Choosing a Microwave – Which Style Suits You Best

A microwave is no doubt one of the most common kitchen appliances nowadays. For a lot of people, it is hard to image their life without it: it helps people cook dishes without oil or re-heat food very quickly thanks to advanced technology. There are three main styles of microwave ovens. The most popular one is portable and can be placed on the counter; you can look for top rated best countertop microwave to get one with ease. The other two are less common but convenient in their own ways: built-in and over-the-range styles. Read on to know more about these three styles to find out which one suits your requirements the most.

1. Countertop Microwave (or Portable Counter Microwave)

Let’s start with the most popular and also most affordable kind of microwave. It can be placed on any free, open surface in the kitchen. In terms of capacity and power, it ranges from 0.5 to over 2 cubic ft and from 600 to 1300 watts, respectively.
 
Various benefits of a countertop microwave include:
  • Portability: It is easy to move from one place to another in the kitchen. This is a distinct difference from the two other types.
  • Affordability: compared to other types, countertop microwaves are less expensive (though, of course, it depends on the features offers and convection cooking function can add to the cost).
  • Versatility: this type of microwave offers the widest variety in terms of capacity and power ranges. Plus, it comes with so many extra features and functions to choose from. You can also find various product sizes to fit your requirements.
  • Ease of use: no installation is required. You just need to put it near a compatible power source and plug it in to use.
  • Replacement is easy: say, you want to replace your microwave after using it for 4-5 years. Since it is not a built-in model and can be moved easily, you can just put it away and replace it a new model without any trouble, effort or additional cost. 
Of course, a countertop microwave takes up some space, which can be a problem for a very small kitchen. 
 

2. Over-The-Range Microwave

This type of microwave is installed above your range or cooktop to save countertop space. It is considered the most stylish type as it is combined with a range hood/venting system that has a lighting fixture.  Many people favor the appliance’s design and its sleek, clean appearance. Plus, the built-in light can shine on the cooking surface and brighten the place. On the other hand, there are lots of considerations for such an appliance:
  • Planning and installation is required: take note that installation must be done in accordance with recommended safety guidelines. You can usually find them in the manual instructions. For this type, you should decide a suitable location with an electrical plug-in and where you can install venting (if you opt for this). Depending on the model you choose, there are cases when only simple hook-up is required; however, people generally ask for professional help with the installation.
  • Higher cost than countertop microwaves: they cost lightly more.
  • Less versatility: you can find different capacities for over-the-range microwave but the range tends to be more limited than that of countertop ones. A mid-size one is around 0.8 to 1.4 cubic feet; a large one is over 2.0 cubic feet. The appliance’s capacity is generally over 800 watts.
  • Ease of access is difficult for short people. 
  • Replacement is not easy

3. Built-in Microwave

A built-in microwave offers convenience and saves space in the kitchen as it can be installed into a wall or cabinet. Compared to the first two types, it is less common due to large upfront cost and lots of planning involved. There are also limited capacity range and features to select. Finding appropriate replacement can also be a problem.
 
Now that you have a basic understanding of these three styles, how can you decide on a suitable style for you?
 
First of all, you should consider the kitchen space. In case you have lots of counter space, a countertop microwave that offers easy access and versatile placement is the most economical choice. For limited space, you can take the other types into account
 
Secondly, think about the cost. Built-in and over-the-range models require installation (especially for the built-in type), which may add a considerable amount to the overall cost.
 
Thirdly, consider if finish and styling are important to you. Do you need a microwave that can blends well with the kitchen’s overlook and design?

Using Solar Energy for Food Drying

Together with the development of technologies, there are more and more modern appliances are invented to assist us in the household work, especially in the kitchen. In the past, when people want to make dry fruits, there are quite a bunch of jobs to do. Yet the task is not always successful. However, nowadays, with just simple steps and the help of a food dehydrator, fruit drying is not a difficult task any more. The case is the same for other food like meat or fish. A food dehydrator will remove the moisture from the food to a suitable content and help to keep the food preserved. You can check our article of best food dehydrator 2016 here to take a look at the most effective and economical options of this device out there in the market.

1. How a Food Dehydrator Works

To remove the water content of any type of food, a food dehydrator will use heat and an air flow. Normally, our food has a very high content of water. For example: many types of fruits and vegetables have from 80 % to 95 % water inside while meats and fish may contain up to 75 %. This abundance of water is a very convenient condition for bacteria to grow and spoil the food. So by removing water, we remove the possibility of bacteria destroying our food.

Obviously, with water taken out, the food will lose weight dramatically. The size is also reduced remarkably. This way, food can be stored and transported much more easily. Further, removing moisture from food dramatically reduces the weight of the food.

As many other devices requiring heat, a food dehydrator needs an energy source. The source can be solar, electric or from oil.For small dehydration of food at home, you can use the domestic appliance serving this purpose. Usually, it runs on electricity.

A domestic food dehydrator are made from a fan and air vents (which allow air circulation), a heating element to create the heat and a food tray to put food on. Once the food dehydrator runs, all of these parts work together to get the water out of the food. Then the moisture will turn into air and be blown off the appliance. This process is repeatedly done until the food get water content of lower than 20 %, or even less.

Fruits and vegetables will start to be dehydrated at the temperature of 54 degree Celsius (130 degree Fahrenheit). However, meats require a higher temperature be to dehydrated, normally around 68 degree Celsius (or 155 degree Fahrenheit).

A good food dehydrator is one that can guarantee constant heat and adequacy of air flow. If the temperature is too high or unstable, the food can be too hard outside and moist inside. It is easy to be spoilt then.

A domestic food dehydrator is used to drying fruits

2. Using Solar Energy in Dehydrating Food

One interesting thing is that solar energy has been used to dehydrate food for several thousands of years. You can guess how our ancestors use it. They simply put the food under the sunshine to dry it. And that way is still popular now, especially in the countryside.
 
Yet with modern food dehydrator systems, solar energy can be used in a new way. Compared to electric food dehydrators, it is a better way to dehydrate food: the temperature is higher, the airflow and heat can be controlled better and the food can be protected better.

In a system of food dehydrator by solar energy, there is a translucent glazing which will lead the sunlight to a closed chamber. In this chamber, the sunlight will be converted into heat. Together with this conversion is a natural air flow created when the hot air rises above normal air. This type of system is called the direct solar dehydrators.

Solar food dehydration is possible in many places in the world. Frequently, if you have enough sunshine to grow a garden of vegetable, then you also have enough solar energy to dehydrate the food in that garden.

Some solar food dehydrators are not equipped with a translucent glazing. They have a solar collector separately to collect sunlight. They are called indirect solar dehydrators.

A diagram of a solar food dehydrating system

Solar food dehydrators are considered as feasible tools in the effort of creating food security and the sustainability of agriculture, especially in developing countries.

Some notes you need to know when processing chicken

Chicken is one of the traditional delicious dishes of culinary culture of the world, it is very easy to prepare chicken, but can’t be arbitrary. Although many women have high cooking class but it is uncertain to prove that they understand how to process chicken to be tasty and beautiful, so are the women who are not good at cooking, especially when they must process chicken on important occasions such as the festivals, the chickens must be iridescent yellow entirely and beautifully, but can be shaped well. Here are some tips to process chicken that we would like to share with you.

1. Choosing to buy chickens

First, to cook the delicious chicken dishes, you need to know how to choose a good chicken. Therefore you should consult choosing to buy chickens to be able to buy delicious food to help the dish to be processed more attractively.

The younger chicken is, the softer chicken meat is. And the chicken is getting older; it means that its meat would be bolder.

2. Chicken preservation

Fresh chicken after buying should be only placed in a maximum of 2 days in the cooler of refrigerator. If you do not intend to eat within 2 days you should leave the packaging and put right the chicken into the freezer; when eating let’s take it out to defrost and clean. This way helps you to prevent bacteria from entering the chicken.

Marinated chicken if stored in the cooler of refrigerator can be kept in 3 days.

3. Defrost the chicken

The best way to defrost the chicken is putting them in a baking tray or a large bowl which placed in the cooler of refrigerator. In this way, you are not afraid of the water flowing from the chicken into the refrigerator that makes other foods in the refrigerator susceptible to infections.

If you want to defrost chicken fast, you keep entirely the chicken in the package and drop it into a large bowl of water.

4. Pre-processing

Do not let raw chicken near the foods you will devour such as fruits, vegetables…

Wash the hands, cutting boards, knives and all utensils you used for pre-processing raw chicken before using them in any other way.

The best way to cut the chicken is using dedicated chicken cutting scissors, the meat and bone of the chicken will not be splashed around, help you to save cleaning time.

The chicken breast part (removed the bone) is usually quite hard and has uneven thickness; so before processing you should apply the oil on each piece of meat and then sandwich them between 2 layers of food covering membrane, then use the meat hammer to smash into the thickest part of the meat, both beat and spread until the meat has the even thickness, then you should do the next steps as marinating and processing.

5. Marinate the chicken

You must use reasonably the spices when marinating. When processing dishes from chicken, the important and needed spices are lemongrass and some young lemon leaves.

6. Boil the chicken to be yellow, delicious, and beautiful

Start boiling the chicken:

– Do not pour hot or boiling water into the chicken immediately. Many people have the habit of making the water really boils then put the chicken into pot, but doing that would cause peeling the skin of chicken, look so bad, so you had better get the cool water to pour flooding the chicken and then start to boil to make the chicken prettier.

– Depending on the chicken is small or big, fat or thin, young or old, the time to boil will be relatively different. However, averagely fast boiling takes you about 30 minutes.

– In the period of chicken boiling, it is best to turn the low heat, if the water boils so much, the chicken will be cooked fast but not soft, sweet and when the fire is too large, it will easily make the meat part of chicken thigh shrinks so bad, this is the taboo for boiled chickens to worship as required about good forms. When you see the water has boiled for 5 minutes you should turn down the flame and boil in additional 15 minutes, so the chicken can be cooked, yellow entirely and iridescent, you can use a small toothpick to pierce the chicken thighs, if you do not see the red water outflows that is cooked chicken. When turn off the stove, you should remain the shield onto the pot in about 20 minutes.

You see, with chicken processing tips to be yellow, delicious and beautiful, it is not too difficult right, now you have more tips for good cooking, be quick and try executing and decorating the plate of chicken very nice. Wish you success! Also remember that if a person is dieting to lose weight, you should remove all the skin when this eating helps you to lose by 50% of calories intake.

Meat grinder and necessary suggestions for choosing

In fact, all the housewives want the meals to become plentiful and delicious. The manual food processing from grinded meat like sausages, hamburgers or foodstuff is extremely natural for housewives. In such cases, using the meat grinder on the market with a variety of forms such as the meat grinder by hand, versatile meat grinder or the electric meat grinder basing will turn the cooking of the housewives easier as well as ensure the food safety for the members of the family.

However, now on the market there are a lot of different kinds of meat grinders with different uses which make the choice become more difficult.

  • Manual Meat Grinder: This type of machine matches families who have a little need of meat grinding or infrequent users.

  • Versatile Meat Grinder: This machine comes with the function of grinding other foods such as fruits, vegetables. This grinding machine uses inside grinding engine and its operation bases on electrical power.

  • Dedicated Electric Meat Grinder: It can be used to grind a large amount of meat and for those who have the need to use regularly. It has high capacity and uses a fine motor.

How to choose a good meat grinder to ensure the safety and nutrition? Here are a few useful hints for you to choose.

1. Pay attention to the capacity of the machine

The higher the capacity of the machine is, the more the food is pureed. It is the machine power that directly influences on the quality of the ground meat. Best suggestion for you is to use the machine with an output of 200W or more despite its high cost.

2. Base on your using demand

You should depend on your using intend to select a suitable grinder. For example, you want to grind meat, fish, vegetable or spice, you should choose a family meat grinder because of its compact and easy use. If you want to make sausage, you should select the type of machine that concludes the function of making the sausage.

3. Concentrate on material and design of the meat grinder

The meat grinder includes the following parts: lid, sole and bowl container with rotating blades which are usually the dual blade. When choosing a blender, you should pay attention to choose the machine which has a stable sole. This will ensure that the machine is not inclined or dropped during operation. For the bowl container, you can choose the type made of high quality plastic or glass to ensure the safety of health as well as prevent the breakage during operation. The blades of blenders are an important part of the machine because they decide to 30% cost of the machine. Therefore, when choosing a blender, you should note to choose a machine with stainless blades as well as the abrasion resistance is high.

You should also pay attention to whether the equipment and accessories are easy to use and removable or not. When using, you must mixing ingredients or need cleaning the machine after that, therefore, the machine with a simple design will be better than a machine with a complex frame.

Besides, when buying the machine, you should pay attention to the space in the kitchen to determine whether the size, weight and capacity of the machine are suitable for the numbers of people in your family or not that avoids wasting money on the unlike standard products.

4. Find the information of trademarks and origin of the machine

Listening and learning ideas from relatives, friends or the feedbacks from customers on social networking sites and forums on the advantages and disadvantages of various types of meat grinders which belong to different firms are the important points you need to refer. Basing on these feedbacks, you can select a good machine to use. You should also choose the type of machine from the big and reputable trademarks with good quality and the warranty which will help you feel more secure during the use.

In addition, if you want the meat grinder to be reliable and safe during the use, you should pay attention to the following tips

  • Cut the palm-sized pieces of meat before grinding to ensure that the grinding will be easy and you can save the time of waiting the meat pureed.

  • When grinding meat, you should only grind approximately 200-300 grams of meat so that the grinding becomes lighter and faster.

  • After using, you should let the machine be cool for about 30 minutes, then disassemble the parts and wash to remove the residual substances of meat. Also, the blades should be renewed once a year to ensure that the operation of the machine is efficient.

  • Do not use the blender to grind dry grains or fruits without allowing instructions.

Let to refer the above suggestions to select the best products for your family.

Handy buying guide for induction cookware

Are you interested in induction cooking? This advanced cooking method has many advantages compared to traditional cooking, for example in terms of safety and efficiency. If you want to try it at home, you will definitely need the right induction cookware. Going through the induction cookware list and buying factors to consider can be challenging so let’s take a look at the following handy guide first:

Why should you choose induction cooking?

There are various benefits provided with induction cooking. Firstly, you can adjust the heat with precision in an instant. Secondly, there is no worry about wasted heat which can cause the kitchen to get hot; in fact energy efficiency is a huge draw in switching to induction cooking. Thirdly, cooking speed is really fast which helps you save time in the kitchen. Moreover, induction is safe as no gas or flame is require; you can even put your hand on the cooking surface and still feel cool. Last but not least, you will enjoy ease of cleaning.
 

Can’t I use the available cookware instead?

Having an induction cooktop means that you need compatible cookware to go with it. The pan you use, for example, must have a ferrous base. Basically, if you have magnetic cookware, you don’t necessarily need to buy a new set and save quite a lot of money instead. Otherwise, you will need to buy new pots and pans.
 
It is recommended that you invest in good-quality induction cookware. While these items can be costly, they outlast cheaper ones and you do not have to be worry about replacing them any time soon.
In choosing induction cookware, you should pay special attention to the material because it will affects many other factor like heating efficiency, weight, durability and ease of cleaning.
 
Of all the magnetic materials used for induction cookware, stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel are the most popular.
  • Stainless steel
This strong and non-corrosive material is the crown favorite. Depending on the price, you may get stainless-steel cookware with or without core.
 
Cheap items have no core at all. Because this material is not the optimal choice for heat conductor, it is often combined with aluminum and copper cores in a multi-layered base. The best-quality cookware will have stainless steel on both the inside and outside layer to provide event heat for cooking. High quality stainless steel should not contain too much nickel content.
  • Cast iron
Compared to stainless steel, cast iron is more expensive because it can provide very even heat transfer even at low heat setting. Cookware made of cast iron is very durable with proper maintenance. The downsize lies in its thickness and heavy weight: it takes longer than other materials to heat up or cool down.
 
You can also see many types of cookware made of enameled cast iron in the market. The enamel coating aims to prevent rust and improve aesthetics with different color choice. You need to go easy with these items, though, because they can subject to damage easily, especially under very high temperature.
  • Carbon steel
This material is lighter than iron steel but somewhat heavier than stainless steel. It can provide many similar benefit of cast iron steel.
 
Besides these materials, you can also find induction cookware made of nonstick aluminum and copper too.
 

Some tips in shopping for induction cookware:

  • Always look for cookware indicated as “induction ready” in the product description. Bring along a magnet if you can and check if it is attracted to the bottom of the cookware.
  • Not all stainless steel cookware can work on the induction stovetop. The pan you choose is probably very cheap and has no core at all or too much nickel content. To ensure that your cookware can conduct heat well, choose one with a multi-layered base of stainless steel and other metals like aluminum and copper.
  • The bottom should be flat to allow even distribution of heat and prevent noise.
  • Quality should be the key focus. Choose high-quality clad cookware made of good materials over cheap ones so that they can really save energy and last for a long time.
  • Do not choose cookware with heavy lid because they can fall off due to intense vibration during cooking.

Have you known when you steep the meat

Types of meat are the necessary foods and essential nutrition resource for us to make the tasty and attractive dishes for all members in your family. Except the boiled meat or steamed meat dishes, most of food processing ways like: stir-fry dish, stew, baked or sautéed dish… have to pass through steeping in seasoning step at the preliminary treatment period before cooking. Hence, how to marinate spices to make the meat delectable, flavor and create the bold taste of the dishes? How to help the meat to absorb the spices fast and reduce the time of processing? This article will share with you some recipes to steep the meat. You can also learn more about ceramic cookware list to find one suitable for meat steeping.

What do you need to pay attention when marinating the meat?

1. The Necessary Time to Steep the Meat

You can steep and keep the marinated meat in the time from some hours to some days, based on the kind of meat and preserving temperature:

  • According to the kind of meat: For marinated pork, if you keep it in the cooler compartment of your fridge, it can be stored for 3 days, but for beef, it can be only kept for 5 days.
  • According to the temperature: At lower temperatures, the meat will take longer time to absorb the seasoning than at usual temperature or higher temperature.

If you want to arrest the onslaught and reproduction of harmful bacteria, but do not process the food right then, after steeping the meat, you must store it in the fridge.

You also ought not to marinade the meat for too long time, because the acid in the meat water will damage the protein structure in the meat, make it flaccid, and debunk the taste of the meat when processing the dishes.

2. The Utensils Help to Steep the Meat More Deliciously

There are many people who have thought wrongly that they can use any tools which are made from any material to steep the meat. It does not completely like that. Let’s use the utensils made from ceramic, plastic, ceramic, or glass to steep the meat to protect your health as well as the flavor of the meat.

Please do not use metal items such as aluminum, stainless steel, or even copper pots or bowls to steep the meat since the acid in acid in meat marinated water reacting with the natures in metal will affect the flavor and quality of the meat, especially if you put the marinated meat in a long time, you shouldn’t do that.

3. How to Use the Seasoning Reasonably When Marinating Each of Meats

For the types of meat having the fishy odor (such as: duck or wild meat): You have to plus cinnamon, lemon grass, or ginger to delete the unpleasant fishy smell of the meat.

For the types of meat need to soften to be nearly cooked, you can add some sherry, wine, or vinegar; it will have impact on making the meat soft very effectively.
For the barbecue dishes, the indispensable seasonings are clove, cinnamon, lemon grass, vanilla and five spice powder.
 
For the steeped meat to cook the stew, soup, or curry, please not use the fish sauce to steep because it will make the dishes sour and lose the delectable taste.
When steeping the meat to cook the dishes, the important seasonings to flavor the meat are: ground dried onion, pepper, or garlic.

4. Should not Steep Types of Meats Jointly

Although when steeping together types of meats, it will help you to save the time, effort and seasonings, but it gets types of meats lose the deliciousness as each type of meat has a certain structure. The time to process and the suitability with some seasonings are different from each other. So when you steep jointly like that, the bacteria from one type of meats will be “infectious” to others, it is very unsafe in cooking. E.g. when you steep the pork and beef together, the bacteria in the pork will infect to the beef and backwards. Meanwhile for the beef, you just need to make it nearly cooked, the pork have to be cooked carefully because the bacteria in pork when making it nearly cooked will not be “rejected”, that is very harmful.

Also, when steeping together like that, the taste of the meats will be mixed so loss the characteristically formerly deliciousness of the meat.

5. The Method to Steep the Meat to Quickly Absorb the Seasonings and be Soft and Tasty

In order to make the meat quickly absorb the seasonings: When you steep, next to the necessary seasonings, you should plus 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, sherry, wine, or rice vinegar. We make sure that just after 30 minutes, the meat will be soaked up the seasonings fully and flavor the attractive aroma.

If you want to soften the meat fast, during steeping, you can plus the sherry, some drops of lemon juice or pineapple juice. This way is very good when you need to steep types of tough meats because of aging or need to soften before cooking the near-cooked dishes, sautéed, and steak.
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