Microwave Built In Trim Kits

September 30th, 2012 admin Posted in Appliances No Comments »

Most consumers will have a microwave oven in their homes these days with many of them sitting on the counter or perhaps on a side table within easy reach of the kitchen table. Microwave ovens are extremely useful to rapidly heat up leftovers, cook a variety of foods and heat many different kinds of prepared meals that have been designed specifically for heating in microwave ovens.

Microwave ovens are also very energy efficient as well compared to heating foods in the oven  and they save a great deal of time. However they do take up a lot of room, particularly if they are sitting on top of the kitchen counter. As a result many consumers are installing their microwave ovens into their cupboards and treating them as another major appliance in the kitchen.

Placing the oven in a cupboard that is open with lots of air circulation around the unit is perfectly safe, since the fan in the microwave oven will disburse any heated air evenly without any surface becoming overheated.

Why Use a Trim Kit

Trim kits are required for safety and esthetic reasons when a decision is made to enclose the oven on all sides. If a solid surface with no gaps around the sides is used there is no possibility for air circulation  and therefor no cooling effect possible. Some ovens, particularly convection ovens can become quite hot and there is a distinct possibility overheating and fire without the proper precautions being taken.

A proper trim kit ensures that all hot surfaces have a metal protective shield between the oven and the wooden cupboard; they also ensure that hot air driven by the ovens fan is disbursed into the kitchen and not bottled up inside the cupboard. Trim kits can be installed by consumers or they can arrange for a professional installer to complete the installation on their behalf.

Trim kits also improve the esthetics of the microwave and the surrounding cupboards. Instead of a black hole with a microwave sitting in the middle, you have a tailor made matching trim kit that provides that professional look to the installation. There are often various colors and finishes available, however you must purchase the trim kit that is specifically designed for your microwave.

Tools That Will Be Needed

If you plan to install the trim kit and microwave yourself there are a number of tools that will be needed. these tools are pretty common and most home owners who tackle do it yourself projects will have them readily available.  In addition we assume that there is an electrical outlet in the compartment were the microwave will be installed. If not, you will need an electrician to install a new circuit to this location.  These tools include:

  • Screw driver, usually a Philips
  • Marking tool such as a pencil
  • An Awl or punch
  • Scissors
  • Drill with various size drill bits
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Straight edge
  • Jig saw if you need to cut a new opening or  enlarge the existing opening

Safety Considerations

There are a number of safety considerations that consumers should be aware of.

  • Wear proper protective eye covers
  • Turn the power off to the microwave before removal and installation
  • Ask a friend to assist in lifting the microwave into the opening once the kit is installed.

Practical Issues Regarding Installation of a Microwave Trim Kit

Many homes that are designed for a built in microwave will already have a shelf in place with the electrical wiring already installed. If there is an existing microwave in place that you are replacing, you will need to remove it as well as the existing trim kit. It is unlikely that your existing trim kit is going to fit the new microwave due to dimension changes.

You may also have to enlarge the opening to accommodate the new microwave and the new trim kit. Follow all of the instructions and wear protective eye gear while using the jig saw to enlarge the opening.

There is going to be lots of dust when you enlarge the opening. Most consumers will find that you will have to clean everything after you are finished due to the fine dust that floats through the air. If you rig up a vacuum to capture this dust while sawing you can reduce a lot of the dust.

Trim Kit Air Flow

Aside from improving the esthetics, the most important function of a trim kit is to ensure good air flow around the microwave with proper intake and outtake of air from inside the cavity were the microwave sits. This avoids heat build up around the unit prolonging the life of the microwave and protecting the cavity from overheating.

Once the Trim kit is properly installed, test the air flow by holding a piece of paper over the intake to confirm air flow. You can do the same at the outtake location to also ensure that air is moving properly.

Do It Yourself Installation vs. Professional Installation

Trim kits are fairly expensive to start with and the cost of installation can add quite a bit to the total cost of the microwave trim kit combination. As a result many home owners will do their own installations.

Do it yourself instructions are available with the product as well as online. Most consumers who are handy with tools can accomplish this task quite easily. However if you do not have the time or just do not want to install the trim kit on your own, your store were you purchased the trim kit can usually put you in touch with a handy man who can perform this task for you.

Summary

Trim kits for built in microwaves really make a difference in terms of providing an esthetic improvement to your kitchen. What we found surprising is the cost of these trim kits. Depending on the choices you make, trim kits can cost almost as much as the microwave you are installing in the built in opening.

They are relatively easy to install, however you may need to enlarge the opening if you are removing an existing microwave oven.

 

 

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President’s Choice Slow Cooker

November 16th, 2010 Paul Posted in Appliances No Comments »

Have you ever used a slow cooker?  These appliances are great for cooking just about any kind of meal and you do not even have to be there. Just prepare all of the ingredients, place them in the slow cooker , turn it on, set the desired temperature and the time and walk away. Some people will even start a meal first thing in the morning before they go to work, let it cook all day while they are at work and come home to delicious hot meal. These are one of the best appliances that we have purchased.

We bought a President’s Choice slow cooker, however you can buy just about any brand of slow cooker and get the same results. We have cooked chili, soup, ribs, stew and a number of other meals that were just so delicious. The meat is incredibly tender and tasty. Just throw everything into the slow cooker, turn it on and come back 8 hours later to a great meal . Another big advantage, especially when you are cooking vegetables, you retain all of the vitamins and minerals. Traditional cooking in hot water leaches many of the vitamins out of the vegetables into the water, which you then drain out before serving the vegetables for your meal.

With a slow cooker they are retained in the broth and add to the overall flavor of your meal. Hot , delicious, and nutrient rich, these are some of the best meals you can prepare for your family.

Presidents Choice Slow Cooker Features

There are more sophisticated slow cookers than the particular Presidents Choice Slow Cooker that we purchased, however this one more than meets our needs.

There are four heat settings, warm, one, two and three.  You can select the setting you wish based on how long you want to take to cook your meal. If you are in a hurray set the heat setting to three which is high. If you have all day, then leave the setting at one, which will slow cook your food all day long. There is also a warm setting which will keep your food warm until you arrive home.

The timer is integrated with the heat settings. You select the desired temperature, then you select the number of hours you wish the slow cooker to operate. For example, setting the temperature to one ( low temperature ) and the time to 8 hours, the slow cooker will continue cooking for 8 hours at low temperature. The digital timer will count down and show you how much time is left for cooking .

Warm Mode

Once the cooking time is completed, the Presidents Choice Slow Cooker will continue to keep you food warm for a further six hours , so even if your a bit late getting home from work, you will still have a hot meal waiting for you when you get home.

Tips and Tricks for Using your Presidents Choice Slow Cooker

The lid will be very hot so always use an oven mitt when you remove the lid.

Removing the lid often to check on the food or stirring it will release a lot of heat and lengthen the cooking time.  Try not to remove the lid too often while the slow cooker is preparing your meal. You can add as much as thirty minutes to the cooking time each time you remove the  lid.

Your meal can be served directly from the removable crock, however take care not to expose the crock to cold water while it is still hot to avoid cracking it.

Cooking time on high of 2 hours is roughly equal to 2.5 hours on low.

Follow your recipe and manage portion sizes to obtain the desired amount of food that you prefer.  Many recipes can be reduced by cutting the amount of liquid and increasing the cooking time in the slow cooker.

You cannot overcook most foods in the slow cooker. Just place the food in the cooker, set the temperature and the time based on the directions in the recipe and let the slow cooker do it’s thing.

Little or no stirring is required since it is virtually impossible to burn any of the food in the slow cooker.

All meat should be thawed before cooking, trimmed of fat and browned or broiled to eliminate as much fat as possible before placing it in the slow cooker.

Leave an inch of space between the food and the top of the slow cooker to allow room for the food to simmer and cook better. Soups for example will cook better if the liquid is brought to a simmer with an inch or two of space between the top of the soup and the lid. Some soups will come to a boil if it is left on high, so you may want to set it on medium or low temperature and let it cook for a longer period.

Vegetables can be prepared the night before and covered to be left in the fridge. In the morning before you head off to work, place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker , set the temperature and the timer, press start and away you go.

Cooking Time Comparison

Most manuals that come with the slow cooker, the Presidents Choice Slow Cooker included, recommend cooking times. As a comparison if the traditional time is 60 minutes, then you should plan on cooking  for 6 to eight hours in the slow cooker. Note removing the slow cooker lid to check on the food can add as much as 30 minutes to the cooking time due to the heat loss.

Cleaning and Maintenance

There is virtually no maintenance required with the Presidents Choice Slow Cooker. Always wait until the crock is cool before cleaning the pot. Not only is it easier to handle, the crock pot could crack if you place a hot slow cooker crock pot in cold water. Wait until it is cool then clean it thoroughly using soap and water and a cloth. do not use abrasive materials to clean the slow cooker crock pot.

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Krups Coffee Drip Makers

September 21st, 2010 Paul Posted in Appliances No Comments »

Stainless steel appliances appear to be the latest fad to hit the kitchens of Canada and the United States.  They are sleek, clean looking and give your kitchen that restaurant professional look to them. How long this fad will last is any ones guess, but we are embracing it like everyone else, hence our recent purchase of a Krups coffee drip maker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Krups Toasters

September 7th, 2010 Paul Posted in Appliances No Comments »

Our sleek new Krups toaster fits nicely into our kitchen decor with brushed stainless steel look to it complimented by black polished sides. Our old toaster was not doing a good job so it was time to toss it in favor of a new model. There are a lot of different types of toasters to choose from. There are the standard basic toasters which really just toast bread. Then there are the fancier toasters that allow you to toast bagels, using it as a warming oven and more. We opted for one of the fancy models and a good well known brand like Krups.

The Krups toaster that we selected is a four slot model with a variety of features that we will describe a little bit later in this post. We chose the  four slot toaster simply for when our kids are home and we are all having breakfast together. Now we can have lots of toast or bagels quickly while they are still hot. Each side can be adjusted to the browning level that is desired and you can toast bread, and bagels or use it to warm up things instead of for toasting.  This Krups toaster is easy to clean with a slide out tray at the bottom. This tray catches all of the crumbs that fall down and just slides out when you need to clean it.

Basic Toasting

Toasting bread or bagels is pretty straight forward with the Krups toaster we purchased. The slots are wide enough that you can place cut bagels in them or even home made bread that has been sliced thick. Just set the desired browning level, drop your toast in and turn the lever clockwise to engage the toaster. There is a little button at the bottom just below the lever that you can depress if you want to stop the toasting of your bread early.

Hi-lift Function

One feature we really like on our Krups toaster is the hi-lift feature. Once the toasting is complete and if you cannot quite reach your toast, turn the lever counter clockwise and it will raise your toasted item up so that you can easily get at it. There are two additional positions besides the standard raised position, each one raising the toast a little bit higher. Sometimes you will have half a piece of toast or a very small piece of bread that you cannot get at with the standard level. This way you can easily get it out once toasting is completed.

Defrost Function

If you keep your bagels or bread in the freezer you will really like this defrost function on the Krups toaster. Depress the defrost button and drop your frozen piece of bread into the toaster as you would normally . Engage the toaster.  With the defrost button engaged the toaster will first defrost the item and then will toast it as it would normally. Defrosting will take a little more time since the toaster must first defrost your bread before actually toasting it.

Bagel Function

Most standard toasters cannot handle bagels. Even when they are sliced in half, the bagels are still too wide for most toasters. The Krups toaster has extra wide slots that will accommodate even the thickest bagel that you can buy. Once you have placed the bagels in the respective slots of the Krups toaster, there is a bagel button that should be depressed. Depress this button, select the desired browning level and engage the toaster by turning the lever clockwise.  Once browned to the desired level the bagel will pop up automatically. Note when you place the bagels into the toaster the crust side should always be facing outward for best results.

Reheating Function

The Krups toaster also comes with a reheating function. If you need to reheat an item that has already been toasted, depress the reheat button and place the toast into the toaster in the standard manner. The toaster will only come on for a short period  to reheat your toast and then it will pop up with your reheated toast.

Warming Plate

On top of the Krups toaster there is a grill like structure and this is were the warming plate is. All you need to do is set items such as muffins or croissants on top of the warming plate and turn on the toaster. Depending on what it is you are warming up you can set the dial to the desired level.

If you are warming thick items you may have to complete a second cycle and / or you may need to turn them over so that both sides are warmed to the desired level. Once you are ready , just turn the lever again clockwise to engage the toaster and warm up your items. The Krups toaster will stop after the cycle is completed.

One word of caution about warming up anything with an icing on it, anything that is sugar coated or greasy. These items could drip while being warmed up and the fluid dripping down on the hot elements of the toaster can cause a fire. Avoid warming anything that has sugar or icing on it or anything that could drip grease.

Maintenance

Maintenance of the Krups toaster is pretty easy. Always unplug the toaster before you do any cleaning or maintenance on the toaster to avoid any possibility of electrical shock. Wait until it cools as well to avoid being burned. You can clean the outside of the Krups toaster with a mild cloth and mild dish detergent. Dot not use any abrasive cleaning agent as you could damage the finish on the Krups toaster.

There is a tray at the bottom that catches all of the crumbs. Be careful as you slide this tray out to avoid spilling crumbs all over the place. Empty these in the waste basket and then give the tray a thorough cleaning before replacing it inside the Krups toaster. Other than that there is no additional maintenance needed for the toaster.

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Bissell Carpet Machine Plus

July 13th, 2010 Paul Posted in Appliances No Comments »

The Bissell carpet machine plus model 1630C is a very versatile vacuum that can be used in a multitude of ways. We purchased this machine for cleaning our carpets, but have since learned that it can vacuum up water spills, clean upholstery, clean spots and stains and we even use it to close our pool in the fall.

There are a few things you should know before using the Bissell carpet machine plus, however it is really quite easy to use and much more economical than renting a carpet cleaner from a store. We used to rent a carpet cleaner once per year from a local grocery store and clean our carpets. It cost about $40 per day and did a good job, however when you had a small job such as a spot that needed to be removed, it really was not worth renting the carpet cleaner. I am not even sure you can rent these machines any more, unless you go to an equipment rental agency.

There are still companies that come around and clean your carpets. We tried that once. We were not really happy with the work they did. They did all of the carpets, but they go so fast that I am not really confident that they actually did a good job. That was about the time we purchased a Bissell carpet machine plus and now we clean our carpets ourselves. We take our time and do a much better job. Of course we are like many people these days who are switching to hardwood floors, but we still have a few rooms with carpet that need cleaning.

Cleaning Carpets

Cleaning carpets is easy with the Bissell carpet machine plus, however there are a few steps that consumers need to be aware of. First of all, clear all of the room of any furniture so that you can clean the entire rug. If there is some furniture that is too big to move, try to lift it up and support it off the floor so that you can get under the furniture. Next vacuum the rug thoroughly to remove any loose particles that may be there.

Set up the Bissell carpet machine plus with the siphon in the soap dispenser and the water hose attached and begin cleaning the rug. Spray a section of the rug with the soapy solution using the floor nozzles assembly, let it soak for a few minutes and then vacuum it up. You may want to repeat this process several times to get all of the dirt out and thoroughly clean the rug.

Heavily soiled areas can be soaked and left for awhile so that the water and soap solution has time to work its way into the grime.  Back and forth scrubbing will help to loosen the dirt as you are vacuuming.

Once you are finished, you will need to allow the carpet to dry for perhaps 24 hours. Don’t place any furniture on the carpet until it is thoroughly dry to avoid any marks that may be left as a result. Follow the detailed instructions  in the manual of the Bissell carpet machine plus and you will always have clean carpets.

Cleaning Upholstery

You have to be a little more careful when it comes to cleaning upholstery. Some furniture will specify that it must be dry cleaned only which means you cannot use a wet method to clean it and you cannot use the Bissell carpet machine plus. If you try to clean something that is to be dry cleaned only, you risk doing some permanent damage to the furniture.

Next you need to determine if the colors of the fabric or of the stuffing will bleed through and stain your fabric when it is wet. Colored fabric tends to do this and you may not be able to steam clean or wet clean this fabric either.

Before cleaning the entire piece, even if you have confirmed that you think it is ok, test clean a small area in an inconspicuous place. The underside of a cushion works well for this test. If the colors do not run and there is no other damage, then you can go ahead and clean that piece of furniture.

Use the upholstery tool to do the cleaning and clean one piece of furniture at a time thoroughly following the detailed instructions that comes with the manual.

Cleaning up Spills and Spots

Cleaning up spills and small spots with the Bissell carpet machine plus is easy. Just spray some water and a little soap solution on the spot, let it sit for awhile and then use the Bissell carpet machine plus to vacuum it up. You may want to repeat the process several times if it is a particularly tough spot to get out. I sometimes will spray water on the spot using the Bissell sprayer on the hose and then vacuum it up just to get it extra clean.

Closing the Pool

Every year in the fall we need to close our pool for the winter. Aside from dropping the water down, we need to blow all of the water out of the lines from the pool to the pump and back to the pool again. The Bissell carpet machine plus is excellent for this task. We switch the hose from the intake inlet to the outlet so that air is blowing out through the hose. We then attach the hose to one of the pipes leading to the pump and turn it on. There is sufficient air flow that it will blow all of the water out of the pipes with significant force. We have two return lines so we plug one and blow the water out and then repeat the process by switching to the other.

Maintenance

Maintenance of the Bissell carpet machine plus is pretty straight forward. Empty out all of the dirty water and then flush the tank with a hose and also the vacuum hose. also remove the siphon from the soap container and operate the trigger to flush the system of any remaining soap solution. Let it dry and you can store it until the next time you need carpet cleaning.

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Egg Genie

June 1st, 2010 Paul Posted in Appliances No Comments »

We just bought an Egg Genie to cook hard boiled eggs and it is one of the best products we have purchased in the last while. We used to hard boil eggs the old way or the standard way depending on how you look at it. A pot of boiling water, put some eggs in and hope they don’t crack while they are cooking and hope they are fully cooked when it was time to take them out.

Almost every time we cooked eggs this way, one or more of the eggs would crack and there would be white egg material all over the pot floating on top of the water. It was almost gross to look at. Basically what would happen is that the eggs would be moving around in the water bumping into each other and if the water was boiling too hard, they would crack and create a mess. Read the rest of this entry »

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First Product Review Will Be Wind Generators

January 20th, 2009 admin Posted in Appliances No Comments »

We’ll be making our first product review this week for 2009. It will be regarding Wind Generators and Wind Turbines.

We will discover data on Helix Wind Turbines and other Residential Turbines. This is written the day that Barack Obama took the Oath of Office. As it is well know that Obama will be promoting alternative energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal.

Residential Wind Generators are an exciting new method for by we can help reduce our load on the electrical grid.

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Cheap Coffee Grinder That Works – Cooks

October 29th, 2007 admin Posted in Appliances No Comments »

cheapcookscoffeegrinderthatworks

 Coffee Grinders

My wife and I have been looking for a cheap coffee grinder that works, and it’s been a real challenge. We’ve tried many different types of cheap coffee grinders that one would buy at your average department store.  We’ve tried cheap coffee grinders from Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Zellers, Kmart, Sears, etc.

These cheap coffee grinders never last long, or they just don’t work at all.  Often you have to stand over the coffee grinder depressing a button, and it’s painfully slow.  But even worse is the coffee grinders that are built into coffee makers. 

Now you have a real problem, because the steam and the moisture inherent to the coffee maker causes the coffee grinder to gum up, and you end up taking apart the coffee grinder portion of the coffee maker and cleaning it thoroughly before you can use it again.  Not only must you clean it after every use, it seems, before you reassemble the coffee grinder you must make sure every little part is perfectly dry.  In short, a serious pain in the butt.

Now the good news.  While shopping in the United States again, my wife tried yet another cheap coffee grinder, which she purchased at JCPenney.  She had discovered that the only way to use a cheap coffee grinder is to make sure that it is a standalone unit (what ever you do don’t buy a cheap coffee grinder/maker due to the reasons described above).

This little coffee grinder is cheap, and believe it or not, it works.  It’s never failed in the last four months of use.  It has a timer built in so you can just leave the coffee grinder running until it’s made enough coffee for your chosen pot size. You can set the coffee grinder to make enough coffee for anywhere between 2 to 12 cups.  You can just walk away and come back to see all of your coffee beans ground and ready.

We were pretty cynical by now and fully expected this grinder to last perhaps a week at the most.  We were pleasantly surprised to see that it not only worked well, it kept on working. We just didn’t want to spend allot of money on a high quality coffee grinder like a KitchenAid Pro Line Burr model for instance.

So….we certainly recommend checking out the Cooks coffee grinders at your local JCPenney.  We’re not sure if this particular model, which you can see in the inset photo (click to a enlarge), is even available anymore, but if they can sell a cheap coffee maker that works, they can certainly make another.  Maybe the new ones will be even better.

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