How to start using your coffee grinder? Read the tips

brewing coffee

How long should one grind coffee beans? I’m breaking in a new coffee grinder. Years ago I read that Starbucks ground their beans for 23 seconds and I did that. In the new grinder, 23 seconds turns the beans to dust.

—Paddy Meehan, Chicago

A: Timing is always a problem — whether grinding coffee, baking a cake or fry some chicken. Too many people take the time suggested too literally — they stick to it, as you did, until the coffee beans turn to dust, the cake is only half-baked and the chicken fried way past crisp.

You need to think of time as only a suggestion, as an approximation of what it will take to get the job done. If your new grinder gets your beans ground the way you like them in 10 or 16 or 20 seconds, go with that. (Read: Quality coffee grinder I would highly recommended)

Just how finely you should grind the coffee depends on what you use to brew it. A percolator takes a coarse grind; an espresso pot uses a very fine grind. The Starbucks website (starbucks.com) recommends “a very fine grind, 30-35 seconds in a blade grinder” for coffee used in an espresso machine. Not sure what grind to use? Ask your coffee vendor or check the manufacturer’s instructions provided by your coffee maker.

Your timing will also be impacted by the grinder you use. Models vary. There are blade grinders the whirr like little food processors and burr grinders, in which the bean is ground between two grinding plates; the latter type is more expensive but is said to produce a more uniform grind.

To ensure the best tasting coffee, “The New Food Lover’s Companion” recommends you buy fresh whole coffee beans and grind only enough beans to brew a pot of coffee. Whole beans can be stored in an “airtight container in a cool, dry place” for up to 2 weeks, the Companion notes, while whole beans may be frozen for up to 3 months. Ground coffee should be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks; ground coffee stored at room temperature will begin “to go stale in a couple of days.” – Chicago Tribune

Choosing a skillet to cook your food

When choosing a skillet to cook your food, which do you usually use?

I prefer using stainless steel skillets for almost everything that I do unless it’s cooking something extremely delicate, like eggs, fish, pancakes etc. Otherwise, a good quality stainless steel skillet is my best friend.

One of the main reasons why I avoid using nonstick skillets as much as I can are the health risks. The coating on the nonstick skillets has been proven to give off dangerous fumes when heated to a high temperature or when they become scratched and chipped.When using a nonstick skillet, try not to heat it to a high temperature without having any oil or food in the skillet. Use only wood or plastic to stir or flip food in a nonstick skillet and don’t use an abrasive sponge when washing. Replace your skillet as soon as the coating begins to wear.

I have one 10 inch and one 12 inch stainless steel skillets that I use all the time.

Might be helpful for you: Things to know about your skillet

stainless steel skillet

Traits of a Great Traditional Skillet:

(Source: http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com)

Sears food well. No matter how you try, you absolutely can’t get a great sear and browning on your food in a nonstick skillet the way you can when using a traditional skillet. You actually want the food to stick to the skillet. This is what scares most people. They think the skillet is horrible because the food sticks to it. Have no fear. This is actually a good thing.

FOND = Great sauces and gravy. All those beautiful caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan will make absolutely delicious sauces. This is called fond. It creates a rich, and flavorful sauce or gravy. I’ll write another post with some tips on how to make great sauces and gravy.

No worries about scratching the skillet. Whisk away, use metal spatulas or forks. This skillet can take it. This is another reason why this skillet makes great sauces. You can’t use a metal whisk in a nonstick skillet, but in this skillet, it’s also a great way to clean it. Deglaze the pan with some wine or broth. Whisk, whisk, whisk and a delicious sauce is made and your skillet is clean.

A well made traditional skillet can last a lifetime. Unlike the nonstick skillet, which you should replace regularly, a traditional skillet is a great investment.

When choosing a skillet to buy, make sure it has some weight to it. Don’t go for the flimsy skillet; the food will cook unevenly and will scorch in some areas and not cook in others. The best conductors of heat are copper and aluminum. However, they react with acidic food, like tomatoes and don’t deal well with temperature changes, making it very hard to control. Stainless steel doesn’t react with food, which is why it’s perfect when a aluminum or copper core is covered with stainless steel, making the winning match.

Recommended article:

Hunting for the best skillet pan

Espresso On The Go – Espresso Machine in RV

For all the convenience in travel that most camper trailers and RVs offer, they often lack in modern and luxury kitchen appliances, including the espresso machine. While it may be possible to travel with your machine and install it in the mobile kitchen for use while traveling, it is not prudent and can result in damage to the machine that’s easily avoided. Instead, opt to install a dedicated home machine in your camper trailer or RV kitchen and never again be without your favorite gourmet experience when on the go.

Water Conservation

In a camper trailer or RV, water conservation is incredibly important. If you’re traveling to a place that doesn’t have a water hookup, you’ll have to rely on whatever supply is in your tanks for the duration of your trip. You may think that this precious supply should not be wasted on a thing like your espresso machine but there are ways around that.

Bring designated kitchen water with you in bottle or extra water tanks to be stored in the kitchen area. Do not pour any excess water down the sink to be collected in the waste tanks and instead dispose of it outside since it is all organic and biodegradable matter from your kitchen without chemicals that can damage the environment. You’ll be able to run and service your espresso machine without using up the water supply you need for other essential tasks.

Making Space

If you’re an avid RV or camper trailer traveler, you understand the importance of every cubic centimeter of space in your vehicle. You can utilize your skills or learn a few more in order to accommodate a home machine that is kept in the vehicle at all times. Take stock of your travel kitchen and decide where the best place to use your machine will be and from there you can see what kind of space can be made to store the machine when it’s not in use.

Rolling shelves underneath cabinets, or inside pantry areas are ideal for this purpose. You can roll the machine out, plug it in, and fire it up for your espresso experience. You can even plug the machine into a rechargeable battery pack made for these kinds of situations and you won’t have to worry about putting the machine near a power source. Make sure that you have easy access to the machine and that it can be operated safely. Remember that it uses highly pressurized hot water. Cabinet and pantry spaces at countertop level are best for operation because you won’t have to bend down, stretch, crouch, or use a step stool to get to the machine. Read espresso machine reviews to find out what size the machine is.

Accommodating Accessories

Several gadgets may be involved in the making of your favorite type of latte, including a grinder, stand alone pour over steamer, strainer, large spoon for pouring steamed milk carefully, and any flavorings you enjoy. Your espresso machine can give you better gourmet coffee but in order to make a latte or other beverage you need a little more than this one machine, Fortunately, these accessories are more easily mobile and don’t necessarily need to be kept on board your RV or camper trailer. If you believe you can suffice on simple espresso shots during your trip, you don’t have to bring them with you and if you choose to do so, they can be transported in a box back and forth.

The same principle goes for other extras like flavorings, milk or milk alternatives for steaming, specialty glasses and mugs, and other things you may want to bring along. You can decide to make as special corner in your travel kitchen for these accessories or you can transfer them back and forth depending on how often you travel.

Storage

Some RV or camper trailer owners may make the decision to winterize their vehicles and put it in storage during the winter. If you do, there are some things that you need to consider about your espresso machine in order to maintain its top condition. First off, you’ll want to make sure that everything, including your machine, is strapped down or stored properly in cabinets so it won’t move around or fall over during transport or while things are settling after the vehicle is safely in storage. Check what is on top of the machine or underneath it because unnecessary pressure on top of the machine can damage it and any leakage can damage things underneath.

Prevent leakage by emptying the tank and prevent mold or other bacterial buildup by cleaning all the parts of the espresso machine thoroughly before putting into storage. Unplug the machine and store the power chord safely without tangles and without winding it tightly. Although you may not be using your vehicle for several months, it’s still a good idea to check back on its contents on a regular basis. You may still be a bit unsure about the safety of your espresso machine and in that case, you can always remove it from the vehicle and store it at home for the duration of the winter months.

Enjoy Better Outdoor Entertainment

These few tips and tricks will help you travel with your espresso machine in your RV or camper trailer so you always have the gourmet experience of beautiful coffee. One of the benefits you may not have considered is also the ways you can entertain guests at the campfire during your travels using the best beverages they’ll ever taste in an outdoor camping setting. Give everyone the means to keep roasting marshmallows all night long and sing louder with the aid of the espresso you serve. A night stargazing can be made infinitely better by bringing along this experience. You’ll be able to wake up to a sunrise wherever you are with the coffee you love most every time you travel!

Variety of cookware materials to meet the needs of everyone

Backpacking cookware comes in a variety of materials to meet the needs of everyone from fast-packers to dedicated backcountry chefs. Each material has its key benefits and understanding them will help you pick the cookset that’s right for your priorities, both on the trail and in the “kitchen”—whether that’s a portaledge and you’re brewing ramen, or a grand valley where you’re concocting a gourmet spread. Here’s a look at the three materials used in MSR cookware and why you might choose one over the other:

Stainless steel is very durable, so it’s perfect for when your pots take a lot of abuse. This makes it a top choice of backcountry travelers who are hard on their gear, or by guides and institutions, where cooks prep a lot of meals on a wide range of adventures.

cooking (3)

Stainless steel is the least light of the three materials MSR uses, but it is by far the toughest and most scratch-resistance. It’s used to make our simple, dependable systems in MSR’s Alpine Line.

When it comes to cooking, stainless steels lies somewhere between aluminum and titanium in terms of its performance and suitability. It does not conduct heat particularly well, which can lead to hot spots and burned food. To get around this issue our Alpine Fry Pan features a heat-spreading aluminum disc on the bottom. This allows for efficient, even heating in a pan that really expands your meal options.

Most travelers choose stainless steel for its affordability, exceptional ruggedness and simple sophistication.

In 1999, the MSR product catalog declared: “You want light? You want strong? You want Titanium.”Indeed, titanium’s biggest advantage is its ultralight performance. Titanium is 45% lighter than steel and stronger than aluminum. It is the lightest cookware material you can buy before you must sacrifice on strength. It’s also corrosion-resistant, offering great durability.

Titanium pots are ideal for boiling water because they can be made with very thin walls, and transfer heat efficiently. But like stainless steel pots, they tend to develop hot spots, making them less than ideal for cooking real meals. Titanium is favored by the truly fast-and-light crowd, who count their grams and opt for quick boil-only meals after a long, exhausting day.

Further information: Pros and cons of stainless steel cookware

Other notes on cookware:

Cookware’s efficiency is also dependent on its color, pot diameter and height. Darker pots, especially with dark bottoms, tend to be the most fuel efficient. As older cookware blackens with use it becomes more efficient than new cookware. And wider diameter pots are more efficient than tall skinny ones. This is because more surface area is exposed to the flame and hot exhaust gasses and the heat transfers into the system faster. – Cascade Designs

More reading:

One of the best rice cookers on the market

Rice cookers are designed to make rice cooking effortless and that’s exactly what the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 rice cooker with Neuro Fuzzy technology does. This appliance has received praise from thousands of its users who claim that it’s so far one of the best rice cookers on the market.

According to these users, the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 is remarkably simple to operate, easy to clean, and has many wonderful features and benefits that any regular rice cooker will love.

One of the most loved things about the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 is its ability to consistently cook rice perfectly thanks to its advanced Neuro fuzzy technology, which makes fine adjustments to temperature and heating time. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the workings of this rice cooker.

Zojirushi-Rice-Cooker-Review

If you’ve been struggling to make a rice cooker buying decision, you should seriously consider going for the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10. This is because there are just so many things that this rice cooker has to offer.​ (Full details at Foodieselections.com)

  • The best part of using the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 rice cooker is that you’ll never have to go through the horror of miscalculating the amount of water or rice needed. The cooker comes with 2 measuring cups that ensure you achieve accurate measurements each time. And should you for whatever reason make the mistake of adding in the wrong amount of your ingredients, the cooker automatically makes any minor adjustments that will be needed to avoid burned rice edges, mushy rice, and dryness.
  • Most rice cookers offer you multiple menu settings that allow you to cook a variety of rice dishes. However, the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 goes a step further. In addition to its white/sushi, brown, semi-brown, mixed, porridge, and sweet rice settings, this rice cooker offers you the freedom of choosing the cooking method you’re most comfortable with. This is thanks to the also included cooker settings for cooking pre-washed rice as well as rice with rinse.
  • The Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 rice cooker ensures you have an easy time right from the cooking time through to the cleaning of the unit. This is all thanks to the cooker’s black, thick inner pan with Dupont Teflon non-stick coating and stay cool side handles. The pot ensures that rice doesn’t stick on the bottom and sides, provides easy removal, and allows you to enjoy quick cleanup.
  • This rice cooker’s Neuro Fuzzy technology, quality inner pan, and multiple settings are enough to make any serious rice cooker to want to buy it. It also features, programmable melodies, programmable delay timer with 2 settings, an easy to read color LCD display, a retractable power cord, 3 keep warm functions, and comes complete with all the rice-cooking accessories you’ll need for your cooking endeavors.

Cons

  • Doesn’t feature a steamer basket
  • Uses Japanese measurements and therefore delivers less rice than a 5.5-cup American rice cooker would (1 cup of rice from an American rice cooker is equal to about 3/4-cup of a Japanese rice cooker)

You might want to read: The convenience of cooking rice with a rice cooker

A great home espresso machine you should buy

espresso drinkFor sophisticated coffee lovers, nothing beats the taste of a hot cup of espresso or cappuccino. Getting one at a restaurant or coffee shop is easy, but making your own at home takes a little more work and equipment. We looked into reviews of the best espresso machines for home use. Automatic espresso machines are the most popular since they do all the work for you. Espresso machines need to be solidly built to stand up to pressure since they rely on built up steam and heat to create espresso and cappuccino. A solid home espresso machine will cost about $200. The best espresso machine as noted by reviewers was the Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine – New 2014 Model V3 ($500) with good espresso quality, professional quality stainless steel construction, and is easy to use. It has a 12-ounce forged brass boiler capacity a 3-way solenoid valve and can be steam ready in around 20 seconds. The Rancilio Silvia can steam eight ounces of milk in 45 seconds and produce a shot of espresso in 20 seconds.

Other top rated espresso machines in the comparison were the the Delonghi BAR32 ($170), the Gaggia Coffee ($300), and the Saeco Via Veneto ($200). The Saeco Via Veneto, made of plastic, is a pump driven machine which isn’t considered as durable as the other stainless steel machines. It does, however have a stainless steel boiler with a 5 ounce capacity which can make a shot in 18 seconds but lags in steaming 8 ounces of milk (2 minutes). With a pressurized portafilter and crema enhancer, pod adapter, froth aid, and removable water tank, the Saeco is a great home espresso machine. One other top rated machine was the Briel ES15BF Lido Pump Espresso Machine in black. Retails for $135 and compares well to other machines in quality flavors and ease of use. If you are ready to buy online, we recommend Amazon.com. We are always impressed by their competitive prices (often the lowest), fast shipping, and customer service — plus almost everyone already shops with them and trusts them. You can browse the up-to-date list of best-selling espresso makers here.

Looking for a good value in your espresso machine, then we suggest the Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Espresso. You are not going to get a brass boiler or adjustable steam pressure, but the stainless steel construction makes up for it. The Breville gets an excellent rating for quality of espresso. Although it’s not considered as durable or easy to use as the Rancilio, at 1/2 the price you can’t lose. In espresso machine reviews, the Breville was considered a great buy. Other top buys include the Gaggia Baby ($450), Saeco Classico ($400), and the Solis SL70. (Full information here)

What’s the Best Cookware for Health

non stick panKeep in mind, along with teflon, health conscious consumers should avoid buying aluminum, tin, and low-quality stainless steel cookware. These materials can leach into your food and over time contribute to many serious health conditions including memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
So, let’s take a closer look at the best cookware for the health of your family.
Cast iron: One of the oldest and most reliable types of cookware still remains the cast iron pan. Many people forego this type of cookware because it can be challenging to learn how to control cooking temperature to reduce sticking.
However, with a little practice, you can cook and bake in cast iron without harmful side effects. If you experience any health concerns such as hemochromatosis – where you may have trouble converting iron – check with your healthcare provider before using.
Obviously, it’s worth noting that, cast iron cookware can leach small amount of inorganic iron into the food. If you’re at all concerned about avoiding excess iron – then ceramic cookware is your best choice.
Ceramic cookware is a sturdy material that can be heated to high temperatures when necessary. This material is also one of the only non-leaching cookware types available. Avoid using metal utensils and your ceramic pots and pans will serve you well for a long time.
If you’re looking for high quality ceramic cookware, check out Xtrema cookware – 100% all-natural ceramic cookware with absolutely no heavy metals or PFOA.
Thermolon is a material composed primarily of silicon and oxygen and works as a non-stick agent in cookware without the associated risks of PFOA. This material remains safe for meals that will be prepared at 450 degrees or below.
But note, if you’re cooking at over 450 degrees – then Thermolon would not be a good choice for you. In addition, even though Thermolon has a ‘ceramic coating’ – it is NOT pure ceramic cookware and I have seen customer complaints about paint flaking, when cooking at too high a temperature. (Read more about cookware safety here)