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Confessions of a Kitchen Snob

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Ok, I admit it – I’m a kitchen critic. I dislike cutesy, new-fangled or gimmicky when it comes to my culinary tools. I’d rather have several solid items that serve me well than drawers full of single use items.  Seriously – an egg slicer? Chicken-shaped measuring cups?  A special plate for holding deviled eggs? 

Unfortunately, my dislike for tools with poor or single function does NOTHING to dissuade me from trying new gadgets in my Holy Grail search for the ULTIMATE KITCHEN TOOLS & APPLIANCES.   Here’s a few that have NOT lived up to criteria:

Champion Juicer – expensive and considered one of the best in the world, especially beneficial for Cancer patients (I’m told) – I find it annoying to clean and dislike BAGS of pulp byproduct – seems wasteful. 

Large Cuisinart Food Processor – also expensive – and works very well.  Was great for making scone dough, in addition to chopping. But – annoying to clean. (especially now that we have no dishwasher)

Kitchenaid Mixer – the next to highest model – but not powerful enough to handle double & triple batches of dough – which is what I make. 

So, now that I’ve dissed some of the largest names in the world of food preparation – what DO I like?

Appliances

Get free shipping when you order a Vita-Mix!Well, my new favorite kitchen tool (and the reason I’m selling the juicer and food processor) is the Vita-Mix.  I’d vaguely heard of it when I was intrigued by a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer commercial, and started searching online. Turns out THAT juicer/blender didn’t do too well in the reviews – everyone swore by the Vita-Mix, instead.   A couple of months later I was fortunate enough to attend a Vita-Mix demonstration – and I was sold.

I’m now the Smoothie Queen of the neighborhood – and we’re all enjoying a LOT more fruits and vegetables! Even when I make fruit smoothies I add some cabbage to the mix – it’s instantly emulsified and adds only sweetness and nutrients to the overall taste!  On slow, the Vita-Mix is also a food processor, chopping whole onions into manageable bits!

Best of all – it’s SO easy to clean – just add some warm water & dish detergent and turn it ON for 10 seconds. (don’t add more than the 2 cups of water directed – or you’ll have a sudsy Mount Vesuvius on your countertop – NOT that I’d ever DO that, of course! {Grin!})

Jump Start Your Business - with Twitter!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?" by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers." The short format allows quick communication, and the ever expanding network of "followers" opens up your circle of contacts. Twitter can be downloaded (free) from twitter.com, and accessed through the web, cell phone, and various programs (also free) such as Twhirl and Tweetdeck.

If you're shaking your head and muttering right now - I understand. I'm not one to jump into new technologies, especially those that involve me communicating with large groups of people.

Need a Break? Try Playing Zoo Tycoon!

We were tired and cranky following Black Friday, and the rain didn't improve our mood. Finally, in desperation, Mom (that would be me) reached into the dark recesses of a drawer and brought forth an inexpensive computer game I had purchased last summer - still in its wrapper.

Zoo Tycoon had set me back almost five dollars, and my expectations were low. I tend to only buy educational products for my family (one of the side effects of homeschooling, no doubt), and I've brought home more than one lemon. This game promised to teach us business (designing & developing a zoo and making it profitable) as well as making us more aware of zoo animals and their needs. I turned it over to my offspring and collapsed onto the couch.

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A Toasty Alternative to High Heating Prices!

Hearthstone PhoenixHearthstone Phoenix

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Are you dreading the approaching winter? Trying to find the balance between freezing and paying $10,000 for heating oil? Is Florida starting to look better and better? Fear not - help is at hand!

Our primary source of heat is our beloved woodstove. We have friends that heat with corn or pellet stoves - but wood just seems more - real to me. Our wood stove keeps us warm and saves us money - while providing a beautiful focal point in our country living room. I love our stove!

Please note, however, not all wood stoves are created equal! We began with a large, cast iron stove that had been with the house for years. There was nothing wrong with it - but it was hard to light, hard to maintain the fire, and seemed to burn through an inordinate amount of wood...

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