Archive for the ‘HOW TO’ Category

How to buy a stove/range – shopping tips

November 8, 2013

Whether you call it a stove or a range, you’re going to want to keep these considerations in mind when shopping for a new … oh I give up.

black-electric-range

Though freestanding ranges are the most commonly used, slide-in ranges are growing in popularity. Featuring unfinished sides and controls on the front, this style lends a more built-in look, great for islands, and featuring decorative backsplashes. Professional ranges mimic the performance and appearance of a true commercial range.

pro-style-range

Pro-style ranges use the most durable components and achieve high temperatures for rapid boiling as well as extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering.

Larger models (36”, 48” or 60” wide) can include built-in griddles and grills. Their ovens offer convection and high-temperature broiling. Convection ovens use airflow for even heat distribution and consistent baking, even with multiple racks. When cooking meats, convection fans sear the skin to retain moisture.

wolf-range

Gas vs. electric

Professional and aspiring chefs usually prefer gas due to a common misconception of all-around superior performance; In most cases electric ranges boil liquid just as quickly and frequently, electric burners reach extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering. But the heat-retention qualities of electric coils and ceramic surfaces cannot range from high to low heat instantaneously as gas cooktops can. But glass surfaces of electric ranges are the easiest to clean and maintain.

When it comes to ovens, electric responds quicker to temperature changes, providing less heat variance overall for more consistent baking results. However, gas ovens provide more “moist heat,” which is better for meats and vegetables. For cooks who want the best of both worlds, the dual-fuel range has the flexibility and control of gas burners on the cooktop with the accuracy and precision of an electric oven.

Induction range burners use magnets to directly heat cookware and leaving the surface cool to the touch, combining an unmatched degree of safety with high power and the responsiveness of gas.

‘HOT’ features to consider

  • Warming Drawer – functions as a keep-warm area.
  • Second Oven – additional cavity functions as a separate oven. Perfect for cooking short items such as pizzas, pies, casseroles, etc.

slide-in-double-oven-range

  • Split Oven Racks – can be partially removed as needed for cooking multiple dishes simultaneously.

    split-rack

    Split racks accommodate simultaneous baking of tall dishes.

HOW TO: buy a refrigerator

October 2, 2013

Buying a refrigerator can be a difficult decision, considering all the sizes, styles and prices available. But most importantly (after making sure it fits), the refrigerator you choose should reflect the way your family uses your kitchen and accesses fresh or frozen food.

stainless-steel-refrigerator

Top-freezer refrigerators position the freezer at eye level while the refrigerator compartment offers wide shelves, making it easy to store large trays of food and allow access to items in the back of the refrigerator.

side by side black refrigerator

Side-by-side refrigerators feature the freezer on the left and the refrigerator on the right. Side-by-sides require less door swing clearance, perfect for kitchen layouts with narrow walkways or an island.

stainless-bottom-freezer-refrigerator

Bottom freezer refrigerators are today’s most popular refrigerator style. The refrigerator is opened nine to 10 times more often than the freezer, so it’s convenient to locate the refrigerator at waist or chest level.

four door french door refrigerator

French door refrigerators, the industry’s fastest growing style, is like a bottom-freezer but with French doors (side-by-side) opening from the center. The symmetrical styling allows easier installation with less door clearance to impede a walkway or island. Wide refrigerator shelves easily store large party trays.

samsung french door refrigeratorSome models, like the one pictured above, come with a fourth drawer. Depending on the model, the fourth drawer is a second refrigerator compartment or a second freezer compartment. However, as is the case with the Samsung refrigerator pictured to the right, sometimes the fourth drawer offers more temperature options (think chilling wine versus storing meats) than you’d probably select with your main fresh food compartment.

‘Cool’ features to consider

• A Dual-Compressor System cools the refrigerator and freezer separately. This preserves food substantially longer, better retaining the food’s natural internal moisture.

• Chilling Drawers brings air directly from the freezer into a sealed refrigerator compartment to, for instance, cool a warm beverage to ice cold in 15 minutes!

• Hidden Hinge extends door heights to cover hinges and create a more built-in look.

• Gallon Storage Door Bins hold large milk and juice jugs in the door to free up precious shelf space.

Cabinet-depth models provide a sleek and seamless appearance. The shallow 24” depth aligns with surrounding cabinetry, again, offering a more “built-in” look.

Tip: A common mistake when buying a new refrigerator is not properly measuring the maximum height, depth and width of the space it will fit into. There is no “standard” in refrigerator. However, if your opening is 36” wide and 70” high, you will have a wide selection of models to choose from. As a rule of thumb, you should allow 1” of clearance on each side of the refrigerator for breathing room.

Tips for buying a dishwasher

September 25, 2013

Sizes & styles

Though dishwashers are relatively standard in size at 24” wide, you may have less than 34” in height if, say, new flooring was laid on top of old flooring. Or your countertops are slightly lower for handicap accessibility.

In these cases, you will need to seek out a “short tub” or ADA compliant dishwasher. An increasing number of dishwashers now offer hidden controls along the top of the door instead of front controls for a more seamless appearance. For a truly integrated appearance, several manufacturers offer models with an unfinished door, able to accept a custom wood panel.

Frigidaire's OrbitClean alternating arm action  focuses four times more water and detergent in a  concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Frigidaire’s OrbitClean alternating arm action focuses four times more water and detergent in a
concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Basic models offer just one or two spray arms, but most dishwashers have a spray arm on the bottom, in the middle, and at the top of the dishwasher tub. These spray arms typically have a direct feed of water as opposed to the indirect tower design of the past.

European-style models (i.e. Bosch, ASKO, Miele, Electrolux, etc.) use a slightly different approach to cleaning. These models feature high wash temperatures (30-40 degrees more than comparable models) and increased water pressure. The increased water temperature and water pressure creates a more effective wash cycle, able to cut through even the toughest baked-on grease.

miele-cutlery-tray

Traditionally, silverware baskets are located front and center in the lower rack, but some models feature a long basket on the side of the lower rack, which often can be split into sub baskets and relocated or removed. Some high-end dishwashers offer a flat, dedicated silverware tray at the top of the dishwasher that frees up more space in main racks.

dcs-tall-dishdrawerFor flexible use options, consider dish drawer dishwashers, which can be purchased as single drawer (using half the water and electricity of a standard dishwasher) or double units (each drawer runs independently for convenient flexibility). Drawers also reduce bending for those with back or knee problems.

Features to consider

  • Anti-Leak Safety – shields hardwood floors from damage in the case of an internal leak. Water will be contained within the pan, shielding hardwood floors from damage. A sensor within the safety pan may also shut down the dishwasher to prevent further damage.
  • Internal Water Softener – ensures soft water is used, which reduce fogging and etching to glassware and improves cleaning power of detergent
  • Stainless steel interiors are less likely to absorb odors or stains than plastic interiors and results in a quicker overall dry time through condensation
  • Third racks may be adjusted and nearly removable to use otherwise-wasted space. Sometimes used as a glassware rack for the frequent entertainer.
  • Hard food disposers typically grind up food particles and flush them out, but European-style models’ high wash temperatures and increased water pressure emulsify food waste that is washed away at the end of the cycle. Not using a disposer means less energy consumption and fewer moving parts, resulting in fewer breakdowns and quieter operation. A food trap prevents more durable items, such as chicken bones, from entering into the mechanics of the unit.

Star-Sapphire_time

  • LED electronic read-outs – show the time remaining in a cycle. Wash times are longer today than they were in the past to make up for today’s more eco-friendly but less-potent detergent. A normal wash used to be 45- 60 minutes, but is now between 90-135 minutes, depending on the model.

Dishwasher troubleshooting: How much dish detergent to use

January 31, 2013
Who's ever been that happy to open her dishwasher? I'll have what she's having, please.

Who’s ever been that happy to open her dishwasher? I’ll have what she’s having, please.

When determining how much dishwasher soap to use, ignore the size of the dispenser in your dishwasher and whatever you do, ignore the suggestions made by the detergent-makers, whose interest it is to get you to overuse soap.

You probably only need a fraction of what detergent-makers want you to use. If that sounds fishy to you, consider that modern dishwashers use far less water than their ancestors, they also require less soap to do the job.

Back in the late 70s, the average dishwasher cycle burned through 11 to 15 gallons. This decreased to an average six to 10 gallons per normal cycle in 2000. These days, dishwashers use as little as 2 gallons of water; they simply use it better.

 

Proper dishwasher detergent amount

So, the answer to the $64,000 question?

KitchenAid says to use anywhere from 2 teaspoons to 3 tablespoons, depending on how dirty your dishes are and how hard your water is:

dishwasherdetergentamountchart1

Postscript (now, this is important)

soap-dishwasherIt doesn’t matter how much or how little soap you use, if you pre-wash your dishes, they won’t get as clean. Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

But dishwasher detergent needs a little bit of grime to activate. And some dishwashers are equipped with a “turbidity sensor,” which monitors how clean the water in the dishwasher is and adjust accordingly, eliminating cycles and not fully heating the water if the dishwasher doesn’t sense that it needs to.

Scrape, don’t rinse and try using less soap. Get the hardness of your water tested, as that can also be a giant leap toward clean dishes.

Baking tips: how to soften butter

December 6, 2012
microwaving-butter

Betcha didn’t think Christmas cookie baking could be improved with your microwave.

This weekend, the ladies in my family attempted to start a tradition of Christmas cookie baking.

Baking Christmas cookies takes a lot of planning and shopping and measuring and mixing and of course, baking (which includes cooling and sometimes rotating, if your oven lacks convection).

My soon-to-be sister-in-law chose to make these Russian Tea Cakes for the first time ever. The recipe calls for a cup of softened butter, but because we were making 6 dozen instead of 4 dozen, we needed a cup and a half of softened butter (that’s a lot). And although I am  horrible baker, she asked me a question I could actually answer:

“How do you get butter to soften without melting it?”

Because of our early morning start, the butter I brought to my mom’s was still refrigerator-hard. So we needed to intercede.

Perhaps your experience with softening butter in the microwave involves you — nose pressed up against the glass — nuking the flavorful fat ingredient in short intervals and praying it doesn’t melt.

Softening gone wrong

Softening gone wrong

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

 

To soften our cup and a half of butter, we microwaved each stick for a minute a piece at 10% power.

Based on your microwave, you might want to amp up to 20% and adjust the time or even use the defrost setting (which is 30% power).

Later, we also adjusted our microwave power to soften cream cheese for Peanut Butter Balls (which are amazing, by the way).

Microwave power levels can also come in handy for reheating foods, I’ve found. Foods like pizza and French fries revive less soggier when microwaved longer at lower power.

Try it out!

HOW TO: shop the Warner Stellian Warehouse Sale 2012

October 25, 2012

What is it with us Midwesterners and our deal-bragging? You know: upon receiving a compliment we gloat about the gasp-worthy low price we got it for, unsolicited. Perhaps it’s because we fancy ourselves pro deal hunters.

But our Extreme Warehouse Sale this Saturday and Sunday is no Macy’s clearance rack. I’m talkin’ big-ticket items at huge discounts: you need to prepare a bit. The savings are so hot, all sales are final.

Luckily for you, I’ve compiled the secrets of the pros — tips that will prepare any appliance rookie for the big league.

Here are some Extreme Sale pros, lined up before the sale.

Before the sale

Don’t be a fool; Use this tool.

Measure your space
Don’t learn the hard way: there is no “standard” in appliance sizes. Use a measuring tape on the available space — not the existing appliance — and write down dimensions to bring to the sale.

Also, measure the width of the doorways and staircases the appliance will need to travel through.

Know your fuel type
You’ll need to know whether you have a gas or electric hookup when buying a dryer, a range or a cooktop.

Consider your hinges
For example, some refrigerators on sale will be left hinge only. Wouldn’t it be terrible to find a great deal on a fridge only to get it home and not be able to open it? Also know what side you want the hinges on a front-load washer and any type of dryer, in case there’s an option.

Do some research
We’ll have more than 2,000 appliances available at the start of the sale, so have something in mind to avoid frustration. The best tip? Know what you like and don’t like about your existing model. Check out our Web site for more ideas on what features are important to you.

Get preapproved
You MUST pay for your purchase at the time of sale, though we certainly have financing options to help you pay. Save time by getting approved online at home. Just make sure to bring in your approval slip with your new account number for our files.

Also, even if you’re financing the purchase, you must pay the sales tax at the time of sale.

The day of the sale

Bring a hauling vehicle
Usually, we offer free delivery on purchases $499 and above, but this sale is anything but usual. Our warehouse is full of products, so we encourage customers to take their purchases with them the day of the sale. We’ll help you load it up and everything.

If you do choose to have it delivered, it’s $75 and you must take delivery within 14 days.

Know your schedule
We’ll arrange for delivery and any installation for built-in appliances (available for additional charges) at the time of sale. We’ll call you the day before the delivery with an AM/PM estimate and our crew can call you before they arrive if you need to meet them at your house.

Pack a stroller
Our warehouse is a warehouse. It’s clean and safe, but it’s also big and crowded and without a play area. Strollers work well to keep small children nearby when you’re shopping the selection.

appliancewarehousesale

After the sale

Receive delivery/install time estimate
You’ll receive a call with an AM/PM estimate the day before your scheduled delivery and/or install.

Apply for rebates
You could qualify for even more savings by rebate. Once you receive your product, you can fill in the serial number (the delivery crew can help you locate this) on your rebate forms and submit them promptly, as they expire.

Don’t waste your investment because you lack product knowledge.

Read your manual
Knowing your new product can help you save time and improve the quality of your cooking and cleaning. Stow it somewhere memorable to refer to for troubleshooting and general operation questions.

Don’t ignore accessories

If you get a dishwasher, buy rinse aid to help dry your dishes. If you buy a smooth-top electric range, you’ll want cooktop cleaner to keep it looking new. The water filter in your fridge will need to be replaced every six to 12 months. And please, for the sake of your breathing, don’t overstuff your vacuum bags!

Visit my blog
Every Wednesday, I attack the FAQs plaguing our industry. Hard-hitting questions like, “Why is my washer smelly?” and “How do I clean stainless steel?” It’s also an easy way to reach me if you need help. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about the next Extreme Sale!

AS SEEN ON TV: Appliance tips to maximize your kitchen

July 3, 2012

Rena Sarigianopoulos of KARE and Carla Warner of Warner Stellian chat about how to help your appliances help you.

Carla Warner visited KARE 11 News@4 on Monday to share some tips for making the most of your most-used kitchen appliances.

In case you missed us, here are those tips:

Microwave

1. To get rid of that popcorn smell or other odors, squeeze a lemon into a bowl of water and boil it in the microwave it for several minutes. Allow the bowl to cool before opening the microwave door and then wipe down the interior with a soft cloth.

2. Take advantage of different power levels. Most people only cook using 100% of the microwave’s power and just nuke everything. But you can effectively use your microwave to soften and melt gently, too. To quickly soften butter, cook 1 stick for 1 minute on 10% power level.

Refrigerator

1. A small amount of condensation on the fridge or freezer is normal, especially during humid weather and summer vacation, if you see more condensation than normal, check the seal (or gasket) for any obstructions and clear them. If there aren’t any, try moistening the gasket with Vaseline by rubbing a thin layer on the seal where it meets the cabinet of the fridge. This should create a stronger, air-tight seal.

2. Brands might create the perfect space for gallon-jug storage on your refrigerator door, but consider how quickly you will use highly perishable foods (like milk) before storing them here. Why? Consider the temperature fluctuations of this region of the refrigerator. Accordingly, produce like broccoli, asparagus and apples benefit from colder temperatures located near the rear, while corn and berries — for example — benefit from the warmest spot in the refrigerator, so choose those for the front. (Alternatively, fresh herbs like basil thrive in slightly warmer-than-fridge temperatures, so I keep mine in the door!)

3. Use your crisper. Those clear drawers in your fridge aren’t just for convenience. Many models allow you adjust the humidity of your crisper drawers to suit their contents. Consult your use & care manual for specifics on your model, but in general, separate your fruits from vegetables and set humidity to high for green, leafy vegetables and low for fruits and vegetables with skins. Meats should be colder – often just above freezing – so keep them in your deli drawer, which is usually designed to stay colder.

Range

1. Keep your burner caps and drip pans clean. Maintaining a tidy cook surface isn’t just about impressing company. Dirty surfaces don’t reflect heat as well as polished surfaces, thus wasting energy and potentially your time. We sell range top cleaner made specifically for cooking surfaces that will help you keep your range or cooktop looking — and cooking — well.

2. Match pots and pans to the size of your burners
Unless you’re using an induction cooktop or range, you’re heating a lot of air while you try to heat your food. For instance, induction cooking – which only heats the cooking vessel and not the air — is 20% more efficient than electric and 70% more efficient than gas. To lessen energy loss, choose the appropriate-sized pot or pan for the size of burner you’re cooking on (i.e. don’t put a 1-qt saucepan on a ginormous “power burner”).

3. Cover your pots while boiling water
When you think about it, it makes no sense to boil water in an uncovered pot. Using a cover helps water boil faster while creating pressure and preventing evaporation. Saving lots of time and energy.

 

HOW TO: clean grill and get it ready after winter

March 29, 2012

If you haven’t noticed, along with shorts and mosquitoes, grilling season got an early start this year. Follow these tune-up tips to make sure your gas grill or charcoal grill is BBQ ready.

Clean the interior using a putty knife to scrape off burnt-on food particles inside your grill. This isn’t just aesthetic. Build-up prevents your grill from heating correctly.

To clean your grates, Weber Grill suggests putting them in a dark-colored plastic bag with a cup of ammonia into the bag. After a day in the sun, residue should easily hose off (hat tip Shelterpop).

If you have a grease drain, make sure it’s unclogged by running a coat hanger down it. Just keep your hands away from the grease bucket, because the grease will drain out fast and could burn you.

Season the grill. Use nonstick cooking spray to oil the grates, drip pans and inside of the grill. This helps keep food from sticking to the surfaces and speeds cleaning. Light the grill and let it burn empty with the lid closed for 30 minutes to burn off the preservatives.

Level the grill. If one side of your grill burns burgers while the other leaves them raw, it’s probably not level. Check both side-to-side and front-to-back to ensure even heating.

Check for leaks by inspecting connections for tightness and hoses for cracks. Another good way to scope out leaks is by brushing non-ammonia soapy water around the fitting with an old toothbrush. Turn the gas on and watch for bubbles.

 

Microwave odor? How to get smell out of microwave

March 21, 2012

You know how sometimes you microwave food and it ends up smelling like something you made last week?

No one wants broccoli vaguely reminiscent of burnt popcorn or that super greasy pizza.

But as much as you clean it, you just can’t get rid of that darn stinky odor in the microwave.

Until now.

Frigidaire passed along this odor-removing solution that requires little more than pushing buttons.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • grated lemon peel
  • several whole cloves

Combine all ingredients together in a glass measuring cup and boil for several minutes in the microwave on full power. Allow the hot mixture to sit in the microwave until cool (this is when the magic happens).

Wipe interior with a soft cloth.

Voila!

 

Dishwasher tips and troubleshooting from Angela Warner on KARE 11

March 19, 2012

Do you really know how to use your dishwasher?

Earlier this month, in-house dishwasher whisperer Angela Warner visited the KARE 11 studios to share some dishwasher DOs & DON’Ts.

Like the picture shows, people often don’t use the right amount of soap. There’s also a trick with your faucet that I swear by.

>>Watch the video

 


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