Cooking Equipment

How to Choose a Barbecue

Kangaroo Chilli BurgersChoosing a barbecue means spending money on something that you are going to be using on a fairly regular basis with high expectations for the end result. So it’s important to make the right decisions early on in order to avoid disappointments later.

Not All Barbecues are the Same

In fact, if you are relatively new to them, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is a bewildering array of all shapes and sizes, each with its own particular features and, in some cases, eccentricities. But the truth is that, when you get right down to it, there are really only two basic designs; the flat, grill type, which cooks food by the application of direct, and the round kettle as designed by Weber that cooks food by utilizing both direct and indirect heat sources.

The hybrid version of the barbecue grill that also has a hood is still only a flatbed with a hood. It is the positioning of the heat source that makes the true difference between the two types. Let’s look at them separately.

Barbecue Grills

These range from small single burners to massive ranges designed to cater for parties of a hundred or more. They may be square, round, oval or any other shape. Their distinguishing feature is that, without exception, food is cooked by being placed directly over the heat source, whether that be charcoal, gas or (more rarely) electricity.

This makes them ideal for cooking large quantities of steak, sausage, hamburger, chicken wings or anything else that you would normally grill. Ideally the food is cooked on a hot plate placed over the heat to avoid flare-ups. This is particularly important when cooking with the hood closed, where one is fitted, since the oily smoke produced from burning grease can often taint the food, making it unpleasant to eat.

Charcoal burning versions are relatively high maintenance, and you may find, if you buy one, that you use it less and less simply because of the work involved in preparing it and cleaning it after use. They can also become expensive since cheaper versions are prone to rust and grill bars, in particular, may need to be replaced on a regular basis.

Using them as an oven is not always satisfactory. Inexpensive models tend to have hoods made of thin metal that fail to hold the steady temperature necessary for good results. Also the direct heat tends to give very uneven results, although in the more expensive models this is often overcome with the addition of a fan, as in conventional ovens.

Round Kettles

The kettle barbecue is almost synonymous with the brand name Weber, the company that designed and introduced them to s skeptical public some time in the 1950s. They were not an instant success, largely due to the radical design, but quickly gained popularity once the results being produced by them became more widely known.

The key to a kettle barbecue is its roundness, which assists in the circulation of hot air that in turn ensures even cooking of any food placed in it. Coupled with an indirect heat source (the charcoal or burners are placed at the edge of the kettle) this convection causes meat to cook in its own fats and flavors, greatly enriching the end result. And it is this combination of shape and indirect heat that gives the meat its authentic barbecue flavor, regardless of whether charcoal or gas is used.

As an outdoor oven for roasting meat the kettle barbecue has no serious rivals. It does not fare quite so well as a grill, mainly because of its size and shape. Put six medium sized steaks on the grill of a normal, family-sized kettle and it is full to capacity. Direct heat will be needed and this can only really be applied to the center of the grill, owing to the design of the fire baskets or gas burners. In any case a grill plate will be necessary, as in the case of a flatbed barbecue, in order to avoid flare-ups and that, too, will limit how much food can be cooked at one time.


For a family barbecue, the kettle wins hands down for both economy of purchase and satisfaction in use. What is important is to buy one that is fitted with a stainless steel grill, fitments for indirect heating (these can often be bought separately) and some form of ash catcher. You would be wise, also, to ensure that your barbecue is coated with porcelain or vitreous enamel and that the kettle itself is made from heavy gauge metal.

If you intend to do a lot of entertaining, on the other hand, then the flatbed grill is for you, providing you are willing to accept a certain loss of cooking quality as far as roasting meat goes. Even the hybrids will not give you the same results as a good quality kettle.

In terms of quality, the similar comments apply as for the kettle. A thin hood is worse than useless and should be either of heavy gauge steel, or at least coated with vitreous enamel or porcelain. The grill bars need to be of stainless steel, unless you are content to change them each year for new or spend considerable time in maintenance.

Of course, if you don’t suffer from either space or budget constraints, the ideal setup would be to have both in much the same way as you already have in your kitchen. In fact, that is a very good way of looking at your outdoor cooking arrangements. If you use a flatbed grill in much the same way as you do your stove, and the kettle as you would an oven, you will have the best of both worlds, and many happy years of barbecuing ahead of you

Michael Sheridan – The Cool Cook – is a former head chef and an acknowledged authority and published writer on cooking matters. His website at All About Cooking (, contains a wealth of information, hints, tips and recipes for busy home cooks, including video based how-to guides.

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Cooking Equipment Cooking Technique

How to Sharpen a Knife

Chicken StirfryAll chefs who go to a western-style catering college, and most butcher’s apprentices, are taught to sharpen their knives by swiping the cutting edge several times on a steel towards the hand that is holding that implement. I used to do it that way as well, many years ago.

I also used to teach others the same method until the day I saw someone lay his hand open with a cut needing fourteen stitches. That gives you pause for thought.

There are two problems with this way of doing things in my view. In the first place it requires a certain amount of skill and dexterity to make the required contact with the steel; it’s an awkward movement until you are used to it. Few domestic cooks will perform the action enough times in a week, let alone a day, to become at ease with it. The second problem is that most domestic steels are not only very small, they lack a proper guard for the holding hand. The same is true of some steels I’ve seen in professional kitchens.

I began to experiment by reversing the blade. In other words, using the same action but sweeping the edge away from me, as if slicing pieces off the steel. This, too, I found was difficult for most people to master, particularly on the “undercut”, so I went back to the theorists to see what they had to say. Not much, was the answer. A lot of talk about “angles” and “burrs” and “realignment”, none of which did much to help.

Then it occurred to me that in everything I had read and seen, it was the knife blade that did the work while the steel remained erect but dormant. What happens, I wondered, if you move the steel instead? Not very much was the answer, it was just as difficult to do and without any satisfactory result.

Then the light came on. I reasoned that if I moved the knife and steel together, but in opposite directions, I could recreate the original idea but in perfect safety. In reality, the knife blade moves in one direction and the steel in another, creating a perfect edge. It’s achieved by placing the handle end of the cutting edge against the guard of the steel, which is held in front of you like a sword. Draw the knife blade across the steel and at the same time draw the steel towards you. The two implements will be crossing each other at an angle of 90 degrees. Do this on either side of the blade around six times, no more.

Now, the purists will continue to scream this doesn’t work, it’s bad for the blade and all kinds of other received nonsense. They will also tell you this is not “sharpening” the blade, this is “honing” it. Well, I have knives that I have used for over 25 years, all sharpened with this method. As for the second point, this is what Chambers dictionary has to say about that: “Hone: v.t. – to sharpen as on a hone” – But what do they know?

The method I give is simple, safe, easy to learn and will keep a fine edge on your knife for as long as you care to use it. Try it and see what you think.

Michael Sheridan – The Cool Cook – is a former head chef and an acknowledged authority and published writer on cooking matters. His website atAll About Cooking, contains a wealth of information, hints, tips and recipes for busy home cooks, including video based how-to guides.

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Cooking Equipment

Rice Cookers – Perfect Rice Every Time

Confetti RiceLove fluffy cooked rice but dislike the preparation time and clean up? Then rice cookers maybe just what you need. Today’s rice cooker is a thrifty time saving device for anyone’s kitchen. Also eating rice weekly has many health benefits. With so many rice cookers to choose from how does one decide? Let’s take a look at the many features and sizes of a rice cooker and determine which is right for you and your family.

Size – How much rice will you cook at one time? Also consider how much space you have for storing the unit. Rice cookers very in the amount of uncooked rice they hold, between 5 to 10 cups. If one’s family is large or rice is used when having a dinner party then a higher capacity rice cooker will do a nice job. On the other hand cooking for one or two people makes a smaller model a wise choice.

More desirable features – Rice cookers with a glass lid is a “must have” to watch the cooking process. It is also a great idea if the lid has vent holes for steam to escape. This feature makes cleaning up the cooker less messy. Look for a rice cooker with a removable cord as this makes storage easier. Non-stick pans are a must and many models now come with a water measuring line inside the pan wall.

The top rice cookers today are what is called “fuzzy logic cookers”. They are programmed to read the different kinds of rice and adjust the settings according. This would be ideal for folks who love to eat many varieties of rice. This cooker is on the high side of the price scale though.

The internet is a great place to find the perfect rice cooker for you. Browsing thru online stores is an easy way to compare different models. Most manufacturers also have great detailed pictures to help one decide. Rice cookers can have many features so be sure to check them all out.

Curtis Miller is a successful author and publisher ofKitchens 4u. Your source for quality items for your kitchen.

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Cooking Equipment

Choosing the Right Kitchen Knife

Roast BeefKitchen knives come in all sizes and shapes. Each small variation results in a different use. There are long ones, short ones, wide ones, narrow ones, curved ones, angled ones and the list goes on and on. They are made from carbon steel, stainless steel, stamped steel ceramic or even plastic. The better knives are balanced so as they are being used they do not feel awkward. By awkward I mean they feel heavy or light at the pointed end. Proper balance eases the strain on the user. Grips or handles have made great advances further easing the strain on the user. Sharpness is also a key factor in easing the strain on the user. The type of edge used for a particular cutting or slicing project is very important.


The size and shape of the knife determines its primary use. The cook’s or chef’s knife is used for the heavy duty cutting needed in the kitchen. It is normally a longer, heavy constructed knife that will handle the abuse of the overzealous cook. Slicing, dicing, and chopping are some of the primary uses of the cook’s knife. The slicing knife is for use in slicing food such as ham or large cuts of meat. The Bread knife normally has a thin serrated blade. The serrated blade allows it to easily slice through a loaf of bread or a tomato without crushing or tearing. The steak knife is normally a smaller version of the slicing knife, designed for individual use. The knife used most often by any cook is the paring knife. It is a small knife that is easy to handle and can be used for cutting, peeling and dicing fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, etc.


The way knives are constructed determines several things. There are several types of material used in the manufacturing of the blade material.

Carbon Steel blades are made from iron with about 2% carbon. This blade is easily sharpened and holds its edge well. The down side of this is they tend rust if they are not dried immediately after washing. Over time they obtain a dark color considered to be the sign of a quality knife. The higher the percentage of carbon to iron, the better the blade. Stainless Steel blades are made from an alloy of iron with 10-15 % chromium, maybe some nickel and molybdenum with only a very small amount of carbon. This type of material cannot be sharpened as sharp as the carbon steel blade, but it is very resistant to staining and discoloration. Some people think the discoloration imparts a flavor into the food.

High Carbon Stainless Steel blades combine the best of both worlds. They do not discolor like the carbon blades, but they can be sharpened to a keen edge that is long lasting. They do not impart any flavor into your food.

Titanium alloy blades are lighter and more flexible than steel blades. The carbon in the alloy allows them to be heat treated so they will hold an edge well. They do not impart any flavor into your food, either.

Ceramic blades are made from ceramic. They are extremely hard and will hold their edge for a long time. They will cut the glaze on a dinner plate and should only be used on a cutting board. The down side is that they must be professionally sharpened.

Plastic blades are not very sharp and are specialized in the use in the kitchen. They are used to cut vegetables so they don’t turn dark.

Laminate blades are made by layering different materials together. The number of possibilities is endless. The only way to decide if you want one of these types is to buy and try.

Steel blades are either forged or stamped.

Forged blades are made in a detailed process that takes a lot of time and is accomplished by skilled craftsman. I will not go into detail here, but this type of blade is more often than not preferred by chefs.

Stamped blades are designed to be made in mass. The quality of the metal used is such that it can be worked quickly into a finished product. This type of knife is less expensive than the forged one, but it must be replaced on a regular basis.

The Business Edge

The type and design of the knife edge determines how it should be used.

Flat ground blades are tapered from the backbone to the edge. This blade is very strong but is heavy.

Hollow ground blades look a lot like the flat ground except starting about halfway up the blade it is ground into a concave shape. It is weaker than the flat ground blade but has the advantage of being lighter.

The Serrated blade looks like a saw. It is ideal for cutting things that are hard on the outside and soft on the inside. It actually tears the food rather than cutting, so it should not be used for all kinds of food.


The handle of your knife can be made from an array of different materials. The basic handles are wood, plastic, composite and Stainless Steel.

Wood handles are made from hardwoods. Wooden handles are the most attractive and do not become slick when wet. Some individuals claim the porosity of the wood retains bacteria and refuse to use them. This is up to the individual as whether this factor is included in the decision process.

Plastic handles can be molded into almost any shape you can imagine. The modern plastic handle has evolved into ergonomically designed units designed by a computer. They fit your hand nicely, but a lot of pole people complain about the “one-size-fits-all” concept. Also, plastic handles can be slippery when wet.

Composite handles incorporate the best of the wood and plastic materials. They are easy to care for and some chefs will use nothing else.

Stainless Steel handles are by far the most durable. They are the most sanitary but can be tricky to handle when wet. Manufacturers form them with bumps and finger grooves to help eliminate this problem.


This information is not by any means everything there is to know. It should give you the basic information you need to make a qualified decision. There are many variations to the ones listed. Choosing your knife will be determined by several factors. How often will you use a particular knife, what will it will be used for, and how much are you willing to spend are just a few of the things you should look at. Hopefully the information given will give you a basic understanding and an idea of what you might look for when purchasing your kitchen cutlery.

Never Give Up, Never Surrenderhttp://www.rfunstuff.com

About the Author: Johnny Shaw
Born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma. He married in 1971 and then joined the Air Force in 1977. After traveling the world, he retired in 1997 after 20 years of service and has recently moved back to Oklahoma. He has started and online store to supplement his retirement income. His rule to live by “Never give up, Never surrender”

Check out a great range ofdiscount kitchenware and cookware.


Cooking Equipment

Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen Accessories – Why No Kitchen Can Be Without Them?

BakingHow much do kitchen accessories contribute in the making of a great cook? This is a good question, and if you listen to the manufacturers of all the cool kitchen stuff, then you will be left in no doubt as to the answer. In fact, most modern housewives would be totally lost without their extensive array of gadgets and kitchen accessories that are purported to produce the perfect culinary masterpiece. If you spend time watching any of the many cooking shows now on television, then you are left feeling quite inadequate if you don’t have something at least similar in your kitchen to your show hosts.

We don’t have to go back very far in time when the only kitchen accessories were wooden spoons, primitive whisks, china mixing bowls, wood stoves and a lot of the proverbial elbow grease. It is still hard for me to imagine how they managed to beat the egg whites and sugar so stiffly that they could make a perfect meringue, or the lightest of sponges. Nowadays the thought of doing this any other way except with the help of an electric mixer is inconceivable. Being able to bake these mouth watering goodies perfectly in anything other than a perfect temperature controlled, fan forced environment is another very hard fact to grasp. But they did, and they seemed to know how hot their oven was. It has always puzzled me how they survived with no temperature gauges, and in our modern ovens, if you are out 10 degrees then you could well have a disaster on your hands.

How about making bread in these modern times of ours. Our grandmothers would knead the bread by hand several times until they achieved the perfect elasticity. This may well have taken them 10 or 20 minutes each time. Most of us would tire after several minutes of this hard work, but fortunately the dough hook is standard equipment among all good brands of electric mixing equipment. Whether they every get used though, is another question, as it is only the most faithful to the art that still bakes their own bread the old fashioned way. In this case, the oven has been replaced by stand alone bread makers, and baking bread is as simple now as adding water to a packet mix. Some how I don’t think many of our grandmothers would approve.

Many women have become kitchen accessories junkies. Their cupboards are bursting with everything new that comes on to the market. Pie makers, blenders, juicers get pushed to the back as new items gradually fall from grace and make their way down from the bench top. The seriously hooked long ago traded their kitchen benches in for granite. After all, no decent kitchen would be seen without one. This has led to a revolution of total kitchen makeovers. website can help you with some cool ideas, here. New range hoods, kitchen islands as well as cabinets have been turning ordinary kitchens into a beautiful space that any woman would admire.

The kitchen has long been described as the heart of the home, and for any woman who spends large amounts of time there the type of kitchen accessories that she works with is important. Often though, the most homely of kitchens produce the most love and the best tasting food. One doesn’t need to have the latest new fangled milk frother or stainless steel trash can that automatically opens when it senses you coming. After all, no amount of fantastic time saving and beautiful looking kitchen accessories mean a thing, if the kitchen is not used for anything but serving coffee and takeway meals.

Kitchen is where Sam Ness’ wife spends most of her time. Here, he investigates whether kitchen equipment deserves its importance…

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