I won a Drinkmate Home Carbonation System!

Good fortune came my way a month or so after the Housewares Show in March of this year. I got an email saying I had won a drawing and that my prize would be arriving soon. The next day my doorbell rang and there was a package for me….

Yes! I won a Drinkmate carbonating machine! At first I didn’t know what to carbonate, so I just kept it in the box. But recently, with the temperature being in the 80s, I decided it was time for some nice, carbonated lemonade!

The machine is pretty easy to figure out with the step-by-step instructions. You lift up the back of the device, put in the COcartridge (it screws right in) and then close the back. Next, you put your beverage into the bottle, and screw on the special top that slides into the machine. Finally, you press the button on the top and it forces the carbonation into the liquid. You do this until the machine makes a hissing sound. Then you take it off the machine, depressurize the bottle with a special valve at the top, and then remove the top.Voila! Carbonated lemonade! It came out great. Now, the only thing I did wrong was that I missed the part in the instruction book that said not to use liquid with pulp. I believe this is in order to make cleaning the bottle easier, as you’re not supposed to use a brush to clean the bottle. But I got it cleaned out and a few days later I tried my next experiment: Carbonated Manhattans! 

I made my Manhattans with a 2:1 ratio of bourbon to sweet vermouth, and added a splash of Angostura bitters. I poured my mixture into the bottle, but it didn’t quite reach the fill line. I think this may have caused a problem with the carbonating of the liquid. as it didn’t seem particularly fizzy. During the process it appeared as if the bottle was filled with COgas, rather than the liquid becoming carbonated. I don’t know what I did wrong, so I’ll try it again with a different drink. (There are recipes on the website.) I actually think that what carbonation there was didn’t add anything to the taste of the Manhattan.

The Drinkmate is available at the company’s website and at Amazon.com

Cheers!

Christmas in Spring!

It’s been like Christmas for the Housewares Maven! I’ve gotten some nice things delivered to me recently and I need to tell you about them!
The lovely people at Robinson Home Products (makers of Oneida, Sunbeam, and more) sent me a fantastic box of kitchenware that I’ve been using almost daily. The items range in size from 2 Tbs. (a coffee scoop), to 8 Qt (a stockpot with a glass cover).
Here is a list of what I received:
*4 stemless wine glasses I think they’re a bit large for wine glasses–I believe they’re about 20 oz. Even don’t want that much wine at one time! However, they were perfect for the Pina Coladas I made in the blender a couple of weeks ago!
*6 forks with handles of different colors. I need to get matching knives and spoons. I love the color assortment and the ability to mix-and-match colors at a place setting. For example, Juniper, Aqua, and Coconut look great together. The pattern is called Terrace, but I haven’t been able to find them in these colors online yet. Be on the lookout for them for your next patio party.
*A set of 4 carbon stainless steel steak knives (I haven’t opened them yet, but they look mighty sharp)
*A 1 qt. collapsible colander–invaluable space saver
*8 qt. stock pot
*Aluminized steel cookie sheet–seems to be nonstick, and it’s a nice bronze color, and sturdy
*Buffalo china salad plate, and man is this thing heavy for a salad plate. Buffalo china is very sturdy stuff.
*Also, a sink mat, a coffee measure, and some football themed Chip Clips.
All in all a very nice bunch of stuff that I highly recommend to you. I’m sure you’ll enjoy any of the above products as much as I do.

Trends at the Housewares Show–a bit late, but you know, not never…

As I meandered through the Show floor, there were a few trends that caught my eye. First of all, I saw more than a couple booths that had their version of the oh-so-popular Swell(tm) bottle. I would show you pictures, but the booths with them had “No Photography” signs.

The second thing I noticed was the increase in the number of fun kitschy products out there. In previous years it had been only a few, like Kikkerland, and Fred and Friends.

Third trend: Copper, once again, although this time it’s become more and more noticeable.

Fourth trend I noticed was iridescent coloring, but not a light color iridescence, No, the items I saw were dark with bright colors.

Here are some pictures of what I was able to capture:

 

Today at the International Home + Housewares Show

First of all, according to my wrist step-counter thingy, I walked 13,458 steps today at the Housewares Show and to dinner afterward. No jogging, no treadmill…just walking the floor at the Show. That’s an all-time high for me! But I digress…you’re here to read about what fabulous products I saw at the Show, right? Ok, so let’s get to it.

First of all, it’s the 70th Anniversary of Igloo Coolers, and the 45th Anniversary of their small Playmate Cooler. Here’s a look at their Legacy hydration bottles they’ve unveiled for the 70th anniversary.

You can see the middle row of cups in copper, which I’ll go into more in my next post.

Another thing I saw today was at the Bialetti Booth. They’ve designed a coffee grinder that is somewhat evocative of their iconic Moka stove top espresso pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally (because I have to get to bed soon, since I have to get up early for a breakfast with the nice people at WÜSTHOF), I’ll leave you with this:

 

It’s a picture of world-famous Joy, in a display of her “huggable hangers.” I don’t know why this picture cracks me up, but it does. She’s at the show tomorrow, so maybe I’ll get to meet her.

 

 

 

WÜSTHOF and their Fabulous Cheese Knives!

Ok, so the Holidays are finally over for me, and my life has settled down enough to finally get this post up. Just before Christmas I got some fantastic cheese knives from WÜSTHOF and i couldn’t wait till New Year’s Eve to use them to prepare my annual cheese boards. First off, here are my three new knives:

hard cheese knifeParmesan cheese knife

soft cheese knife

 

 

 

 

From top to bottom you have the hard cheese knife, the Parmesan knife, and the soft cheese knife. The hard cheese knife has two prongs to pick up the cheese after slicing or cubing it. And the first time I saw a soft cheese knife I was wondering, “what’s with the holes?” but I learned that the holes keep the cheese from sticking to the knife (less surface area), plus you can push the cheese through the holes if it does get stuck.

I recommend these knives emphatically for anyone who’s serious about cheese. You need good tools to get the job done! If you’re interested in purchasing the above knives, you can get them in a nice set at Williams Sonoma, or you can buy them individually as well.

And my cheese boards, you ask? See them pictured below, with cracker accompaniment, and little signs on the types of cheese I used. Enjoy!

cheese 2016

 

cheese 2016-2

cheese 2016-crackers

Holiday Gift Roundup!

It’s that time of the year, so let’s get started!

Fpour-over-pressirst up is the versatile “Pour Over Press” coffee maker from W and P Design. This allows you to make traditional pour-over coffee using a filter cup; French press coffee with the plunger attachment; or cold brew coffee. This products retails for $75. A great gift for any coffee lover!

 

 

 

 

 

 

bloody-mary-2

 

Also from W and P is a nice stocking-stuffer: The Carry-On Cocktail Kit. This kit has the ingredients needed to add to booze to make two complete cocktails. Varieties available include: Old Fashioned, Gin and Tonic, Moscow Mule, Champagne Cocktail, Bloody Mary, and a Hot Toddy. Each set retails for $24 and is available at their website, or at stores like Restoration Hardware, where, as of this writing, it is on sale online for $14.

 

 

 

While we’re on the subject of cocktails, acclaimed bartender Charles Joly has come up with a line of crfths-shakerst_webproducts to make your mixing more stylish. The collection is called Crafthouse by Fortessa, and I’d suggest a couple of options. First is the Shaker Set, which comes with a two piece Boston shaker, a 2 oz. Jigger, a muddler, and a Hawthorne strainer. It retails on Amazon for $100 plus shipping.

The other set from this line is the Bar Tool set. This set comes with a peeler, a knife, a channel knife for making twists, and a black walnut bar board. It’s available at Dillards online for $90. crfths-brtoolst_web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sport-bundle-product1_2Now, how about a stocking stuffer for your teenage son or daughter. It’s not glamorous, but boy is it useful–the remodeez odor and moisture remover. It provides a non-toxic solution to remove everyday odors. It uses activated charcoal derived from coconut husks to absorb odor at the source. You can place them in your shoes, around the house, or in your gym bag. Check out the available styles and place your order at remodeez.

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, some websites with cool, funky products, too many items to list individually:

http://www.fredandfriends.com/

https://kikkerland.com/

https://www.frenchbull.com/

Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Bamboo and other Compostable Products

I visited a friend recently and she went on a tirade against plastic. Well, do i have some great news for her!

EcoSouLife

This Australian company produces a line of products that consists of biodegradable tableware, some of which can be reused,  and some of which are disposable. They are made from a variety of natural materials, such as: Palm Leaf (picked from the ground, not from live plants); Corn Starch; Bamboo; and Rice Husks.

bamboo-main_png_2-3-15_2

 

When processed, the bamboo plates look just like melamine plastic, but will decompose  when buried in the ground (unlike melamine).  Corn starch products also have a plastic look to them, but can be disposed of and will biodegrade within 6-12 months. Rice husk fibers are processed and made into sturdy plates, bowls, and more. The rice husk dinnerware is even dishwasher safe, as are the pieces in the bamboo and the corn starch lines. While some of the dinnerware looks like plastic, some has a more “natural” look, particularly the pieces made from palm leaf.

plam_leaf_square_plate

 

 

There is now a distributor in Florida, so you can contact jr.munoz@ecosoulife.com for more information.

October is American Cheese Month!

If you know one thing about me, it’s that I love cheese! Well, October is American Cheese Month, so let’s celebrate with some fabulous cheeses and some really cool ways of presenting them.

First I’d like to put a plug in for an event at the Villa Park Public Library, in Villa Park, IL. In honor of American Cheese Month they will be offering a program on American Cheeses, facilitated by Meredith Meder, an ACS (American Cheese Society) Certified Cheese Professional. I have attended her programs in the past, and they’re informational and tasty! Call 630-834-1164 to register. There’s a $7.00 tasting fee associated with the class.

 

boska-toasta-bags

Now, next up is the cheese-centric line of products from Boska. One product I’ve read about recently is their Toastabags used to make grilled cheese sandwiches in the toaster. I need to try this one out. There are no crumbs and no mess. I’ve seen pictures of the finished products, and the result looks absolutely yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

master group

If you need to grate your cheese you can go to the Microplane line of products, which I’ve discussed here previously. I’d like to give another shout out to the Master Series Graters with the Walnut wood handle. The Ribbon Grater is perfect for grating ribbons of cheddar cheese for sauces, cheese puffs, and other recipes.

 

epicurean-serving-board-state-shape-series-natural-nutmeg-minnesota-032mn0102-main-500x410

 

 

 

 

 

And what will you cut your cheese on? You need a cutting board, and where better to go than Duluth-based Epicurean. Their cutting boards are beautiful and functional. They are: dishwasher safe, heat resistant to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, knife friendly, made of non-porous wood fiber, and have a limited lifetime warranty. Take a look at some of their designs.

 

 

 

 

cheese-vault

 

Finally, to store your artisan cheeses, we have The Cheese Vault, by Capabunga. It’s a one of a kind, reusable way to store cheese. It is made of food-grade silicone, which allows the cheese to remain fresh and delay mold.

 

Happy American Cheese Month, everybody!

 

 

 

Wedding Season is Here!

It’s time to come up with some snazzy gifts for your friends and family when they tie the knot. I’ve got a few ideas for you:

by-the-pool

 

From Le Creuset comes a new color assortment known as “Oasis.” With colors like Soleil, Palm, Caribbean, and the new Hibiscus, you’re sure to add a mid-century modern aesthetic to your wedding day gift-giving. See more about this enchanting collection at the Le Creuset website.

 

 

 

pyrex dotspyrex vintage charm
Another choice if you’re into retro housewares is the “Vinage Charm inspired by Pyrex” collection of mixing bowls. They’re available at Target, Macy’s and other retailers.

 

 

ullo-2

 

Ok, I know I talked about this in my last post, but I’d like to recommend, once again, the Üllo Wine Purifier. I don’t know any wine drinker that wouldn’t appreciate this gift. You can read more about Üllo , and purchase it here.

 

 

 

 

852030 PRO_cheese barbeclette_2

Literally, Grilled Cheese!!!

340031 Life Candle Light Fondue Twinkle
Know what my favorite food is? Besides potatoes, I mean…. It’s CHEESE! And Boska is a company with many beautiful and functional serving pieces to make any cheese lover happy. Whether it’s a fondue pot, or cheese boards with knives, or a barbeclette (a paddle to grill cheese over a barbecue grill!)–you’re sure to find something you like from Boska.

 

 

french bull ziggy pattern
For something that looks good on the kitchen counter, here’s an offering from French Bull: a dry pantry storage line in their iconic Ziggy pattern. These containers have an airtight lid, have an easy pour spout for dispensing cereal, nuts, and the like, and come in an attractive gift box.

 

 

 

43220_master_zester_life_small

 

 

And finally, The Microplane(R) Master Series. The classic hand-held Microplane graters are styled up a notch with with a beautiful oiled walnut handle, the wood sourced from the U.S. The graters come in fine, ribbon, coarse, and extra coarse, as well as a version of the popular rasp zester. These graters will be available in August at Williams-Sonoma, and in October at other national retailers. For more information, consumers are welcome to visit the Microplane website, or call toll-free at 800-555-2767.

master group

Quick, Act Fast to Order your Üllo Wine Purification System!

Üllo Lifestyle 3
I saw this really cool wine purification system at the Housewares Show in March and had to tell you about it before the special Pre-Order price on Indiegogo  ends. (It ends tonight, May 19th. On Friday, May 20th, all products revert to standard pricing.)

If you don’t know about Üllo, let me tell you…it’s so simple, yet makes so much sense. It was created by James Kornacki, PhD., who got his Doctorate in Chemistry from Northwestern University. Üllo purifies wine by removing sulfites that are added to preserve wine. Once you open a bottle, the sulfites are no longer necessary. To use Üllo, you just put the filter pack into it, put it in a carafe, and pour your wine through, like so:

Ullo Pour Shot2

You can put it over a glass, or in a carafe…it’s your choice. A single filter works for one bottle of wine. Check out the Üllo website for more detailed information on how it works. I had a taste-test at the Housewares Show, comparing wine poured through Üllo, with wine on its own, and the Üllo wine was indeed smoother, so that’s my testimonial.

As I said, Pre-Order pricing ends TODAY! So check out the indiegogo page and order Üllo before the prices go up. Cheers!