Best · Cleaning · Cooktops · customer service · Dishwashers · DIY · FAQ · HOW TO · Refrigerator · Remodel · Washer

7 most popular appliance blog posts of 2011

A post on cleaning the dishwasher was a top dog.

Though not the most-read posts of all time on the Warners’ Stellian Appliance blog, these next 7 posts garnered the most views of those written this year.

7. HOW TO: clean a dishwasher

With more states banning phosphates in dishwashers without consumers possibly noticing, dishwashers got white film.

But a regular maintenance cleaning is always a good idea.

6. HOW TO: clean cast iron grates

If you’re lucky enough to have cast iron grates, you’re unlucky enough to handle cleaning them. The experts at Wolf Range weighed in.

5. DIY Network ‘Rehab Addict’ Nicole Curtis talks appliances

Old house lover/rehabber Nicole Curtis invited us into her “Minnehaha House” in Minneapolis for tips on fixing up kitchens and buying the right appliances.

4. Stove drip pans cleaning tips

Is there anything worse than the grime that builds up on the burner pans on your stove top? Not only do I include a deep-cleaning method, but I offer up the secret ingredient to easily keeping those drip pans shiny on a weekly basis.

3. How long does a dishwasher last?

2. How long does a refrigerator last?

1. How long does a washer last?

No, you’re right; they don’t make ’em like they used to. (But believe me, that’s not all bad!) Unfortunately, gone are the days when you could expect your appliances to last a decade and a half. Find the new lifespans in each post above.

Cleaning · FAQ · HOW TO

HOW TO: clean cast iron grates

We read each and every Customer Satisfaction Survey returned to us by our customers. One customer’s cleaning inquiry struck me.

She couldn’t find any information on how to clean cast iron — the “rough” iron grates and burner caps on her new range. The manual only referenced porcelain-coated grates, not cast iron grates.

“I’m sure I’m not the only person who is wondering,” she wrote — and I agree with her.  Plus, I love a good challenge.

So I e-mailed the smart folks at Wolf appliances for help on cleaning cast iron grates. They sent me a knock down, drag out PDF containing their best cleaning tips, including recommendations for products they’ve tested!

From the guide:

Burner Grates

Recommended products

  • Mild detergent
  • Paste of baking soda & water (NOTE: the customer previously tried this unsuccessfully)
  • Mild abrasive cleaners
    • Soft Scrub Orange
    • Bon-Ami
    • Barkeeper’s Friend
    • Fume Free Easy-Off (spot cleaning)
    • Carbona 2-in-1 Oven Cleaner (cleaning solution can be reused once)
    • SOS pads
    • Dawn Power Dissolver
    • Krud Kutter

Recommended method

  • Remove from range top and place on a flat surface near the sink
  • Remove grates from unit and place on a flat surface near the sink to clean. DO NOT immerse in water. Towel dry.
  • How water and liquid detergent; paste of baking soda and water
  • Degreasers (Formula 409, Fantastic Orange), use sparingly. Towel dry.
  • “Multipurpose NO SCRATCH” Scotchbrite pad (blue, NOT green)
  • Mild abrasive cleaners, rinse and towel dry
  • Worst case scenarios – Spot clean with Fume-free Easy Off
  • Carbona Oven Rack Cleaner, following directions on package

 

Appliance Design · cooking · Ranges

Simmer down, now! Pay attention to burners’ BTU minimums, not just maximums

When Warners’ Stellian entered in the Builders Association of the Twin Cities Chili Cook-Off, I enthusiastically volunteered to make our entry.

We were encouraged to make more than 2 gallons, with the logic being more chili means more tasters means more votes for Warners’ Stellian. So, I made six batches. Observe:

 

Two-thirds of the chili produced, getting ready to "simmer"

 

When it came time for the massive amounts of chili to “simmer” for an hour, I lowered the controls on my (15-year-old) gas range to the flame’s lowest point before disappearing and tended to other responsibilities.

When I returned to dutifully “stir occasionally” 55 minutes later, all three pots of my chili were not simmering, but boiling. Of course chili isn’t as delicate as say, chocolate or Hollandaise sauce, but I don’t like the idea of keeping my chili at high heat for nearly an hour.

Apparently, flames on most ranges nowadays can only go so low.

Astronomically high BTU burners are trendy right now, but several brands also offer cooktops and ranges with extra-low settings for safer simmering.

 

Wolf gas cooktop

 

Wolf burners go down to 300 BTUs and absolutely will NOT scorch chocolate.

When I went to Wolf product training, a tiny Hershey’s square sat in a saucepan atop a Wolf simmer burner all afternoon, perfectly happy and melted.

 

Dacor gas cooktop

 

Dacor has burners that can go as low as 650 BTUs, but also includes a simmer plate with some models.

A simmer plate is an accessory that protects your delicate foods from the direct heat of the burner, holding it at the safest low temperature possible.

 

Thermador gas range

 

Thermador ExtraLow Simmer burners can simmer as low as 100°F at 375 BTUs.

If you’re wondering, I didn’t place in the top three, though I did win the prize for Most Colorful Chili (you are what you eat, right?). Of course, I blame my lack of victory on my non-simmering range.

Appliance Design · Design · Energy Efficiency · Sustainability

Are stainless steel appliances an environmental no-no?

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.

About Warners' Stellian · cooking · Events · grilling

Another successful Grill Expo

Another delicious day at work for me -- cedar plank-grilled salmon on a gas DCS grill

Our 4th annual BBQ Grill Expo fired up gas grills and charcoal grills at all Warners’ Stellian stores this past weekend, April 10-11.

Representatives from Weber, DCS, Vermont Castings, Holland Grill, Wolf and the Big Green Egg cooked up meats, sides and desserts (“S’moretilla,” anyone?) for hungry and curious guests.

Kind of intrigued/grossed out by the "S'moretilla" (marshmallows and Nutella grilled between two tortillas) on the Vermont Castings gas grill

Almost as quickly as the food vanished, $50 Von Hanson‘s gift certificates flew out the door for those who purchased a grill $599 and over. (And Warners’ Stellian dressed them up with some nice swag, too — see below.)

This apron takes its cue from me.

The deals are still hot (pardon all the bad puns), and I’m especially excited about grills this season, because I’ll actually be buying one myself. (If you have opinions, please share!)

Check out more pictures from the BBQ Expo, including grills and grilling fare, on Facebook and Flickr.

Stu "King of the BBQ" Glock grills chicken wings on the Big Green Egg charcoal smoker.
Budget-wise · Events

What’s you’ll see at the Warners Stellian Warehouse Sale

So, we have some pretty sweet deals on hand for this weekend’s Extreme Warehouse Sale.

While quantities last, we have three pairs of laundry that have been priced to move:


(gas dryer extra on first and third pictured pair)

And those looking for a new refrigerator have the chance to get a LG French-door refrigerator at rock-bottom prices.

But, quantities are limited, so deals can only last as long as your fellow customers allow them to.

We’re getting A LOT of calls from people with specific model numbers in mind, wanting to know what products would be included in our sale.

He was very understanding when I explained to him that we have more than 2,000 products on display for this sale.

And truly don’t know what’s down there until we see it all Saturday morning!

But with more than 2,000 products, we generally have something for everyone, or at least for the majority of the nearly 2,400 groups of customers that came out for our last warehouse sale.

Other big discounts include an Energy Star Maytag dishwasher in stainless steel for $349 and a stainless steel Fridgidaire self-clean gas range for $499, while quantities last (both pictured below).

A selection of brands that “never go on sale” will be available (again, while quantities last), including Sub-Zero, Wolf, Viking, Liebherr and Electrolux. Customers can save up to 80% on professional-style built-in models. Jenn-Air wall ovens, for example, will start at $599 and you can save $1,000 off Electrolux French-door ice & water refrigerators.

We’ll have some of my personal favorite, steam laundry, at the sale for $1499 for a washer/dryer pair.

Maybe your kitchen and laundry room is all set, but you’ve got your eye on a grill or wine refrigerator. We’ll have those, along with Miele vacuums starting at $329.

Make sure to study my tips on HOW TO: Shop the Warners’ Stellian Warehouse Sale like a pro.

Appliance Design · cooking

HOW TO: clean and season a griddle

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: