Friday, July 1, 2011

Washington Partly Bans BPA - and you can too!

Washington stops the sale of products to kids that contain BPA.
Goodbye, bisphenol-A, better known by your street name, BPA. You were a useful carcinogen for so many years – we microwaved you, froze water in you, drank water out of you, stored our food in you, all while blind to your leaching into our food and drinks. 

Now, the great state of Washington (ChefTools HQ is in Seattle) has banned you ... partly. Beginning today, no one can sell bottles, cups or containers meant for kids under the age of 3 that, uh, contain you, BPA. Next year, you won’t be in sports bottles sold in Washington. 

Unfortunately, BPA is still in most plastic products. It’ll probably be a while before it’s gone from every product, if that’s even possible.It may never go away since studies show that low levels are, apparently, OK in low doses. But as governments start to recognize the dangers of chemicals like BPA, we start down a path to their eradication. 

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been able to drink (especially hot beverages) out of a plastic cup for a couple of years. I swear I can taste the gross, gross chemicals swimming in my drink. I avoid using my plastic spatula, too. 

Take a gander at some of ChefTools’ BPA-free products. We always clearly label our BPA-free items. If you're turned off by plastic entirely, we have plenty of alternatives. Get a ceramic travel mug. They don't leave behind a taste, they're easy to clean, and they hold heat better than anything. Want a sturdy spatula, but don't want it to ding your nonstick pans? Try nylon or silicone. There are plenty of alternatives out there.

While governments work to ban dangerous, non-food safe chemicals, we can do our part by not purchasing products that contain BPA or other harmful chemicals.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ceramic Knives - Can We Convert You?

Ever watch 'KCTS Cook's' some weekend when it was pouring rain and there was nothing else on tv? In other states it's 'PBS Cook's' - usually an all-day telethon fundraiser where the Public Broadcasting System would bring in local chefs to prepare fabulous recipes from our favorite local dining establishments. Before The Food Network, PBS was the only place I could watch an entire afternoon of cooking shows and be mesmerized at how quickly and fluidly they chopped veggies and herbs. Or learn what the difference was between sauteing and braising. It's where I fell in love with cooking and a cutie-pie chef named Ming Tsai. He and Kathy Casey were my favorite! But what I loved the most, and still listen for today, was the sound of the knives on the cutting boards as they chopped their way through the ingredients.

Well now that I'm in the "cooking industry" I have learned a lot more about the real lives of chefs and the tools they use - even those knives that make the magical sounds as they are slicing against the cutting board. I found out that it's a new phenomenon (well, new to me) called Ceramic Knives. Ever heard of them? Ever wondered why some people rave about them? Well, I did so I did some research and tested them out and now I'm a true believer... here's why.

Advanced Ceramic, which is what the Kyocera knife blades are made of, are second only to diamonds in hardness! Remember the old movies where they'd scratch a mirror with a diamond to see if it was real or not? Well, these blades are almost as hard which means they will last a very long time, a lot longer than your typical stainless knife. Not only are they strong but they stay sharp at least 10 times longer than any other knife! This may sound like a lot of mumbo jumbo to most of us ladies, but when the men in my life, 2 of which are Boeing Engineers, heard this, they were really excited to test the knives themselves. Quite impressive to me to see 2 engineers get excited about a cooking tool! HA!

I bought a set for my Mother-in-Law to try out and she is now a believer! She is a phenomenal cook, in fact I've learned a lot of recipes from her over the years, so I wanted to get her a set of really good knives. She is a changed woman, in fact this is what she told me just this morning: "The (ceramic) knife you got me is great, I never use any of the other knives anymore!"

I love mine so much and preached the love of the ceramic so often lately, that I now have orders from my entire family! My uncle wants a Chef's Knife, my Dad is getting a set: Santoku, Chefs and Paring and I'm even buying them as a wedding gift for a family member.

So, have I convinced you yet? What if I tell you that Kyocera is solely used by Ming Tsai of "East Meets West" fame (swoon)? Or that Kyocera will fix or replace a knife that ever breaks? Or that they offer free sharpening for the lifetime of the knife? And for us ladies, they offer a very affordable line called "Revolution" that comes in all of our favorite colors! Of course I had to have the green!

Try out a ceramic knife and see for yourself. I bet you'll convert and love the magical sound of the ceramic blade cutting on your cutting board just like I did!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Unseen Power of the Crumpled Cup

Le Froisses!

I’ve been readying a line of Revol products for the last week for debut on Among these products are some new styles of Revol’s rather famous line of crumpled porcelain cups. Revol, a French company, calls these cups “froisses,” which means “creased.” I had always thought they were cool looking cups, but I started to wonder whether the design was just for looks or something more.

So, I asked someone. Walter, the founder of ChefTools, brought me over to our office water cooler for a lesson in crumpled porcelain. “You’re probably too young to remember this,” he said, holding a Revol cup up to the cooler and pretending to fill it up, just like one of those little paper Solo cups."But this is how you would crumple the cup after you were done drinking!" he said, pretending to squeeze the tiny porcelain cup.

Of course! Then I held the crumpled cup in my hand (this was the tiny, shot-glass size one), and behold, my fingers fit perfectly around the crease. I was unfortunately too dense to see it, but Revol’s crumpled cups series was inspired by … crumpled cups. 

Check out the full line of crumpled cups, and be on the lookout when we add new ones around the beginning of August. They come on all sizes and colors, and maybe you’ll have fun telling party guests or whomever that your purposely crumpled porcelain cups are an artful comment on our disposable culture. Or, that they just look cool.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Round, Square or Belgian?

How do you prefer your waffles? Round, square or Belgian?

I personally love Belgian waffles - nice and crispy on the outside and soft and cake-like on the inside. Big, puffy, golden brown Belgian waffles.

And why am I tempting your taste buds with waffles, you may be asking. Well, because it's National Waffle Iron Day of course! Yes, another holiday based on a fun kitchen electric.

A couple of years ago I was on the hunt for a really great waffle iron. I didn't want your run-of-the-mill flat, square waffle iron. I also didn't really want a huge contraption that was going to take up half of my kitchen counter (I have a rather small kitchen where counter space is extremely valuable.) So the hunt was on!

Most of the waffle irons I found made the typical, flat, square waffles that I was not completely fond of. Then I went to one of the big box stores and found the industrial, commercial style contraption that you flip over half way through the cooking time. But, wow was it a monster! It made the perfect Belgian waffles, but could barely fit through my kitchen door! Next I hit some thrift stores, figuring I could find a good, old, traditional iron to make my beloved Belgians. Still no luck!

At this point, I have given up the hunt. I still look every time I'm at a flea market or barn sale - in hopes of finding my vintage Belgian beauty. But as of now, the only waffles I get to make are while staying in a hotel with a "complimentary" breakfast bar. But it's still fun filling the iron with batter and flipping over the large contraption half way through - it makes me feel like a kid again!

If you're looking for a great Belgian waffle recipe, check out this one from Tina over at "My Life as a Mrs." Her recipe sounds delicious and her photos are enough to induce extreme salivation. (see photos in this post, we borrowed them from her).

Do you prefer round, square or Belgian waffles? Order them for your next breakfast out as an ode to the wondrous Waffle Iron!