Posted in Freedom Friday

Appliances

This is one of those nonsense Freedom Friday posts I’m writing without forethought as to where it will go. It’s about appliances. Specifically, it’s about my family’s usage of our appliances and the lessons I’ve learned. Take a chair, this might prove either beneficial or a real snorer.

Microwave
Microwave

First thing’s first, I’m not going to name any brand names in this piece because a) I don’t want any trouble from appliance manufacturers hunting me down or my firstborn in an effort to convince me to retract my statements, and b) I don’t want to make it seem as if I’m promoting a product because I think it’s the next best thing to lemon and avocado.

Having said that, I’ll ask the question that’s been on my mind for a while. Has anyone had as much luck with appliances as my family and I have? And when I’m asking this, mind you, I’m asking it with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.

In the past ten years, my family has burned through three dishwashers, three food processors, two microwaves, a stove, a fridge, a water heater, a gas furnace, a couple of TVs and blenders, and a car—but that’s not really an appliance. I added it in anyway for completeness. The stove and fridge were lonely without a ride.

Dishwasher
Dishwasher

Let’s start with the dishwashers, since I figure it’s the one thing on the list that keeps us busy washing dishes after it says it’d completed its cycle. I’ll totally skip dishwasher #1 and simply go for the jugular—dishwasher #2. After a year, or you can read it as saying after the warranty ran out, it began making all sorts of churning noises. The noises were awful. They sounded like the machine had eaten a plate and swallowed it whole. By the end of its cycle, the dishes were clean and we thought nothing of it until a day later when my wife loaded the thing and pressed the Normal button. She waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. “Jaaack!” Came the call. I knew the tone. Something needed fixing. Well, the Normal setting didn’t work anymore. My solution? Press the Light button. That lasted for a year until I replaced the machine with one of those fancy-shmancy quiet models. Dishwasher #3. It was good for a while and it, too, then made that grinding noise. This time, I took the thing apart and found the machine had an actual grinder to grind food. Go figure. It broke. Well, if all it did was grind food, I didn’t think it important enough to buy a new model. I just removed the grinder. End of noise. But lately it’s been acting up, not wanting to wash dishes to washing them and leaving gunk on them. Gunk is my definition of crap that sticks to the plate and doesn’t let go. I’ll stop there.

Our food processors haven’t fared any better. One of them had a cup assembly we used to make smoothies. The teeth under the lid of the mixer had worn down and we now have a cabinet filled with useless plastic cups no one uses because the motor can’t latch on to the lid. Food processor #2’s motor burned out. Something about a leaky smoothy that short-circuited the electronics inside the motor’s casing—or something like that. Suffice it to say it’s DOA.

Then we had the water heater debacle that took place a few years ago. It was old, the water was sometimes brown and it took at least five minutes before any one of us could run a bath. Switching it for a new one was a grand process in and of itself. We replaced it, but it was the wrong model. They came back a week later and switched it with a newer one. Guess what. Yep, the wrong one again. Third time out, the heating company got it right. One thing though; a month later, the company not only billed us for the new unit, but they were so kind as to continue billing us for the old one as well. It took a few months of calls and haggling to get it right.

Our fridge is now leaking.

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Do you have a story to tell about an appliance running afoul in the middle of the night?

Posted in Food Favorites, Freedom Friday

Food Tips

I enjoy food as much as the next guy. In fact, I would venture to say, I eat for the shear pleasure. I never used to be this way. Most of my meals years ago had trouble staying in my mouth more than a few seconds before they hit the bottom of my stomach. I ate fast. I played hard. And lived for no tomorrow. Of course, I don’t do that anymore, and I’m happier and healthier for it.

A full pantry (Photo Credit: theperfectpantry.com)
A full pantry (Photo Credit: theperfectpantry.com)

I thought for Freedom Friday you’d appreciate a few tricks I have up my sleeve whenever I’m in the kitchen cooking a meal. I’ve always wanted to write these tips in a notebook, but how can that happen if I’m either in the kitchen cooking for the family or at my laptop writing other stuff? And don’t worry, although I write about zombies it doesn’t mean I am one. I’ll leave the undead to worry about eating brains.

Let me start by saying every kitchen needs a few basic ingredients. Salt, pepper, and olive oil make it almost into every meal. That’s why our family buys those ingredients in bulk. If you have a cold room or pantry, you can store the basics in there for a long time before you need to stock the shelves again. I suppose you can do the same thing with toilet paper, but I’d recommend not eating toilet paper.

Here’s something I’ve learned when I went on a one-year viewing binge of Food Network Canada. Chances are I picked up a thing or two here and there as I watched, however, one of the coolest tips I got from them has to do with knowing when the oil in the pan is hot enough for frying. All you do is wet your finger with water and allow a drop to fall to the pan. If the water snaps in the pan, then you know it’s perfect for frying.

Which reminds me, if you’re going to try this trick, make sure you stand well back from the pan. You don’t want to make your meal to-go, as in going to the hospital ‘cause your eye was an inch away from the pan.

How to hold a chef's knife (Photo Credit: stellaculinary.com)
How to hold a chef’s knife (Photo Credit: stellaculinary.com)

You’d think holding a knife is easy. Not at Casa Flacco. When I’m cutting vegetables, I grasp the knife by the handle, curling my index finger to the side of the blade while my thumb leans on the other side, half on the blade and half of the handle. Not only is it safe, but you have better control of the cutting. With the other hand, I curl my fingers so as my fingernails fall at a ninety-degree angle on the vegetable. Then, I cut with a rhythm, rocking the knife on its tip as I bring the blade down on the vegetable. I learned this technique from one of these fancy-shmancy chefs in order to prevent a premature amputation of a digit.

The proper cut (Photo Credit: besthomechef.com.au)
The proper cut (Photo Credit: besthomechef.com.au)

Not so much a tip as it is a recommendation, but enjoying your food ranks up there with turning off the stove when you’re done with it. It involves not rushing through your meal so you can spend countless of senseless hours in front of a screen. I’ve done it many times and it doesn’t do justice to the digestive tract. Eating your food at a leisurely pace invokes a relaxed atmosphere conducive to pleasure. The food settles better, too. I know, it’s hard to do in this day and age where we’re rushing everywhere. But it beats ravaging a side of steer and washing it down with a gallon of gin.

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Do you have any food tips you’d like to share? Are you a fast eater?