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Nov 18,2007

Yesterday we posted the series on unpacking the Eureka Capture+. Today, we'll show you how to put the vacuum cleaner together.  The entire process is very simple.  All that is needed is a Phillips screwdriver.

The handle is the first piece to be attached.  It slides into the base and is secured by two screws in the back.  Just make sure things have snapped into place before attaching the screws.

The next piece is the holder (grey) for the power cord.  Note that there is a tab at the bottom of the holder.  Make sure the tab has been set into the back of the base before attaching the screws.

Once the handle and the power cord bracket have been attached, the remaining accessories can be placed into the various slots and compartments.  The small brush has a storage space under the handle.  The extension tubes should be stowed in the back next to the clear vacuum hose.

The PowerPaw has an integrated storage compartment in the front of the vacuum.  Place the end in first and push the top into the handle until it snaps into place.

With the unit assembled and all the accessories in their places, we are now ready to spend the rest of the week cleaning the office.  The first job we'll tackle are the sofas.  It is amazing how much hair the interns shed around this place!  With the Eureka Capture+ around, maybe we can start wearing black again. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Nov 17,2007

Many of you are busy cleaning and vacuuming before the guests arrive for your Thanksgiving celebration.  We are not hosting any events this year, but we still like to tidy up a bit just because we are such neat freaks around here :-)

In mid-October, we got in the Eureka Capture+ bagless vacuum unit.  This vacuum is designed for the home market, but is surprisingly heavy-duty.  It comes with all of the usual accessories for stairs, sofa, floors, and carpets.  The unit is shiped partially assembled for more efficient packing.

The vacuum base was heavier than we anticipated.  To get it out of the box, we found it easier to lay it flat and pull the unit out. 

We will go through the features when we do the FirstUse report.  However, there is one feature we thought worth mentioning as we have not see it in any other vacuum cleaners to date.

The Eureka Capture+ has an integrated duster with a self-cleaning option.  The duster is stored on the side of the unit in its own housing.  There is a lever on the bottom which when activated, will automatically clean the brush.  Very clever!  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Nov 16,2007

It is no secret that we/some of us at RainyDayMagazine love beef jerky.  There is something about the flavor, texture, and convenience of a tasty piece of jerky.  As any connoisseur of beef jerky will tell you, they are not all created equal.  The best we have ever tasted is definitely from BeefJerky.com.

BeefJerky.com offers four flavors: black pepper, red hot pepper, teriyaki, and traditional hickory.  We have tried some of the flavors before, but have never had the "Ring of Fire" and Hickory.

When the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour took off on their mission to the Space Station, Commander Scott Kelly took with him his favorite snack.  If you have a beef jerky lover on your gift list this holiday season, you will not find finer offerings from BeefJerky.com.  Oh, the best part about ordering from these guys (aside from the great product) is that shipping is FREE! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Nov 13,2007

Tired of soggy microwaved pizza?  Want a decent oven, but you live in a 400 square foot condo? Looking for a faster way to roast a chicken on the countertop?  Well, the Cuisinart convection oven was designed with all of that in mind.

For our FirstUse of this Cuisinart oven we wanted to see if the crust of our homemade pizza would really come out as crispy as that from a commercial brick oven.

The oven is simple enough to use: set mode to "convection," temperature to 425º, and wa-la.  It took some time for the cooking stone to heat up, but when ready, the pizza cooked in about 15 minutes and the crust was quite crispy! 

We liked how easy this oven was to use.  We love how the pizza tasted.  We'll test the convection feature with our Rosemary Lemon Chicken in the next few weeks. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Nov 9,2007

Last month some of RainyDayKitchen folks attended the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival.  They came back with a few offerings they particularly liked from vendors at the show.  One product line which stood out was the meatless jerky and sticks from Primal Spirit Foods.  All of us here have been busy these past few week "testing" them out. 

The texture of these jerkys is amazingly close to that of the meat version.  All of the flavors we tried were savory, strong, and quite satisfying.  Some of us like the BBQ flavor the best.  Others are more drawn to the Thai Peanut version. 

If you are looking for some healthy snacks with taste, we can heartily recommend these Meatless Jerky from Primal Spirit Foods.  Give them try and tell us what's your favorite! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Oct 20,2007

The RainyDayKitchen crew attended the 12th annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival today.  There were over a 100 different vendors showing many varieties of meat-free food options.

Maybe it was the FREE admission, perhaps it was the FREE food samples, but the place was PACKED.  Who knew there were so many vegetarians in Boston?

Vendors in all categories of vegetarian eating (meat-like substitutes, vegan, raw) gave out samples and answered questions.  Most were good, some were really tasty, and others were surprisingly delicious...even when compared to their meat counterparts!  

Groups advocating an animal-free lifestyle were also on hand.  Some spread their message via t-shirts and buttons.  Others were actual companies making products using all synthetic components.

We met a nice woman asking for signature to ban dog racing in MA.  While we are not opposed to the betting or racing of dogs, we are also not too keen on the way greyhounds are raised just to race and then "discarded" when they are no longer "profitable."

To find out more about this issue, check out the info on the Humane Society site.  We are not saying that dog racing is wrong, we just don't like what they do with them when they can't race anymore.  If only they treated these animal athletes the same way baseball and football players are treated when they are too old to play, like give them cushy front office jobs.... - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Oct 2,2007

Toaster ovens have been around for a long time.  Companies have added an astounding array of improvements and features to the original design over the years.  Cuisinart has taken the "toaster oven" concept quite a bit further with the Convection Brick Oven (BRK-300).

This oven has multiple cooking options for baking, broiling, and toasting.  It also has a rotisserie function for cooking chickens and things of up to 4 lbs.  A unique feature of this oven is the fan in the back of the unit.  The fan creates a convection flow of hot air to allow for faster and more efficient roasting/baking. 

This Cuisinart oven is small enough (15"x14"x11") that it will fit comfortably anywhere.  If you have a kitchen where size is important, this piece of high tech kitchen gear may allow you to have a versatile oven in a very small space. 

The skin of the BRK-300 is brushed stainless steel.  All of the accessories (drip pan, racks, rotisserie fork) are also made of heavy gauge stainless steel.  Cusinart has incorporated ceramic stones on the side and bottom to give this oven the ability to make great crusts for pies and pizza.

For the non-vegetarians in the RainyDayKitchen, the rotisserie function is a perfect excuse to cook another lemon chicken!  It also looks like we'll have to make some pies and pizzas as well :-) For more details on this unit, go check it out on the Cuisinart site. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Sept 20,2007

Great food is just one of the things we have been sampling while here in Spain.  Good inexpensive wine is also available if you know where to go. 

Pepe and Rosario are the owners of Bodega La Jumillana, on the road between...somewhere and somewhere else.  Pepe does not speak English, but apparently our hand gestures were sufficient to get our intentions across.  Pepe was more than eager to provide us with samples of all the varieties he had on tap.

We did manage to understand from Pepe that the wines are priced based on how long they have aged in the oak barrels.  The amazing part was that the most expensive (and tastiest) vintage was only 3 Euros for a liter!

We were told by our friends Finora and Patrick that the wine we were drinking in Spain is not made for export and hence does not contain any of the usual preservatives...which is often responsible for altering the tasts and the bad hangovers. Every morning we woke up chipper and looking for our cafe solo. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Sept 19,2007

Today our plans are to take a drive to Murcia for some sightseeing.  Along the way, we made a stop for some lunch at a charming spot located right on the beach in Torrevieja.

Wan has been ordering Paella whenever he finds it on the menu.  This traditional rice dish is really tasty and the ready availability of fresh seafood makes it a good value.

We arrived in Murcia in the early afternoon.  Like a lot of towns in Spain, it has a mixture of old and new.  The center of town is dominated by the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary. It was built over 400 years (14th to 18th centuries) and reflects ALL of the styles over that span.

After all that walking around, we were ready for a good sit-down dinner.  We considered eating in Murcia, but during the walk along the coast the other day, Finora and Patrick mentioned a restaurant called La Bahia in the marina and said they make an amazing "salted fish" dish.  We decided to give it a try.

Tonight we wanted to sample a variety of flavors, so we ordered half dozen or so tapas (mushrooms, soups, meatballs, olives, etc...).  We also ordered what we came to La Bahia for...the salted fish.

The fish came coated in a thick layer of salt.  Larabi, our waiter, skillfully separated the meat from the bones and presented it to us.  The flavor was incredible, and at 15 Euro, definitely one of the best values on the menu!

Even though we feasted on a lot of great food throughout the day, we didn't feel stuffed or bloated.  One reason is that portion size here is not like the "super-sized" servings we get back home :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Aug 27,2007

Margaritas maybe more appropriate for the weekend than for the beginning of the workweek, but after our 90º+ weekend, frozen drinks are still on our minds.  Everyone here is already looking forward to the Labor Day holiday.  Toward that end, we thought it would be fitting to take a look at some gear for portable parties!

Frozen drinks are best when made fresh.  In order to properly crush the ice, a blender is a must.   To do it away from an electrical outlet, this Coleman portable blender may be exactly what's needed.

The polycarbonate pitcher is both light and strong.  It can hold up to 48 oz. The various pouring options are integrated into the lid (closed, open, strain).   The stainless steel blades will stand up to a lot of use.  The controls are simple and big.  The 12v battery will blend upto 30 pitchers per charge.

The Coleman unit looks to be a great choice for tailgate parties and car camping. It contains all of the features we look for in a portable blender.  

However, before we can fire this unit up and try out a few frozen drink recipes, we had to do a little maintenance.  When we unpacked the unit, we heard a few bits rattling about in the base.   After we removed the contents, we discovered the car charger's front end had came loose. The parts must have fallen inside an opening, but they would not fall back out. 

The only thing we could do was to take the base apart and see what is going on :-)  The screws securing the base plate are recessed deep into the base.  We needed a fairly long flathead screwdriver to reach it. 

As we had thought, the pieces rattling about were parts from the car charger.  The fuse was broken, but should be easy to replace.   We will use the AC wall charger to charge up the blender.

We'll be blending up frozen margaritas next weekend using both of these blenders.  After we have recovered from all that "testing," we'll write up our impressions. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 8,2007

We discovered Sophia's Grotto a few years ago and have been back many times since.  It is our favorite neighborhood restaurant for many reasons.  The food is delicious, the prices are very reasonable, and the atmosphere is wonderful.

In the Summertime, the restaurant has outdoor seating on the brick patio and along the wall.  This year they have added some large umbrellas to deal with the unexpected New England weather.

The courtyard is shared by a few restaurants, but it is never too loud or too crowded.  There is plenty of on street parking, and a free public lot just a two-minute walk away.  Any time is good for a meal, but the prettiest time is around dusk when it is dark enough for the lights to come on. 

The owners, Sonia and Joe, are always out greeting the patrons.  For directions and hours, check the info listed here.  When you go, tell them the folks at RainyDayMagazine sent you, you'll get a good table...OK, they are all good tables :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

July 7,2007

Eating locally grown food is both good for the local economy and good for you.  The food is fresher, tastier, and better for you.  In the Summer, the best place to get locally grown food is at your Farmer's Market.

In Roslindale, the Farmer's Market has been growing steadily for the past several years.  This year, the market has grown so big that it was moved into the town's main square.

There are now all kinds of vendors at the Roslindale Farmer's Market.  The stands are stocked with all sorts of seasonal produce, flowers, and tasty baked goods.  This year, there are also local artists offering hand-made crafts.

If you are looking for something fresh this summer, whether it be a few juicy tomatoes or a new barrette, you should head down to Roslindale Square on Saturdays between 9 and noon and check out what's happening in the town center.  It's (s)hopping!  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

April 8,2007

First we are going to go back to the bakery we visited last Sunday for some more of their delicious baked goodsCanto6 is a new bakery in Jamaica Plain, MA...less than a year old, with an extensive array of amazingly tasty treats.

If you like hanging out and reading the Sunday paper, go early because seating is limited. Judging by the steady line while we were there, many have already discovered this neighborhood gem.  For a more complete write-up on Canto6 , go check out Carolyn's full review here- Wan Chi Lau


April 1,2007

During the month of April, the folks at RainyDayKitchen are going to check out some of the bakeries and restaurants that have opened in the neighborhood.

The first is the Himalayan Bistro in West Roxbury.  The Himalayan Bistro serves a mix of Indian and Nepali cuisines. We went during lunch on the weekend and had no problem getting a table.

The space is light-filled and airy, with an aroma spiced with curry, a hint of garlic, and something else which we did not recognize.  We didn't have breakfast so we were pretty hungry...perfect since there was a brunch buffet for $10.

We sampled EVERYTHING (chicken curry, lentils, salad, etc...)  The Garlic Naan was freshly made and absolutely delicious.  The Tandori chicken was perfectly cooked...tender and moist. 

The Himalayan Bistro is the first Nepali restaurant in greater Boston.  We found plenty of flavorful dishes for both vegetarians and meat lovers alike.  It is located on 1735 Centre Street in West Roxbury.  There is plenty of on-street parking.  We are already scheduling to go back and sample their dinner entrees! - Wan Chi Lau


March 18,2007

Chinese New Year was almost a month ago, with all the stuff happening at RainyDayMagazine, we didn't have time to celebrate until yesterday.  As with all previous celebrations, we cooked up a storm and ate until we couldn't get off the couch.

The folks in the RainyDayKitchen have been cooking this annual feast for the past 10 years.  Most of the recipes comes from one well used cookbook.  We are going to have to either scan the pages into the computer or find another copy of this book!

As with most Chinese cooking, the prep is most of the work.  Many of the dishes take only minutes to cook.  Having the sauces prepped beforehand not only cuts down on time spent in the kitchen during the party, but also reduces the confusion when we are trying to quickly cook one dish after the other.

A few of the RainyDayCrew are vegetarians so we made a mix of meat and vegetable dishes.  For some we substituted tofu for beef and for others we just made a version of each (Beef & Broccoli, Tofu & Broccoli). 

It worked out just fine since everything was eaten...which was pretty impressive since we had nine different dishes for sixteen guests.

Even though we had a Nor'easter the day before, almost all of the RainyDayCrew was on hand to enjoy the feast.  We look forward to many more "food fests" in the Year of the Pig! - Wan Chi Lau


March 16,2007

When we were just about to grill up the Omaha Steaks last Saturday, someone remembered that there were still some of Dave's Gourmet dry rubs from last Summer's RibFest.  We wondered if the rub would really give more flavor to the steak. 

We coated one of the steaks and grilled them for the same amount of time.  Both pieces came out looking very tasty.  The one with the rub was definitely thicker and also quite a bit tastier :-)  Next time, we'll use the dry rub on both pieces.

Last Saturday's steak and wine dinner was also an opportunity for us to use the Le Creuset ScrewPull.  The foil cutter is included with the ScrewPull.  It has circular cutting wheels which make sit easy to score and cut the foil.

The cork extraction process is pretty simple: squeeze the clamp of the ScrewPull around the bottle, bring the lever to vertical to insert the screw, bring it down on the other side to extract the cork. The video gives a better idea of the entire process. 

We were very impressed with how effortless it was to remove the cork.  The ScrewPull is a sleek piece of extraction tech. - Wan Chi Lau


March 11,2007

Readers know folks in the RainyDayKitchen are no strangers to tasty hunks of meat (Buffalo, Kobe, etc...). In fact, since last year's SteakFest, many readers have asked us to do more in-depth articles about various steaks.  We are planning to check back with Morgan Ranch and the Buffalo Guys to see if they have anything new for 2007.

A long-time supporter of RainyDayMagazine sent us some Omaha Steaks (thanks Nan!!!).  The steaks came packed in dry ice, four in a box, and vacuumed sealed in heavy plastic.

Inside the box was a "Quality Assurance" certificate with the promise that if we were in ANY way not happy with the product, they would replace it for free.  You gotta love a company that stands by its products unconditionally.

On the back of the box are the defrosting and cooking directions.  The trick to defrosting is to do it S...L...O...W...L...Y.  Slow defrosting minimizes the damage from the ice crystals that form on the inside of the cells.

The carnivors, I mean editors, at RainyDayKitchen had been looking for just the right story before grilling the filets.  We thought REALLY hard and came up with the perfect approach...there is a reason why we get the big bucks:-)   What goes with eating meat? Drinking wine!

There is a small boutique wine store in Roslindale Village called Solera.  So we figured, why not go to Solera and have them recommend a good bottle of red wine to go with the steaks?

Solera is on the main drag in the Village and has a wonderful atmosphere, packed as it is with wines from the smaller boutique vineyards.  We met Solera's owner/manger Maria Valencia and Michael Sherlock, a rep from Gilbert Distributors.  Michael recommended a bottle of the Victor Hugo 2003 Petite Sirah.  The meat eaters will have the run of the RainyDayKitchen tonight! 

We'll have a write-up of the dinner if anyone remembers to take pictures :-) - Wan Chi Lau


March 6,2007

There is a constant flow of gear vying for space in our review schedule.  Whenever we all take a few days off, things tend to get backed up quickly.  This SpringBreak was no exception.  We spent the morning sorting through the items and shooting a few quick shots to give you an idea of what we'll be covering this month.

It is almost time to get ready for Spring Cleaning.  The Method people have something new called the oMop.  It can get the floors so clean that you'll literally be able to eat off it. 

Don't know how many days ago that jar of sauce has been in the refrigerator?  Now there is a timer which will track it for you.   It is the DaysAgo counter.  It can count up to 99 days...after which you can just send the jar to the folks over at FearFactor. - Wan Chi Lau


March 3,2007
After a morning of bobbing around in the waves and playing with our gear, we were ready for some lunch. But where? Some of the folks heard about a festival about a 15 minute drive away. A quick shower later, we were all packed into the minivan and head out looking for cerviche.

By the time we got there, the festival was already in full swing. There were a few stages for music. About four blocks were closed to street traffic. The aroma from the all of the different street vendors filled the air. We quickly fanned out in search of lunch.

We were not disappointed. Many of the local restaurants had booths with fares for sampling. An amazing lunch was assembled just by wandering around. - Wan Chi Lau


March 1,2007

We heard a storm was heading toward Boston so we all packed up and headed South. We'll be down here for a few days catching some rays and sampling the local cuisine. See you all next week :-)

For this month's puzzler ... can you guess where we are? If you know, send us email with the subject line "We are coming over..." BTW, congrats to our last month's winner, Margaret H of San Jose. We'll send you the DiNova keyboard as soon as we are done with the InTheWild review :-) - Wan Chi Lau


February 25,2007

Some things are obvious once you see them.  These QuickSeals are such a simple idea that we wonder why it took so long for someone to come up with it :-)

The idea is exactly like the zip lock bags we are all used to with the added feature of being able to attach the "zip" portion to any open bag which we would normally use a bag clip.

The green zip is easy to grip and the seal's hold is very good.  At the other end are two adhesive strips.  The attachment process looks pretty easy, just pull and press.  It'll be interesting to see how well they attach to different types of bags.

We'll compare these QuickSeals to the bag sealers we normally use over the next few weeks and report back on how well they perform in practice. - Wan Chi Lau


February 14,2007

The folks in the RainyDayKitchen informed the editorial staff that it was "Walentine Wednesday" as they presented us with some amazingly delicious hand-made candied orange peel hand-dipped in chocolate.  We knew something was up since we were banned from the kitchen all morning long.  It's nice working with girls :-)

And yes, we know that it's Valentine's Day...we have a special trip planned for this weekend! - Wan Chi Lau


January 14,2007

Le Creuset started a revolution in corkscrew technology when they introduced the Self-Pulling Corkscrew, called the Screwpull. It's lever action design allows for easy cork removal without the usual twisting and pulling.

Screwpull's latest addition is the satin finish LM-400.  It was designed to make cork removal even more foolproof, especially when used with the newer synthetic corks.

The LM-400 comes in a beautiful leather presentation box.  Included with the ScrewPull is a clear foil cutter, all held in place by form fitting foam. 

What is new with the LM-400 is the single "up and over" motion Screwpull calls "Rotation Technology."  The first motion injects the screw into the cork, the reverse motion extracts the cork.

The LM-400 is made of a heavy metal alloy.  The outer surface has a nice satin finish and looks great in or out of the presentation case.  The unit stands on its own.  The shape of the lever feels great in the hand and the action is silky smooth. 

Chinese New Year is on February 18 this year.  We have a few different wine openers which we'll put out for use.  We'll let our guests check them out and see which they prefer.

BTW... the Pats won 24-21!




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