Best Deep Fryer

Best deep fryer

  • Review
Best Deep Fryer Catfish Recipe
Catfish Recipe

Do you sometimes crave a good catfish dinner? The kind of deep-fried, golden-brown catfish that is firm and crunchy on the outside and steaming-hot, soft and flaky on the inside is what I’m after in a Catfish Recipe. There is simply no way of making good, deep fried catfish without using a deep fryer of some sort. The other secret is to make a batter that actually sticks to the fish. Neither of these requirements are convenient. Making the batter so it sticks to the fish can be difficult and frying hot oil inside is messy and can really smell up the kitchen. I’ve tried Catfish Recipes that use flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper, egg and milk for the batter. Some very basic instructions for making the batter. Even the best deep fryer can’t do it this good without the right recipe! See picture to the right. That’s how the right catfish recipe looks after its properly fried. Now, did it take the best deep fryer in the world to do this?

Catfish Batter Recipe
Beat up a couple of egg yolks with a cup of milk. In an 8 x 10 or 10 x 12 baking pan, mix up a cup of flour, cup of corn meal, and salt and pepper to suit your tastes. Dip the fish in the milk and egg than roll coat it with the flour mixture. A trick my mom taught me: Place the batter-coated fish in your refrigerator an hour before deep frying. This helps the batter stick to the fish. This catfish recipe sounds good in theory, but it is a bit of a messy and time consuming process, not to mention, you still have to deal with a deep fryer full of piping hot oil. Here is a better Cat Fish Recipe:

Catfish Nuggets

catfish-nuggets
Catfish Nuggets

When I say Catfish Nuggets I mean frozen catfish nuggets from Walmart. Yes, they really are fantastic. Unlike other frozen fish, these catfish nuggets are raw, but they are completely coated with an authentic, golden-colored batter on the outside. I’ve had some really good catfish in places like Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Judging by the appearance while taking them out of the Walmart box, these catfish nuggets looked like the real thing. I liked the idea that they are fresh frozen with the batter already on them. I was puzzled that the instructions on the box recommended I deep fry them rather than then bake them in the oven like any other frozen fish. Hmmm, Deep Frying them would take a little more work, but if they come out like the real southern thing, the extra effort would be well worth it. Now, the question became, what to use and where, to deep fry this tasty looking catfish recipe from Walmart.

Using the Best Deep Fryer

We’ve all heard of the Fry Daddy. An electrical pot that you fill with oil, plug in and deep fry your favorite breaded foods; chicken, shrimp, calamari…catfish?
The little electrical deep fryer we have at home is too small to cook more than 3 or 4 catfish nuggets at the same time and I certainly didn’t want to fume-up the house with the smell of fish oil. There’s a better way: The Best Deep Fryer is a big cast iron pan, filled half-way with oil and set on your hot, outdoor barbecue grill. My grill has a side burner which is the perfect match for my cast iron pan. A few weeks ago, I discovered this combination makes the Best Deep Fryer I’ve ever used. Unlike most people, I’m not worried about Fat and Cholesterol.. I like to use Sunflower or Peanut Oil in my deep fryer, so I filled the Cast Iron pan half full of sunflower oil and set it on the grill burner at Medium-High Heat.

How to Fry Catfish

best-deep-fryer
Best Deep Fryer

I’ve discovered that if the heat is too high, even frozen foods will burn. It’s best to heat the oil up for about 10-12 minutes at medium high heat, then carefully place the fish in the hot oil. Make sure you have enough oil to cover the fish. Using the Cast Iron Pan as a deep fryer, in my opinion makes the job more thorough, easier and efficient. Cover your eyes and use oven mitts. Hot oil is…well, HOT. Cook the fish about 7-10 minutes. Remove one, cut it in half and try it before you continue cooking them all. The inside should be flaky and hot and the outside should remain light golden brown. (refer to above picture) The results of the boxed Walmart brand catfish nuggets is sensational. Just like the real thing at your favorite country catfish restaurant. Making a little tartar sauce is a breeze. Mix up real mayonnaise, pickle relish relish along with some garlic powder and paprika. Season it how you like; find the best deep fryer and voila – you’re on your way!

In conclusion, boxed Catfish Nuggets in a Cast Iron Deep Fryer is the best Catfish Recipe there is.

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Best iPhone Apps

What are the Best iPhone Apps and are they free?

Free Apps to Improve Your  iPhone Experience

Best iPhone Apps
Best iPhone Free Backgrounds

If you’re bored with your new iPhone 4, perhaps you haven’t been downloading enough of the best iPhone apps. If there is one thing that sets the iPhone apart from the Droid and other mobile phone competition it’s the great Apps. I’ve downloaded so many so-called ‘best iPhone Apps’ that I cant even count them all. In fact, there are way too many to cover in a single review. For that reason, this is just one of many review articles I will be doing on iPhone Applications. This is by no means an all-inclusive review of the best iPhone Apps, but a summary of some really good iPhone Apps that I’ve found very useful.

Best iPhone Wallpaper

Looking for the most impressive HD Backgrounds for your new iPhone 4 wallpaper? Changing your iPhone’s background can really freshen up your device. In fact, whenever I change my wallpaper it makes me feel like I’ve just gotten a new iPhone.  A few notes on how wallpaper backgrounds on the iPhone work: HD Backgrounds belongs among the best iPhone Apps.

HD Backgrounds

The iPhone has two different settings for storing HD Backgrounds:

  1. Home Screen Wall Paper
  2. Lock Screen Wall Paper

All of the pictures in your photo library can be set as the wall paper on your active home screen, or as the wallpaper you see when your phone is locked.
You can use the same picture or a different picture for both the lock screen and the home screen. Wallpaper backgrounds are the one app that can keep your iPhone looking and feeling new and fresh. Great thinking on Apple’s part, but what is the best way to get images and/or photos on your iPhone?

Free-iPhone-Apps
Free Iphone Wallpaper

Best HD Background App

WallpapersHD is the first app that I downloaded since upgrading that really distinguished the new iPhone 4 from the old iPhone 3GS. WallpapersHD has some of the most incredible, beautiful, high definition photos and images you will find anywhere. The new and superior high resolution, retina display of the iPhone 4 really comes to life when you start viewing these images. Not only are the photos and images of outstanding quality but there are literally thousands of them. WallpapersHD has over 10,00 high quality images. As of the time this article is written, there are 1075 pages with 9 images on each page and more being added every day. Furthermore, the HD Backgrounds can be filtered by category or searched for by type. These images, when displayed on the new iPhone 4 are so jaw-droppingly good that they nearly look as though they are 3D on your screen. It is very quick and easy to sort through the images on WallpapersHD and save them to your iPhone’s photo album. Yes, WallpapersHD is fully compatible with older versions of the iPhone. They still look good on my wife’s iPhone 3GS, though not quite as spectacular as they are on the iPhone 4. This is a must have app for your iPhone and the best part? It’s Free! Add it to your Best iPhone Apps Collection.

Best Web Browser

The iPhone gives you a nearly-perfect web browsing experience. I will explain later why it’s not quite perfect. For now, let’s go over some of the contenders for best web browsing iPhone app. My favorite iPhone web browsers are Google, Safari and Bing in that order.  In reality, Google and Bing are more of a search tool then a web browser. Safari is Apple’s own web browser which comes with the iPhone. Both the Bing and Google web browsers can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store. Either of these two programs give you features, technology and functions that you cannot get even from your desktop browser.  You will still want to use Safari if you want the experience of a true Desktop Web Browser. With either the Google or Bing application installed on your iPhone, you can do a web search merely by speaking into your phone. This feature works amazingly well, even with extremely long phrases. For instance, the other day I wanted to know how to change the oil on my 1997 BMW 540i. I touched the microphone on the Google  App touch-screen and spoke into the phone, “How do I change the oil on my 1997 BMW 540i?”  In about 3 seconds, the Google Search engine produced a list of DIY articles telling me how to change the oil on my car. Not only is the speech search feature accurate on phrases and research terms, but it is pretty good with people and names, too. If speaking into your iPhone’s web browser isn’t good enough on it’s own, both Bing and Google also allow you to use your iPhone’s camera to search by picture. For instance, I snapped a picture of my Stanley 25′ Tape Measurer that was sitting on my computer desk. Google’s search engine produced a list of results, including the exact model of my tape measure: 33-425 Powerlock-II. Amazing stuff – and so easy to use! I might say it’s a tie between Google and Bing, but I prefer the Google Search Engine. They both belong in your  best iPhone Apps Collection. I vote the Google App, not only the best web browser, but the best Free iPhone App., period! There’s only one reason iPhone web browsing is not perfect and it has nothing to do with Google, Bing or Safari.

iPhone Flash Player for iPhone

flash-player-iPhone
Flash Player iPhone?

Are you looking for a Flash Player for iPhone?

Surfing the internet on the iPhone is a breeze until you stumble upon web content that requires Adobe Flash Player. When I got my first iPhone 3GS over a year ago, I remembered thinking, “There is nothing I can do on my desktop PC that I cannot do on this amazing iPhone”. That was before I tried loading some Network reports and discovered the graphics and line charts wouldn’t display. My Safari Browser screen gave me the message that I needed Adobe Flash player to load this content. So, what did I do? I immediately went to the iTunes store and looked for an Adobe Flash Player for the iPhone.  The reason for this is not because Adobe refuses to make its flash player for mobile devices. Apple refuses to allow it because Adobe’s Flash Player is a resource hog which will greatly slow down the browsing experience of any mobile device, including the Droid. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Flash Player even on my speedy desktop, for this very same reason. I’ve been told that Flash really cripples Performance on Apple Macs, too. The idea behind Apple is to put pressure on website owners and developers to produce content that is mobile device friendly. The Flash Player and mobile devices browsing are not a good match. There are, however, are some rumors about improved, faster mobile versions of Flash Player to be coming out from Adobe. Ultimately, it will be up to Apple. Beware of a deceptive product on iTunes called, Flash Video Review. This is not a Flash Player. It is merely an eBook. Many users have been duped into paying $9.99 for a worthless eBook review on Adobe Flash Player. I cannot understand why this product is allowed on the iTunes store. Instead of an iPhone Flash Player, I look forward to more mobile-friendly, speedy websites that don’t require it. The best of the best iPhone Apps shouldn’t require stodgy old Windows Software.

See, Best iPhone Screen Protector

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Best Pain Reliever

Best Pain Reliever
Review and Pain Reliever Chart

best pain reliever

What is the Best Pain Reliever for the Job?

In January of 2009 I did an article on Pain Relief. Nearly two years later, this article on pain relief continues to grow in traffic. While this particular web page isn’t getting thousands of visitors a day, its popularity and response has indicated to me that hundreds of thousands of people every day are looking for ways to relieve a variety of different aches and pains. While I am certainly no expert on how to pain relievers, I’ve had enough experience with different types of pains, to know what the best pain reliever is for various maladies.  Some of the bad ones? Foot pain, gout, tooth ache pains, sinus headaches, migraine headaches, ruptured discs in the neck, lower back pain, knee and joint paint, muscle aches, sciatica nerve pain – I’ve had them all. Granted, I’ve not suffered through everything and knock on wood, I sure hope I don’t ever have a Kidney Stone. I’ve heard those are devastating. For me, sinus/migraine headaches and sciatica pain in the legs are the most common. I’ve only had two cases of gout and believe me, it is devastating.
So, based on the response to my previous article, I thought it would be useful to go into some details on specific pains and what pain relievers and treatments work best. I’ve gone into some specifics on a few of the common pains I’ve suffered through and explained what works best for me. Below everything, I’ve included a chart for rating the severity of the pain, which pain medication works best and how much relief that pain medication provides in the form of a percentage. Note, that the rating of pain may not be the same for everybody. Also, the severity of the pain can range dramatically. Because we are all built so differently, choosing the best pain reliever for the job is a very personal matter.

Best Pain Reliever for Sore Leg Muscles

Aleve is what works best for me.
This is not the same as achy legs from flu, viruses or standing too long. Sore leg muscles are generally the result of exercise. Climbing up and down a ladder, for instance, will give you sore leg muscles better than anything. For this kind of pain, Advil (Ibuprofen) gives the quickest relief, though I prefer Aleve because it lasts longer. My favorite in order: Aleve, Advil, Tylenol and Aspirin. Tip: Avoid the temptation to be sedentary when your leg muscles are extremely sore from exercise. You gotta keep moving. Try short walks, relaxed stretching and avoid sitting in one place too long. The Take an Aleve every 8-12 hours. By the third one you’ll feel better. Take two at a time, if you’re desperate, but beware that Aleve can be harmful on the stomach.

Best Pain Reliever for Back

Lower Back pain is one of the trickiest, most time consuming ailments to find relief for. Upon first suffering a lower back strain or injury. Partly, because we’re treating stiff muscles which are sometimes accompanied with sciatic nerve pain. Upon first injuring or straining my back, the pain can be pretty severe and about the only way to get quick relief is to take 3 or 4 Over-the-Counter, 200MG (OTC) Advil or ibuprofen tablets. Reduce dosage to 2 tablets every 4 hours after that to avoid upset stomach. Prescription strength ibuprofen is usually 800-1200MG, so take with your own discretion. Personally, I use Aleve because it is easier on my sensitive stomach and last longer, usually 8-12 hours. The only long-term way to relieve lower back pain is with ice and therapy. Resist the temptation to put heat on a strained back. Within the first 24 hours, use ice only and frequently. After 24 hours, you can alternate the ice with very brief periods of heating pad use. After 2-3 days, continue ice and heat therapy along with lots of good back and leg stretching. There are hundreds of good stretching exercises you can find online for helping with relieving chronic lower back pain.

Sciatic Nerve Treatment

Sciatic nerve pain is often the result of lower back injuries. My own sciatic nerve pain usually flairs up in the front and back of my legs after a lower back strain. Sciatica is usually the result of inflamed discs in our back and neck pressing on our nerves. Some people also complain about Sciatic Knee Pain. Aleve and Advil both help, but one thing that works best for me is, Tylenol. Tylenol seems to work well for me with nerve pains, overall. Once again, avoid the temptation to put heat on your back to treat sciatic pain. Ice is the way to go. You want to deaden the pain, not inflame it.

Sinus Headache Pain Relief

Sinus Headache pain can be severe. Aleve is the one pain relief medication that consistently works on my sinus headaches, which usually start around 2 – 4AM in the morning and can last up to 12-20 hours afterwards. It starts with a dull ache around my skull, then ends up as a high-pressure pain beneath my right eye. The one remedy that nearly always gives me 80-90% relief is to take two things: 1 Aleve and 1 Sudafed. 2 Hours later, I’m nearly 100%. Whether it’s sinus pain or a migraine, Aleve has always been the best pain reliever for me.

Now to Relieve Migraine Headache Pain

Migraine headaches can be confused with Sinus Headaches. Sometimes, I’m not so sure they are inter-related in some way and I often wonder if my own severe sinus headaches are not accompanied by migraines. I want to be careful about recommending the same treatment of 1 Aleve + 1 Sudafed, because some people have told me Sudafed makes them worse. Other migraine sufferers have reported that Sudafed helps relieve the pain. If you regularly suffer debilitating migraines there is prescription medicine out there called Triptan that supposedly knocks them right out. Otherwise, Aleve is what works best for me.

Relieve Foot Pain

Foot pain from running, injury or bad shoes is usually best relieved with Anti Inflammatory medications like Aleve or Advil. Use ice if you feel your foot pain is caused by injury or strain. This is different than Gout which is explained below.

Gout Pain Relief

Almost nothing in your medicine cupboard will bring Gout Pain Relief. I’ve had Gout only twice in my life, but the pain is both excruciating and debilitating. Gout is a form of arthritis and the result of high uric acid which form into painful crystals that settle in your joints; usually your foot and toe, but some people can get it in the their knee and finger joints as well. For me, Gout begins as a slight toe ache. Over the course of a few hours it develops into a swelling, excruciating pain. It’s nearly impossible to walk and the surface of the swollen, surrounding skin becomes so sore, even putting a sock on will bring tears to your eyes. The only thing that has really ever worked for me is a prescription NSAID called, Indomethacin. Usually, by the 2nd or 3rd dose, the pain is much better. But like Advil or Aleve, Indomethacin can really hurt your stomach over time. My doctor recommends taking them with Zantac to avoid stomach upset. If you can’t get to a doctor, you’ll need high dosages of Advil or Aleve to bring slight Gout pain relief. Neither ice, nor heat does any good at all and could even make it worse. It’s doubtful, you’ll even try those remedies because Gout pain is so severe that you wouldn’t think of touching in it.

Stomach Ache Remedies

If you’re suffering from a stomach ache due to a virus or something you ate, the last thing you would probably want to do is take Asprin, Aleve, Advil or other brands of Anti Inflammatory pain killers. If you really want something for the pain, try Tylenol. Sometimes stomach cramps can be caused by too little acid or too much acid in the system. For too little acid, try some vinegar or pickle juice. Too much acid, use antacids. Dehyrdation can also cause stomach pain. Viruses usually just have to run their course. In most cases, stomach ache remedies don’t involve pain killers.

Relieve Hip Pain

I use to have chronic hip pain from running and jogging every day. Like all muscle related pains, the best pain relief was either Advil or Aleve.

Neck Disc Injury Pain Relief

This was the mother of all pains for me. The most severe or excruciating pain is the one that you never get even a moment’s relief from. The only thing that worked for my neck disc injury was a prescription Codine/Tylenol along with the Aleve. That stuff is addictive so my doctor wouldn’t refill it after just 2 weeks use. Overall, however, Aleve was probably the best pain reliever to take the edge off the inflammation.

Aching Knees

Tylenol works great on aching knees. When your knees ache from over-use or stress, an NSAID like Advil or Aleve is probably more effective. However, for general aching knees caused from fatigue, chills or sickness, Tylenol really helps.

Relief for Joint Pain

For me, aching joints from cold weather, sickness or fatigue are best treated with a couple of Tylenol. If your joints ache from working them too hard, then NSAID medications like Aleve or Advil will be more effective. Tylenol seems to work best for general nerve pain and aches, chills, restlessness and pains caused from flu, virus or fatigue. When I am interested in relieving joint pain or nerve pain, I reach for the Tylenol. The only disadvantage? It only lasts 4-5 hours.

Natural Pain Relief

I’ve never found natural pain killer to effectively help with severe pain. Aloe Vera is soothing, but it’s not going to help with an excruciating neck, back disc injury. Ice is best natural remedy there is for numbing and reducing pain.

Best Pain Reliever by Type of Pain

Pain Pain Rating Pain Reliever Pain Relief
Lower Back Pain Mild-to-Severe Advil or Aleve 50%
Sore Leg Muscles Mild-to-Severe Advil or Aleve 50%
Foot Pain Mild-to-Severe Advil or Aleve 50%
Gout Moderate-to-Excruciating Advil or Aleve 30%
Sinus Headache Moderate-to-Severe Aleve + Sudafed 80%
Migraine Headache Moderate-to-Severe Aleve (Sudafed) 70%
Aching Knees Moderate Tylenol 80%
Chills, Aches, Fever Moderate-to-Severe Tylenol 70%
Neck Injury Moderate-to-Excruciating Advil or Aleve 50%
Hip Pain Mild-to-Severe Advil or Aleve 60%
Nerve Pain Mild-to-Excruciating Tylenol 75%
Tooth Ache Mild-to-Severe Tylenol 70%
Sciatic Nerve Pain Mild-to-Severe Aleve or Tylenol 60%
Kidney Stone Pain Moderate-to-Excruciating Advil or Aleve 50%
Ruptured Disk Pain Severe-to-Excruciating Advil and Tylenol 50%

 

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Best Car Wax

Best Car Wax
Car Wax Reviews

Car Wax Ratings: What is the Best Car Wax?

Car Wax Ratings of Most Popular Brands

The Best Car Wax isn’t always the most expensive. While there a lot of good car waxes on the market, what’s best for some may not be best for all.  Different cars, metals, paint and surfaces react differently to different brands of wax. On the other hand, there may be one really great car wax out there that we could all agree to know and love, if we only knew about it.  So, what is the best car wax? As someone who likes keeping my 1997 Silver, 540i BMW looking its best, I decided it would be interesting to find out what other people are saying about car waxes. Is there a favorite for everyone? Is there truly one out there that does the best job whether you’ve got an old 1967 Buick, a 1997 BMW or a 2010 Subaru Tribeca. What is the overall wax for everybody? Before I get to the car wax ratings, it helps to get familiar with some of the various types and brands.

The Best Car Wax is a Toss-up

Synthetic and Natural. Synthetic Waxes use polymer and other types of chemical sealants to shine and protect the car finish. Carnuba Wax is a natural product that comes from Palm Leaves. Both synthetic and natural waxes have their pros and cons. The synthetic waxes are much easier to apply and they wipe off easier leaving less dust and residue on the surface. Synthetic waxes last longer as they have a higher melting point in the sun. So, why use Carnuba Wax? Because it gives your car a deep, rich, high-gloss shine not possible from synthetic waxes. Also, some of the synthetic waxes out there use cleaners which somewhat detracts from the glossy shine and also hinders its protective qualities. On the other hand, these cleaners can help remove fine scratches and swirls. As you can see, using a car wax is not a science so much as an art. A best car wax for some is not necessarily best for all. If you want your car well protected and looking its best, I recommend using both a synthetic wax and a natural wax. Give your car a thorough washing, then thoroughly wax it with the synthetic polish. Then, to give it that brilliant shine, put a Carnuba Wax on top of that. Your car will look better than ever before.  On to the best wax brands…

In no particular order, these are the three brands you’re most likely to recognize:

  • Turtle Wax
  • Mothers
  • Mequiar’s

I’m happy, if not proud, to say that I’ve tried all three of these brands. I’ve literally used at least one entire bottle of each of these products between the last 6 or 7 cars I’ve owned or leased. I have not been disappointed with any of these Product Review Car Waxes. In addition to experience with brands, it helps to there are different categories among them. I’ve chosen to review the most popular Synthetic Car Wax Brands.

Car Wax Reviews

Mothers Car Wax
Mothers

Mothers Reflection Car Wax

The Mothers 10016 Reflections Car Wax costs about 12-Bucks for a 16 Ounce Bottle. The texture is smooth and creamy and it is very easy to apply. The immediate results look impressive. In fact, it will keep the finish on your new car looking as beautiful as the day you bought it. I like the fact that there seems to be little residue when wiping off the Mothers 10016 with a clean rag. Still, I’m not ready to say it is the best car wax I’ve ever used. It really depends on the car and purpose. This particular variety of Mothers actually has some cleaning properties in it along with its synthetic polish. If there is a negative with the Mothers Car Wax it is that it was hard to tell there was really much of a protective coat left on the painted surface of the car. Perhaps, this is just an indication as to how well the finish is applied or perhaps it means that Mothers Wax is somewhat thin and superficial. Looks are one thing, but how well does it protect? Doing Car Wax Reviews is tricky due to the difference in surfaces, colors, temperature and variety of other features and the uncertainty of its lasting protective qualities.

Meguiars Car Wax
best-car-wax-mequiars

Meguiar’s NXT Tech Wax

is a Polymer Synthetic Car polish. It does a great job providing an excellent finish and shine. However, it is not intended for removing fine scratches and swirls. I think this is because it lacks the cleaning ingredients of the Mothers above. Consequently, there is really no grit to this Meguiar’s wax. It goes on smooth as butter and polishes off well, though not quite as easily as the Mothers. It really makes my silver 2009 Subaru Legacy look good, but I wasn’t as impressed with the finish on the 1997 Bimmer. It didn’t seem to make a difference in the depth and overall surface shine as well as the Mothers. It is also a bit more expensive than the Mothers. On the other hand, Meguiar’s NXT Tech Wax is one of the most reviewed products on the market for a variety of cars and surfaces. It has a well established track record, so it is certainly versatile for a number of different colors and paints.

Turtle Wax Beats Them All

Turtle Wax
Turtle Wax

Turtle Wax T-412 Liquid High Gloss Platinum Wax comes in a 16 oz bottle for about $14 or $15. This stuff is not cheap, but then again, this is the one product that really brought life back into the hood of my 13 year old BMW 540i. Having used the other products above, I noticed that my hood was not beading up in the rain like you’d expect it too after applying a good coat of wax. The results of the Turtle Wax were impressive. The next time I washed my car, the hood had thick beads of water on it as if I had gotten a brand new paint job. Looks-wise, there is no comparison. The high Gloss Liquid Turtle Wax gives it that deep shine; almost as if I had put a good coat of carnuba wax on it. This product also uses synthetic polymers and like Mothers will help remove fine swirls and scratches. I’ve used the cheaper $6.00 cans of Turtle Wax in the past and have always liked them, except for the hard work required to rub them in and wipe them off. The T-412 is the best of the bunch.

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Hamilton Beach Crock Pot

Hamilton Beach Crock Pot
Hamilton Beach Crock Pot

What a Crock

So, you got this great beef stew crock pot recipe handed down from your great Grandma, but you’re wondering how it will turn out in your new crock pot? In the olden days, your Beef Stew could be cooked on a wood-fire or gas stove as long as someone was around the house to watch it all day. These days, we’re often not around to watch a Pot of Soup or Stew to make sure the bottom isn’t burning or that it’s turned up enough to actually cook. I never feel comfortable leaving one of my stove burners on when I’m away from the house for too long. When it comes to soups, sauces and stews, I like to have the heat turned up just enough so it is bubbling ever so slightly, but not boiling so much that it will burn on the bottom without being stirred. I’ve had problems in the past getting spaghetti sauce to cook properly in the old Hamilton Beach Crock Pot I used to own. It would always come out too thin, soupy and raw tasting,  no matter how long it was cooked. My most recent Crock Pot, a Rival, seems to have the opposite problem. Unless, a great deal of liquid is added to the ingredients, it will often dry up. We discovered the problem had to do with the lid not fitting securely enough to seal in the moisture. The best crock pot has to be able to hold in moisture at a steady temperature. A decent Beef Stew Crock Pot Recipe along with a good Crock Pot should be able to cook on its low temperature setting for 8-12 hours completely unattended. Good, low even and consistent heat is the key.  Fortunately, Crock Pot Heat is far more even and consistent that those Electric Toaster Ovens.

Beef Stew Crock Pot Recipe

There is one other problem cooking with Crock Pots. You need to prepare the recipe properly from the beginning. For Beef Stew cooked in a Crock Pot, I like to brown the meat in a cast iron pan of hot oil. Use a good, tender, fatty meat and as it browns begin adding flour, salt and pepper. The idea is to end up with a thick, somewhat sticky gravy that will turn to a nice brown broth as it cooks in the crock pot all day. After the meat browns, I transfer to the crock pot. Then, I add celery, carrots, potatoes, couple of garlic cloves, bay leaf and water along with some red wine and Worcester sauce. I like to use enough moisture and vegetables so the crock pot is filled up to approximately 1 inch below the top of the crock pot. Don’t worry, the thick, sticky gravy will blend, over-time with the liquids to form a semi-thick stew gravy. I have no idea if this is the way Grandma or Great Grandma made it. They didn’t have a Beef Stew Crock Pot Recipe in those days. Crock Pots have been around for nearly 50 years, but they really weren’t a very common household cooking item until the 1970’s. I’m here to tell you, the crock pots of 2010 are much better than the ones my mom used in the 1970s.

Rating on the Hamilton Beach

You can get a decent Crock Pot for $25.00. Expect to pay $40-$70 for a really good one. Size is everything. If you want to make a huge pork or beef roast for that Italian Beef recipe, you’ll wish you had one of the bigger Oval Crock pots. I know I wished I had several times. Better yet, Hamilton Beach has the best of all worlds, in its 33135 Model, 3-in-1 Slow Cooker. This brilliant design comes with three different sized crocks to cook in:

  1. 2 Quarts
  2. 4 Quarts
  3. 6 Quartrs

The 6 Quart size works great for those large pork or beef roasts or for a huge Italian Spaghetti sauce full of Meatballs and Italian Sausage. The operation of the Hamilton Beach crock pot is flawless. Put the meat and liquids in the crock; set it in the heating element and select your desired heat: Low, High and Warm. Don’t worry about which lid to use. One Lid fits all sizes of crocks. I am completely sold on the product. Over 60 users have rated the Hamilton Beach Crock Pot a score of 4.5 stars out of 5.

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Rear Projection Televisions

rear projection televisions
Mitsubishi DLP TV

Best HD Digital TV for the Money

No matter what High Definition Digital Television you buy today, there will always be one around the corner that is more technologically advanced. So, if you’re worried about being outdated, you might as well never buy a new television: With the latest innovations in Plasma, LCD, LED and Laser technology, owning a television which is outdated is not a risk, but a reality. In my opinion, there is really only one mistake you can make with the purchase of a new HD TV: Buying one that is too small. 20 years ago, anything over 32” was considered a big-screen television. A few years ago, when 1080P LCD was the latest rage, I made the mistake of going with a 42” LCD TV rather than a larger 1080i 50” for the same money. In the four years that I’ve owned the television, I have yet to play a blue-ray or 1080P move on it. The 42” Screen seems small in comparison of the 50”, 55” LCD screens today for the same money. In fact, the only way you will appreciate the difference of the 1080P resolution vs. the 1080i is on a larger screen. The larger the screen, the more apparent becomes the resolution difference of the picture.  Therefore, the one mistake you can never make on a TV is to purchase one that is too big. The greatest advancement in televisions over the last 30 years is the increase in resolution. The viewing difference between 1080i and 1080p is miniscule compared to the difference between 1080i and our older non-HD televisions. In my opinion, playing blu-ray movies on a 42” television is a waste of money. Get the bigger screen if you want to enjoy the highest resolution. The last consideration is whether or not you need that latest LCD or LED technology.

Size Matters MOST when it comes to HD TVs

6 years prior to the 42” mistake, I made a similar blunder (for different reasons) on a bulky, heavy 46” Mitsubishi DLP TV. Actually, in those days, they were not using DLP technology; Rear Projection Televisions were using Red, Green, Blue guns and were prone to lots of convergence problems. The TV was fine, but by the time I got around to playing HD content on it, there were lots of better Televisions on the market for less money. 42” LCD and Plasma Televisions seemed to be replacing the bigger, bulkier projection TVs in people’s homes at an alarming rate. While other TV makers continued advancing LCD technology, Mitsubishi continued refining its Rear Projection TV’s with DLP, automatic convergence and much brighter imaging. While other TV makers abandoned DLP Rear Projection manufacturing altogether, Mitsubishi started introducing bigger, but smaller form-factor models at much more affordable pricing: That is, 60”, 65”, 73” and even 82” Mitsubishi DLP TVs with pricing which was competitive with the latest 50” LCD TVs at the time. The DLP televisions are infinitely sleeker and slimmer than the bulky, digital Rear Projection Televisions from 10 years earlier. Today, the latest rage are LED Televisions, costing twice as much as the significantly larger sized 2nd Generation Mitsubishi DLP TV’s from 3 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, the LED televisions are extremely sleek, thin and have the brightest picture imaginable for a lightly lit room like your den; but how do they compare for sports and movie viewing enjoyment?
Which would look more impressive in your dark basement or home theatre room? Watching the Super Bowl on a 42” state-of-the-art LED or on a 65” 2007 Model Mitsubishi 73” Rear Projection DLP TV?  Would you rather watch a Blu-Ray version of Avatar on a 42” LED TV or on a 65” DLP Screen? Which one is more affordable? The puny LED TV in your Den or the 65” Mitsubishi DLP?  Rear Projection Televisions offer television viewers the most bang for the buck by far!

Mitsubishi DLP TV

What used to seem big in size yesterday no longer seems big today. The 42” LCD television in my den requires me to wear glasses in order to view from my kitchen table. It not only seems twice as small, but cost twice the money as the 65” Mitsubishi DLP TV that I purchased earlier this summer.  I purchased the Mitsubishi WD-65C9 Mitsubishi DLP TV from an online retailer. The television retails for $1399.00, but I paid under $1000 for it; including shipping. The WD-65C9 impressed me before I even removed it from the box. It was so light-weight that my wife and I were able to carry it downstairs without even breaking a sweat. The WD-65C9 was nothing to carry and move around compared to my old, 46” Rear Projection Mitsubishi television; which is now being put to good use in the guest bedroom. The Mitsubishi DLP TV WD-65C9 was a breeze to setup. It comes with all of the inputs you need: plenty of HDMI, Component and RCA jacks, etc. My goal here is only to provide an overall impression of the value of a rear projection DLP TV, rather than a full review on this particular model, but just a few things to note: The WD-65C9 takes about 30 seconds to warm-up to a decent picture from the moment you first power it on. This is a minor annoyance, but certainly not a game changer. My overall, first-impression of the huge 65” display was jaw dropping and exceeded my expectations for a DLP Rear Projection TV. Even in fairly well-lit day time conditions, the WD-65C9 produces an outstanding picture. When the room is dark, a Mitsubishi DLP TV is unbeatable in my opinion. I could have paid twice as much for a 50” LED television, but would not have been as happy. The 65”screen is the perfect size for my basement and is fantastic for viewing Baseball, Football, Movies, Wii and X-Box 360 games.  Unlike my other two television choices, this is one that I’ve been extremely comfortable and happy with from the very beginning. I could not have possibly chosen a better fit for my basement at a better price. And it’s not as if the Mitsubishi WD-65C9 DLP Television is obsolete. This TV is 3D Capable!  With the money I saved on the television, I can buy the 3DC-1000 Kit and a Sony Playstation 3 For Blue Ray Movies and still save $1,000 over the price of a 55” LED Television. As it stands, I didn’t get the latest in Rear Projection Televisions either. But because they have continued to advance this technology, the older Mitsubishi DLP TVs are an outstanding value.

The Latest Rear Projection Televisions

Mitsubishi DLP Televisions have evolved. The latest DLP models; the 838 and 738 series come in 65”, 73” and 83” sizes. The technology most responsible for bringing down the price of my 65” WD-65C9 is probably Mitsubishi’s new LaserVue Rear Projection TVs which boast brighter, more vivid colors. These televisions come in 65” and 75” sizes and are significantly more expensive than their older DLP TVs. At nearly $4,000 and 4-times the price of the one which already looks so sweet in my basement, I have no regrets for having not invested in state-of-the-art television technology.

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Best HD Video Camera

Best HD Video Camera

What is the Best HD Video Camera for under $500? $250? $150?  It’s great news these days if you want to record High Definition home movies. It won’t cost you a whole lot to get near professional looking HD Quality Video. With the introduction of the new Flip Video Mino HD, you can now find the 2nd and 3rd generation HD Camcorders for around $100 or lower. No, a camera this small isn’t necessarily the best, but it might be the best for most people’s situations. There is no question that Digital Recording of HD quality Video to your computer via USB is extremely convenient. The question is, do you have to pay more to get better quality recordings? A Professional HD Video Camera will obviously give you the very best quality, but those cost thousands of dollars more than the handy, miniature HD recorders reviewed here. The top choice is not limited to the one you cannot afford or care to lug around.  My purpose is to point you to the best cameras in the $500, $300 and $150-and-under price range. What I like about consumer-end HD Video Recorders is the convenience. There is no tape to record to and thus, no need to convert them digitally to display them on your computer. In fact, with very little effort you can copy directly from HD cameras to your PC or Laptop instantly, for immediate viewing. Digitally recorded Video Files will instantly copy to DVD Media for viewing on your big screen television. Or, you can plug the flash drive into your TV or Game Console if it has an available USB port – and if your television is equipped with an HD resolution, you’re in for a high definition treat. If I still had a VHS, SVHS, 8MM, or Compact VHS Camcorder, I’d throw it away and replace it with a $150 USB HD Video Camera; that’s how good these things are. So, let’s see if you can get the best HD video camera in the $100-$500 range with video recording that will look good on that large, 65″ Rear Projection Television I bought Last Summer.

Best HD Video Camera for under $500

Sony HDR-CX110 High Definition Handycam Camcorder

(4.5 Stars)
The HDR-CX110 has an average 4.5 Star rating from 30 different Amazon users. The CX110 uses Sony’s high-quality Carl Zeiss Vario Sonar-T lens to achieve excellent video quality. Is it the best HD camera in this price range? Close enough.  Users reported very bright, colorful, realistic recording in well lit conditions and better than average recording in darker areas. The Optical Zoom of the CX110 is 25X which is HUGE. The Sony HDR-CX110 records full 1920×1080, 60FPS HD Video to a Sony Memory Stick. That’s my only complaint with Sony is that their memory sticks cost more, but fortunately Sony lets you use a typical SD stick with this product. NICE. You’ll want a large capacity memory stick for high definition video. I would recommend 32GB. People say the zoom lens, recording quality and LCD screen are very good. The CX110 is also very light. You can also shoot 3MP Still Photos with the Sony CX-110. The darn thing weights nearly 1/2 a pound. The retail price for this superb HD Video Camera is around $500, but you can get them way cheaper than that if you shop online.

Best Video Cameras Under $200

Flip Video Mino HD

Flip Video Mino HD
Flip Mino

There are 3 Generations of Flip Video Cameras. The latest one is the Flip Video Mino HD 3rd Generation. It comes in both a 4GB and 8GB SD Version. These little cameras are the slickest, most convenient, easy to use, high quality low end HD Camcorder I’ve ever used. What I like about the Flip Cameras is that there are no cables to mess with. A convenient USB port flips out, plugs right into your PC or Laptop and opens up on your screen for viewing the videos you’ve taken. The quality in doors, even in low-lighting is much better than I expected for a best hd video camera in this price range. Hundreds of 2nd Generation Users of the Flip Video Mino Camcorders rated them an average of 4.5 stars. The build quality, ease-of-use and quality video for the money were cited as reasons for the high ratings. An 8GB version might cost you $229.00 tops. Only the UltraHD Flip 8GB Camera and the Flip Video Mino HD Models have Image Stabilization.  One of the most aggravating results of Video Cameras this small is you will get dizzy watching the results due to the shakiness of your hands while you recorded; keeping some from being considered best hd video camera. The Image Stabilization makes a difference, but is still not quite as smooth as larger models.

Best Cameras Under $150

Flip Video Ultra HD 2nd Gen

(4-Stars)
The Flip Video Camcorders have come a long ways. The first one I ever laid my hands on was not High Definition Quality, but I was still mighty impressed. Thanks to a very rapid innovation refresh rate, there are already obsolete Flip Video HD Cameras selling for well below what the first standard definition ones cost just a couple of years ago. Nearly 1,000 Amazon Users gave the 2nd-Gen Flip Ultra HD Camcorder a 4-Star Rating. The build quality and video are excellent for the price. You simply can’t go wrong for $150.00 or less. Expect to pay as low as $119.00 for an HD Flip Camera if you shop the sales below.

(4.5 Stars)

Creative VADO HD 3rd Gen Video Camera

The Creative VADO HD got the very highest rating for features and video quality from PC World. I happen to agree with their reviewers. The VADO HD seems to shoot better than the rest of the low priced HD Video Cameras in low-light conditions. The wide angle of the lens is excellent for a video camera this small. On very cool feature: An HDMI port on the side so you can plug this sucker directly into your High Definition TV and immediately watch your recorded videos in High Definition. Both the Creative Vado and Flip Video HD Cameras lack Optical Zoom Control. Also, there is no Image Stabilization advertised on the VADO, though the video seemed smoother than the non-Image Stabilized HD Flip Cam models. One last thing, I’ll mention. No matter how good these tiny, little hand-held video cameras shoot video, they’ll never match the overall quality of the larger ones with the large optical zoom lens. If you really want to be serious about good videos for under $500.00, go for the Sony HDR-CX110.  Smaller HD Video Cams weigh 5 to 6 ounces. The Sony weights .52 LBs.. Not exactly a big sacrifice on size. If I wanted to shoot decent video, I’d go for the more expensive Sony HDR-CX110. If I was looking for small, convenient video shooting, I’d use the iPhone 4 or a good, small digital camera. For me, the best choice is one that I can take with me just about anywhere and still get reasonable video quality.

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Best iPhone Case

Best iPhone Case
iPhone Case Review

What is the Best iPhone Case?

Many iPhone users agreed with me that the Best iPhone Screen Protector is none at all. Unlike Screen Protectors, iPhone Cases actually do add some durability, style and personalization to your iPhone. The iPhone 3GS and latest iPhone 4 are sleek and slippery enough to shoot right out of your hand and onto the hard floor, sidewalk or street, if you don’t have them protected with the best iPhone Case. I found out this the hard way a couple of times before I went shopping for a new case. Fortunately, I didn’t end up with a damaged iPhone. I was shocked, however, to find discount stores charging $10, $15 and $20 for a simple, yet ugly and/or bulky iPhone Case or Jacket. To me, the Best iPhone case is one that does more than just protect your phone.

Requirements

To rate top honors , the iPhone cases should have the following qualities:

  • Should Add Grip to the iPhone
  • Should be Easy to put on and take off
  • Won’t add too much bulk and extra size to the iPhone
  • Won’t scratch your iPhone installing and removing it
  • Should Look attractive and add style and personalization to your iPhone

My first try was not the best one. It came from the clearance section at Target for $14.95. Made of rubber by Belkin, it did an okay job until I accidentally tore it. I thought I could do better. Next, I tried a more expensive $20.00 leather wrapped case with dual sliding bottom and top parts. The most expensive iPhone case I ever bought was not the best iphone case. It ended up being the worst as the sliding top and bottom severely scratched the shiny black back surface of my phone. The sliding leather case ended up in my junk drawer. It should be in the trash, I’ll never use it again. I was able to remove most of the scratches using a car scratch-remover product called, ScratchX by Meguire’s.

Other iPhone Case Options

By far, the best one I’ve had e is sold by online retailers. I recently purchased three for the less than half the price one would cost at Target or Walmart from an online retailer called, monoprice. One of them is a very sleek, clear, silicon model. It looks cool, but is very slippery and the silicone surface gets very scratched up after a while. I also bought a textured, gray silicon case which has a good grip, nice fit, but looks kind of drab and boring. My favorite is the one that resembles the most common, black, rubber iPhone jacket that I originally purchased at Target for $15.00. This one fits in your hand so nicely, it’s next to impossible to drop. It is very easy to remove for cleaning. Though there is nothing fancy about it, the rubber iPhone jacket looks solid and shows off the shiny silver Apple logo in back.

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