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"Seasoning" a wooden butcher block - should I gently heat block in oven?

I probably wouldn't put it in the oven, not good for the glue or the wood. In actuality, it's not going to penetrate too far into the wood regardless of the temperature. My daughter's board recently fell off the counter and broke. It was easy to see how far the mineral oil had penetrated, not very far. For the most part, the idea of oil and bees wax is to protect the surface and to keep the wood from drying out, so it's a bit of a sealer. It needs to penetrate some, but it doesn't have to meet from both sides.

1 day ago
mikie in Cookware

What is your opinion on Pampered Chef products?

Ask and yee shall receive. My opinion is quite low, it's cheap junk and the quality ia poor. The silver paint came off the garlic press we had.

1 day ago
mikie in Cookware

Le Creuset French Oven purchasing question

Round or oval depends on what and how you intend to cook. Round is better for stove top cooking because the oval sticks out over the hob on each end. Oval is better for certian cuts of meat or a whole chicken that's going in the oven. Both are effective in the oven, it's just a matter of what you're cooking.

3 1/2 quart would be very small. I would suggest 5.5 to 7 quarts as a good all purpose size. But again, it depends on what you want to cook in it. Something in the 5-6 quart range is great for many cuts of meat, stews, braises, moderate sized chicken, etc.

Dec 12, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Kitchen venting

A vent in the ceiling is better than nothing, but only slightly better. It's simply too far away from the range top to move enough air efficiently. You will suck all the hot air out of the house if it's big enough to move the air above the range top, because it will have to move a lot of air. We have an friend that the kitchen designer put one of these in becaue they didn't want a hood over the island, but that's where the range top was located. It moves a lot of air and still doesn't work the way a hood does. They were going to have a hood put in to replace the ceiling vent. My daughter has one in her kitchen, she has the same set up as you, and it's just a small unit. It doesn't really move much air and obviously doesn't capture anything at all, but it is better than nothing.

I read that you can convert your microwave/vent to vent to the outside. That would be the best choice. Depending on what your outside construction is, it may be possible to go straight through the wall to the outside. Otherwise you go up throgh the ceiling and out the roof or into the attic and then out the side, depends on where things are and the type of construction you have. My vent goes up about 3 feet then makes a turn in the attic to the outside, my alternative was to go through the roof, but I prefered to not do that. The gradual 90 degree turn is about as restrictive as the additonal vertical run to go out the roof, so it was a wash on efficiency.

Dec 10, 2014
mikie in Cookware
1

Walnut Butcher Board Counters - raised wood areas - Ack!

Once the finish flashes the solvent, most all wood finishes are food contact safe. The varnished table top at your local pub is food contact safe, you just can't cut on it, that's the difference. You can use sandpaper, scotchbright, or the scraper, the scraper will give you the smoothest finish.

When I make a cutting board I sand with 100 grit paper and then wet the board slightly to raise the grain, then I sand it again with 150 grit, and raise the grain again, sand with 180 or 220 grit and raise it one more time, then finish with 220 or 320 grit paper and the grain doesn't come up after that, these boards are end grain, edge grain will scrape easier but it will still take a couple of passes to tame the grain. You do need to do the whole top or you will be fighting this for a long time.

Dec 09, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Walnut Butcher Board Counters - raised wood areas - Ack!

Your problem is that the maple top was old and the walnut top is new. The grain had probably been raised on the maple enough times that it eventually quit expanding with heat and moisture. If you had raised the grain on the walnut several times before you oiled it you would have accomplished the same thing. You can use a cabinet scraper, that would be prefered at this point to shave off the fuzzies, then I would moisten the counter top with a damp rag and see if the grain raises again, if it does, then repeat the process. When the grain no longer raises, then give it a good oiling. The oil doesn't totally seal the board from moisture, but it does help. You just need to get over the hump with the new wood. You can use a random orbit sander, but with the oil on the wood, you are going to clog up sandpaper in no time, so a scraper is better. The scraper is just a rectangular flat piece of metal with a curled edge or burr on the edge. You place your thumbs in the middle of the blade to flex it a bit and push, taking a very light shaving off the wood. Something that used to be tought in Woodshop class in Jr. High.

Dec 09, 2014
mikie in Cookware
1

Nutcracker recommendations?

I bought one of these last year and it works really well:

http://www.amazon.com/Drosselmeyer-DR...

It's made in Sweeden and won some sort of design award. It has good reviews as well. But it's not inexpensive.

Dec 09, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Am I the only one bothered by stuff like this?

Hi Chem. You know we deal with chemicals all the time and a good hood can and does make the difference between life and death with some of these chemicals. If the vent hood has enough air flow (cfm) then there shouldn't be much if any increase in CO levels at any distance from the hob. Also for Hiracer, a good hood is not noisey, we shopped around and found a hood that moves a lot of air but is very quiet. It's still not the same as no fan, but it does allow conversation while drawing out the CO, steam, and odors of cooking.

Dec 02, 2014
mikie in Cookware
1

Am I the only one bothered by stuff like this?

And that's why we put vent hoods over our gas ranges that vent to the outdoors. The only concern with pulling in outside air is that you will pull in tobaco smoke from the person nextdoor.

Dec 02, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Repair for Wusthof handles

If these are Wusthof Classic knives, they run from about $100 for an 8" Chef’s knife to $30 for a paring knife, so they very well may be worth the cost of a repair if the blade is still in good shape, not necessarily sharp but not damaged. You or he can always have them sharpened. I sharpen my kid’s knives just about every time I visit them. It's not like they are 16 anymore, but they learned to cook from their mother and she is not the most careful with equipment, a great cook, but hard on equipment.

Dec 02, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Repair for Wusthof handles

Wusthof makes several different styles of knife handles and several different levels of blades. Some of these are rivited in place and are two plastic pieces around a full tang, these could be replaced. Many of the less expensive versions have only partial tangs and molded handles, that are molded around the tang, even some of the "non" classic styles of the full tang handles are molded. Molded handles probably are not replaceable, or at least not replaceable enough and could only be done by the factory.

Take a look at the knives and if there are two or three rivits along the side of the handles, then it's possible they could be replaced. I would think a custom knife shop would be your best bet, they put handles on knives this way all the time. The problem is going to be if you have a forged bolster, you need a good tight fit to keep foodsutffs from getting in the space between the bolster and the handle (scale).

Dec 01, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Am I the only one bothered by stuff like this?

Hi Kaleo, You took the words right out of my mouth, well, off my keyboard. It doesn't particularly bother me either, but then I've been using the same SS sauce pan my mother used to make pasta sauce 60 years ago, probably not much of anything left in that at this point.

What the study inidcates to me is a limited amount of "free" Ni & Cr that can be extracted, the remainder is tied up in the alloy. It's obviously still there as the pots didn't rust and it's the Cr and Ni that help prevent this. Sounds like the simple solution is to boil viniger in 8 hour shifts in your new SS sauce pan for about 48 hours and you should be Cr and Ni free, or at least at comfortable levels of extraction.

The one thing I really don't like about using 20x or 50x is that if x = 0.0001, 20x that still isn't much. Working for many years with statistics and data analysis, to me that is a cheap trick to make your study results to look meaningfull when in fact, they may not be. For the sake of argument, say the tomatos cooked in ECI show Ni and Cr levels to be 3 ppb (parts per billion), is 60 or 150 ppb really that bad? The answer may be totally different if you start at 300 ppm (parts per million) and multiply that 50 times.

I once had an engineer tell me my product had 10% less elongation in tensile than a competitior's product. This ended up being about 0.15% less in real numbers. I asked him what he could do with 1.6% elongation that he couldn't do with 1.45%, I'm still waiting for the answer. My point being sometimes what looks like significant numbers, really aren't.

Dec 01, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Nosey Cookware Question

Hi Jane, You really shouldn't care what Kaleo has in his arsinel for cooking, unless you plan to cook the same dishes and for the same number of servings. Not that Kaleo isn't a good example, but because Kaleo's eating preferences may not match yours and the equuipment you choose is totally dependent on what you intend to cook. Now, many cooking tools are more versitile than others, but many pieces are intended for a particular cooking style or dish.

To know what you need next, you almost need to know what you want to eat next. You can do a lot with your French Skillet, as you have already found out. Which pot or pan will give you the next big bang for your buck will depend on what you plan to cook. You will inevitibly need a sauce pan of some size and shape. Again, what size and shape will be determined by what and how much you are going to cook. Kaleo has listed 8 sauce pans, that's a selection, you will probably want to start with one or two. A 2 qt. sauce pan is likely going to be one choice, you will likely need a larger one as well, 3 to 4.5 quarts. Within sauce pans there are a number of choices regarding overall shape, and this is just for a standard straight sided sauce pan. Typical "regular" dimensions are similar height to diameter ratios, however in the 2 qt size, AC offers a "tall" sauce pan where the height is noiticeably more than the diameter. I have also seen sauce pans where the height is less than the diameter, verging on a small deep sauté, as much as a sauce pan. There is also the option for a Windsor or a saucier, both of which are smaller on the bottom than the top diameter to allow for quicker reduction of sauces, these collectively can be refered to as reduction sauce pans. They aren't necessary, even if you are reducing a sauce, but do provide an optional approach to sauce pans. I only mention them to illustrate how complicated cookware can become.

Kaleo also mentions ". . . 5 ovens . . .", Dutch Ovens if you will. These are great for one pot meals, such as a pot roast or Chicken Vesuvio. These can be made from a number of construction materials and a wide variety of sizes. All metal or Enameled Cast Iron are two typical materials and 5 to 7 qts. is common for most needs. One can make a case for both materials, I'll leave that to personal taste.

You may have noticed Kaleo's list is very heavily based around copper, only one ply or clad piece is listed. I only mention this because unless you have the time and desire to shop the vintage market, you are going to pay a bundle for copper cookware right now. A Mauviel sauté with lid, can be over $500 new, for a 3.2 qt.

Kaleo has good taste and good advice, but you may not want to coppycat that cookware selection, but my, it is impressive.

Dec 01, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Best cutting boards?

Hi Chem,

Good one, I should have known you would find something ;)
I can't hardly believe someone actually makes a stainless steel cutting board.

Nov 28, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Who Sharpens Their Mandoline Blade?

We have the Rosle "slicer" and I have sharpened the blade with my Edge Pro, good as new. I made the mistake of thinking it was reversible, it was not!

Nov 28, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Best cutting boards?

Very honestly, you have eliminated every conceivable material I can think of for a cutting board. Glass or ceramic eliminates plastic and yucky chemicals, but is extremely tough on knives. The Epicurean boards are not all that gentile on knives and the fibers are bound together with resin (plastic resin), not the same as a HDPE board, but plastic none the less. Rubber boards, well rubber is not much different than plastic. Bamboo boards are held together with some sort of plastic glue and the bamboo is so hard it's rough on knife edges. An end grain wood board would be best for your knife edge, but it too is held together with plastic resin glue and requires a food safe mineral oil treatment to keep it from drying out. Any of the boards with glue/resin/adhesive, will suffer in the dishwasher.

Nov 28, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Help this newlywed finish outfitting the perfect kitchen

Pick up a Demeyere Atlantis 3 qt saucier. It's a slightly different shape than your sauce pans and it will give you a chance to see how another very fine brand of cookware performs.

Nov 24, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Do some brands of charcoal burn better/hotter/longer than others?

There's a great article on charcoal in "BBQ America" magazine comparing lump and briquettes. The punch line is that most lump is not of very good quality, so you are better off with hgih quality briquettes, such as Kingsford. Lump burns hotter, but doesn't last as long, I've been using lump for the past couple of years and the same brand for the past year or so. At least it's more consistant than switching brands. Don't know if I'll go back to briquettes or not.

Besides All Clad- any amazing less expensive cookware?

+2

I have looked at this set a number of times, and as a set, I believe the quality of the pieces and the pieces included are top notch.

I'm giving serious thought to purchasing this set for my daughter who has gone through a cheap set of "Celeberty Chef" cookware in a very short period of time.

Nov 24, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Cooking Thermometer

I was going to edit, but I got involved in something else and didn't get back in time. This is what I use for smoking and the turkey. http://www.thermoworks.com/products/a... Granted there are other brands, but none that I've seen have the same build quality, the probe and wire are far better than what I had before.

Nov 23, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Cooking Thermometer

The Therompop from Thermoworks the company that makes Thermopen, is only $30 and is almost as fast as the $96 Thermopen. The other option, if you want to monitor temperature is the Thermoworks Chef Alarm, it's a timmer, and thermometer all in one, with an alarm when your bird reaches temperature. That's what I use for smoking, and it's very versatile, for about $60.

Nov 23, 2014
mikie in Cookware
1

Candy Thermometer

Currently in use for this very purpose. 'Tis the season ... Candy making season that is!

Nov 22, 2014
mikie in Cookware

COMMERCIAL COOKWARE -- Which is best for home use?

Hi Kaleo,

I agree with your points, they are vaild and well made. I only ask is it fair to compare used vs new when one is weighing the value proposition? You and I and a number of others will agree, the LC is not worth $85 more than a copper sauté of good quality, a Mauviel for example. However, is it worth $148 less. My answer in this case would be probably to some and probably not to others. But given the same level of depreciation, is the "experienced" copper going to provide measurable better results than the "experienced" Atlantis, and with the delta in cost now being smaller the answer may very well be, heck yes, I'm not at the grade level to make that determination. Now were not talking $170 delta but a $55 delta in the cost of the pans so the equation changes dramatically.

My rational for my attatude on deminishing returns is that $55 on the low end makes a huge difference in the quality of product you can by and how it performs, but $55 at the high end of the cookware foodchain will make at best a marginal difference, (say the difference between a Mauviel and a Falk). On the other hand $55 more than the $60 you would pay for a Farberware sauté will just about get you an All-Clad D5 sauté, and will get you the AC triply.

And I would never engourage anyone to purchase cheap, poor performing cookware, as you say, nothing discourages one from doing something like poor tools. However, there is plenty of mid-priced cookware that performs well enough that you don't have to break the bank to get a level of satisfaction from cooking. (some Calphalon products, the Cuisinart French Collection, Dymeyere Industry 5, Chantel, etc.)

Nov 20, 2014
mikie in Cookware

COMMERCIAL COOKWARE -- Which is best for home use?

Ahhh, if we all new what we know now 12 years ago. I've never been a big fan of buying cheap, but I've never been a big fan of buying the most expensive item either. But I think starting out cooking, when one is climbing up the learning curve, one should not spend too much on cookware. Then, when one has at least a modicum of experience, one can make a much more informed and intellectually sound choice in cookware and spend what you deem appropriate. There's a lot of space in the top tiers of cookware.

I've always been a believer in the laws of deminishing returns, so there is a tremendous difference between really inexpensive poor quality cookware and moderate quality cookware, and a fair amount of difference between moderate quality cookware and fine cookware, but not as much difference between fine cookware and exceptional cookware. As an example, does a $550 2mm Mauviel Copper sauté perform that much better than a $380 Demeyere Atlantis sauté? I'm not talking just the thermal properties, I'm talking about end results and likelyhood of achieving those results. On the other hand, a $39 Revere sauté is going to have a hard time competing with a $220 Viking sauté.

Nov 20, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Cleaning yellow "tar" off stainless steel saute pan.

Bar Keepers Friend and a lot of elbow grease. That is very typical of what happens when a SS pan is used as you discribe. Make a paste with the BKF and rub it on the burned oil in the pan and let it set for a few minutes, then rub the daylights out of it, repeat as necessary, and it will be necessary.

Copper cookware vs All Clad Copper Core Cookware

Well, the term gets loosely used, so any time someone wants a measurement they say "... Go mike that..." with total disregard for the tool being used. Often, people refer to a slide caliper as a mike, but it isn't. There are all kinds of calipers, so that too can be confusing. If you go to the Starrett web site and search micrometer, all will look similar to what was posted, if you search for caliper, you see different tools, and the same for dial indicator.

Nov 20, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Copper cookware vs All Clad Copper Core Cookware

I'm so glad my mouth was empty when I read this ;)

Yes, Starrett is the best "brush" you can put your hands on, this is an inespensive one. The digital readout model is over $1,000, many of us don't have that much invested in all of our cookware. Some don't even have the $230 invested. But, if you want the most accurate measurement of wall thickness, this would be my tool of choice. I had a class in statistical quality control in graduate school and as part of my first job I worked in the quality department of a molder who made parts for the Minuteman Rocket among other high tech things, and we took a lot of measurements of some very odd shapped and difficult to measure parts.

Nov 19, 2014
mikie in Cookware

Copper cookware vs All Clad Copper Core Cookware

Hi Jeremy,

The Starrett I referenced above has a round anvil, which when placed on the inside curve of the pan, only touches where the arc of the pan is tangent to the arc of the anvil, thus there is no gap due to the curvature of the pan walls. Too many years working with the QC department I guess. Very specialized tool for a very specialized job. Read the fine print in the Starrett website as to the use of this particular micrometer.

Well, if it's a dial indicator, which it is based on the dial and working mechinism, then it is a dial indicator not a micrometer, which has no dial but either a vernier scale as my example above or is electronic but still uses a spindle. The dial indicator uses a rotating dial that can be set to "0" and a spring loaded rod that moves the needle on the dial to indicate thickness. I would work if it were on a better bracket so they could get past the curve of the pan lip. It's a heck of a lot less expensive than a micrometer and if it has a ball end on the shaft and is lined up correctly, could provide an accurate enough reading for what we're talking about here.

Nov 19, 2014
mikie in Cookware

All this talk about quality cookware . . .

Hi Kaleo, I'm a firm believer in buy better and buy less frequently. My SIL went through this with smokers, bought three pieces of junk and spent just as much as if he had bought one Weber Smokey Mountain, which in the end he finally bought at my insistance. Only to tell me latter he couldn't figure out why he didn't buy the WSM when I told him the first time.

Nov 19, 2014
mikie in Cookware

What's safe to use to finish butcher block?

As you stated some woods stain blotchy, cherry for one is exceptionally bad. Edge grain maple should be better, but I make no warenties as to the quality of the wood, tea, or final product appearance. My advice is to test on a scrap and see if you like what you get. I wouldn't use any commercial stain that comes to mind at the moment on a butcher block counter top that wasn't sealed, which brings up the other issue of solid finishes on a working countertop.

Nov 19, 2014
mikie in Cookware