The Breville Automatic Tea Maker & Kettle Review

Breville-one-touch-tea-makerI have fallen in love – with my new Breville Automatic tea maker.

Paula and I went out to our favourite tea store ‘Adore’ in Federation Square. We had run out of our favourite herbal teas –  French Earl Grey Tea and Evening Mist, both very nice blends with a floral hint.

On the counter was this great looking The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
priced at $299.00. I kept being drawn to the tea maker, just as intended by the shop owner of course. I could certainly see a use for this item in my household.

We finished making our tea purchases and headed to the cafe nearby for a milkshake and to discuss whether or not we should buy the tea maker, keeping in mind we would have to buy two, one for each household.  Paula went online and found the same item at David Jones, a local department store, for $249.99. So we  headed off to DJ’s.

The Breville Tea Maker can also be found for $249.99 on Amazon.

We couldn’t wait to get home to try it out. And we were not disappointed.

Getting Started

As with any new appliance – read the directions first. There is a quick start guide included and we simply followed the instructions on that.

So we set the power base onto a flat surface then performed a cleaning cycle with just plain water – no tea.

You do not add the tea basket for this initial clean.

Fill the jug with water up to the 1500ml mark, replace the lid and insert the power cord into the power.

The tea maker has a short power cord that I find ideal as I don’t have to wind up long lengths of cord which has to be tucked out of the way.  The cord also has a unique assist plug, which has a convenient finger hole which makes it easy to remove from the power socket.  If you require a longer cord, these are available from Breville.

The LCD lights on the power base will light up.

  • Press the up arrow to select 100°C (212°F)
  • Press the ‘Hot Water’ button to start.

Once the first lot of water has boiled simply discard it and your tea maker is now ready for use.

Making the tea

Okay, so far so good. Now for the next step – Making the tea.

At this point we hadn’t added the basket but once you start making tea you simply lift the basket out of the glass carafe, by the sides.

Pop off the basket lid and add tea leaves.  There is a plastic measuring spoon included and as I like very weak tea I only add a ½ a teaspoon. But you can make your teas as weak or as strong as you like.

Fill the jug with the amount of water you need. It’s generally only Paula and I having a cuppa so I fill the jug to the 750ml water line, 1200ml is the max recommended fill line.

Slip the tea basket onto the post in the jug and pop on the jug lid.

Now simply select the tea type which helps your tea maker to determine the brew temperature.

Select the tea strength – there are 4 modes:

  • Strong
  • Medium
  • Mild
  • Custom

Whichever one you choose determines the brew time.

Now press the ‘Tea/Cancel’ button to start the tea making process.

Now this is the really groovy part. Once the water reaches the correct temperature, the tea basket will automatically lower down into the water. Then as soon as the brew time has elapsed the tea basket will automatically rise out of the water and the machine will beep to let you know that your tea is ready.

Then you simply pour and enjoy.

How simple is that?

There is also a Keep Warm button the will keep the brewed tea or the heated water warm for up to 60 mins. Ideal if you are doing something you want to finish before sitting down to have your cup of tea. And because the tea basket isn’t sitting in the brew, it wont become bitter as with a normal teapot.

Do we think it is a worthwhile purchase – yes we do.

So what do you get in the box

  • One Power Base
  • One short Power Cord
  • One German Made Schott stain resistant glass kettle
  • One jug lid with stainless steel scale filter
  • One tea scoop
  • One stainless steel tea basket and lid

The Power Base

The power base has all the function controls to make the perfect cup of tea.

  • Auto Start
  • Keep warm
  • basket

Tea Type Selection Button for the following tea types

  • Green
  • Black
  • White
  • Herbal
  • Oolong
  • Custom

There are buttons that allow you to override both  the preset brew temperatures and the preset brew times.

The back-lit LCD displays both the brew temperature and brew time.

The Tea Strength Button has preset times for:

  • Strong
  • Medium
  • Mild
  • Custom

There is a Hot Water/Cancel button

  • This allows you to use the tea maker as a variable temperature kettle.

The Tea/Cancel

  • This button activates the tea brewing cycle

You can purchase this great appliance from Amazon and take advantage of their Free super Saver Shipping.

Need to see it in action?  Here are a couple of videos to help you see how great this appliance is.

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Welcome to the Wonderful World of Home Canning!

All American Pressure Canner 21 qtI recently purchased an All American Pressure Canner Cooker and all I can say is what a fantastic piece of kitchen equipment it is. It’s not my first pressure canner but it is certainly the best I have ever owned.

So I thought that it might be a nice idea to give you some ideas so that you can see how easy it is to home can and how it will save you money.

Canning is both a treasured American tradition and an excellent way to share your best homemade goodies with family and loved ones. Home canned vegetables are at least as good as store bought ones, and even better when you have grown them yourself or bought them fresh from a local farmer. Canned foods have a substantial advantage over frozen in that they require no expensive equipment to keep them—just a shelf in a cool, dark, dry place.

If you are a first-time canner you might feel frustrated while you’re getting the hang of it, but after a little experience you’ll find yourself doing it with confidence and skill. You will find few sights more pleasing than the rows of sauces, jams, vegetables, and other foodstuffs that you’ve produced!

Firstly – A Little History

Early in the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the 19th century, the French government offered a large cash prize to anyone who could invent an affordable way to preserve large amounts of food. In 1809, Nicolas Appert rose to the challenge after noticing that food cooking inside a properly sealed jar didn’t spoil. As a professional confectioner and brewer, he devised a way to seal food inside glass jars with near-perfect consistency.

Home canning emerged as an industry with the Mason jar, patented in 1858. Ever since then it’s been an American folkway to home can pickles, preserves, and other delicious foodstuffs for stocking pantries and sharing gardens with friends and neighbors.

Getting Started

Good planning is the secret to satisfying canning. Be prepared with all the utensils, ingredients, and information you’ll need before starting. Begin with more than enough time, so you don’t run the risk of cutting corners on processing times should any step go long.

Norpro Home Canning KitUse the following equipment, making sure that everything is clean:

  • Jars (Most processing times specify using pint or quart jars. Both are available with either a wide or regular mouth. Wide mouths are easier to fill, but cost slightly more than regular jars. Test all jars by running your finger around the lip. If there are any cracks or flaws, the jars are not up to canning standards and will not seal.)
  • Two part jar lids—a screwband and a one-use lid (Screwbands can be stored in a dry place and used again next year. Don’t reuse the domed lids, however, as the rubber inside is only good for one sealing.)
  • An inexpensive jar lifter for removing hot jars from a pressure canner
  • Hot pads
  • Canning funnel
  • Knives
  • Cutting boards
  • Kettle
  • Colander
  • For boiling water bath canning, a deep kettle with a lid and rack
  • A teapot for adding hot water as necessary
  • If pressure canning, a pressure canner and rack

Preparing Food and Jars for Canning

  1. Clean the food. If needed, cut it into uniform pieces. For raw-pack processing, set prepared food aside. For hot-pack processing, place food in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer 2 to 5 minutes.
  2. Sterilize clean jars by filling them with hot (not boiling) water and lowering them onto a rack in a water-filled pot. Make sure there’s at least one inch of water above the rims. Bring water to a boil and keep it there for ten minutes. Keep jars consistently hot throughout the process.
  3. Remove a jar, empty it, and fill it immediately with food. If using raw-pack method, pack it tightly. If using the hot pack method, fill the warm jar loosely.
  4. Add very hot water, syrup, or juice, according to the recipe, until it covers the food. Allow proper headroom.
  5. Remove air bubbles by inserting a non-metallic utensil and firmly pressing the food.
  6. Carefully wipe the jar rim with a clean towel to allow for a good seal.
  7. Apply the lid and secure it with the screw-ring.
  8. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 until all jars are filled. Reserve water used to sterilize the jars for the canning process.

Boiling Water Bath Canning

A boiling water bath is the cheapest and easiest method of canning for preserving high-acid foods. These include all fruits, all pickles, and those vegetables to which vinegar has been added, raising the acidity to a sufficient level. Warning: DO NOT use boiling water bath canning for other vegetables—they absolutely must be pressure canned. That said, here’s how to water bath can your high-acid foods:

  1. Lower your packed and prepared jars into simmering water with a jar lifter. The jars should stand on a rack placed at the bottom of the pot. Note that cold jars should be put into water that is warm but not yet hot; they will crack if exposed to a sudden change in temperature.
  2. Add enough water to cover the jars by 2 or 3 inches. Put on the pot lid, bring the water to a roiling boil, and then begin counting the processing time.
  3. When the recommended time is up, remove the pot from the heat and take out the jars with a lifter. Old jars should be treated with extra care, so leave them in the water until the boil has stopped. Be careful not to knock your jars together—they break easily when hot! Don’t cover the cooling jars.
  4. Leave the jars to sit until they have cooled thoroughly, then test the seal. Do this by pressing hard on the center of each lid. If the lid does not move downward or give, your seal is complete. (Any unsealed goods can be refrigerated and eaten within a day or two.)
  5. Store the jars in a cool, dry, dark place for no more than a year.

Canning Safety

Never taste even a bit of canned food that you suspect may be spoiled. Examine jars carefully to detect signs of spoilage, which may include:

  • Mold on the outside of the jar
  • Food leakage
  • Mold inside the lid
  • Darkly discolored food
  • Food that appears shriveled, spongy, slimy, or cloudy
  • Liquid that seems to bubble
  • An off odor
  • Contents that shoot out of the jar when opened

If you think that any of your unopened food has spoiled, detoxify the food and the jars before disposing of them. Do this by placing the unopened jar in a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. If the jar has been opened, empty the contents into a saucepan, thin them with water, and boil for 30 minutes. Boil the empty jar in water separately, then recycle—do not reuse!

Finally, remember to wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water immediately after handling any spoiled food or contaminated item.

Additional Tips for Successful Canning

  • Add butter to jelly, jam, and preserves to prevent foam from forming during the cooking process. If you leave the butter out, skim off the foam before ladling the cooked food into jars.
  • Measure all the sugar into a bowl before beginning the recipe. Many canning recipes call for a large volume of sugar to be added when a mixture is already boiling; measuring ahead simplifies this step and prevents mistakes.
  • Use a ruler to measure volume. Some recipes call for a mixture to be reduced by a certain amount. To ascertain this easily, insert a clean, wood ruler into the pan before cooking and measure how far up the mixture comes. Then cook as directed until it has reduced by the percentage specified. For example, if uncooked mixture measures 4 inches in pan and recipe says to reduce by half, cook it down to 2 inches.
  • Do not double the recipes. If you want to make more, cook successive batches.

Recipes

We suggest starting your home canning adventure with some basic fruit preserves—they’re some of the easiest, least technical, and most popular canned goods. Your early success will inspire you to keep learning!

Strawberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 5 cups crushed ripe strawberries
  • 4 cups sugar

Directions

Place strawberries and sugar in a heavy saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Makes 3 ½ cups.

Options: Add ¼ cup of lemon juice or your favorite liqueur, 2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest, or ¼ cup minced mint or tarragon.

Apple Jelly

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 pounds cooking apples (about 12 medium)
  • 6 cups sugar

Directions

Cut lemons in two and slice thinly, removing pits.

Soak in water overnight.

Cook over moderate heat until peel is tender, about ten minutes. Peel and core apples, then cut into thin slices.

Combine apples, sugar, and lemons with their liquid. Bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat and cook until thick, about thirty minutes.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Makes 4 16-ounce jars.

Grape Jelly

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds grapes
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 3 ounces of liquid pectin

Directions

Sort, wash, and stem ripe grapes. Crush them in a pot or kettle, add ½ cup of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Turn into a damp jelly bag and drain well; do not squeeze.

Hold the juice overnight in a cool place, then strain through 2 thicknesses of damp cheesecloth to remove the crystals that form.

Measure four cups of juice into a large kettle, add the sugar and mix well.

Bring quickly to a full boil that cannot be stirred down. Add the pouch of pectin, bring again to a full rolling boil and boil hard for one minute.

Remove from heat, quickly skim off the foam, and pour the jelly into hot ½ pint jars, leaving ¼ inch of headroom. Cap with a screwband lid.

Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath, then cool upright and naturally.

Orange Spice Marmalade

Ingredients

  • 8 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • Water as needed
  • 9 cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

Cut lemons and oranges in half lengthwise, then into thin slices, removing pits as you go. Measure and add 1 ½ cups water for each cup of fruit. Soak overnight.

In the morning, bring fruit, spices, sugar, and water to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Ladle marmalade into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 6 cups.


We invite you to read our review on the All American Pressure Canner/Cooker

How ‘Handy’ is a Hand Mixer?

Use the 7-Spd KitchenAid Hand Mixer Just Once and You’ll Know!

 When I was in my early twenties, I realized that I could eat fantastic food without having to go to a restaurant.  Of course, I already knew that, but I didn’t really put it to the test until I had to pinch the proverbial penny.  I learned everything I could by recreating recipes that were family favorites, as well as creating my own. My love for cooking lead me to spearheading a catering business and an intimate, log cabin restaurant, and it was during those years that I used many different kitchen appliances – especially blenders, stand mixers and hand mixers. They make my life a lot easier!

I remember the days when the hand mixer was an integral part of the stand mixer.  Mom had a Sunbeam stand mixer, and when she didn’t want to drag out the big guns, all she had to do was detach the head from the stand, and voila!  Instant hand mixer.  Granted, it was heavy, but it did the job.

Today, kitchen gals and guys have a bunch of options, including the KitchenAid 7-Spd Hand Mixer .  KitchenAid endears itself to all cooks because of its quality – they also offer products in a boatload of fabulous colors! My personal favorite is Candy Apple Red – it smacks of Corvette’s from ‘the old days’ and looking incredibly cool if you happened to have one.  I didn’t.

The Pros: the KitchenAid 7-Spd Hand Mixer is break resistant, shock resistance and scratch resistant; that doesn’t mean those things won’t happen, but you’d really have to abuse it and I don’t think you will.  I’ve had my KitchenAid hand mixer for many years, and it’s my ‘go to’ small appliance when I have to whip up a batch of cookies or some real whipped cream.  The power is great and the beaters are designed to mix the stiffest dough or something easy like pumpkin custard – that’s a good thing, if you like to add ‘goodies’ to your cookies.  Like M & Ms. Or English toffee.

The Cons: I prefer to have at least 10 speeds, if not 12 – when you’re trying to incorporate air into egg whites or cream, higher speeds come in handy.

The KitchenAid 7-Spd Hand Mixer features a lightweight housing, a beater ejection button, variable speeds, contoured grips, stainless steel blades and push button controls.  I like that it’s lightweight – if you have a cooking project that requires a lot of beating for a good amount of time, you’ll appreciate that your hand doesn’t feel like it will fall off.

The KitchenAid 7-Spd Hand Mixer is a little on the pricey side, and I’m not sure that I would spend $79  on it.  However, you can ‘surf’ a little and find a better deal – just shop around. (Editors Note: Amazon currently have the candy apple red – KitchenAid 7-Spd Hand Mixer for under $60.00).

How does the KitchenAid 7-Spd Hand Mixer stand up to other brands?  

Pretty well, I think.  Most brand names offer a hand mixer, and you can get one for a good price.  Just remember that the motor needs to accommodate thick cookie dough – if the motor isn’t strong enough, the hand mixer will burn out quickly.  The best competitor of the KitchenAid 7-Spd Hand Mixer is the Cuisinart Hand Mixer – both are fantastic brands and they do the trick. 

With the KitchenAid 7-Spd Hand Mixer, you’ll have a workhorse in the kitchen and you’ll be turning out some incredible treats in no time! 

Article contributed by April Jones publisher of kitchen-blender-reviews.com – a resource for kitchen blender reviews and smoothie recipes.  She first discovered green smoothies at the recommendation of a close friend and it has developed into a fun hobby teaching others how to get started. Her site has a large variety of smoothie recipes for snacks and meals. For more recipes, kitchen reviews, and random cooking tips, join her free newsletter.

REVIEW: Salton QM2R Santa Fe 900-Watt Quesadilla Maker

Salton Quesadilla MakerDoes your family love Quesadilla?  Such a quick and easy dish to make. And a very satisfying meal when served with a nice green salad and refried beans.

Well there’s no reason to go out to eat them when you can cook them exactly to your  own liking right there in your own home.

The Salton QM2R Santa Fe 900-Watt Quesadilla Maker makes cooking quesadillas quick and easy and only in around 5 minutes.

This appliance takes tortillas that are 10 inches in size.

To use you simply place in a soft flour tortilla and then add your fillings. Then top with another tortilla and then close the lid.

What We Like

  • It comes with an owners manual that has recipes included.
  • The plates are nonstick which helps in removing the cooked items easily.
  • It has an indicator light that lets you know when the appliance is ready to use.
  • The top and bottom of the quesadilla maker latch together so you can store this appliance in a vertical position which saves on space.

Some  things to consider:

  • You can’t wash this in a dishwasher and it can’t be immersed in water. The only way to clean this is the wipe it down with a damp cloth or paper towel. But that doesn’t take much effort really.
  • You will have to watch how much filling you add because it doesn’t take a lot of filling before overflowing.

Want to Read More Reviews?

You can read more reviews for the Salton Quesadilla Maker at Amazon

WHERE CAN I GET THE BEST PRICE?

We found the best price at Amazon

I Only Want a Cup of Coffee! How to Choose a Coffee Maker

Choosing a coffee maker is an entirely personal decision.  There are many different tastes in coffee and there are machines and makers to cater to every taste, so before you buy, here are some questions that you may like to consider.

1. Where Will You Be Using Your Coffee Maker…and When?

This sounds like a very obvious question but some machines are specifically for home users and others for office users.

2. What size would suit you best?
Many models now allow you to make just one cup of coffee at a time – which is great for occasional use.  If you love your caffeine, go for a maker that will supply a pot holding four cups.  The most versatile makers can brew up a pot of 8 – 12 cups or make small pots of 4 cups, so if you regularly have get-togethers with friends, this style would be ideal for you.

3. Do you drink your coffee at home or make it ‘to go’?
If you like to make your coffee and then put it into a vacuum flask or travel cup, try a coffee maker that makes it straight into a thermally insulated coffee mug.  Some models make two at a time, so if time is precious in the morning, get one of those so that there is no queuing or waiting!

4. Does Your Coffee Sit For Ages in the Pot?

If  you find that your coffee has cooled or burned the hot plate by the time you come back for yet another cup, either choose a maker that brews less cups at a time or go for a thermal carafe.  This will keep your coffee piping hot but the downside is that you can’t see at a glance how much coffee is left.  A plus point for the thermal carafe is that the taste of coffee is said to deteriorate after twenty minutes on direct heat…

5.  Do You Have a Favorite Coffee or Like Variety?

In either case, you may like to look at one of the most popular types of coffee maker – the single serve coffee system with pre-packed ‘pods’.  You simply choose your flavor, slot the pod into the machine and brew.  Check out what each maker offers as some brands have as many as a hundred varieties of coffee.  Some also feature reusable pods so that you can use your own coffee, rather than be limited to the pre-packed kinds.

Espresso or Non-espresso?

An espresso machine will be right for you if…

  1. You are not on a budget and are willing to part with extra cash – espresso machines are always more expensive than non-espresso machines.
  2. You want to be able to make different coffees – including cappuccino, macchiato, latte.
  3. You are happy to clean parts, (or, if you have an automatic machine, happy to empty waste units) and make fresh coffee for each cup.
  4. You have the time to take a few minutes to make each cup of coffee (unless you are use a super-automatic maker).
  5. You will be brewing for less than four people at any one time.  Making espresso can be time consuming unless you buy an automatic or super-automatic maker.

A non-espresso coffee maker will be right for you if…

  1. You are on a budget or don’t want to spend a lot of money. Non-espresso machines are generally less expensive than espresso machines.
  2. You don’t want a machine that makes fancy coffees.  You’re happy with plain black or white.
  3. You like to have a pot of coffee on the go throughout the day.
  4. You like to start the coffee and then get on with other things while it brews.
  5. You regularly supply coffee to lots of people and need between six and twelve cups in a short time.
  6. You prefer to buy your coffee pre-ground or flavoured.
  7. You don’t like your coffee too strong.

Other Points to Ponder

  • Read consumer reviews online or in magazines to give you an informed view of how the different machines perform.
  • Decide if a programmable coffee maker would be useful for you.  You can set it the night before so that you awake to the wonderful smell…and taste…of fresh-brewed coffee!
  • Some models have an automatic switch-off, so if you are a little absent minded or very busy, you won’t end up leaving the machine on all day.
  • If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, go for a coffee maker that has a water filter built into it.  This would remove any taste of chlorine or iron.  Don’t forget that you would need to buy replacement filters for this type of machine.
  • Do you want to make lattes and cappuccinos?  Look for a machine that has a Frothing Wand.  On less expensive machines, this will just be a steam wand.  On the more expensive ones, you would also get a canister to hold the milk which is to be frothed.
  • If you are an espresso connoisseur, look for a machine that has a pre-moistening cycle.  This dampens the coffee grounds before you pull your shot of espresso which helps to bring out more of the aromatic oils and improves the taste.
  • If you want great coffee without any fuss, take a look at the newest machines that are ‘pod compatible’.  Pods are little packets of various flavors of coffee and hot chocolate.  You simply slot the pod into the machine and in as little as 45 seconds, you have a professional standard drink.  The newer models will accept both pods and your own choice of coffee grounds.  Some people feel that the amount of drink dispensed is on the small side however, as it’s so quick to make, you could brew one after the other.  This would obviously affect the cost.
  • High end espresso machines will let you change the amount of water for each cup, so that you can get the strength that you prefer.
  • If you like to grind your own beans, look for a model that has a built-in grinder.
  • If you can’t wait until the whole pot has brewed before pouring a cup, there are now models with the special feature of stopping the drip of the filter while you take the jug out of the machine to pour your coffee!
  • If you’re not buying online, handle the coffee jug or carafe and see if it feels comfortable in your hand.  Is it easy to take in and out of the machine?
  • Check out the water reservoir to find out how easy it is to add more water and/or more coffee.