How to Choose a Blender

oster-blenderWhen I purchased my blender almost three years ago, I had no idea what to look for or which was the best. I just bought a brand I knew and one that looked reasonably priced.

Little did I know that there is more to buying a blender than I thought. Fortunately my blender has done pretty well. Although it is not the best blender in the world and it has its drawbacks, it pretty much does the job intended.

I’ve done a bit of research recently on blenders and found that there are quite a few things you need to look out for when deciding which is the best for you. So here’s what I’ve found.

What to look for when buying a blender:

1. Glass or plastic?
Plastic blenders tend to scratch easily and go cloudy after time. I know, I have one. They can also start to smell as they absorb odours – this is why I always store mine with the lid off. Glass is always a better choice although glass has the potential to break a lot easier than plastic.

2. Ensure the blender has removable blades
My blender has removable blades and it makes it so easy to clean up. If you buy one without removable blades you will really find it difficult to clean around the blades at the bottom of the blender.

3. Choose a blender that has an automatic shut off if the lid isn’t on properly
My blender won’t turn on unless everything is where it should be. In other words both the container and the lid itself have to be locked in place. It can be annoying at the start as you try to figure out what you haven’t done right if it doesn’t turn on but once you get used to how it is all supposed to work then you will really appreciate this feature. It means you won’t ever have the problem of foods flying around your kitchen because the lid hasn’t been fitted correctly.

4. Ensure the blender has a pulse mode.

This gives you more control over your blending.

5. Power is everything when it comes to blenders.

If you want to be able to crush ice then you need a blender that can do the job. Look for a blender with at least 350 watts of power.

6. Ensure the blender has a removable lid
This ensures that you can add extra ingredients while it is blending. My blender has a dual lid so that the main lid fits on and then within that lid is a smaller lid that can be removed to add ingredients.

Other things to consider include:

  • Length of warranty
  • Although blenders don’t take up a lot of width they do take up a bit of height so consider where you might store your new blender.
  • Blenders that have those push buttons are going to be more difficult to clean as food can get in between the gaps.

What’s the difference between a blender and a food processor?

When it comes down to it, the main difference between a blender and a food processor is that a blender works with liquids and a food processor works with solids. There are some food processors that work well as a blender but in general most do not handle liquids terribly well. They tend to leak or splatter the liquid around your kitchen or seep out through the lid.

Our Recommendations

I have had my plastic blender for about three years now and it has done the job nicely. Although the plastic container has some scratches it is still working okay. It has broken once when someone in the household (I am not mentioning any names) decided to blend with a metal spoon in it. We had to buy a spare part to replace it but it is still going strong.

When the time comes to replace it I would probably go with one of the following. They have all received really good reviews on the net:

How to Choose a Sauté Pan

all-clad-ltd-saute-panAll-Clad LTD 6 qt. Saute Pan with Lid

Sautéing is one of those basic cooking techniques that lets you create delicious meals with plenty of variety to tempt your family’s palate. However, in order to sauté properly, you need the right equipment for the job.

Here are some tips on how to choose a sauté pan that will help you be more successful in the kitchen.

What is the Purpose of Sautéing Food?

In order to choose the best sauté pan, it helps if you understand the reason why sautéing is different from other cooking methods. One of the disadvantages of frying food is that the long cooking time tends to dry out your meals, leaving them tough and drained of flavor. Sautéing is a cooking method that involves adding food to a hot pan with butter or oil in it. The food cooks quickly, sealing in the flavor and tenderness while creating a seared outside for flavor and texture.

How Do You Sauté Food?

Unlike searing, sautéing actually cooks the food through. In order to do this, you need a high temperature and enough room in your pan that the food lies in a single layer across the bottom. This ensures quick and even temperature, without the stewing that would tough tender cuts of meat. The food is often tossed to ensure that all sides are properly heated, and to avoid sticking to the pan.

What Should You Look For in a Sauté Pan?
Paula Deen 5-qt. Nonstick Signature Porcelain Saute Pan, Red

A good sauté pan should be large enough that all of your ingredients can lie flat on the surface. Crowding your food is one of the chief reasons why sautéing fails. If you are planning on cooking something like a filet mignon, you can use a relatively small sauté pan. For vegetables and hash browns, you’ll need a larger surface to work with.


It’s very important that a sauté pan be able to distribute heat evenly. For this reason, choose a pan with a thick bottom. Stainless steel with an aluminum core is a good choice. Cast iron is also very effective, although these pans may be too heavy to toss effectively. Some people also prefer anodized aluminum sauté pans or regular aluminum with a non-stick surface.


A proper sauté pan has sloping sides that help the food return to the pan when tossing. A pan with short, straight sides is actually a sauce pan.


In order to properly toss your food as you sauté, you’ll need a pan with a long and sturdy handle. Make sure that the handle of your pans is firmly attached to the body of the pan and that it is made of a strong and durable material. A good sauté pan can help you make deliciously tender meats and tasty vegetables. Using these tips, you can find a great pan that is right for your kitchen.

Berndes - SignoCAST 11 Saute Pan With Glass Lid (Black) - Home

Berndes – SignoCAST 11 Saute Pan
With Glass Lid (Black)

Tips on Reading a French Menu

French MenuVisiting France or even dining at a fine French Restaurant and enjoying the rich foods is a dream come true for food lovers. After all, the entire concept of the restaurant began in France. If you don’t speak a word of French, however, the idea of ordering from a menu can be daunting. Here are some tips on reading a French menu that can help you order without embarrassment.

Some Easy Terms Found on a French Menu:

The good news is that so many of the French cooking techniques have spread across the world that you will recognize many of the basic terms used on a French menu. It’s no surprise that amuse-bouche are appetizers, or that the main course is called the pièce de résistance. Many have gotten to know the famous French dish, coc au vin (chicken in wine), and can recognize other dishes with those ingredients. Similarly, quiche, escargot, boeuf, and dessert pose no challenge. Even remembering the term for a menu is not difficult, if you remember that ordering from the menu is ordering à la carte.

Other French words are very close to the terms we use in English. For example, Café is French for coffee, porc is pork, and Le plat du jour is the special of the day. If you simply look over a French menu, you might be surprised at how well you can grasp the meaning of the dishes. Be careful of easily confused terms, however, like entrée, which means appetizer and not main dish in French, and legumes, which means vegetables and not beans or peas.

More Difficult French Menu Terms:

While reading some parts of a French menu are bound to be easier than you’d expect, there are sure to be some terms which are completely unfamiliar. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the most common terms on the menu before you go into a restaurant. If you have allergies, you’ll want to be certain to recognize the French terms for those foods.

Aside from food names, you might also want to cover the terms for different types of menus, types of wines and other drinks, cooking and serving methods, and the names of various courses to make sure you’ll be able to order a meal you’ll enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to carry a French-to-English dictionary as backup. It’s better to take the time to look up the food you’re ordering than to have to pay for something that you won’t enjoy eating.

Finally, if you’re uncertain about any of your choices, ask your waiter for assistance. The chances are high that they, or someone else on the wait staff, can speak English.

It’s important not to let the language barrier deter you from having a fantastic French meal. The superb foods and wines are not to be missed, and the best meals are often served in restaurants with no English translation. By following these steps, you will be able to order an unforgettable meal.

Get It While Its Hot – A Guide To Chili


The Four Hottest Sauces On the Planet

Anyone who likes their food hot and spicy will be completely familiar with the role that chilies play in cooking. The chili is a fruit of the capsicum plant and is well known for enhancing the flavor of foods and providing a ‘kick’ to a variety of dishes worldwide.

Chillies come in a variety of shapes and sizes from the small birds’ eye chili to the larger bell pepper. In general, the smaller the chili the hotter the flavor.

The Scoville Scale

The Scoville Scale is used to measure the heat level of a chili. It was developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912 and has been refined in more recent years to provide a more accurate reading.

Each chili contains a chemical compound called capsaicin which is actually what produces the hot sensation we all know and love. The greater the concentration of capsaicin in the chili, the higher the rating on the Scoville Scale which is rated from 0 to 16,000,000.

The Habenero chili has always been considered to be the hottest of chili varieties with the Red Sabina Habenero having a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) value between 3520,000 and 577,000. This makes it 100 times hotter that the Jalapeno. However, the title of the hottest chili goes to the Naga Morich with an SHU of between 970,000 and 1,040,000 making it more than 300 times HOTTER than the Jalapeno

One thing to note is that the heat level within different varieties can vary greatly and even chilies found on the same plant can have a different intensity level.

Interesting Facts

• Chilies are a fruit.
• In some South American countries, crushed and ground chilies are used to treat spider bites and bee stings.
• Chilies were used as a weapon by Mayan warriors who would throw chili powder in the enemy’s eyes.
• Capsaicin survives both heating through the cooking process and freezing.
• Capsaicin triggers the brain to produce endorphins which are natural pain killers.
• Red Chilies are generally hotter than green.

Nutritional Value

Chili is:
• Low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium
• High in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus .

Tips for Using Chili

• Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water after cutting and using chili. Keep fingers away from your face to avoid burning your mouth and eyes.
• Most of the ‘heat’ of a chili is found in the seeds and membrane – remove these and your chili will not be as hot.
• If you find that the heat of a chili dish is just too much for you then drink a glass of milk, have some yoghurt or eat a piece of bread. Drinking water will only intensify the heat.

Some Common Chili Types

Name Description Common Uses Scoville Rating
Pure Capsaicin Capsaicin is the compound in chilies that give them its hotness Found in chili 16,000,000
Habanero Rated as one the hottest chilies at over 50 times hotter than the jalapeno
Sauces, stews 100,000-300,000
Serrano Originated in Mexico. Salsas 10,000-23,000
Jalapeno One of the most common chili consumed in the United States. Pizza, Nachos, Salsa 2,500-8,000
Chipotle Is a dried version of the jalapeno and has a smoky sweet flavor. Stews, sauces, egg dishes 2,500-8,000
Anaheim Is one of the more common varieties of chili available in the US. Also Know as New Mexican Chili. Salsas, stuffed peppers 500-2,500
Poblano Is one of the more popular chilies grown in Mexico
Sauces, stews 1,000-1,500

Chili (Cayenne) Peppers, Whole, Habanero 200,000 HU (Capsicum chinense) 1 lb: K
Chili (Cayenne) Peppers, Whole, Habanero 200,000 HU (Capsicum chinense) 1 lb: K

Here you have Frontier’s double wall silverfoil pack available from

Chili, or Cayenne, pepper stands out as one of the most recognized of the red peppers. It’s red hot, and delicious.

The Heat Level of Chili Pepper is measured on the Scoville scale in ‘Heat Units’. Two common ground varieties are 30M & 90M Heat Units, (30,000 & 90,000 respectively). The 30M pepper is comparable to the canned ‘Red Pepper’ that you find in at the Supermarket.

Just about anyone can tolerate 30m (also called 30k) Cayenne.

On the other hand, 90m Chili is incredibly hot. So watch out when you eat it.

What You Need To Know About Olive Oil

Black Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Magic That Is Olive Oil

Homer called it “liquid gold”. Its mystical glow illuminated history.

Olive oil has been more than mere food to the peoples of the Mediterranean: it has been medicinal, magical, an endless source of fascination and wonder and the fountain of great wealth and power.

The olive tree is known as a symbol of abundance, glory and peace. Its leafy branches have been used to crown the victorious in friendly games and bloody war, and the oil of its fruit has anointed the noblest of heads throughout history.

Olive crowns and olive branches are emblems of benediction and purification that were ritually offered to deities and powerful figures: some were even found in Tutankhamen’s tomb.

Today we value extra-virgin olive oil for its nutritional and healthful virtues. It is the most digestible of the edible fats: it helps to assimilate vitamins A, D and K; it contains so-called essential acids that cannot be produced by our own bodies and slows down the aging process.

It is also valued for its culinary virtues and sensory properties of: flavor, bouquet, and color.

What is olive oil?

Olive oil is a fat extracted from olives. It is used in cooking to enhance the flavor of foods, as a dressing, and as an oil for sautéing and frying. It is also used as a moisturizer and in soaps. Olive oil is considered to be a healthy fat because of its high content of monounsaturated fat in the form of oleic fatty acid and polyphenols.

How is Olive Oil made?

Olive oil is made from pressing or crushing tree ripened olives. It can undergo a variety of different processes but at its simplest, the olives are picked, the leaves, stems and any dirt are removed and the olives are ground into a paste. A press then separates the oil from the paste and the oil is bottled.

Extra Virgin Olive oil is probably the only oil that can be eaten as soon as it has been pressed from the fruit and the oil retains the flavor, aroma and vitamins that it contained when it was in the raw state of being an olive on the tree.

Types of Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Is the oil that is extracted from the first pressing of the olives. This type of oil undergoes the least amount of processing and therefore has the richest flavor and aroma. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is generally considered to be the

best and is therefore the most expensive. No refined oil is added to this oil.

Olive Oil of the Month Club
Olive Oil of the Month club


Is the oil extracted from the second pressing of the olives. It is slightly more acidic than extra virgin. The taste is good but not as flavorsome as extra virgin olive oil. No refined oil is added to this oil.


Is generally a blend of refined olive oil with a mix of either extra virgin or virgin oil.

Olive oil

Is a blend of refined oil and virgin oil and generally lacks a strong flavor.

There are other types of olive oil such as Olive-pomace oil which is a poor quality blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is made from the pips and ground flesh after the pressing and although is fit for consumption it may not be called olive oil. Olive pomace oil is often used in soap or for industrial purposes.
Check out the labels when you are buying Olive oil. If the label doesn’t state “virgin” then you are buying a lower grade produce. “100% Pure Olive Oil” is often the lowest quality available for purchase.

Where the label states “Made from refined olive oils” it generally means that although the essence of the olives were captured, the taste and acidity were chemically produced.

Don’t be taken in with a label that states “Light olive oil”. What this really means is that the product is a refined olive oil, not that it has a lower fat content. All Olive oil has a standard 120 calories per tablespoon (34 J/ml).