The Cool House: appliances
Showing posts with label appliances. Show all posts
Showing posts with label appliances. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blend it

Now that the kitchen is up and running there is one small appliance I miss. About a zillion years ago I tried to make some margaritas and my KitchenAid blender could not cope with the task, it stalled and died. I was very negative about the whole experience and didn't want to spend a couple hundred dollars on something that couldn't even make a drink so I got an immersion bender for sauces, soups and purees and gave up on the whole crushed ice thing. I've since heard that it isn't just me mistreating the appliance - others have had the same experience. Now I'd like to make the occasional smoothie and figure this would be a good time to go ahead and splurge but I want to make sure I'm buying the best heavy-duty blender out there. Amazon has a couple of 900 watt models that should be able to mash bananas and crush ice and a super expensive one that I would expect, for that price, could mix concrete! Do you have any recommendations?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Filling the hole

Also a little marvel: 15" wine refrigerator by Marvel. That completes the appliance selection for the new kitchen, And yes, we had it filled 24 hours after it was installed and no we haven't emptied it again...yet.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Orient the (micro) Wave

The kitchen isn't even finished yet I'm almost certain there will be a minor remodel to the renovation in the future. The microwave is sitting on the counter like the ugly big box it is, reminding me daily that my first wish for the kitchen was a dedicated small appliance area and my second was to stop the breaker tripping every time we used the toaster, coffee maker and microwave simultaneously.
I looked at built-in microwaves and microwaves in a drawer but they were so expensive that when it came time to do the budget I nixed the idea. We decided we could live with the microwave on the counter and had the electrician run four outlets on the wall behind the small appliance area. It transpires that he didn't run a separate 20 amp breaker for the microwave though, so we still can't heat oatmeal, make toast and warm coffee at the same time - a fact we discovered when we had a bunch of people staying all trying to get breakfast together.
So something has to be done. When I ordered the other appliances I talked to the sales guy who told me that built-in microwaves were not worth the money and it would be much cheaper (and fairly easy) to convert a 24" or 30" cabinet to hold the microwave and buy a trim kit that allows steam to vent out the front. It's certainly an option and I do have a few placement possibilities.

I could build an appliance garage on the small appliance wall under the staircase but this would cut into valuable counterspace - and make that wall look cramped - it would also be a pain to run a dedicated line to the microwave here. I could also modify one of the 30" cabinet drawers underneath but it would ruin the look of that cabinet run.

Or I could place it in the island - there is a dedicated 20 amp line here that will only be used occasionally and it would be handy for heating plates etc. but the induction cooktop is so super fast that I wouldn't use the microwave for heating stock or any other cooking process and it's far from the site of primary use - heating oatmeal, boiling water and reheating coffee.

The final place probably has the fewest disadvantages. The cupboard next to the dishwasher houses appliances we use occasionally: coffee bean grinder, ice cream maker, food processor. It would be easy to relocate these to the tall pantry, which, at the moment, is completely empty. We would replace the two tall doors with two 15" doors on the bottom of the cabinet and place the microwave on the shelf up top, then trim it out with the kit. The microwave would be opposite the coffee maker and it would be a cinch to run a new 20 amp line here with no visible holes in the wall. The only problem? I really like the way that run of cabinets looks now. I don't want to mess it up with an ugly microwave. What to do?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Almost there

...apart from moldings, baseboard, toekicks, paint and the left side Caesarstone panel for the island (once again the installer wasn't happy with the fabricator's work). It's frustrating that we still aren't done but at least we have a working kitchen for the first time in more than two months.

I was extremely excited to start cooking again, then I remembered that all the pans and utensils were boxed up in the garage and we had nothing in the pantry.

So I settled for shopping for supplies, opening those boxes and washing every pot in the giant Blanco sink. Very therapeutic it was, too!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Still sick but at least we haven't lost our appetites

We're still too sick to do anything productive like go out for cocktails but at least I can still cook.

What's in the huge size 28 Le Creuset casserole I inherited?

Buffalo chili, lots of buffalo chili. Enough to feed 2 people twice a day for five days.

Fresh out of the oven a loaf of No-time bread

Unfortunately it looks like this bread isn't going to last a day, let alone five. It is seriously good, requires only an hour once you've collected the ingredients from the pantry to slicing it and smearing it butter and it smells like heaven. At least I think it does. I lost my sense of smell sometime around January 3 with the first cold and it hasn't returned yet.
The basic recipe was so good last time that I got creative and made a *Tuscan inspired version

*No-Time Bread (standard recipe)
1 loaf

4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two packets)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer put the yeast, sugar, and water and let it sit.

Heat the oven to 450°F. Put a Dutch oven in to warm as the oven heats. Get out your flour, salt, vinegar, spray oil, and anything else you need.

Now that the yeast has had a few minutes to bubble up, add 3 cups of the flour as well as the salt and vinegar and beat for several minutes with the paddle. Add the last 1/2 cup of flour and switch to the dough hook and beat for seven minutes. Alternately, knead vigorously for five minutes, or until the dough becomes extremely elastic. This will still be a wet dough, but not goopy. The dough will clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom

Oil a microwave-safe bowl and transfer the bread dough to it, rolling it in the oil. Cover the bowl with a very wet towel. Cover the whole thing with a dry towel and put in the microwave for 25 seconds.

Tuscan Loaf
To the dry ingredients I added:
I tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
To the water and balsamic I added:
2 tablespoons olive oil

Recipe via

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ikea Magic

Even if you hate Ikea (who could hate Ikea?) you have to appreciate the flash inspirational video on their web-site. Keep your finger on your mouse to make it go faster. Enjoy!
And if that's not enough of an end of year's cadeau for you, here's one more on the same theme from the Jonathan Coulton Project.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Beaten by the celery soup

It's been a trying week chez modernemama. Granted we got the kitchen painted and it looks awesome and I, inspired by the paint colors, made celery soup. The problem came when I pureed the soup in the KitchenAid Blender.

Wall of cabinets side view

I switched the thing on, pressed puree, there was a horrible grinding noise and the little plastic teeth that hold the jar on the motor shirred off. I was pretty pissed as I was pureeing already cooked vegetables. I mean I could have passed those through a sieve, it's not as though I was blending ice to make Margueritas. I expected more from that machine. Although I have had it six years past the guarantee so I guess it didn't owe me anything. I did save the jug in case we get a new one, as their accessories aren't cheap, but I'm not sure I'd buy another KitchenAid as I can get a handheld Braun and a Cuisinart jug model for less than the price of my old one. Until then, no breadcrumbs, no garlic and ginger paste for the Rogan Josh, and chunky soup only.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Another one bites the dust

It's been a bad year for appliances on Vineyard Rd.
First to go was my beloved imac, then the Dyson needed a bunch of new parts, followed by the barbeque and of course, the washer and the dryer, and the laundry room fan.
But the latest appliance to throw a hissy fit is the one that really hurts. My trusty FrancisFrancis X1 espresso maker, which was the first thing I bought in the US when we arrived in 2000, decided that the gasket seal had put in enough work ensuring we had a good presion and therefore great crema and shredded itself.
How can I explain my need for three decent cups of espresso a day? For some the staff of life is bread; for me it is coffee. I crave the colour, the aroma and the taste. So when I am forced to make a choice between going without or driving the three miles to the local coffee shop after every meal, I can get a little snippy.
If this disaster had occurred next year it wouldn't have mattered so much as we plan to put in a built-in coffee maker, but we are nowhere near tackling the kitchen yet. So I've left a message with the service department at FrancisFrancis to see if I can get a replacement part. If not, it'll have to be a new machine and quickly before the crankiness really sets in, and I start wearing out, too.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

That's One Way to Get a New Washer

I think I've finally killed the washing machine, or at least made it terminally ill.
I spent all morning power washing the slime off the slate terrace and the brick patio (again, the last attempt was not up to snuff) and when I'd finished I tossed my cruddy clothes and sneakers straight in the machine. I guess there was a lot of sand and grit mixed in with the moss because the washer started making a squeaky grinding noise like a mouse got caught in the agitator and the clothes didn't wash at all.
I'm washing them for a second time but the machine is still squeaking so I'm not hopeful for a happy outcome. Or maybe the happy outcome will be finally putting the thing out of its misery and getting a new one.
On the other hand the new dishwasher washes cast iron pots and delicate stemware and leaves them sparkling, no pre-wash required.

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's here

The new Bosch dishwasher is installed, just finishing up its first load and it's soooo quiet. All this a day earlier than planned. Thanks Appliance World and Harvey the Installer who phoned at 11 am to ask if he could perhaps install the dishwasher today rather than Saturday morning. Could he? If it meant I didn't have to wash any more dishes he could.
I'm waiting for the beep noise to tell me its cycle is complete, I can't actually tell if it's on or not because it is sooooo quiet. I hope the dishes come out clean too.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I bought the appliance

No, not the washing machine. Even though it's July and the new Bosch Nexxus model came out it really isn't much different from the old one. It's still big and ugly-looking and I keep hoping that a new 1200, or even better 1400 rpm, super efficient but cute model will be launched on the market so that when I skip into the appliance showroom it will call to me "Modernemama, buy me and I will answer all your laundry demands with ease while satisfying your need for clean lines and cool design".
No, we had a dishwasher crisis. On Wednesday the 38 year-old cream coloured Maytag dishwasher clicked off halfway through a cycle leaving behind a couple of inches of dirty water in the bottom of the machine. There is no drain programme so Steve had to bail it out with a spoon and a cat dish. Then he took off the bottom plate and discovered that the drive belt had broken. That's a $16 part but he didn't think he could reach in to slip it on and I didn't want to pay a service charge for something so simple (I know, flaky economics) so I seized the moment and rushed out to order this beauty:

OK, so it was $1000 but after thirty eight years I think the old dishwasher has earned its retirement. They deliver the new one on Saturday and I'm sure it will be more efficient and quieter, and it will certainly look smarter. And I'm another step closer to the dream kitchen.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Just another one of those things

Nothing much positive to report houseways (or housewise). The washing machine, a large toploading Whirlpool from 1984, started making an odd whistling sound and depositing about half a cup of water on the laundry room floor. The water wasn't a big deal except that I do the laundry in bare feet or socks so I was getting a little damp every day, but hey, there's a floor drain so no big deal. But the whistling was getting on my nerves and the knocking that periodically accompanied it made me think the bearings were going.
Now, I have zero knowledge of the workings of top-loader washing machines other than they do a great job of swirling the clothes around in dirty water and a pretty poor job of actually cleaning clothes, but I know that I associate that sound with bad news in a front-loader so I figure it's much the same. And given its advanced age I didn't hold out any hope that parts would still be available or it would be worth paying a service engineer to come out and tell me the inevitable. We were planning to replace the appliances when we redid the kitchen so it seemed sensible that we go out and buy a new front-loader and have done with it.
Huh. As other housebloggers have noted there is no such thing as an easy replacement appliance shopping trip. Our road to hell, however, started out promising only good things. A personal invitation to attend a "previous customers only sale" arrived serendipitously from the local appliance store where we bought the elephant in the kitchen. All we had to do was turn up between 5-9 pm, chose a washer, hand over the Visa card and we would get a working, cleaning, more environmentally friendly machine, and a rebate from the local power company. I was so psyched.
On the appointed day we showed up, picked out a Bosch and were just about to fork over shedloads of money when the sales guy uttered that wretched sentence: Are you sure you have the space?
This is where you see the difference between an optimist (my husband) and a realist (me). An optimist yells: We have a huge laundry room, the appliances we have now are monsters, of course it will fit. The realist says: Why are you asking me this? Have other people had problems fitting it in their homes? How big is it anyway? Of course you have all guessed the ending to this sorry story. The space needs to be 56" deep to accommodate the open door. I don't think we have 56".
Although Steve was willing to take a chance rather than have to come back to the store we left empty handed. (He was also willing to consider a bump into the garage if we bought them and they didn't fit, until I did the projected cost of construction versus the inconvenience of going home, taking measurements and returning to the store - not so much an optimist more an irritating cloud cuckoo land dweller!)
Anyway, in order to accurately assess the space I spent the next day disassembling some plastic shelving added by the previous owner and doing a major clean up in there. Then I measured. We have 58" depth. But do I really want it to be that tight? And we would have to swap the position of the washer and dryer because all the machines except one have the washer on the left. That would mean maybe moving the dryer vent, and extra hoses. Even more inconvenience.
Now, guess which machine has the washer door on the right side? Correct mes amis, the most expensive one. And guess where we would have to go to look at one? Yes, Expo hell. A store where they never have what you want, have no idea how to get you what you want, hell, probably don't know what you are talking about, certainly don't know what they are talking about. But that's where the nearest Miele washers were so we made the trip.
Oh god, it was a true Sabena moment (Such A Bad Experience, Never Again). The salesman first tried to tell me that the doors on FL washers could be swapped. So I took him to one, opened it and said "show me how". Then he said they could be swapped on top-loaders 'cos he used to do that for his last job. Great info. Then he couldn't find the Miele catalogue and started whistling for it and blaming other salespeople for moving it. We'd been there only fifteen minutes and I was beginning to freak out. We did eventually look at the Miele washer, which was not a sexy design, and cost $2000. If I'm gonna pay two grand for anything I want it to be HOT and to do a lot more than just get my clothes clean. And it would take a minimum of three weeks to be delivered. For $2000, I'd want it yesterday. Once again home empty handed, but at least the Visa card is still intact.
Two days of extensive research on the web and I've decided that all washing machines suck, that a little water on the floor hurts no one and learnt that Bosch are coming out with a new model in July. Procrastination is today's favourite word, and at least I have a neater, cleaner laundry room to show for my efforts.