Monday, September 29, 2014

Equipment Review: Best Stand Mixers

Buying a stand mixer can be expensive, then add to that the uncertainty of how well the mixer actually performs can make you queasy. The only information you can go by is the manufacturers propaganda or personal biased reviews that are not truly comparison reviews because they only deal with one brand.
I found this comparison test while looking through my favorite cooking magazine "Cooks Illustrated" (you need to buy a subscription) and TV show "America's Test Kitchen". I think you will find it helpful mixer if you are planning the purchase of a stand mixer. They explain and test the needed capabilities of a stand mixer.

The Test:
Published on Oct 1, 2013

Video of the Test:
Also at this link are dozens more tests of various kitchen equipment you may want.

Read full testing details on Cook's Illustrated:
Buy our winning stand mixer:

A stand mixer is one of the most expensive appliances in your kitchen, so it had better do it all—from whipping a single egg white to kneading thick pizza dough. We ordered nine models, priced from nearly $230 to a jaw-dropping $849, to find out which one performed best.

Products tested (listed alphabetically):
Bosch Universal Plus Mixer
Breville Scraper Mixer Pro
Cuisinart 5.5 Quart Stand Mixer
Cuisinart 7.0 Quart 12-Speed Stand Mixer
KitchenAid Classic Plus Series 4.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
KitchenAid Pro Line Series 7-Qt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer
KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer
Vollrath 7-Quart Countertop Commercial Mixer
Waring Commercial Professional 7-Quart Stand Mixer

About America's Test Kitchen:
America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.

Each week, the cast of America's Test Kitchen brings the recipes, testings, and tastings from Cook's Illustrated magazine to life on our public television series. With more than 2 million viewers per episode, we are the most-watched cooking show on public television.

More than 1.3 million home cooks rely on Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country magazines to provide trusted recipes that work, honest ratings of equipment and supermarket ingredients, and kitchen tips.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Firewood for the Winter of 2014-15

I'm getting ready for winter, not that I have a lot to do except that getting a load of firewood is one of them. Depending on how cold the winter turns out to be I will use a cord to a cord and a half. And yes it gets chilly here in December and January, occasionally water in street puddles will freeze over and windshields frost over. The normal winter temps are 40f nights - 60f days with a week or so of 25f for the lows.

We burn fires for a couple reasons, we like the sight, sounds and smell of burning wood, it's peaceful. Also I heat with a heat pump that uses 10,000 watts of electric heat strips that help the heat pump generate enough heat when outside temps fall below 40f. Needless to say that does make the electric bill go up noticeably :-) So having a fire burning actually generates enough extra heat that the heat strips do not come on. The cost of the wood doesn't offset the higher electric bill but we get to have our winter fires with a little benefit to the electric cost.

Buying firewood here in NE Florida one would think the country is totally out of wood and it just doesn't exist anymore! Every year I go to Craigslist because last years guys are out of business and have to make numerous phone calls trying to get a load of wood delivered. Same old stories, "I don't have any wood yet, I'll be there tomorrow and never show, It's to far to drive, I only sell by the pick-up bed load but don't know the size of the pickup bed", etc, etc.

I finally did find a guy who had dry wood and claimed to have GPS so finding my house wouldn't be a problem!!! Well it was, he drove by three times before I went out in the street and stopped him. The cost for oak for about 3/4 a cord this year was $200 delivered and stacked. That's the most I have ever paid, normally it's $125.

So anyway, let it snow I'm ready for part of the winter! :-)

Here's this years stack of wood measures 3x3x8 feet. Each piece is about 16-17 inches long.

Side view of the same stack.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Italian/French Baguette Style Bread

Revised 9-25-14
Nothing goes better with Survival Spaghetti than fresh home made Italian or French Bread with that crisp crust. 
(This is a shortcut method to quickly make a reasonable Italian Bread or French Bread. True French Baguettes requires a substantial amount of prep time and technique to make the real thing. This shortcut method is very close to real French Bread and can be made in a camp stove oven with no special equipment.)

 After 12 hours in the refrigerator, a bubbly fully risen dough.

Shaped and waiting for it to rise again.

Risen with ugly slash cuts (should have used a razor blade)  ready to bake.


Sliced, yummy.

Close up of crumb.

4 cups all purpose flour
12 oz water
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar

This initial mix makes a very wet dough and that's the way it's supposed to be. 
Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined in a bowl, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 12 - 24 hours and let it cold ferment. It's this long cold fermenting (raising) give the bread its unique open crumb and flavorful taste.
Note; You do not have to cold ferment. I have successfully accomplished the 12 hour fermenting at room temperature and there's barley a noticeable taste difference.

Remove dough from the refrigerator, bring to room temperature and knead in more flour to make a tacky dough but shape-able. Add maybe another 1/2 - 1 cup of flour.

Shape dough into 3 baguettes about 12-15 inches long (or a loaf shape). Slash the tops with 3 angled slashes. The slashes allow the crust to expand when baking so the yeast bubbles can grow resulting in a classic open crumb.

Let the shaped baguettes rise 1-2 hours (triple in size) at room temperature.

Bake at 425f for 15-18 minutes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Added a couple more blogs to my Blog List

Thanks to "Framboise Manor" for bring to my attention the blog "A Homesteading Neophyte". My goodness does this girl have problems right now. I'm sure she will work through them. Her posts are very educational for the homesteader, self-reliant person.

The other one is "Michigansnowpony". She doesn't have a blog but creates hundreds of quality videos on all homestead topics. Worth looking at.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Grain Mill Comparison Test

I thought you may find this comparison informative if you are thinking of buying a grain mill. Unless you know someone who owns and uses a grain mill you are left to buy one based on the manufacturers ad's or if fortunate enough to shop at a store that sells them and will test one for you so you can see how well it works and especially the noise level produced.

Below is the link to Breadtopias' test (video's) of four popular grain mills. The Wonder-Mill, Nutri-Mill, KoMo German Mill and the Hand Cranked/Manual Wonder Mill Jr. Except for the German mill these mills are priced about the same. Details of each can be found at BreadTopia, the link is below.



KoMo German Mill

Hand Cranked/Manual Wonder Mill Jr

 The Family Grain Mill

The Family Grain Mill on my old KA mixer

The test compares the time it takes to mill one cup of grain, The temperature of the milled flour and what most people want to know is the decibel level or how loud are they!

Myself, I own and use "The Family Grain Mill" in both the manual crank version and using one of their adapters I can use my KitchenAid mixer to power the mill with. I really like my mill and to date have milled over 300 lbs of grain without a problem.

Link to the test videos:

Link to BreadTopia, lots of kitchen tools sold there and good information: