Gadget Post – Nikon Coolpix P900

I ordered this thing after we saw the oriole the other day.  I keep a zoom lens on a DSLR that will reach 300mm and that is what I went to when the oriole showed up to sample our grape jelly offering.  This Coolpix will go to 2000mm – equivalent to an 83X monocular.This is the first photo out of it that was taken intentionally, never mind the floor and ceiling shots as I fumbled through the settings for downloading its pics via built in wifi.  I took this shot, hand held, through a double paned window.  It was zoomed to a mere 178mm.
So far I’ve only paired it with a smartphone and a tablet. You have to download an app from Nikon. There is a way to connect it to a PC via 3d party software but I haven’t set that up.
Today it has been sprinkling rain, I set it up on a tripod on the porch but had to bring it in.

Gadget Post: Splatter Guard

A silicone spatter guard. Genius. It comes in some fun colors and I kinda wish I’d chosen something besides black.

I know it looks funny. But it really works. And despite the awkward appearance, it does not get in the way of cooking. I’ve prepared bacon, hamburgers and eggs with it in place. Next up I’m going to do battered fish – I usually avoid because of the mess it makes.

I’ll let you know how it turns out. Until then…



 

Gadget Post: Meet Alice

Carson has a new friend and they work as a great team. She’s an iRobot Braava that I have named Alice.  I have had her for a few months and am very pleased with how well and thorough she cleans. Very quiet, but with a nice, loud, cheery, beeping tune when she’s completed. She has never run over any of my rugs, she gets in tight spaces (behind the toilet!) and doesn’t leave streaks.

Running time is long, about 1.5 hours and the recharge is less than 30 minutes. She’s slow, so my small house takes her about an hour to complete (Carson is less than 45 minutes to vacuum).

Only a couple of issues: instead of an on-board brain like Carson has, she has a little GPS box you have to place in the room. Which means, unlike Carson, she can’t do the entire house without relocating the box. And secondly, for the expense, you get one cheap mopping cloth that isn’t going to last long. I had to order replacements right away (knockoffs from Amazon).

There is also a sweeping feature, but since I have Carson run through the house first, then Alice mops, I haven’t had the opportunity to use it. Basically she’s like a very expensive swiffer. But I find it hard to argue with the price, because I was seriously looking at hiring a housekeeper twice a month. Which didn’t really address what I needed – clean floors with 5 very hairy animals.

I run Carson three times a week and Alice once a week – and while they run, I’m busy working (or sometimes I’m running around doing other cleaning)  – so for me at least they are time-saving, cleaning wonders. Well worth it.

YMMV.



 

Tidbits

20160904_122601(1600x1200)We had enough chicken and sauce left over from those sour cream enchiladas for another go.  The side dish is a black bean and corn salad with onions, peppers, and diced celery in a cumin vinaigrette.IMG_20160830_122526604(1600x1200)Here’s that chihuahua mix before she got after the chicken in that bag before her.  Cute as a button!20160901_164720(1600x1200)Roast/BBQ chicken quarter with rosemary garlic potato wedges and an ear of grilled corn.  The local Kroger has been offering seasoned leg quarters off and on for a while now and pricing them decently.  I generally buy some to cook right away and extra to freeze for later.DSC03743 (1600x1200)This is Spots, we’ve put up her picture here before – she’s about 2 years old and is a sweetheart.  Mrs J reminds me that St Francis has lowered their adoption fees during “Happy Cat Month” to $25 and that includes vaccinations, chipping, and spaying/neutering.  They also test for FeLV/FIV.20160905_080654(1600x1200)That new toaster oven has slo-cook settings that work pretty much like on a dedicated crock-pot style cooker.  I have it set on low, it is showing the default time setting of 6 hours.  I had a brisket in the smoker overnight and I’m finishing it here.  It’s wrapped in foil inside the pan.IMG_20160814_132009849(1600x1200)Moar Gabe!  Here he is, studiously ignoring Bea Kitteh.  We’ve since ripped out everything in the garden except for the figs.  Still waiting for them to ripen.IMG_20160827_125640142(1600x1200) Here’s Bea again, luxuriating in catnip that Mrs J was cleaning up in the front from under the little dogwood tree.20160901_121953(1600x1200)I’ll wind this up with this sammich.  It has deli sliced ham, roast chicken, and cheddar under all that salad.  That green salad in the back is one of Kroger’s frequent forays into artisinal salads, this one is predominately kale and was pretty bad.  Baby spinach maybe would work but the kale really needed cooking.

Gadget Post – Electric Pressure Cooker

DSC_1507 (1600x1060)We’ve had this thing for a while now, but haven’t done much with it.  TaMara has mentioned her pressure cooker a few times, and I’ve heard about them on various forums.  This one is Amazon’s best seller, not that their sales rankings provide a slam dunk guarantee of quality.  It will do much more than I expect to ever call on it for – cooking rice, for example.  I have a purpose built device for that I wouldn’t expect this thing to match.20160101_122033 (1600x1060)I cooked a small beef roast in it the first time I used it, and made that into Italian beef for sammiches.  It did a competent job, the saute cycle even did a good job of browning the meat.  Baked beans from dried navy beans seemed a good place to test the speed advantages of pressure cooking.  I looked at this recipe to get a look at what to expect.  Opening the cooker after a 40 minute run and slow cool down left me underwhelmed.  The method the recipe called for was continued cooking with the lid off until they looked good but I gave them 15 more minutes of pressure and another slow cool down.  Better.  Might not have ended so dry if I hadn’t left the vent open for several minutes before seeing the steam blowing off.  I won’t talk about the recipe much, I’ve had better beans, but they did all come out with the right texture, not too hard, not mushy.  So far, so good.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Gadget Post: Hamilton Beach BrewStation Coffeemaker

In March of 2014, I needed a new coffee maker and this one appealed to me. A year later and I have to say, it makes really good coffee and it stays hot for 4 hours without it becoming bitter or stale. A bonus when you have a home office. But I felt I must update to say that it makes EXCELLENT iced coffee. I put in 4 cups of water, fill the warming station with ice (two trays), add enough coffee for 8 cups, make sure the warmer is turned off and brew it on BOLD. Brews perfectly and is ice cold when I pour it. Smooth, strong and not at all bitter. Sipping a glass of it right now. –  Cheers, TaMara

Brewmaster 1a

Last week my coffeemaker died, mid-brew. That is a code red emergency in my house. I stumbled across this carafe-less coffeemaker, on sale, in a pretty cherry red and decided the price was right. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but I must say it has exceeded my expectations and I’m very pleased with the Hamilton Beach BrewStation.

It claims to keep your coffee piping hot without burning it or turning it bitter for 4 hours. And that was my first test. I usually brew 4-cups at intervals during the day when I’m working at home, because I’m a slow coffee drinker. I often poured out the last cup because at the 90 minute to 2 hour mark the taste was off.  After running vinegar through the machine, I brewed up 6 cups of coffee. It made a really decent first cup of coffee. I set the warmer to 4 hours and went about my day, grabbing a cup now and then along the way. At the four hour mark, the cup I poured tasted as good and fresh as the first cup.

And if you’re worried about BPA in the warming station, as I was, Hamilton Beach has several PDF’s on their website detailing how none of their products contain BPA, including this coffeemaker.

Brewmaster Innards 1
It’s easy to use. You can either fill the warming station with water and then pour it into the coffeemaker, or since I use filtered water, I just pour the water directly into the coffeemaker. You put the warmer in, top it off with the basket, add filter and coffee and press the buttons. You can choose between bold, 1-4 cups or regular brewing styles, I’ve experimented and really like the bold setting. You can set the warmer to 0-4 hours. It is programmable, so morning coffee is ready and waiting when I wake up.

Everything is easy to read. The water level marks are large and stair-stepped up, so it’s easy to fill, the warmer clearly shows how much coffee is left and setting the clock and programming the autobrew is intuitive. If you get to the 4-hour mark and you still want to keep the coffee hot, you hold the start button for 3-seconds and it resets the warmer.

Easy Pour

And pouring the coffee is easy and quick. You hold the cup up to the bar and fill. It easily fills mugs and travel mugs, though it’s too short for my thermos, but I made do by pouring it into a mug first.

I give this high marks, for $35, it does what I need. And it’s a pretty red to boot.

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Gadget Post – Meat Slicer

DSC_4586 (1600x1060)We bought one of the whole boneless hams that were on sale post Easter and that had me wishing my little Rival antique electric meat slicer wasn’t so feeble.  I had last used it trying to slice the prosciutto I bought a while back but it fled, whimpering in terror, after the first few slices.  Fortunately a pal brought his commercial grade slicer by and we zipped right through the prosciutto.DSC_4565 (1600x1060)That old Globe machine is too heavy to move around much, we did the slicing on the tailgate of his truck.  We went with the Chef’s Choice 667 Model, it is not in the same league as the Global but it will do. (My pal uses it to slice his own homemade bacon.)DSC_4587 (1600x1060)

So far we’ve used it to slice a ham and a corned beef brisket and it seems competent enough for those things.