods with a southern flair.
Contents 21/25 Ease of Understanding/Practicality 21/25 Pictures/Illustrations 23/25 Additional Features 22/25 Total 87/100
Dadgum Thats Good! by John McLemore is a smoker, grill and deep fryer cookbook that is filled with recipes both for appliances that Masterbuilt makes and ones you may have. The Masterbuilt company designs and is well known for the turkey fryer, a deep fryer especially designed for turkeys but also sells smokers and grills.
Dadgum Thats Good has over 120 recipes in a six sectioned book by cooking methods for an easy to navigate recipe book but the books are useful for a reference guide as well. Each cooking method has its own style but the cookbook in general has a lot of spicy southern style methods.
Dadgum Thats Good also has some helpful pages filled with the back story of the company Masterbuilt, helpful cooking tips and more for plenty of special features along with the recipes. The 200 page cookbook has some beautiful pictures of the cooked foods so you have an idea of what your creations are supposed to look like or at least come close to.
Cookbooks that revolve around specific cooking techniques are pretty good for a volume of recipes but some can also be cooking equipment specific. Dadgum That’s Good fits this category of cook books very well as it centers not only on cooking techniques but on the Masterbuilt fryers and smokers.
You can use a regular pot for both steaming and boiling recipes or any fryer for most of the frying methods but some things need a more specific type of appliance. The turkey frying needs a large fryer and a few other recipes also need something a bit more unusual like a smoker.
Most people have grills and several grills also double as a smoker or you can even purchase a stovetop smoker like the nice one from Nordic that I have reviewed. Grilling is a great cooking method for many recipes and can be done on either an indoor grill or an outdoor barbecue grill using gas or briquettes to cook with.
I do have a deep fryer from Masterbuilt and will address that method as well as a couple of other methods that do not use the Masterbuilt appliances. My smoker, a Nordic Ware Kettle Smoker worked very well for the smoking recipes but the frying has a few more recipes than the other sections.
I tried Smoked BBQ beans, Smoked Onion Burgers and Smoked Salmon in the Nordic smoker using the Dadgum Thats Good recipes and they turned out very well. The beans were a bit hard, undercooked, so I tried the same recipe using canned beans and it turned out very well.
I tried a few frying recipes like Hush Puppies, Southern Fried Fish and Pumpkin fritters which all worked out pretty well but I am not a great cook. After a few experiments and some practice I have gotten some of the recipes down pretty good but a few are just not my cup of tea.
I tried a few steamed recipes and varied some recipes to the ingredients I had on hand and things worked out well, I did do a lot of variations on several recipes. Steaming can be done in a fryer like the Masterbuilt Butterball Turkey Fryer or a simple stock pot with a wire basket suspended part way in the pot.
Most of the recipes in the Dadgum Thats Good cookbook are on the spicy side but it is easy enough to use less spicy ingredients or simply substitute them for other things. My family does not for the most part like spicy foods so several of the recipes I toned down or changed out a few ingredients to lessen the spicy flavors.
I did try a couple of the main recipes like the deep fried turkey but not with the Cajun spices and it was delicious, even as leftovers for sandwiches. I also tried an oddball recipe with the Fried Scotch Eggs but this was not as good, I need to use a little less sausage so the sausage cooks all the way through.
The sausage was a little underdone near the hardboiled egg so next time I try this I will use a little less sausage per egg as well as undercook the egg just a little. The egg should be a bit less than fully hardboiled for a better taste and texture so I will try this one again.
Actually several of the recipes from Dadgum Thats Good will be used again and especially the turkey frying which was a fantastic method for cooking a turkey. Fried turkey is worth the bit of cost and effort that frying versus broiling puts you through and was well worth it.
I tried this one recipe which is also a main part of the turkey fryer I also received from Masterbuilt and it is one great recipe as long as you follow some simple ideas. The cooking methods all worked just fine I only needed a few ingredient changes to make things a bit better such as the turkey frying.
I used an herb & garlic marinade from Wal-mart which tasted very good instead of the Cajun spice the recipe book called for. Next time I will try a teriyaki marinade and I will try this again soon as the turkey deep fried was moist, tender and delicious.
Many of the recipes worked well but a few need a little tweaking such as using canned beans instead of dried ones for the Smoked BBQ Beans. A few other recipes like the hush puppies worked well enough but just buying the premade ones tasted better.
Cooking and recipes are a little bit of a trial and error but using the Dadgum Thats Good recipe book I found a few new recipes and cooking methods that worked very well. While some of the sections and methods may not be useful several such as the boiling, steaming and grilling are probably available for everyone.
Dadgum Thats Good is a great recipe book and gives a good variety to several cooking methods for main course dishes, sides and desserts. Check out the Dadgum That’s Good recipe book and the Masterbuilt appliances at their websites for a unique and different way to prepare some of those classic dishes.
The Butterball Black Turkey Fryer by Masterbuilt is an excellent fryer that is designed to fry up whole turkey’s under 14 pounds and a whole lot more.
Ease of Use/Performance: 21/25 Convenience/Storage 22/25 Appearance/Design 22/25 How much I enjoy 22/25
Fry, boil and even steam in the same fryer built by Masterbuilt, the original developer of the deep fryer especially for turkeys. The Masterbuilt Butterball Turkey Fryer comes in various styles and sizes with the newest ones designed as more of a square shape instead of the original kettle types.
The Butterball Black Turkey Fryer that I received for reviewing is a large turkey fryer with the basket shaped to fit a turkey. The basket also works well for other foods and the fryer does a great job at frying as well as boiling and steaming.
The Butterball Fryer comes with the base of the fryer, a removable inner pot with drain valve, basket, lifting hook, control panel with element, power cord and instruction manual. The inner pot is shaped to accommodate a turkey while it has a great drain valve at the bottom with a removable spout for easy draining of the oil or water.
The control panel and element are on the unit that hangs on the corner of the outer base and has a reset button on the back side for safety. The front control knob adjusts the temperature and has a timer but the timer does require you to unplug the unit or push the button through the numbers if you go past the time you want.
The reset function is used when the control or element is too hot, a safety function for protection of overheating that is in an odd place. The reset hole is on the side of the control unit that faces the body of the base so you have to remove the control unit from the base which also removes the element from the oil.
You should not do this while the element is hot as you could burn yourself or something else with an extremely hot element so the safety feature is really two-fold. You have to wait to let the unit cool down before being able to reset it but this helps for safety.
The plug also has a safety feature I have become more used to, it holds to the connection using a magnet instead of the pressure of the contacts in a socket. This safety feature called a breakaway cord allows the cord to easily come off the fryer if you pull or kick the power cord.
The power cord is only 32 inches long so you need to position the unit near an outlet, you should not use an extension cord with the Butterball turkey fryer. If you use an extension cord and especially one with smaller diameter wires this will cause the unit to operate with less electric current.
The Butterball Black Turkey Fryer is easy to use but frying does take a decent amount of oil, set the base down on the counter and set the inner pot into the base. You should make sure the valve is closed on the drain and that the heat resistant cap is screwed on finger tight.
The inner pot sits on holders inside as well as the outer lip of the base and the entire base is made from heat proof material. The base has a door on the side for the drain spout for easy emptying but I found it just as easy to completely disassemble the unit for draining.
The inner pot is marked with dented min and max levels for easy filling, the minimum is a gallon and the max will take about two gallons. Simply slide the control panel on the tabs of the corner and the element will fit inside the inner pot.
The power cord will fit on the side and plugging it into the outlet will allow you to start heating the oil or water for boiling and steaming. The inner basket is 10.5 inches by 9 inches and five inches tall which is the top of the maximum oil level when the basket is at the bottom of the fryer.
A ten pound turkey easily fit into the basket but larger birds over fourteen unds probably would not even fit this basket. This is a case of buying and cooking a turkey that is used in one meal with a few leftovers instead of that large twenty pound bird for use as leftovers after that big family dinner.
The fryer gets hot slowly and took about a half hour to get to cooking temperature with oil but water got to boiling much faster. I tried both boiling and steaming along with frying and had great results with all three methods of cooking.
Fish was an interesting thing to try in steaming and it did come out flaky and tender but had a more mild taste than pan searing. I boiled vegetables and meatballs both together and separately which was interesting for a quick but tasty meal and a good side dish.
I prefer my vegetables to be steamed or pan seared and slightly al dente so there is a slight snap to my carrots and such. Steaming really brings out the flavor without boiling away the taste and nutrition but mostly the taste, but for fish I do prefer baking or using a pan.
Boiling and steaming is a unique way to cook and the Butterball Black Turkey Fryer works very well due to its quick heat time for water and its self-contained cooking. You can simply lower the basket into the water to boil or use the handy basket drain clip to set the basket at the top of the inner pot to steam foods.
The clip is made to both drain your food from the oil while frying to get as much oil out before eating or to use the basket and cooker as a steamer. You simply hang the basket from the top rim on the hook that is also at the top of the base and the basket will sit inside the cooker but not touching the water level.
The lid which is a double hinged lid for easy opening clips into the slot of the base and folds down over the top even with the basket hanging on the edge of the fryer. This allows you to cook with the lid down over the top while boiling water for that steaming method.
Most of the uses I tried with the Masterbuilt Butterball Turkey Fryer worked very well and I was very happy with the outcomes. I did check out other reviews, not many and customer complaints at sites like Amazon and I do have to wonder about one thing.
I found several that were not able to fry a full turkey or other items to a complete doneness and several said that their fryer did not get hot enough. I saw in the instruction that you should not use an extension cord as it will not deliver enough electricity in current to the element.
I wonder if several or at least some of those complaints are due to using an extension cord and not getting the fryer hot enough as the instructions say. Like any appliance and electrical device you really do need to read the directions and follow them.
Many of those warnings may be for the silly things but ones like don’t use an extension cord or the fryer won’t get hot enough makes sense. The Butterball Black Turkey Fryer really did work well for me and with all the recipes and hints from the Dadgum That’s Good book I had a great time trying out the fryer.
Check out the Masterbuilt website for more information on the fryer which costs about $100 from a great number of websites and even some brick and mortar stores. I can highly recommend the Masterbuilt Butterball Turkey Fryer as it made not only a good fryer but worked very well as a steamer and a boiling appliance.
Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce is a real treat and for two of the sauces I received well worth the cost of shipping and then some as they are fresh tasting, homemade and delicious.
Ratings: Convenience/Storage: 25/25, Appearance/Creativity: 20/25, Value: 18/25, Just how good is it: 18/25
Looks can be deceiving and taste is definitely personal so I was not surprised when out of the three of Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauces I received one was just not to my liking. Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauces are homemade recipes of pasta sauces and a few new ones may not be to everyone’s taste.
Dave’s Gourmet is a company that started while Dave Hirschkop owned a restaurant called Burrito Madness in Maryland but problems arose from drunk customers. Dave found that unruly customers could be quelled by hot sauce, the hotter the better so he started his own line of hot sauces.
When he won an award for the hottest sauce, now banned because it is too hot, at the National Fiery Foods Show in New Mexico he had a winner on his hands. He continued to create his own unique hot sauces and after selling the restaurant he went on to create Dave’s Gourmet with not only hot sauces but other homemade recipes.
Dave’s specializes in homemade tastes from popcorn and pasta sauces to his humorously packaged hot sauces all with mild to insanely hot flavors. Dave’s sells spices, salts, a couple of mustards and a jelly, popcorns and nuts along with the full lines of hot sauces and pasta sauces.
I received three jars of pasta sauce from Dave’s for reviewing and loved two of the three, the third, Masala Marinara which is a tomato based sauce with coconut milk, lime juice and lime leaf to give it a unique taste was not to my liking. The Butternut Squash is fantastic along with the Red Heirloom Pasta Sauce that I received for a great package of Dave’s Sauces that really gave me a good sampling of their products.
The three sauces come well packaged and with plenty of padding in a cardboard box with bubble wrap and packing peanuts around the three jars which were separated from each other in bubble wrap. The box came in an outer cardboard box, two card board boxes, so the package was well cared for in packing and shipping which is one thing I concern myself with when reviewing a food.
The three sauces come in 25.5 ounce jars and are a clear glass with a nice plain white label and a picture of the main ingredient on the label. The three sauces are labeled as what I would consider noticeably or strikingly plain which to me stands out in my opinion.
I like the plain white label as I think this stands out more than a brightly colored label with a variety of the ingredients or cooked dishes on them like lots of grocery store sauces have. I think people are often overcome with too many images and clutter on labels and even websites as plain can be just as striking and eye catching as bright colors or flashy designs.
The Red Heirloom Organic Pasta Sauce was the first sauce I tried on simple noodles, homemade noodles which I figured was the only way to try these great sauces. I next tried the Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce on some nice cheese raviolis in a meal with chicken breasts and mixed vegetables.
The last was the Masala Marinara Pasta Sauce again with homemade noodles but made to be fine angel hair pasta instead of the previous spaghetti noodles. The three sauces are quite different and striking in their own way and were the perfect examples of Dave’s sauces, two more classic but very different red sauces and a unique sauce that is sweet and savory.
The Red Heirloom Sauce, like most of Dave’s products uses organic and natural ingredients for their sauces and the Red Heirloom is your traditional tomato sauce with tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and spices. The Red Heirloom tastes much like a fantastic tomato sauce you would get at a restaurant but it comes in a jar.
The Red Heirloom has a rich tomato taste with chunks of red tomatoes and onions for a great sauce that is fantastic for plain noodles and sauce or to use in dishes. The Red Heirloom is your traditional pasta sauce that is a fantastic tasting sauce with rich tomato flavor and much better than any store bought sauce I have tried.
The Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce is a sweeter sauce made from butternut squash, tomato paste, red bell pepper, celery, onions and spices. The Butternut Squash sauce is a sweeter sauce but is still a savory flavor with the vegetables and pasta base that tasted great with the more expensive ravioli I used with it.
The Butternut Squash sauce would make a great sauce for a wide variety of dishes with its slightly sweet taste complimenting the dish in ways a tomato based sauce would not. The Butternut Squash is a taste that is not all that different and is one just about anyone should like, my whole family did very much.
The Masala Marinara Pasta Sauce is an odder taste with its tomatoes, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, lime, onions, lemongrass and spices. The taste is one that reminds me of some Mexican dishes with its lime taste but could also be South Asian from the Masala spice used in the sauce.
All the sauces are made from fresh ingredients and have the taste to prove it, they are made with no preservatives other than natural ones like citric acid and salt. They are also gluten free and the ingredients are pretty simple with nothing chemical sounding in the lists of ingredients.
I did not care for the Masala sauce but the other two are a definite hit in my family as well as ones I will be ordering again, I just wish I could find them at a local store. These are the kinds of sauces that you order for special occasions like parties, anniversaries, holidays and of course as gifts.
Dave’s Gourmet pasta sauces are a treat and for two of the three I tried well worth the cost of $10 per bottle and more for shipping. Depending on where you order your sauces and the quantity you order shipping will start at about $10 but if you order more bottles it will not go up much.
I checked out a couple stores from Amazon and others to find if you order one bottle shipping is about $10 but if you order three it only adds a dollar or two. While this is a bit expensive for pasta sauce it is well worth it for a sauce that is truly gourmet in taste and would make a great treat from time to time.
Check out Dave’s award winning Gourmet Sauces and more at Dave’s Gourmet website that is also available at Amazon and other gourmet food stores.