New Toys for Christmas

Posted in Cooking, Gadgets & Gizmos, Home Decor

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?? We did!!

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It was a great Christmas, I do have to say. All around fantastic. I spent 5 days in Toronto in early December to have an early Christmas with my mom and family, and had a quiet, if snowy, Christmas at home with Ianiv and my family here. Ianiv and I, without knowing it, each got each other a fun ‘big’ gadget for Christmas. Nothing camera related this time around (shocking, isn’t it?).

I got Ianiv the Cuisinart Griddler and Ianiv got me the Dyson Handheld Vacuum Cleaner.

My intention was to buy an upgraded version of the George Foreman Grill for Ianiv – something with grill plates that could be removed to clean or go in the dishwasher. We hated that our old model couldn’t do that. However, when shopping around I fell in love with the Cuisinart model. It came with 2 grill panels (grooved and flat) and could be used as a press or could open and lie flat for pancakes or something of that nature. It works with far better results than our previous indoor grill, and we have used it quite a lot already.

The little Dyson handheld was on my list for this year after I stumbled across it on their website. Earlier in the year we replaced our vacuum with the Dyson Canister vacuum. It’s lighter, quieter, easier to maneuver on the stairs, and gets up a really incredible amount of dirt and dust. Far more than anything we were getting up before. I love it, but even with its light size shouldn’t really be carrying it up and down the stairs with my injuries.

So, in steps the new handheld. If there’s some cat hair or something really bugging me on another floor of the house, I can grab the little handheld and clean it up. It has the same power as the canister vacuum, but is easier to use. Primarily I wanted it because it promises 5 minutes of full power work. Our previous handheld did about 30 seconds of “sort of” cleaning. Not picking up everything, but kind of helping. Drove me nuts.

So, those are our new gadgets. What did you get??

elBulli Cooking Guides

Posted in Books, Cooking

elBulli is a restaurant owned and operated by world-renowned chef Ferran Adria. Over the years he has put together a series of amazing cooking guides that are, to date, some of the most expensive cooking reference books out there.

  1. El Bulli 1983-1993 – insight into the avant garde movement that defines the approach of Ferran Adria, Juli Soler and Albert Adria
  2. El Bulli 1994-1997 – the crucial years for elBulli when many innovative dishes were created. More practical for other chefs.
  3. El Bulli: 1998-2002 – "filled with full color photographs, presents not only El Bulli’s unparalleled recipes, but also an analysis of their development, philosophy, and technique."
  4. El Bulli 2003-2004 (pre-order only, release on Nov 21, 2006)
  5. Bulli 2005, El – Libro + CD Multimedia – devoted to experimentation, creativity and simplicity. English forthcoming.

Most people read these books as Coffee Table books. To learn about cooking or appreciate its art. Amazing photography is included in each book.

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Cooking Class

Posted in Around Vancouver, Cooking

Right now I’m taking a cooking class with my friend Eugene. We’re taking a basics Italian course from the local college night class system.

The course is 8 weeks long, every Wednesday night. We have had two classes so far. The first night we made a basic tomato pasta sauce (kinda blah) and the second, we made fresh pasta (fun), a basic sauce, and a tomato bread salad.

The class is very basic, so we just whip through the stuff. The instructor is a bit of a laugh. Not sure he could actually get a job as a real chef. Those who can’t do, teach? He seems really… cheap. I dunno. Like he’s proud of doing things with crappy knives and boring ingredients.

I understand that this is a basic class. To learn the basics. But there is learning the basics well, and what we have, which is a bit below that. The recipes are… too simple in a not good way. In a way that kind of defeats the purpose. The chef is a bit annoying. Keeps trying to step in and do things for you when you don’t ask for it.

And yet, it’s fun. I have learned a few things and it gets me out of the house and feeds me once a week. Plus, it’s fun to laugh at the whole thing.

After this class, we’re taking a 2 week Christmas Candy cooking course. Now that sounds yummy!

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Making cupcakes

Posted in Cooking, Food

These were most definitely NOT low fat. Never used so much butter in my life.

Leora and I baked them together and used my new icing kit to decorate them.

Chocolate brownie cupcakes (think more brownie than cupcake) topped with a traditional white icing flavoured with peppermint (we tinted some brown with chocolate syrup as well).

Yum. Check out the rest of the set to see our lovely attempt at decorating cupcakes.

What I got for Christmas

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Coffee, Cooking, Food, Gadgets & Gizmos

DSCN0882One of the gifts Arieanna gave me this Christmas was a couple of Bodum Assam double-wall glasses. These 7 ounce glasses have a double wall of glass which helps keep your hot drinks hot and cold ones cold. The pictures I took are really bad and they don’t make justice to how nice the glasses look, the coffee seems to be floating, a nice effect. Another benefit of the double wall is that the outside of the glass wont sweat so it wont leave any marks on the table.

I don’t have any actual data, but I do think that the coffee stayed hot longer than when using our regular cups. The outer wall didn’t get hot, just a little warm, so it was easy to hold it comfortably. Thanks Arieanna!

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No marsh mallow in my marshmallow

Posted in Cooking, Food, Science

Did you know there was a marsh mallow? And that there is no longer any marsh mallow in your marshmallows? Well, now you do.

We still call them marshmallows, but there’s no marsh mallow in them anymore. Candy made with honey and thickened with sap from the root of the marsh mallow (Athea officinalis) plant was savored in ancient Egypt. Marsh mallow, the plant, grows to be two to four feet tall. It has gray-green leaves and pink flowers. Not surprisingly, it grows in marshes and is related to other “mallow” plants, such as the rose mallow, the apricot mallow, and the common mallow.

Up until the mid-1800s, marshmallow candy made in the United States contained marsh mallow sap as a thickener. Today’s recipes use gelatin (made from animal bones and hides) instead of the sap. Mostly, though, marshmallows are made of corn syrup or sugar. Gum arabic (made from acacia trees) serves as a “foam stabilizer.” Flavoring is also added.

Via Boing Boing

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Egg McMuffin machine

Posted in Cooking, Gadgets & Gizmos

People are crazy. Someone out there decided to make a McMuffin Egg & Muffin toaster. Part of me is impressed, but the more logical me is going “ew” and “why?”

I have to admit that when I worked at McDonald’s back in highschool, I loved working breakfasts. People were way more fun in the morning and the food smelled a heck of a lot better. I loved when the manager would ‘accidently’ break a muffin for us all to munch on. But, every morning I would arrive at 5am and say “I’llBlog Ads by Chitika have a muffin for breakfast” and instead would break down for the sausage & egg McMuffin. Smothered with ketchup. Every time. But I have, to my credit, not had one in years.

So, back to the post at hand. Back to Basic has made a toaster that also poaches your eggs and heats your precooked sausage or bacon or whatnot.

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It’s a pretty machine and is actually well thought out. The eggs are steamed, so it makes a very nice, consistent poached egg. All will finish at the same time, so it’s all nice and warm. Perfect for the McMuffin. The price tag is not bad – $49.99

You can read more from their promo site and the Press Release; here is an excerpt:

Modern American mornings can now start with the ease and convenience of the popular egg and muffin sandwich at home and at a fraction of the cost charged by drive-thru establishments…

The Egg & Muffin Toaster delivers in about four minutes a convenient and tasty morning meal that’s both familiar and well liked. In addition to being a full-functioning toaster, the Egg & Muffin Toaster can simultaneously: 1) toast the bread, 2) cook an egg (poached or steam-scrambled), and 3) warm a pre-cooked slice of ham or sausage…or any combination of these three functions, in addition to boiling up to four eggs.

Via Popgadget

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