Powerful tools score a touchdown with users: power tool lighter weight, easier to use, smarter designs.

Do your current power tools cause you to “fumble” through your workday? Today’s industrial power tool users demand products that stand up to abuse, feel good in the hand and simplify their job. To meet these needs, power tool manufacturers are using modern materials and techniques to design tools. So, put down that drill and read on to learn about the latest trends in the power tool industry chances are you’ll find something that will help you “tackle” that ever growing list of work orders.

Material Selection

It used to be that all power tools were made of metal and seemed to weigh a ton. Then along came plastics, which made tools lighter but less durable. For this reason, many manufacturers have gone back to using metals or are working to develop more durable plastics for tool construction.

As far as metals are concerned, Rob Hartman, manager of product engineering at Sioux Tools, Inc., says the industry moved from steel to aluminum, but is currently using even lighter metals like magnesium and titanium. “The trick is to get as light as possible but to balance that with the need to be durable and serviceable. Magnesium isn’t as durable as aluminum or steel, but it’s much lighter so it’s a trade-off to get to the lighter weight.”

High tech plastics are also in the limelight when it comes to new tool materials. “Plastic is becoming more sophisticated and is getting stronger,” says Randall Coe, director of product marketing with Bosch Power Tools. “In the beginning, the move to plastics was about weight and cost savings, but now it’s about making composites better and stronger.”

For instance, Coe says, Bosch offers Tough drills tools constructed of an ABS nylon composite called Durashield. The material has the properties of plastic, is more durable and impact resistant.

And firms like Sioux Tools are offering products in a variety of materials in an to please everyone. “We have three series of random orbital sanders,” says Hartman. “The 690 Series is made of aluminum so it’s not light but is very durable, the 790 Series made of magnesium for a lighter weight version, and the 890 Series offers a plastic housing, making it one of the lightest weight products available.”

Ergonomically Speaking

“In litigation-happy America, everyone is concerned about eliminating ergonomic problems by designing tools that are lighter in weight, more comfortable to hold, and offer less vibration and lower sound levels,” says Hartman.

To do this, tool manufacturers are changing the design process. “In the past, tool design was a very qualitative thing. We would design a drill and pass it around for people to hold and decide whether it was comfortable,” says Hartman. “But now the process is much more quantitative because we are using published data on human hand sizes. This allows us to see what 90% of the population has for hand sizes and what the exact measurements are, so we can fit people properly.”

Using this information, manufacturers are coming up with some interesting, ergonomically correct products. Metabo recently introduced the Power Grip, a very small, pistol grip cordless screwdriver.” It fits in the palm of the hand in the proper ergonomic position and allows people to drive screws in very tight locations because of the small and comfortable design,” says Terry Tuerk, technical services manager with Metabo USA.

Another popular trend driven by ergonomics is the advent of tools with interchangeable handles. “It used to be that you bought a tool and it had a standard handle,” says Hartman. “But now we realize that there’s people of all sizes in the workplace, so one size handle doesn’t really fit all. As a result, many tools are offered with interchangeable handles.”

Along these lines, Bosch offers a compound slide miter saw with a handle that can be moved into four positions based on user preferences. “We noticed that some people select a saw because it has a handle that is more comfortable for the individual,” says Coe. “So we designed this miter saw with a moveable handle that people can adjust any way they like and then lock it in place.”

Vibration dampening handles are another new development. Bosch offers a line of rotary hammers with vibration dampening handles.
“These handles actually have about one half inch of movement so that as you put pressure on the tools, there’s an actual shock absorption,” says Coe. “The handle is designed so that as force comes one way, the handle moves the other way which provides a lot of shock absorption.”

Tricks of the Trade

Not only are manufacturers making improvements that allow tools to last longer and feel better, but also they are trying to make the user’s job a little easier. “We are looking at selling solutions that will lower our customers’ cost of doing business,” says Hartman. “Just selling cheaper tools isn’t the answer. Instead we, and other manufacturers, are starting to offer additional features.”

One of the latest styles along these lines is the addition of electronics that actually make tools smart. “In Europe, Metabo has introduced a self-diagnosing tool in our rotary hammer line,” says Tuerk. “By using a computer program and a wand, the electronics inside the tool diagnose any problems. You simply wave the wand over the tool and it talks to the tools, sends a message to the computer, and then prints out a report that tells you exactly what needs to be fixed.”

Sioux Tools is offering a tool with built-in timing features that calculate how long it takes to drill a particular material. “Through electronics, the tool alerts the operator that drilling time is increasing, which lets him know that the bit is dull and needs to be changed,” says Hartman.

Bosch uses electronics to improve efficiency and cordless performance. “We have a table saw with electronic feedback that allows the blade to maintain constant speed even under load,” says Coe. “The electronics maintain an even feed rate by keeping power in reserve. When the load is increased, it grabs from that reserved power, rather than lowering the RPM when pressure is applied.”

Some manufacturers are also providing tools with a higher power to weight ratio. Specifically, there’s more power in today’s tools than in those of three years ago with the same size package. This is done through a combination of higher quality materials in the motors and newer motor designs that provide a higher amp rating. Metabo, for example, now offers the Excalibur, a 6 in. grinder with 12 amps of power. The previous version had the same size package, but only offered 9 amps of power, says Tuerk.

Another helpful change is the move toward design for manufacturing. “When we design new products, we are trying to make them easier and less expensive to service,” says Hartman. “This is done by eliminating fasteners so pieces just snap together, minimizing the number of parts, and making it so that the tool only fits together in a certain way. Tool repair becomes less confusing for the people on the floor when tools are designed this way.”

Bosch is aiming for the same goal. “We want to design tools so they are field serviceable,” says Coe. “This means we include things like exposed brushes and easy to remove motor caps and use swivel cords that are easier to replace. We try to keep in mind what parts will break and make them easier to fix on the job site so it doesn’t create unnecessary downtime.”

As you can see, there’s a lot that is new in the power tool industry. More changes are expected on the horizon as tool manufacturers continue to work on their game plan for designing the next generation of power tools.

Why Vacuum Sealer is the best food saver product for kitchen

For a lot of housewives as well as home manufacturers vacuum, food sealer is among the greatest innovations in our time. It’s not just really useful however very useful around the kitchen too. The best vacuum sealer maintains the beef, chicken as well as seafood clean as well as thoroughly clean within our freezer. This helps avoid germs in a direction to distribute within our glaciers container. Additionally, it delays the actual storing space being in our food. Individuals right now can purchase beef as well as vegetables within the mass and never have to be worried about refrigerator room as well as spoilage.

What is the function of it in the kitchen:

Once the vacuum food sealer very first arrived from the marketplace this is a quite simple however useful device. Nonetheless currently their ascent to being a lot of drives this question product provides however obviously this has a small additional price. A person has to know what types of functions are actually useful as well as that which you absolutely need. You will find the vacuum sealer along with built-in move owner as well as used vinyl cutter. You will find other people that provide a hands-free procedure for those who tend to be hectic as well as usually in a rush round the kitchen. Continue Reading

Chewing the spud.

The quality and versatility of the humble spud is often under exploited by pubs and restaurants. But with wedges, patatas bravas and gratins proving increasingly popular, potato products are firmly in the spotlight

The solid citizen of the root vegetable world, the potato is all too often taken for granted in professional kitchens. But with British dinners at home seven times more likely to contain potato than rice or pasta, spuds surely deserve elevated status on restaurant and pub menus. While most establishments will acknowledge the importance of a good chip, there is plenty more room to exploit the myriad alternative potato products that can be added to the menu mix.

More than 80 varieties of potato are grown commercially in the UK alone, each boasting a different flavour, texture and appearance. What’s more, potatoes are eminently flexible, meaning there’s a huge range of items that can be created from them, either in-house or by specialist suppliers. Some potato dishes take time and skill to make from scratch, but thankfully there are also excellent prepared products available to chefs and we’re not just talking frozen chips.

From ready made roasties to wedges and mashed potato (a whole world away from the days of powdered Smash), there are all sorts of time-saving, easy to use potato products that achieve consistent results and score highly in taste tests, too.

Following research that identified demand among pub chefs for pre prepared home made style roast potatoes, McCain has launched its Signatures Roasts. Made from potatoes that have simply been peeled, chopped, blanched and frozen, they’re ready to roast in the oven in under 30 minutes. What’s more, in a taste test which pitched the roasts against those made from scratch, the majority of consumers were unable to tell the difference.

Chefs who make roast potatoes from scratch are finding them time-consuming, labour intensive, difficult to produce to a consistent standard, and that they create a high level of waste, says Rebecca Rowlands, McCain Foods profit sector product manager. Seasonal issues with the fluctuating quality and cost of the potato crop can also make it difficult to manage budgets and maintain profit margin, whilst they also take up valuable oven space on Sundays when space is at a premium due to the need to roast large joints of meat.

A reputation for serving consistently great tasting roast potatoes can help operators stand out among the competition. But these operational challenges mean that 80% of pub operators only serve roast potatoes on a Sunday, despite their status as a pub classic and consumer favourite. The introduction of McCain Signatures Roasts ensures operators can now maximise the profit opportunity offered by roasts by serving them throughout the week.

Aviko also offers roast potatoes made from specially selected potatoes and ready to cook in as little as 20 minutes as does Farm Frites, with a new gluten free coated roast potato (for extra crunch) just about to join its existing range. Another popular option within Aviko’s frozen potato range are herb diced potatoes, which are tossed in parsley and basil and can be cooked in three and a half minutes in a fryer or 10 minutes in an oven ideal as a premium alternative to chips.

Snacking and sharing are certainly two major growth areas that show little signs of slowing down. In fact, nearly a third of consumers prefer to share dishes with companions when eating out, according to recent research. Potatoes particularly wedges are now considered a key part of any tapas style offer.

According to Aviko, which supplies gluten free frozen wedges in a wide range of flavour options such as garlic and herb, spicy and Tex-Mex, they generate a whopping 935% gross profit. The company’s general manager for UK and Ireland, Mohammed Essa, says They can be prepared in a matter of minutes, helping caterers deal with serving a large number of people in a limited time frame. Another bonus is that the wedges offer guaranteed portion control because they don’t have to be prepared in advance.

Farm Frites’ wedges (including a soon to launch chilli version), new patatas bravas (tested in Spain and Portugal for authenticity) and Lamb Weston’s newly launched ‘potato dippers’ (skin on potatoes shaped for dipping, ready to fry or oven bake), also tap into the snacking and sharing trend, and create the opportunity for impulse sales.

Farm Frites’ market manager Nic Townsend says More and more of us pop out for a drink or snack, and products like wedges and bravas can create unplanned sales when offered at the bar or alongside a bottle of wine with dips or seasonings to spice them up.
Lamb Weston’s UK sales director Nigel Phillips adds Customers find dipping a great way to relax and the start to a good evening out with friends, and our new potato dippers provide the chef with the ideal base to get creative with a range of colourful dips.

Farm Frites now the third largest potato processing company in the world has a broad range of potato based products spanning everything from pommes Parisiennes and deluxe mash to croquettes and waffles, alongside every iteration of fries imaginable.

Of course, at this time of year, many dishes call for the warmth and comfort of creamy mash, or something more indulgent like dauphinoise or potato gratin.

Peka Kroef’s range of gratins all of which are ready in just 20 minutes in the oven includes a classic dauphinoise, a ‘deluxe’ version with an even richer flavour, a vegetable variant with the addition of carrots, leeks, parsnips and celeriac, and a Mediterranean version with paprika and sweet pepper cheese.
Neil Smith, head of food marketing at Brakes, says sales of potato gratin have been on the up and show no sign of slowing. Brakes also offers a gratin dauphinoise which is increasingly in demand.

Offering more premium potato lines on menus is becoming popular among operators as a way of providing a point of difference, he says. The Brakes Individual Potato Gratin Dauphinoise is particularly popular, especially as it makes portion control and costs easy to manage. It also works well for banqueting or special occasion menus, such as Valentine’s, Mothers’ Day and Easter.

Aviko’s cream and cheese gratins made with Emmental and cream are individually prepared and portioned (in 100g sizes) to help save time and reduce wastage. They can be baked in an oven in around 25 minutes or in a combi steamer in approximately 16 minutes.
And if you prefer to do things your own way, you still can with a ready made mash, as Brakes’ Smith explains We’ve seen sales of standard lines such as Brakes Essentials Mashed Potato which can be customised with ingredients such as horseradish, mustard, cheese and leeks growing as operators seek to display ‘home made’ on menus.
La Pataterie the French specialist chain that’s heading over the Channel

French potato themed restaurant concept La Pataterie is planning its first restaurant in the UK this year with the potential to roll out its brand across the country. The group, which has around 170 restaurants in France, is looking at towns in the south east with a population in excess of 100,000 for its inaugural UK site.

La Pataterie sells itself as having a quirky, rustic design, a friendly atmosphere and hearty cooking centred around the ‘samba’ potato variety. The menu offers the likes of fondues, tarts, potato bakes, gratins and salads, with seven dishes under 7 euro (5.80 pounds sterling ) and an average spend per head of just over 17 euro (14 pounds sterling ).

Billed as France’s first ever potato themed restaurant, it was launched in 1996 in the south of the country by Jean Christophe Pailleux and Michel Gambart, with further sites added at a steady rate until 2003, when the group grew rapidly through franchising.
La Pataterie plans to open one UK site this year, three in its second year, eight in 2016 and then 20 a year after that. It is looking at sites of between 2,500 and 4,500sq ft.

Chip Week an opportunity not to be missed

Chip Week returns from 17 to 23 February, so what better time to highlight a genuine customer favourite on your menu

The annual event is now in its 23rd year and provides a marketing platform to drive sales. Stu Baker, Chip Week campaign manager for the British Potato Council, says Chip Week is now a national institution and pubs and restaurants are being urged to get involved and celebrate one of the nation’s favourite foods.
A mix and match chip menu from chunky chips and thin fries to lattice style chips and spicy wedges is a great way to support Chip Week, boosting sales and giving customers the opportunity to choose their favourite chip.

Introducing a second, more premium chip, such as McCain Sweet Potato Fries or Lamb Weston’s new Sweet ‘n Savour sweet potato fries (coated with a savoury seasoning and available in crispy and ribble variants), is another way of getting customers talking about chips during Chip Week.

McCain Foods’ Rebecca Rowland says Offering the opportunity to upgrade from standard chips for an extra 1 pounds sterling will not only satisfy consumers’ demands for choice, but will help to increase profits while minimising the impact on operations back of house.

A regal hard cheese with nearly unmatched levels of gastronomic status.

Declaring Parmesan the king of cheeses might be a step too far but, in truth, few others have a better claim to the throne. Parmesan is the French word for Parmigiano and has become a generic term to denote two distinct products Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano.

The pair both have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, meaning that they can only be made in certain parts of Italy. Grana Padano has its origins in the Po Valley but is now produced over a wider area with varying regulations and controls. Its arch rival’s production area is more limited Parmigiano Reggiano is only allowed to be made in its namesake Parma as well as in Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna (all in Emilia Romagna) and also to the north in Mantova, Lombardia.

Militant approach to protection

The artisan production methods for Parmigiano Reggiano are protected with particular ferocity the Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano is famously militant in its approach, employing agents to check each and every wheel.

Both these hard, grainy well aged cheeses are produced in broadly similar ways. The (always unpasteurised) milk comes from top notch and usually very specific breeds of cows and is partly skimmed before being warmed with starter culture and rennet.
Once the mixture has thickened the casoro (cheesemaker) separates the curds from the whey, which is usually used to make ricotta. After being left to settle, the curd is drained, transferred to moulds and weighted. After a few days, the wheels are removed from their moulds and brined, before being left to age (see panel). The results are impressive, the older varieties in particular, which combine a fresh milk taste with salty and sweet and a heady hit of umami.
Parmesan’s global reach is partly attributed to its long standing partnership with pasta. It’s expected for restaurants to offer Parmesan with most pasta dishes and the bulk of Parmesan consumed here will be on spag bols and lasagnes. In these difficult times, lots of restaurants are opting for youthful varieties of Grana Padano which though still a great cheese is considerably cheaper than Parmigiano Reggiano.

If I was using Parmesan for cooking I’d probably go for a Grana Padano, but for eating on its own or finishing a pasta dish I’d use a Parmigiano Reggiano, says David Deaves, manager of cheesemonger cum restaurant La Cave a Fromage in Hove. We always stock 24 month and 48 month Reggiano, but at the moment we have some six year old product which is fantastic really granular, really sweet the crystal content is amazing.

Despite its status as a mainstay of the UK cooking scene, Parmigiano Reggiano retains its exclusive credentials, a happy state of affairs for producers that can be attributed to its consistently high price point and regular marketing campaigns.

The importance of regional variations

However, its well publicised PDO status has a semi commoditising effect on the product, to an extent creating the idea that it is all essentially the same, save age. This is not the case all Parmigiano Reggiano is made to very high standards, but regional variations are permitted.

Massimo Bottura, chef patron at Modena’s Osteria Francescana a regular within the top 10 of our World’s 50 Best Restaurants list favours the Parmigiano Reggiano made from the famed Vacca Bianca Modenese (the white cow of Modena) and sources his from an organic dairy down the road.

Parmesan’s flavour is easily lost, it’s nearly always better to add it at the end of cooking. The very un Italian practice of grating it and spreading it out on non stick Mafter mats to make Parmesan ‘crisps’ is frankly a criminal waste. Bottura’s famous dish of five different ages of Parmesan five different ways sees him create foams and airs but notably he never exposes it to intense heat doubtless seeking to avoid the wrath of the Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmesan essentials

Buying advice If possible restaurants should buy in at least a kilo at a time to reduce the chance of the cheese drying out in storage. Some say Parmesan should be stored in a damp tea towel but excess moisture can promote the growth of mould. If possible, Parmesan should be wrapped in wax or greaseproof paper and stored at cellar temperature. Most varieties of Parmesan are available pre grated but it’s infinitely better to grate to order.

Aging Parmigiano Reggiano has to be aged for at least a year. The two superior grades are Vecchio (18 24 months) and Stravecchio (24 36 months). Grana Padano is sold in three different stages of ripeness Grana Padano (9 16 months), Grana Padano oltre 16 mesi (over 16 months) and Grana Padano Riserva (over 20 months). As both varieties of cheese age they get stronger and become more grainy and crystalline in texture.

Vegetarians Neither cheese is suitable for strict vegetarians because it is always made with animal rennet. Lots of restaurants are bad at remembering this and will often designate dishes with Parmesan as being suitable for vegetarians.

Bet you didn’t know 600 litres of milk are needed to make a 38kg wheel of the cheese.

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Non-electric bread accessories hot

NEW YORK Retailers and suppliers are discovering that slicers, bread knives and other non-electric accessories can be a modest but lucrative add-on business to the burgeoning, $260 million electric bread machine category.
Non-electric items, often retailing for under $30, are being purchased with machines that retail for $100 to $200; they are also being bought by consumers who own machines and need to cut or store loaves, said experts. In some cases, accessories are displayed and/or advertised alongside machines and mixes in catalogs, department and specialty stores.

“While they don’t make a huge impact, accessories are a viable add-on sale to machines,” said a Southeastern department store buyer who cross merchandises machines with mixes and non-electric items. “About half of consumers purchasing machines buy accessories. Accessories also make a great fixed standing sale for the person that already has a machine, comes in to buy mixes, and sees them. We also use them in machine demos. Their performance is pretty fair, averaging about 5 to 8 percent a week sell-through,”

Another department store buyer said machines and accessories allow him to make a statement in gift-oriented housewares, an area with little brand awareness. “In cookware, the story is brand. But with a hot, gifty category like this, it makes sense to tell the story in merchandising. Last year, for example, I sold 5,000 pizza stones from one company in a pizza statement. If the firm had another name, though, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the consumer.”

Integral parts of the “story,” said buyers, are slicers, crumb catchers, bread boards and combinations of the three. Designed to help the user slice a clunky home baked loaf uniformly and/ or catch crumbs, choices include upscale hardwood models as well as more utilitarian plastic units.
“Our grooved cutting board/ bread knife combination has become our hottest selling board overnight; and we offer 60 different boards,” said Lifetime Hoan president Jeff Siegel. “With many machines retailing for about $200, another $10 is no big deal.”

Hoan’s set has placed in A&S, Lechters, Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Carson Pirie Scott and other department stores.

In upscale goods, Perfect Slices L.L.C.‘s adjustable slicing guide comes in a maple wood model, a maple/plastic combination and a fully plastic version, said principal Roger Fortney. It has placed in Bloomingdale’s by Mail, Marshall Field’s, Dillard’s and other upscale retailers.
Vermillion Inc. has added a creative touch to the basic slicer and other items. Made from ash wood, its four SKU Tenth Street Bakery line includes a crumber board shaped like a piece of bread and a warming board with a terra cotta center tile. The tile is heated and placed on the board to keep bread warm for 30 minutes, said national sales manager Gary Robinson.

While the products of Lifetime Hoan, Vermillion and Perfect Slices were developed for bread, Loroman Co.’s plastic lined, steel step pail was, ironically, originally intended for refuse.

Its life as a flour storage container, said marketing director Arnon Hiller, began when Anne Parrish, editor of the Electric Bread cookbook, wanted to suggest bread accessories to readers. Today, products are also sold for flour storage in Williams Sonoma and the King Arthur Flour Catalog.

The pails, available in several colors, have a food safe, removable liner. Offered under the company’s Brabantia assortment of Dutch made products, they hold 5 and 10-pound flour bags. Matching bread boxes hold two loaves each.
Plastic storage of loaves is another area vendors are targeting, with Frye International offering a Farberware licensed loaf storage/slicer. The airtight product is a microwaveable, cost efficient alternative to wooden bread boxes and slicers, said president Bud Frye.

Eagle Affiliates also has a plastic slicer/crumb tray, with the Betty Crocker licensed product suitable for cutting as well as serving. The device, said director of marketing Russ Gropman, is just as useful to home bakers as it is to consumers purchasing crusty, bakery made bread.

“Whether it’s because of the bread baker craze or store bought bread, a lot of unsliced loaves are being brought home,” he added. There’s been an enormous rise in the amount of loaves sold in bakeries, with a lot of supermarkets putting in bakery comers.

Cutting it Up

Bread knives are another hot accessory, with most manufacturers reporting significant increases in the item’s sales over the past year.

“We’ve experienced a 20 percent increase in sales of bread knives in 18 months, with many just buying the bread knife,” said Tommer Cutlery & Woodenware national sales manager Harry Hoffman. “We’ve also packed the knife with our bread crumber/cutting board for certain customers.”

Sales of Sabatier/Cuisine of France’s 9.5 inch bread knife have risen 30 percent, said president Loids Van Leuwen. “It’s just a standard knife in every manufacturer’s assortment. But no matter how sharp a knife is, you need a scalloped, serrated edge to cut bread or you crush it because it’s crusty outside and soft inside.”

At retail, a senior buyer for a nationwide specialty chain said bread knife sales are up 10 to 15 percent. Consequently, he may add exclusive combinations such as a knife/bread board, a bread and cheese knife or other sets.

Cross merchandising of knives and other products has gained popularity in direct mail catalogs as well, said Fridr. Dick general manager Michael Wallick. In Nature Farms, for example, some of the manufacturer’s half dozen bread knives are part of a promotional offer for bread mix, he added.

At department stores, cross merchandising is often done in sales circulars rather than at store level; knives remain in the cutlery department.

Wusthof Trident of America was one beneficiary of this tactic, with a major, upscale department store chain featuring its 10 inch Avante Garde Super Slicer in ads with bread machines and related items. Due to the knife’s success, Wusthof has added an offset bread knife, allowing the user complete knuckle clearance during cutting.

“They said it’s the most successful single item they’ve ever promoted,” said Northwestern regional sales manager Scott Severson. “In ads, it was shown with slicing guides and Panasonic machines. It is the only [stamped] Avante Garde product they carry and they sold out of the first order within a week.”

J.A. Henckels has also targeted the bread craze, having incorporated its Four Star and Professional S 8 inch bread knives in sets. Each set also includes a 5 inch utility knife for slicing bagels, said national sales manager Howard Ammerman.

Cooking for friends gets Hamilton juiced

We’d like to peek inside Khanh Hamilton’s kitchen gadget drawer in a few months to see if it’s still meticulously organized or has fallen into confusing disarray, as these catch-all spots are prone to do. Hamilton gets a pass. She and her husband, Neil, are still unpacking boxes at their new rural Waukee home, built to replace the one destroyed in a 2004 fire.

The Hamiltons helped reclaim Central Iowa dining tables from a fast food, eat on the go culture by starting a local Slow Food U.S.A.“convivium” (a derivative of the word “convivial,” for those not indoctrinated in the ways of Slow Food, defined as a fondness for feasting, drinking and good company). With all that emphasis on food as a unifying force, you might expect a kitchen drawer full of sophisticated gadgetry that would make Emeril’s kitchen look barren by comparison.

Instead, Hamilton pulls out a wooden reamer, a cousin to the more common juicer that, as its name implies, obliterates the pulp and squeezes every last drop of juice from a lemon or lime. Her friend Jo Ghrist gave it to her four years ago, and it was among the items rescued from the smoldering remains of Hamilton’s former kitchen. One side of the device is darker than the other due to smoke damage, but it’s still functional and absolutely essential, according to Hamilton. “Everyone needs on of these,” she says, twisting and turning it in a halved lime.

Nestled between an assortment of knives, shears and bamboo chopsticks is a “church key” that is, an old-fashioned bottle opener with an oval shaped end that resembles an ornate key to a massive door. Dark stains on its handle also reveal its pre-fire life. Hamilton explains it was salvaged because “it’s hard to find a really good church key.”

This one was found in Reno, Nev., or so the inscription on the handle says. “When Nell travels, he picks up things,” she says, speaking in a universal language that wives everywhere understand.

And, according to Hamilton, her husband doesn’t throw away much either, a trait betrayed by a wine cork that rolls to the front of the gadget drawer by the sink when it’s opened. She goes along with saving a few corks as stoppers for bottles she fills with vinegar water and fruit, but a humorous smile with a trace of exasperation reveals this area where couples don’t always see eye to eye. “I think he never threw away anything in his life,” she says, pulling from the back of the drawer a pastry brush made useless by its broken handle and then correcting herself. “But I do it, too.”
Putting the kitchen indeed, a household back together after a fire is a sometimes perplexing task. Friends hastily boxed items salvaged from the smoke and water damaged lower level of the house and stored them while the Hamiltons’ new home was under construction. As a result, the whereabouts of some kitchen gadgets remains a mystery. “A couple of weeks ago, a friend called and said, ‘I think I still have your grandmother’s china here,'” Hamilton says.

Making the kitchen comfortable for cooking and conversation was obviously a priority for a couple that has elevated mealtime to an art form. The gadget drawer yields four vegetable scrapers not the flimsy aluminum models that cost a couple of bucks but deliver hundreds of dollars of aggravation, but peelers with beefy, easy to grip handles. Why so many? Painting a word picture of fellowship so vividly detailed that the aroma of stewing apples seems more than just a memory pulled from the recesses of the mind, Hamilton explains that she passes them out to friends who visit when she’s busy peeling apples for apple sauce and other harvest time delights.

“It’s not that efficient,” Hamilton admits, “but the best way for people to learn is to come and help. I work better by myself, but it’s fun to share ideas.”

Hamilton’s culinary skill is legendary throughout Greater Des Moines, so it’s no wonder people seek her advice. She has no formal education in culinary arts, but because she grew up as part of a large family, she spent her share of time in the kitchen, where she learned to experiment with spices and flavors.

Delicious meals start high-quality Ingredients, she says. “When you have a good ingredient, you don’t have to go be real fancy,” simple and wonderful. When I cook, I don’t have a lot of ingredients. I start out with very good products, and the flavor can come out by itself.”

That’s easy at the 10 acre Sunstead Farm, where the Hamiltons maintain a “chemical free” garden. Vegetables are interspersed with the different species of flowers that grace the tables Hamilton sets when she caters a meal, including tomatoes of every size, shape and color imaginable; several varieties of potatoes; hard to find ingredients like celery root and sorrel: parsnips; leeks (15,000 plants this year); and whatever else strikes the couple’s fancy.

The garden has been harvested, and Hamilton eagerly sends her guests away with butternut squashes, white beets (they taste the same as red beets, but don’t stain clothing) and sweet potatoes. Protests of “that’s too much” fall on deaf ears. Hamilton enjoys sending guests away with the bounty of the land as much as she does cooking for them.

But that s not to say everything that has come out of Khanh Hamilton’s kitchen has been a culinary masterpiece.

There’s always the catfish.

While camping overnight at a friend’s farmstead, Neil Hamilton strung a fine at a pond in hopes of snagging a catfish. The following morning, the quarry had indeed been hooked. “We had to wrestle him awhile, but finally managed to him home,” Khanh Hamilton says, spreading her hands two feet apart to illustrate the size of the fish.
They carted the fish, still alive, to their home and invited the owners of the pond where it was caught to be their guests for dinner that evening. Between peals of laughter, she tells an animated story about the fish jumping from her kitchen sink and flopping around on the floor and she swears this is true chasing her into another room before the errant creature was captured anew, killed, cleaned and cooked.

Finally, the Hamiltons and their guests sat down for what they expected would be a delicious meal of sesame seed encrusted catfish. “It was pretty awful,” she says, wrinkling her nose in distaste. “We just couldn’t spit it out fast enough.”

But that’s something that almost never happens in Khanh Hamilton’s kitchen.

Make an expandable cutting board

A simple cutting board is one of the most useful kitchen helpers there is. The expandable cutting board described here is unique. It consists of two smaller boards, which can be quickly fastened together with wing nuts, to make a larger board for larger kitchen projects.

Wood cutting boards are often preferred by many chefs. At one time, wood was frowned upon by hygienists because they felt it couldn’t be cleaned properly. Then research showed wood had a natural substance in it that discouraged bacterial growth. However, there is still some dispute about this. My personal preference is to use wood directly for cutting vegetables and fruit, but disposable cutting sheets on the cutting board for raw meats and fish.

Hard maple (Maple syrup comes from hard maple trees.) is probably the best wood for a cutting board. However, finding a large enough piece for a full-sized board is tough. Often boards are made from pieces glued together. However, glued boards aren’t dishwasher safe. This expandable cutting board gets around this problem by making it easy to pull apart, so you have two solid cutting boards.

What You Need:

* 1 – length of a 3/4″ x 5-1/2″ x 24″ piece of hard maple

* 4 – 12″ lengths of a 2×2 (legs)

* 12 – 2″ long #8 flat head wood screws

* 2 – 3-1/2″ long 1/4″ carriage bolts

* 2 – 1/4″ wing nuts

Preparing the Parts

Cut the piece of 3/4″ x 5-1/2″ x 24″ hard maple exactly in two, so you have two 12″ long pieces. Because it is hard, it may be wise to use a hacksaw. Sand the edges of the wood so that they are rounded a bit.

The short elongated “legs” are made from 2×2’s attached lengthwise to the maple top. Two of these legs are used for each board. Each leg is attached to the maple top with three 2″ long #8 flat head wood screws.

You will first be drilling 5/32″ holes in the four legs. See Drawing 1B. After the holes are drilled, use a 1/4″ drill bit, and drill about 1/4″ deep in all the holes. This is called “recessing” because the screws’ heads will be “recessed.”

Two legs will also need holes so the two cutting boards can be fastened together with the help of wing nuts and carriage bolts. To do this, follow Drawing 2, and drill 9/32″ holes where indicated. Because the carriage bolts must go through the holes in both legs, make sure they are lined up before you drill holes in the second leg.

Putting the Parts Together

This project consists of making two identical boards. The boards can be used alone or fastened together with wing nuts for larger cutting jobs.

In the following step, you will be making marks in the underside of the maple boards. Use these marks as a guide for pilot holes in the maple boards. Set the leg against the bottom of the board where you want it mounted. To make marks in the maple board, put a small nail through each hole in the leg and tap it. Now, using a 1/8″ drill bit, drill about 3/8″ in the maple.

DON’T GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE MAPLE BOARD, OR YOU’LL HAVE A HOLE IN YOUR CUTTING BOARD! Do the same for all legs. (Notice the legs with the two 9/32″ holes should be placed so they “go together.”)

Before attaching legs to board with wood screws, carriage bolts must be inserted in holes. See Drawings 2, 3, 4 and photos. Use a hammer to tap them in all the way.

Following Drawing 3, attach the four legs to the underside of the maple boards with the 12, 2″ #8 wood screws. The individual cutting boards are now useable. To put them together, see Drawings 3 and 4 along with photos.

Using It

As mentioned, you can use each board separately for small cutting jobs or attach them together for a larger board for bigger jobs. Make sure to take the boards apart before cleaning. Once apart, the cutting boards are dishwasher safe. It isn’t recommended to cut raw meat directly on the wood. Rather, first place a disposable cutting sheet on it. Also, it is wise to wipe the surface with Lysol kitchen cleaner and then wash in a good anti-bacterial dishwashing liquid. Source for the Maple Boards

Environmentally safe bottom paint

In a radical departure from traditional antifouling bottom paints that contain toxins or biocides that kill marine growth when they contact it, the Interlux Yacht Division of Courtaulds Coatings, Inc. has introduced a new generation, antifouling, silicone elastomeric coating that contains no toxic chemicals or environmentally hazardous biocides of any kind.

Called Veridian 2000, this unique new bottom coating works on an entirely different concept. Instead of killing whatever clings to the boat, this very smooth, slightly flexible (and slightly rubbery) coating makes it difficult for barnacles, slime and other marine growth to get a firm grip on the surface. Consequently, unlike traditional antifouling paints, Veridian 2000 does not release a continuous stream of environmentally harmful and potentially poisonous compounds into the water.

Some accumulation of marine growth will occur when the boat is at rest, but due to the slick, silicone properties of this finish the normal movement of the boat through the water (plus water turbulence around the boat) will dislodge most, if not all, of this growth. So the coating can be thought of as virtually self-cleaning under many conditions.

Boats that are very slow moving, and those that move infrequently, will not clean themselves off as readily as faster boats that are used regularly. But accumulated growth can be easily wiped off with a soft scrub brush, large sponge, or soft cloth. The manufacturer recommends wiping the bottom off about once every two to four weeks in most cases. However, the faster the boat and the more frequently it is used, the less wiping will be required. And with proper care, annual recoating is usually not necessary.

Unfortunately, Veridian 2000 cannot be applied by the do it yourselfer, nor can it be applied in very boatyard. It can only be applied in certified yards and by technicians in those yards who have been trained by Interlux. There are four steps involved to complete this process and to ensure a proper and fully effective coating:

The first step is complete removal of all existing antifouling paint down to the bare gel coat.

The next step is careful application of Interlux’s Interprotect system an epoxy primer that seals against osmosis and blistering of the gel coat.

The third step is spraying on a specially formulated, non-toxic and VOC compliant white “tie coat” that is the key to the success of the entire process. This tie coat makes it possible for the silicone finish coats to adhere to the epoxy primer and it also reacts chemically with the final coats of silicone to form the smooth, low friction film that results.

The last step is spraying on two coats of the clear silicone finish that forms the final surface.

The cost of a Veridian 2000 coating will vary with the size of the boat. Generally speaking, however, total costs so far seem to fall somewhere between $24 and $30 per square foot of area to be coated.

Hand Cleaner

Boatlife’s new Waterless Hand Cleaner is specifically formulated for cleaning hands after working around the boat. It will safely remove such messy and sticky materials as polysulfide and polyurethane caulking without irritating or harming the skin, and is also excellent for safely removing dried paint, varnish, and other hard to remove stains from the skin. It contains no harsh ammoniated or chlorinated solvents, but does contain several skin conditioners such as aloe and lanolin.

New Controls

Quicksilver recently redesigned its Commander series of remote engine controls. According to the manufacturer, the new Commander 3000 Series offers contemporary styling, easy installation and efficient operation.

Three years in development, the new shift and throttle controls boast raised icons that operate by touch. The handle is contoured for comfortable grasp and operation. The dual engine control offers single or dual drive leg operation.

The Commander series is available at all Mercury, Mariner, and Force Outboard dealerships, as well as at MerCruiser stern drive and inboard dealers.


The new Flexi Brite cordless tool kit from Skil includes a super bright krypton lantern, a cordless screwdriver, a charging stand, and a removable and rechargeable 3.6 volt battery pack that fits either tool. This kit is part of Skil’s new Flexi-Charge system of cordless tools for do it yourself. They offer the benefits of each tool having a removable and rechargeable battery that can also be used in the other tools in that line a feature long valued by professionals because they don’t have to carry around different battery packs and different chargers for each tool. In addition, one battery can be charging while another is in use.

The charger included with the Flexi-Brite kit can handle two batteries and will recharge them in three hours or less. The lantern has a five-position handle for directing the beam at any angle, and the screwdriver is the company’s Super Twist Model 2211.

Fabric Treatment

Ideal for use on boat covers, sail covers, clothing and other items made of canvas or cloth, the new Waterproofing & Fabric Treatment from Star Brite is claimed to make all such fabrics totally waterproof, rather than merely water repellent. The materials treated still retain their natural feel and texture, and still allow for normal passage of air, so covered items are less susceptible to mold and mildew and clothing remains flexible and breathable. Most stains are also easier to wash off. The liquid is applied by either brushing, rolling or spraying it on the fabric.

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