Is Aluminum Cookware Bad for Your Health?

aluminum-cookwareAluminum cookware has in the past been linked with Alzheimer’s and this lead to many people throwing away their aluminum cookware for fear that they too would succumb to the disease. But is this an accurate claim?

Aluminum is used in approximately 50% of all cookware. You may be using cookware that contains aluminum and not even know it. This is because aluminum is such a good conductor of heat and is often sandwiched between two layers of another material such as stainless steel.

Read our latest article on Aluminum cookware and whether it is still considered to be bad for your health.

The Life of a Musthroom Picker – Part 2

mushroom-saladIt’s now time to check out the second part of the article provided by Nia of Cooking with Nia and Survival Wytch about her days as a mushroom picker. Click here to read Part 1.

The Picking Process

Picking mushrooms is incredibly tedious, mind numbingly boring, dirty, and with extremes of temperature to work in. Sometimes it is way too hot to work comfortably; especially when the harvest is finishing (after the 8 week cycle), the last day of the last flush or last harvest, where the temperatures are raised to be almost unbearable and other times the rooms are cooled to slow a harvest down.

Just picture this: – wielding a knife and climbing up and down ladders, to reach a platform. So here you are standing on a platform 4 meters in the air, using a winch to move up and down the platforms. To move along the face of the frames you pull yourself and your platform along by grabbing the frames supports and pulling. The whole platform is on runners hanging off the top of the frame. The winch allows you to lift your own weight and the weight of boxes of mushrooms.

On one side there are seven 4 kilo boxes on a stand connected to the platform, balancing one on top of the other and empty boxes underneath them.

Once a box is full and presented nicely with all the buttons sitting carefully in the boxes with no marks or dirt on them, the picker lifts the box turns and places the box on the floor of the platform to be taken away by floor staff that collect full boxes and return with empty boxes. The floor staff also empty and fill buckets as well.

A 20 kilo bucket is held in between the pickers legs in which to place the stalks of the mushrooms into and that is how one spends the day. Straddling a bucket, cutting stalks, reaching arms length across the mushroom beds and twisting, to place full boxes to the left side on top of each other.

This is a revolting job that is more soul destroying than being in a production line of chicken boners or apple packers, and where you are working in semi darkness from 7am to sometimes 6 in the evening. In my view, the sooner this job is automated the better.

My comments relate to the mushroom farm where I was employed and may be different at other farms. The workers are segregated so that men and women don’t work together, men and women don’t have breaks together either, they are taken at separate times.

The rooms are artificially lit but there are glimpses of daylight and of course there is the ten minute morning break and half an hour for lunch where you can sit outside and enjoy eating your lunch away from the smell of the mushroom compost, which is made of pig poo, chicken poo and straw. The smell is gut wrenching and the truck with this vile concoction arrives every Wednesday. The management calls it the money truck and its arrival brings the smell of money.

Unfortunately there isn’t much scope for learning at this mushroom farm and ear phones are banned, as one girl learnt her university lessons while working at the farm, so the management decided they would not pay for someone to better themselves so that they could leave and banned all personal players.

It is with the greatest relief and excitement that I now embark on an affiliate marketing business. I have witnessed the transformation in thinking of others who are taking this opportunity and the same vision has become my reality too.

I leave mushroom picking behind, and embark on a journey to independence and learning. I just signed up for an internet connection. Now I am working from home, I am my own boss but I am not going to stop myself learning growing and achieving and having fun working from home.

Affiliate marketing offers the flexibility and scope for any possibility that you can imagine work life can be. I am turning that imagining into reality. I am enjoying a lifestyle I once only dreamt of and this success is for everyone and anyone who wants to live their lives differently.

The Life of a Mushroom Picker -Part 1

MushroomsMost people like mushrooms with their steak, mushroom soup and entrees such as stuffed mushrooms. And as they come nicely packaged we don’t need to think too much about how they are gathered. So here is an article about the day in the life of someone who has picked mushrooms for a living.

Article courtesy of Guest Author Nia from Survival Wytch and Cooking with Nia

In a previous life I was employed as a mushroom picker. Read my account on the life of a mushroom picker and understand why I have changed direction into Affiliate Marketing and completing online Surveys.

The Life Cycle of a Mushroom

To be able to pick mushrooms you need to know all about mushrooms and how they grow. Each room at the mushroom farm has two platforms that stretch from the front of the room to the back for 100 meters. The platforms are raised off the ground on frames, with a space of 1 meter between the top of one platform and the base of the next. The frames are made of 6 platforms each with a depth of 20 centimeters and lined with a mesh to hold the compost. The compost is mixed with wheat seeds that contain a mushroom starter spore. A layer of casing peat is placed on top of the compost.

The mushroom plant or mycelium grows from those spores like a spider web across the compost and when conditions are right sends the first mushrooms or pins through the peat.

The pins are thinned to create growing space for each mushroom as they breach the surface of the peat or casing. The mushrooms grow to become buttons, then cups, then flats.

A cup is when the mushroom veil breaks away from the stalk and begins to open.

The eight week cycle is made up of flushes. And each flush is approximately 7 days duration. The first pins emerge and over the seven days the buttons are picked at a medium size until all mushrooms are removed. The beds rest and the cycle starts again.

In ideal conditions a mushroom will double its size in twenty four hours.

Depending on how heavily the first crop is thinned determines the size of the mushrooms and the size of the crop of mushrooms. If too few pins or first mushrooms are taken the temperature on the beds gets too warm due to crowding and the small flowers open, making a crop of small flats. This isn’t ideal for the growers as the flats are light and it takes a long time to fill a 4 kilo box with light product. Buttons on the other hand are full of water and very heavy.

Growing mushrooms is a technical process and the temperature, water, co2, the mixture of compost, and how they are harvested, all determine the rate at which mushrooms grow and the quality of the produce.

So the growing conditions determine whether the mushrooms are heavy or light, have good color or are stained, are large or small even shaped or crazy organic art that sometimes resembles motor car parts or animals.

Sometimes disease will ruin a whole room full of mushrooms as they are susceptible to all manner of blights spots and bubbles. There are ten trichoderma species that inhabit mushroom farms and can cause problems.

Being fungi it is competing with other yeasts and fungi to break down the compost and sometimes the competing fungi is more virulent so great they ruin a crop….to be continued

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How often do you burn potatoes?

potatoes1.JPGBy Nia Sowden – author of Cooking with Nia

I guess I’ve burnt potatoes more than any other food and more often than any one else. I have a short attention span. I’ll be in the garden or at the sewing machine or cleaning the car and hear my kids call out to me “Mom, you’ve burnt the pot again”.

I get distracted and forget that I have a pot of jam on the stove or potatoes and other vegetables cooking for the evening meal. I‘ll be the one to take the vegetable scraps out to the compost bin… and then I’ll be distracted…my gaze will fall on the ripening plums or great bunches of parsley that require harvesting. Or I will rescue a capsicum seedling from a scampering herb and I’ll have forgotten about dinner. Then I’ll hear the call, “Mom what are you burning now?!”

Someone has gone into the kitchen or been drawn there by something unpleasant. I know I’m responsible for childhood memories, the smell of burning food and burnt pots is not a pleasant one for them, but it balances the wonderful gems that I create and don’t end up burning.

So to clean burnt pots, potato peelings always worked for me. Just fill your pots with peelings and leave to soak, then gently bring to the boil and the burn comes away.

All-Clad 3-qt.  Cop-r-Chef Saute PanI have destroyed more pots than most people as well. Two pots with welded copper plates on the bottoms I heated to such temperatures that the copper came off! My father calls me a cooking beta tester, and said anyone designing a cooking product should give it to me to test. Two days with me would determine a good product. He is incredibly unfair I think. I can’t help it if things aren’t made to last and as I said I get distracted easily.

Caring for pots is something I’d like to do more often. I have always admired the pictures in home magazines with the pots hanging up above an island bench. Shiny and interesting shapes and big useful pots and fish shaped copper moulds and conical strainers, all ready to be put to work.

When they were new and I only had the four of them and they were my pride and joy. They sat to attention in the pot cupboard with their lids on shiny and happy. Then I bought great pots for stocks and sauces and spaghetti. A conical strainer or two, stainless bowls and more stainless bowls, biscuit trays and muffin pans, Madeline pans, gem irons, cup cake pans, square tins heart tins round cake tins all sizes. And then more pots and frying pans, woks and steamers. I just kept increasing the range and variety of pots and pans without thought to the storage of them.

The truth about my pots is they are stacked on top of one another – baking pans, roasters, saucepans all crammed in on top of one another and they crash and bang when I try to retrieve anything. My pots have dents in them, they are crowded into a pot cupboard and the care they get is very general, they are used and abused.

Cleaning and caring for your pots and pans

I took out my pans beginning with my oldest copper bottomed stainless lifetime guarantee saucepans and bless them they look like they’ve endured a couple of lifetimes. I checked the welds and handles and the bases for signs of copper that may have come away. When I was satisfied with the soundness of the products I cleaned them to a shiny new finish. The same way silver is cleaned in the sink, with aluminum foil hot water and bicarbonate soda. No scratching and rubbing is needed. Just dry them with a soft cloth and the shine is lovely.

I went through all of my favorite pans in the same way except baking tins of course. I then separated them into two cupboards. Now my pots and pans look like someone care’s for them.

“Mom what are you flooding now?!”…I must have left the hose on in the garden… I got distracted.

Welcome to the Only Cookware blog

all-clad-stainless-steel-cookware-setWelcome to the Only Cookware blog. Our goal is to provide a complete guide to cookware providing the consumer with a place to go that provides unbiased information on all types of cookware including stainless steel cookware, cast iron, dutch ovens, rice cookers, woks and pot racks.

We are currently working towards providing more comparison shopping options to provide our readers with the best deals available on the internet today. You can start with our Top Cookware Sets page but stay tuned as we add more pages to our site over the coming months.

We will be updating this blog regularly with cookware and cooking news, hints, tips and the latest and greatest cookware products. We will also be scouring the net for the latest cookware discount coupons and hot offers.

So stay tuned!