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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Cuisinart Coffee Maker

Cuisinart Review

cuisinart-coffee-maker
Cuisinart Coffee Maker

Back in December of 2008, I had some very complimentary things to say in our Cuisinart Coffee Pot Review. Weeks later, I complained that the Cuisinart Coffee Maker / Grinder product was too big and cumbersome, too difficult to clean, too difficult to pour and didn’t make the coffee hot enough. Since then, I’ve tried the Westbend Percolator and the Presto Percolator. Don’t get me wrong, both of these percolators do make a piping hot, good cup of coffee, but it’s not perfect. The taste does not measure up to the freshness at Starbucks. I’ve come to realize that the taste of the coffee out of the percolator is so darn hot that it almost fools me into thinking it tastes as good as Starbucks, but it does not. Also, as fun and festive as the percolator might be, it’s not quite as convenient and easy to use as a Drip Coffee Maker. One of the other complaints I had about my Stainless Steel Cuisinart Coffee Maker is that it only makes 10 cups of coffee as opposed to 12. For that reason, I purchased a 12 Cup Mr. Coffee Pot and I’ve been suffering with inferior coffee ever since. What’s wrong with the Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Coffee Maker?

My 12-Cup Mr. Coffee Maker brews the most plastic, weak tasting cup of coffee I’ve ever had. I forced and brainwashed myself to tolerate the Mr. Coffee after a while because it is convenient and easy to use and clean. Recently I noticed that the coffee being brewed from the Mr. Coffee seems to vary from one day to the next. One day it will taste slightly plastic-like; the next day it will taste extremely plastic-like – as if I’m drinking melted plastic right from the cup! I said to myself, enough is enough! With visions of a brand new, $100 Zorijushi Coffee Maker dancing in my head, I gathered up the pieces to my Mr. Coffee and brought it downstairs. Once there, I noticed the old reliable, but forgotten Cuisinart Coffee Pot sitting on my bar. The reflection of my bitter-coffee face glared back at me off of the stainless steel cabinet. “The Stainless Steel Cuisinart Coffee Maker really is a nice looking machine”, I reminded myself. And I remembered, “I never had a bad tasting coffee from my Cuisinart Coffee Pot.” Game over. I lugged the old Cuisinart Coffee Machine / Grinder upstairs back to it’s abandoned place in the kitchen. I meticulously cleaned out the little brewing cup, lid and grinder cup and dried them out with a dish towel. After reassembling the dried pieces back together, I poured a heaping cup full of coffee into the grinder compartment and closed the lid. I filled the reservoir up to the 10-cup market, plugged in the machine and set the clock and program timer for 6:20AM the next morning. I remembered thinking that if my alarm clock didn’t go off, The Cuisinart Coffee Maker Grinder would surely wake me up in time – it is very loud!

As promised, my Cuisinart Coffee Pot woke me up at exactly 6:20AM. By the time I was dressed and downstairs the Cuisinart Coffee Maker had already finished brewing and safely turned itself off while the coffee was being kept fresh in the thermal carafe. This was something nice about the Cuisinart I had forgotten. The Cuisinart brews Coffee in about half the time required of my Mr. Plastic, err., Mr. Coffee. The best part was tasting that first sip of coffee. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was drinking a slightly cooler version of a freshly brewed cup of Starbucks. The taste was enormously better than the Mr. Coffee and slightly better than the Percolator, though not quite as hot. The downside is that it is the stainless steel carafe is somewhat difficult and slow to pour. In order to finish pouring the pot into my coffee thermos for work, I had to remove the lid. To my surprise, I seemed to have as much coffee from the 10-Cup Cuisinart Coffee Pot as I did with the 12-Cup Mr. Coffee/Plastic Machine.

I won’t mind doing a little extra work cleaning the grinder and compartments of the Cuisinart coffee pot for a while. The taste is worth the extra effort, and the stainless steel structure does make any kitchen look like a Euro Espresso Bar. I will hold off on the expensive Zorijushi for now. This Cuisinart has earned its place back in my kitchen.

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Stainless Steel Thermos

Problem:

I need the best coffee thermos money can buy. Why? I work at a small office where no one else drinks coffee. I don’t like having to brew a cup of coffee at home and then twice more each day at the office. Can even the Best Coffee Thermos in the world keep my coffee hot enough and fresh enough?

Solution:

Make a big pot of coffee at home and pour the rest of the coffee into a high quality coffee thermos that retains heat and keeps it fresh.

Reality:

stainless steel thermos
Thermos Review

Best Coffee Thermos Review

Not all coffee thermoses are created equal. Finding the Best Coffee Thermos will take some research. I’ve tried about 4 or 5 different brands of thermoses over the last few years. I’ve tried Insulated Coffee Thermoses, Insulated Stainless Steel Coffee Thermoses. My latest is called a, Vacuum Stainless Steel Coffee Thermos by Liquid Solutions. Below is my comparison of all of the thermoses that I’ve tried at the office in the last 6 years. Below each brand, you can compare my own experience and opinions with other user reviews on the best coffee thermos.

Here is how I rate the following Thermoses in this Best Coffee Thermos Review

Thermos Brand Thermoses.

Best Coffee Thermos
Thermos Brand Thermos

I’ve found that Thermos Brandthermoses do one thing better than any of them: They keep your coffee piping hot. While, they do keep the coffee fresh, after repeated use they begin to accumulate odors which affects the flavor. The other two things I don’t like about Thermos brand is their durability and awkward sizes.  Because they have a thermal insert, they seem to come in unusually large sizes which are hard to carry around. Drop one and the insides will break. Unfortunately, there are no extra reviews on Thermos Brand Thermoses. You will just have to take my word for it: http://thermos.com

Stanley Stainless Steel Thermos

Stanley Stainless Steel Best Coffee Thermos Review
Stanley Stainless Steel Thermos

Stanley is an attractive thermos that is durable and easy to keep clean. Unfortunately, the stainless steel, insulated material does not keep the coffee nearly as hot as the Thermos brand. I don’t believe it’s as well insulated as Thermos brand either because it doesn’t taste as fresh after an 8 hour day. Read what other consumers have to say about Stanley Brand Thermoses.

Liquid Solution Stainless Steel Vacuum Thermos

LiquidSolution Best Coffee Thermos Review
Liquid Solution Thermos

The LiquidSolution is my latest thermos and I love it for the great, 34-jounce size in a small footprint. Also, it has a great carrying handle. This is very useful because slippery, stainless steel thermoses are easy to drop! I’ve done it many times. The LiquidSolution has vacuum lid with a button that you depress to squeeze out the air before you close it. This feels flimsy to me and I hate the sharp edges on the lid which practically cut into my hand when I want to close it tightly. The worst part is, I don’t think the vacuum lid keeps the coffee any hotter than the Stanley. After 6 hours, the coffee is not nearly as piping hot as it was when it was first poured. It does taste fresh, however, and the size and easy-cleaning design are beautiful. I love the 34-ounce capacity. Unfortunately, you will just have to take my word for it. I was unable to find other opinions for you on my LiquidSolution Brand thermos.

Nissan Stainless Steel Thermos

This is the one thermos that I have not tried.  I read some very good things about these before I got tempted into trying the LiquidSolution model at a Factory Surplus store. Users seem to be very pleased with how well Nissan Thermoses keeps their coffee hot and fresh:

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Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Cookware Review

Stainless Steel Pots and Pans
Stainless Steel Pan

If you’re like me, you’re tired of searching for not-stick cookware every 3-years. Stainless Steel Pots and Pans are very expensive. Knowing that my cookware is going to get banged up, scratched and lose it’s protective non-stick coating after 2-3 years, I wouldn’t mind paying a little more to get a set of pots and pans that will hold up a little longer. Consider this review on Stainless Steel Pots and Pans a work in progress. I intend to continue to research what’s best for my needs in my own kitchen and update the content on the stainless steel pots and pans. There are some Teflon, and non-stick pans in this group, as I feel they do have some redeeming features, as well.
For this review, I will be researching All Clad Cookware Sets, Calphalon Tri Ply Stainless, Bialetti, T-Fal, Mirro Cookeware and Kitchenaid Cookware. Pots and Pans have always been a sticky subject with me (excuse the pun). I want cookware that is not only durable and non-sticking, but convenient, easy to handle, cook with and clean. Let’s see how these brands of stainless steel pots and pans stack up against each other.

All Clad Cookware Sets

All Clad Cookware Sets
All Clad Cookware Sets

If All Clad Cookware sets look very expensive it is because – well, they are very expensive. You can expect to drop close to a grand for a 14-piece All Clad Cookware set. However, you can find the 10-piece sets for much, much cheaper, below. All Clad Cookware is made from shiny Stainless Steel with an aluminum layer in-between to help conduct heat. The advantages to All Clad stainless steel cookeware, or any stainless steel pots and pans for that matter, are beauty, durability and consistently even cooking temperatures. There are a few disadvantages to stainless steel besides the price tag. I’ve been told by some user of All-Clad Products that they don’t like having to use an oven mitt for the stainless steel lid handles. Because the aluminum middle layer conducts heat, the lids get darn hot! Touching the handle of the lid while it’s cooking is like touching the bottom of the hot pan! This doesn’t bother me too much because I quite often use a Cast Iron Pan to cook and am used to being careful with the handle. One of the other disadvantages of All Clad Cookware is that stainless steel takes a little more effort to clean. Supposedly there are some products out there to make cleaning easier. One final complaint, and for me, it’s a biggie: I absolutely cannot stand the rivets which fasten the handle on the inside of the cookware. We purchased a cheaper set of T-Fal last year that has these rivets. Food tends to stick on them and they are a real nuisance to clean. Is there not a better way to fasten the handle on such an expensive set of cookware? Besides the few complaints I’ve mentioned, All Clad Stainless Steel pots and pans are definitely on my recommended list for long term, beautiful cookware.

Calphalon Tri Ply Stainless

Calphalon-Tri-Ply-Stainless
Calphalon-Tri-Ply-Stainless
Annoying Pan Rivets
Annoying Pan Rivets

Oh no, not another stainless steel pan with those annoying rivets on the inside!

Calphalon Tri Ply Stainless is another quality, stainless steel cookware set with annoying little rivets on the inside.  Note the picture to the right. (This is not a Calphalon pan, but an example of the rivets that are on most cookware) The photo is to illustrate how Rivets on the our frying pans make it difficult to clean the pan without scrubbing. We don’t use the rivets to cook our food, so why do we have to have them on the inside of our cookware? Caphalon is actually quite similar to the All-Clad products, except it is less expensive, and maybe not quite as pretty. You can get a 10-14 piece of Calphalon Tri Ply Stainless cookware for $400-$500 – nearly half the price of the All-Clad. The advantages and disadvantages are very similar to the All-Clad, and they are made the same way, with the layer of aluminum between two layers of stainless steel. One thing in the Caphalon’s favor: The lids will not get too hot to handle! Of course, the other big advantage is the price. Calphalon is intended to be used as life-long cookware. Some users have reported discoloration on the inside of their pots and pains, but were easily able to clean it with hot sudsy water. Calphalon is advertised as dishwasher safe. From what I can see, the only advantage the All-Clad has over the Calphalon is strictly cosmetic.  Calphalon, stupid rivets and all, is definitely on my ‘high-consideration’ list for my future set of stainless steel pots and pans.

Kitchen Aid Cookware

Kitchen Aid Cookware
Kitchen Aid Cookware

Based on the other two reviewed, this could be considered the poor man’s set of stainless steel cookware: Kitchen Aid Cookware is affordable, yet seems every bit as good and durable as the more expensive ones above. A Stainless Steel, 10-Piece set of Kitchen Aid Cookware is under $200.00. It looks nearly just as good as the All Clad or Calphalon. It feels heavy and well made and gives you that good, even cooking capability that is desirable in a stainless steel set of cookware. Many reviewers of the Kitchen Aid Cookware stainless steel set have recommended that you not use this cookware for stick-able foods like eggs and pancakes. Overall, I was hard-pressed to find someone who was not satisfied with the Kitchen Aid Cookware. It seems that the staining problem can be solved with a little vinegar. Obviously, a good set of stainless steel cookware does not replace the need for a good non-sticking, egg or omelet skillet. Once again, I was disappointed to learn that I will still have to put up with the rivets on the inside of the pan. The big advantage to this excellent, life-long lasting Kitchen Aid Cookware seems to be consistent and even heat for cooking. For $200, you can afford to have a couple of non-stick skillets to supplement this durable, lasting stainless steel set of cookware. One other thing that might make you feel even better about an investment in Kitchen Aid Cookware is that it comes very highly rated by Consumer Reports. I vote Kitchen Aid Stainless Steel Cookware the hands down winner in this group of Stainless Steel Cookware.

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