Building a bookshelf for my child

Initially, my idea of building a bookshelf was to purchase a ready made shelf that needed to be assembled following the instructions that come with it. The problem started when my daughter, an avid reader, could not find one that she liked. The wood was too dark, the pre-cut shelves did not fit in the area where she wanted the book shelf etc. So, I talked to her about what she really wanted and we hashed out a simple design. It turns out she wanted an honest to goodness book shelf that was similar to those in libraries; capable of housing several dozen books. The difference was that she wanted it to have a back so that her books won’t fall to the back.

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I looked for a design in the internet that was easy to make using a drill and bolts instead of a hammer and nails. I eventually found one that was fairly straightforward in design with a minimum of fuss to make. My next problem was where to get the lumber for the shelves. I found a hardware store that had connections to a lumber yard with treated wood. Using treated wood is important because these have already been kiln dried and treated so the wood won’t warp or fall prey to termites. My daughter liked wood that was lighter and naturally colored, like pine, so we went with that. The lumber yard cut the wood according to the specifications of the design that I found on the internet and all I had to do was make sure that the wood went where they were supposed to. Building a bookshelf was ok, the hardest part was getting the wood to actually fit. I had some issues with the drill and aligning the wood but all in all, it was a success. I love that my daughter finally got a bookshelf that she really liked and that I made it for her.

Best Chef Knives to Buy

Buying a set of kitchen knives is not always the best idea. It is tempting to purchase a set of knives, but it is also worth noting that in the set that you buy, most of the knives will not serve a useful purpose. The amount of money that one can spend buying a set of knives can be better spent on purchasing a few selected knives that will last for a long time while serving the intended purpose. Therefore, when am looking for best chef knives to buy, there are several considerations that I should take. The best recommendation for home chefs is to have at least four knives. The most important of these is the chef’s knife, serrated knife, 3-31/2 inch paring knife and a six-inch boning knife.
chef knives
Wusthof is one of the best chef knives to buy, and many chefs including me swear by its efficiency. It is of high quality, and it has also stood the test of time considering that it has been in production for over 200 years. The knife is manufactured in Germany, the knife making center of the world. It has a curved blade, and it feels very comfortable when handling it. The blade is Japanese style called a santoku. It is has a considerable wide blade, but at the same time, it is not cumbersome. It is also a little bit thinner when compared to other popular chef knives.

Henckels is also another chef knife that is also manufactured in Germany. The company that produces this knife is the largest knife making company in the world. The company has been around since the 1700s and it produces eleven different sets of knives. The Pro S models are the best chef knives to buy compared to all the other models. It is manufactured from pure steel and has a three rivet handle which makes it comfortable when handling it as well as efficient and durable. It is one of the mainstays in my kitchen. It is well balanced, it has a great feel, and it does not require a lot of prepping before you start to use it.

Buying Cookware

With all of the different brands, shapes, materials and price points out there, buying cookware can be a confusing proposition. But it doesn’t have to be. With a little bit of knowledge of cookware shapes and terms, and a little thinking about your own cooking style, you will be able to outfit your kitchen with a selection of pots and pans that will be the best cookware for you.

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Know Your Shapes… And Which Ones You’ll Need

There are dozens of different cookware shapes, from everyday workhorses like a skillet to specially shaped fish poachers.

Familiarize yourself with the different cookware shapes and their names, and then decide which ones you’ll actually need.

Although buying 7- or 10-piece sets often seem like a good deal, don’t buy one unless you’re sure you will use all the pieces regularly. Often there will be a few essential pieces, combined with odd shapes or sizes that you’ll never use, which wastes both money and cabinet space.

Instead, build up a collection over time as your budget and kitchen allows. A few basics to start with:

  • A medium- to large-sized skillet (10 to 12 inches) for sautéing and stir-frying
  • A nonstick skillet for cooking eggs (8 to 10 inches)
  • A 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven for cooking stews and soups, and for boiling water for pasta or potatoes
  • Or, instead of the Dutch oven, a 6- or 7-quart rondeau pan, which can be used for braising, pan-frying, pan-roasting, and more.
  • A saucepan or saucier for cooking smaller batches of soup, as well as sauces, rice and grains, and vegetables.

Once you have the basics, build upon your collection with other pieces that make sense for your cooking style. Other useful cookware pieces include:

  • A small saucepan (1 or 2 quarts) for melting butter, boiling an egg or heating a can of soup
  • A wok if you do a lot of stir-frying
  • Additional sizes of nonstick or uncoated stainless steel skillet, depending on how many people you cook for. A small nonstick skillet is great for cooking 2 scrambled eggs or an omelet, while a very large one can be used to cook a big batch of eggs, pancakes or bacon.
  • A cast-iron skillet (10 to 12 inches) for searing meat, making cornbread and more.
  • A grill pan for indoor grilling
  • An inexpensive stock pot for boiling water for pasta or potatoes, or for making stock
  • Additional sizes of saucepan
  • If you don’t have one already, a or saucier for cooking risotto and grains, or for making custards and delicate sauces
  • A steamer insert
  • A double boiler for melting chocolate or making delicate egg-based sauces

Learning About Metals

The type of metal or combinations of metal used to make a piece of cookware is key to having a pot that works effectively, whether you’ll looking for a piece of cookware that will retain heat for a slow, steady cooking process, or you need a pan that will conduct heat quickly but also allow you to adjust the temperature quickly.

You’ll often see references to the gauge of the metal used for the cookware. This refers to the thickness of the metal, and the smaller the number, the thicker and heavier the piece will be.

These are the metals most commonly used in cookware, and their properties:

Knowing what pieces you’ll need, and the best materials to choose, will go a long way in helping you outfit your kitchen with the best cookware for your needs. In many better-quality cookware pieces, different combinations of metal are layered to take advantage of their varying attributes. For instance, a pot may have a stainless steel interior and exterior for the durability, with an aluminum layer inside for conductivity.

Aluminum: Conducts heat quickly and evenly, and is sensitive to temperature changes, so it cools nearly as quickly as it heats. Aluminum is also lightweight and durable, but it can adversely react with acidic or alkaline foods so it’s often coated with another material, such as stainless steel or nonstick finish.

Anodized Aluminum: An electrochemical process makes aluminum nonreactive and resistant to scratches. It also gives the cooking surface nonstick properties. The anodization process also seals in the aluminum so that it is less likely to corrode into food.

Cast-Iron: Produces heavy, thick, durable pans that are slow to heat but are excellent at retaining and distributing heat. Regular cast iron, or enamel-coated cast iron, are good for deep frying and dishes requiring long cooking periods like braises or stews.

Copper: Excellent at conducting, distributing and retaining heat, but copper tarnishes and dents easily. Because it is an expensive metal, it’s often used in combination with other metals, such as in only the base or a pan or in a thin layer in the construction.

Stainless Steel: Durable, non-porous, nonreactive and resistant to rust, corrosion and pitting. Because stainless steel is not very conductive, it is often combined with other metals, such as copper or aluminum.

Source: About.com

I Finally Found a Great Chef’s Knife!

I love to cook, as long as it isn’t too difficult, and I need the right tools to make the job easy. Take knives for instance. When it comes to choosing the best kitchen knives, such as a chef’s knife, you could end up spending a lot of money on a lot of different knives before you find just the right one for you. For the best kitchen knives and chef knives recommendation, you can visit this site which I think might be helpful for you. This was the problem I had. So, with that in mind, I have created a list of things to look for so you get the right knife the first time, and don’t end up having to spend hundreds of dollars on other knives that you will never use. (More: Buying Advice)

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Weight

The weight of a knife plays a huge role in its functionality. If it is too heavy, it isn’t going to work for you. On the other hand, if it is too light, you will have difficulties using it as well. Look for a knife that has a bit of heft without being overly heavy. You should be able to easily maneuver the knife without it being so light that it practically flies out of your hand.

Balance

Another important quality that you will find in the best kitchen knives is balance. In order to know if a knife has the right balance, you need to hold it. If it feels too heavy at either end, move on to the next knife because that one doesn’t have a good balance.

Size

An ideal blade size is about eight inches. This is going to be the most versatile knife for you, and anything longer may be too heavy or difficult to work with. Also consider using a six-inch knife for more delicate cutting.

There is one more thing to consider before making your purchase. Make sure that the handle feels comfortable. With these tips in mind, you can go out and find the perfect chef’s knife without the confusion that I had.

How I stumbled upon a cheap espresso machine for our cafe

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Espresso is loved by the world over for among other reasons, its bold taste resulting from an intense method of preparation. At our cafe, we give much attention to the espresso machine that makes it possible for you to enjoy this beverage. Given the soaring demand for espresso in our cafe, I was charged with the responsibility of sourcing an extra espresso machine with an emphasis on affordability since our cafe was not doing well at the moment.

I went hoping from shop to shop, trying to compare prices and features and the whole process opened me up to a world of unbelievably cheap espresso machines that might interest you. It is amazing how the machines have been modified to give buyers value for their money. Manufacturers have made use of technology to make sure your drink is hotter, thick and top quality, I came across a machine fitted with brewing controls so you can choose between a regular or bold flavor coffee, fully automated with round the clock programmability and an adjustable temperature control not to mention a self clean mechanism and a gold tone, all these at fantastic prices.

After much comparison, I spotted a particular model, I was first drawn to its nice silver accents but on further scrutiny, I realized that it had great pros that were a perfect match for our cafe given our budget: it occupies little space which would mean that it would leave adequate space at the counter, it has a sizeable water reservoir able to serve between 8 and 10 shots before refilling greatly reducing time wastage in fetching water, not to mention a clear section behind the basket indicating the water level. This best espresso machine has an amazingly fast heat up time of about a minute. It has been three years down the line and I do not regret the decision I made. Online reviews show that it has a longevity of between 6 and 8 years.

So if you are looking for a cheap espresso machine, I have great news for you, they are out there at whatever budget you may be working with, supplement your physical search with an online search.

I now have more rice cookers than I need

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Ironically, I bought only one. Rest of these rice cookers have been received as gifts. My sister in law for one loves shopping, but does not keep things with her. She gives them away as gifts. I have received one of these from her, and another one is a gift from one of the friends. She gave me this rice cooker at the time of our house warming ceremony. My mother gave me one at the time of our marriage. I used that one for a long time till I received the one from my friend. The one I bought is smaller, and the only one that I need. These rice cookers may not have advanced features that are now available in the top rice cookers nowadays but they are all functioning.

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I am just confused about what I should do with them. My daughter wants to buy modern looking appliance with sophisticated features. My son is still young, and though I could hoard it, I am sure his wife would not be too happy receiving out dated rice cooker from her mother in law. May be they will even laugh about it behind my back. My older son already has already purchased one, and so has my older daughter. I am a bit hesitant to let go of the rice cooker that my mother gave. But comparatively, the rice cooker that my friend gave works better. If I give away what my sister in law gifted to me, she would learn of it, and our relationship could get strained.

I wish I had searched the net for any buy back offers, before ordering the smaller rice cooker. That way, I could have saved some monies, and given away one of the rice cookers. As things stand, I might be gifting away the rice cooker given to me by the friend to some old age home. That would still leave me with three rice cookers. Isn’t that one rice cooker too many?

Related reading:
How to cook rice perfectly
5 new cooking uses for your rice cooker

How I Have Been Able To Make A Kill From Selling Camping Mattress

So you know; I live near one of the best camping locations in our area. We receive tons and tons of campers every week and that has in a way been a blessing to number of friends for their businesses are doing great. A few months a go, having seen how my friend and other business people minted thousands and thousands of money from the people coming to camping, I also decided to start a small business of selling air mattresses. An air mattress being one of the most precious commodities for any camper, it was very sad that there was no place campers could buy such items in our area. I talked to a number of my friends about my new plans and they were all happy; they gave me a go head. Besides, the kind of ideas I got from them even made my plans even more viable. The place being visited frequently by campers, it was obvious, I was going to make a kill by selling the best camping air mattresses. I had on several occasions had a number of campers asking for these items and I knew that was going to be one of the opportunities to make money just like others.

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To cut the story short, it is now months since I started selling some of the best air mattresses and the business it is destined for greatness. Currently, selling some of the best models, on a good week, I sell up to 50 units. So you can imagine all the money I have been able to net from that. To some extend I do not only owe all that success to the kind of monopoly my business enjoys, but the kind of air mattress I have in store. They are comfortable and the kind of convenience a camper can net from an air mattress is another thing.

More: Intexcorp