Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

Loud refrigerator? We hear ya

July 7, 2010

Image: maxabout.com

If you’ve replaced your refrigerator within the last several years, your shiny new model might be making its presence known in noisier way.

Why?

For one, foam insulation — often used to make these appliances more energy-efficient — lacks the sound-baffling capabilities of fiberglass insulation incorporated into previous energy hogs.

Here’s some other “normal” sounds to expect, along with their abnormal counterparts:

Evaporator coil

A boiling, surging or gurgling sound as the compressor starts and stops. Also, a pop as the evaporator expands and contracts after defrosting.

Evaporator fan

The sound of air being forced through the unit is normal, but a continuous ticking or even intermittent squealing is abnormal.

Defrost heater

Sizzling or hissing sound from water dropping onto the heater during defrost cycle

Compressor

Newer fridges’ compressors are much more efficient and run much faster, giving off a high-pitched hum, whine or pulse. But watch out for clicking during start up (especially if the lights dim), banging or knocking during start or stop, a ping or snap followed by the compressor stopping.

Cold control and defrost timer

A snapping or ticking sound as the refrigerator turns on and off

Plastic liner

Cracking or popping as the temperatures change

Drain pan

Running water during or after the defrost cycle

Water valve

Buzzing, clicking or running water as the icemaker fills or water is dispensed

Icemaker

Cracking of ice and cubes dropping into the bin

Condenser fan

Air being forced over the condenser is normal, but squealing from the motor is abnormal.

Condenser

You should hear a surging or gurgling sound from the flow of refrigerant when the compressor runs, but an improperly placed drain pan could cause rattling.

If the normal sounds bother you, consider a piece of rubber-backed carpet for underneath the fridge. You could even put sound absorbing materials inside the cabinet if the refrigerator sits in an enclosure.

Are stainless steel appliances an environmental no-no?

May 19, 2010

Stainless steel has become the standard finish for many when replacing kitchen appliances.

The growing popularity of commercial ranges like Viking and Wolf ranges introduced stainless steel to the kitchen.

And soon homeowners wanted to coordinate the clean, contemporary look with refrigerators, dishwashers and microwaves.

But environmental concerns wisely also influence purchasing decisions today.

The Star Tribune’s Fixit columnist, Karen Youso, posed the question of whether stainless steel appliances should worry eco-conscious consumers.

Her answer, happily, is no:

Stainless steel can be — and is — recycled. (According to the International Stainless Steel Forum, new stainless-steel products are made from about 60 percent recycled stainless.) Its alternative, enameled steel, also is recyclable, so stainless steel isn’t significantly better or worse for the environment.

But materials aren’t all that important when trying to determine how earth-friendly home appliances are. What matters most is energy efficiency, said Lise Laurin, founder of EarthShift, a Vermont company that works with corporations and institutions on sustainability.

Of course, we recycle replaced appliances for free on most purchases, so you can feel comfortable about upgrading to stainless steel. Just make them Energy Star appliances.

10 sneaky ways you’re wasting money in your kitchen

March 23, 2010

This is among posts I prewrote to be published in my absence while I took vacation time. I will respond to all comments when I return. Thank you!

You bought your kitchen appliances on sale. Bonus: they’re Energy Star, so you’ll save money in water and energy costs.

But did you ever think that the way you use your appliances can really affect your utility bills?

Here are 10 energy-wasting choices to avoid:

1. Making your dishwasher heat up cold water

Run hot tap water before you run your dishwasher it doesn’t have to heat up the water as long.

2. Setting your refrigerator and freezer too cold

Your fridge section should be set at 37 degrees to 40 degrees, and your freezer section should be set at 5 degrees. A deep freeze should be set at zero degrees.

3. Using an uncovered pot to boil water

Think of all the heat  — and time — lost without a cover on  a pot of heated water. Instead, a cover traps the energy in.

4. Selecting “Heat Dry” on your dishwasher

If you don’t wash a lot of plastic dishes, or lots of dishes in general, choose the “Air Dry” setting or simply prop your dishwasher door open after the rinse cycle.

5. Leaving foods uncovered in the refrigerator

Uncovered foods release moisture, causing the compressor to work harder. Instead, cover all liquids and foods.

6. Prewashing your dishes

Not only will it decrease the effectiveness of your dishwasher detergent, prewashing your dishes is unnecessary and wastes water. Just scrape off the big pieces of food.

7. Ignoring the gasket on your refrigerator

Close your refrigerator door over a piece of paper or dollar bill so it’s half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull it out easily, your door seals aren’t airtight.

Try moistening the gasket with a thin layer of Vaseline, which should create a better seal. If that doesn’t do the trick, you might need to replace the gasket altogether.

8. Cooking with dirty burners and drip pans

Clean burners and drip pans will reflect the heat better, cooking your food faster and saving you energy.

9. Placing small pans on bigger burners

Match pans to the size of the element. Otherwise, you’re using energy to heat a bigger burner only to let it escape around the sides of the smaller pot or pan.

10. Barely stocking your refrigerator

It seems backwards, but a full refrigerator holds temperature better than a poorly stocked refrigerator. Just don’t pack food so tight as to block the airflow.

HOW TO: clean and season a griddle

February 5, 2010

If this were my griddle, the pancakes would be bacon.

I blogged yesterday about my trip to the Roth Distributing Minneapolis Showroom’s Culinary Center.

There, I got my first taste — pardon the pun — of Wolf cooking and loved it. I especially liked the built-in griddle feature.

I don’t eat a lot of pancakes, probably because they always turn out like Oreos in a pan (dark and crispy on the outside, white and creamy on the inside). The pancakes we made on this griddle were dummy-proof.

I wish I would’ve taken my own picture of Roth’s griddle because it was so expertly seasoned. Apparently, some Wolf owners start to freak out a little when their griddle starts turning more brown than silver.

Well don’t freak out. That’s what it’s supposed to look like.

Here’s how to season the griddle:

You want to season the griddle before ever using it. Pour 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or peanut oil (not olive oil!) per 11 inches in the center. Spread the oil with a dry paper towel.

Turn the griddle on to 350 degrees and heat the oil until it begins to smoke. Then turn off the heat, wait until the griddle is cool enough to touch and wipe the excess oil off with a paper towel.

Repeat.

Now, to clean the griddle, pour sparkling water (we used Perrier — when in Rome, right?) on it while it’s hot. Excess oil and food scraps will bubble up and off.  Use a metal spatula to scrape everything into the grease collector.

Once the griddle’s clean, pour a teaspoon of vegetable oil or peanut oil on the surface and spread it with another dry paper towel to reseason it.

Photo credit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/crystalflickr/ / CC BY 2.0

Appliance geek gone wild

February 4, 2010

You’ve heard of the kid in the candy store. Well, my recent trip to Roth Distributing’s Minneapolis Showroom the other week was like the kitchen geek version of that.

Ten thousand square feet of professionally designed vignettes stocked with the latest Sub-Zero, Wolf, Asko and Best appliances.

Roth isn’t a retailer, but the regional distributor of those luxury appliance brands.

Now, we show a good amount of high-end stuff like this on our own showroom floors, but not all under one roof.

Roth’s staff knows their stuff. They’ll help you decide what you really want and then show you exactly how to get the most from it.

(p.s. I loved this round sink with built-in cutting boards and strainers. So cool.)

My favorite part, though was the Culinary Center, where Roth holds its live cooking demonstrations (which I seriously recommend) and where we cooked brunch that day.

Now, I love to cook. But my current kitchen isn’t there yet. (The adage about mechanics and their cars holds true for appliance company employees and their kitchens, I think.)

This “living kitchen” has the best of the best cooking products, from wall ovens to dual fuel ranges to built-in steamers, wok burners (or “power burners,” as they called them) and grills. And…

Wolf DF606DG (Dual fuel range, 6 burners, double griddle, my culinary fantasy)

…griddles. This 60-inch (that’s like, two standard ranges glued together) Wolf’s six gas burners flank a double griddle. It might not look big at 450 pixels wide, but I’ll give you a second to think about it at 5 feet wide.

Yeah. It’s big.

Of course, most people won’t need a 60-inch, professional range. But wouldn’t it be nice?

More on griddles later. Stand by.

Outdoor kitchen ideas: Part 2

January 18, 2010

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As Susan Serra, CKD pointed out in Outdoor kitchen ideas: Part 1, it’s easy to choose outdoor kitchen appliances like a geek in an Apple store (my words).

We Minnesotans get so excited when we get to spend time outside that doesn’t involve snow shoveling, it’s hard not to want it all when designing our three-months-out-of-the-year haven.

Be smart and think about your own entertaining and lifestyle needs when considering all the options in outdoor kitchen appliances.

Do you want a second kitchen or simply a spot to grill a burger and grab a beer while enjoying the great outdoors?

Gas grill

The workhorse of an outdoor kitchen, gas grills’ speed and convenience work best for weeknight dinners and impromptu get-togethers. If you’re looking to do more, some brands offer innovative features such as:

  • Searing zone to reach high temperatures (700 degrees!) quickly to give your meat a steakhouse-quality exterior
  • Rear infrared burner to deliver consistent, evenly distributed heat for rotisserie cooking
  • Smoker boxes to fill prepackaged hickory or mesquite chips, which give foods a distinctive, smoky flavor
  • Side burners to prepare sauces and sides like beans or vegetables or to keep food warm until it is ready to be served
  • Lighting to illuminate the cooking surface for late-night grilling

Charcoal grill/smoker

As our own grilling guru Stu Glock (also our rep for Holland Grill and the Big Green Egg) says, “You have two cars. Why not two grills?”

Charcoal grills, smokers  and/or cookers deliver flavor you can’t get in a gas grill — if you have hours to get it. Owners of the Big Green Egg rave about the unique flavor of their ribs, brisket and roasts they get in this ceramic cooker. Viking also makes a ceramic cooker, but with a stainless steel finish.

If you have the time to kick back and just grill, the extra time is definitely worth the flavor.

Warming drawers

Cut down on the running back back and forth from your main kitchen. Warming drawers keep grilled food warm (and sanitary) once prepared and work great for make-ahead dishes from your main oven.

I’d probably end up throwing some towels in mine to keep them cozy after a late-night swim. Now if I only had a pool..

Kegerator/beer tapper

Arguably as important as the grill itself is beer on-demand. Aside from the convenience, an outdoor keg fridge makes an unbeatable conversation (and party) starter. DCS, Viking and Marvel make draft beer dispensers specifically for the outdoors.

Outdoor kegerators come in built-in or freestanding. Again, if I only had a pool...

Wine chiller/beverage center

If you’re more of a wine-o than a beer gal like me, you might consider storing your bottles outside, in the proper wine chiller, of course. Look for models with precise temperature controls, racks to accommodate various bottle sizes and minimum vibration.

This Marvel Wine Cellar holds 54 bottles.

Beverage centers, though less precise in temperature control, make a viable option for combination beer/wine/soda, etc. storage.

Refrigeration

“But I already have a wine fridge!”

But your wine fridge is 55 degrees, remember? Even your beverage center isn’t designed to refrigerate food and condiments. Please don’t keep your barbecue meats in a beverage fridge!

Ice maker

If mixed drinks and soda are more your thing, maybe you’d like an ice maker. Marvel‘s and U-line‘s have UL Listed suitable for outdoor use clear ice makers that store 25-30 pounds of ice.

Patio heaters

Denial: it ain't just a river in Africa. It's an outdoor barbecue in St. Paul in October.

I might not have a pool, but living in Minnesota, you better believe I have a patio heater. Fueled by a the same kind gas tank you use for your grill, these easily extend construction season into early winter (or “fall”).

HOW TO: Clean a stove top

October 13, 2009

You probably already know you’re supposed to use special stove top cleaner for your smooth- or glass-top range or cook top to keep it looking new.

It looks like Soft Scrub (pale and creamy-textured), but it works like wax, restoring a shiny finish without streaks left from soap and water.

Most customers who come into our store stock up on this stuff because nothing else works quite like it for the day-to-day clean ups.

Like I said, you probably already knew that. But this tip usually makes customers think we’re nuts: straight-edge razor blades.

razor

The sneakiest weapon in your appliance cleaning arsenal.

Using a sharp object to clean glass might sound strange, but wait until you see it scrape off those old “burns” you got from over-boiling water. Just be careful with your fingers and keep the razor at an angle so it doesn’t scratch the top.

As for getting rid of brownish stains, my sister/salesperson, Angela Warner, swears by Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Have you used a razor blade to clean your range top? Or do you have another great cleaning move you swear by? Leave a comment!

Would you paint your appliances?

October 5, 2009

Anyone who follows Warners’ Stellian on Twitter knows that I have a slight obsession with DIY projects. So many of our customers are in the middle of their own DIY remodels and as a hopefully soon-to-be homeowner, I plan to pump a lot of sweat equity into my investment too — especially the kitchen.

While I consider myself open-minded — and certainly cheap enough — but perhaps not adventurous enough to try an idea from “This Old House”: Update an old fridge with a faux stainless steel finish.

I downloaded some before and after shots from the company that makes the paint, Thomas’ Liquid Stainless Steel:

rangeb4 rangeafter

The idea is innovative, and some people seem to really dig the idea, but all I can think of good intentions gone wrong.

Sure, $56 a can is palatable for most anyone, but the paint seems better suited for smaller projects. A white, black or bisque fridge generally carries a textured finish, which will never match the look of a contemporary stainless steel refrigerator. (Don’t know what I mean? Watch them paint a textured fridge in the promotional video.)

I’d love to see pictures if anyone has painted or knows someone who has painted appliances — with or without success.


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