An electric tea kettle always makes my list of handy, green appliances, because it boils water with less fuel than a cooktop, shuts off automatically, and it’s not just for tea. The best ones also boil water faster than water on a stove, are cordless and the heating elements are completely self-enclosed (meaning almost no fuel is wasted, unlike on a gas or electric range). The Capresso H2O Plus Water Kettle does all of this, and more.
It sports a glass carafe, so you can see the progress without lifting the lid (and it’s fun to watch the bubbles: like an aquarium without the fish). It holds a manageable amount, letting you boil from 2 to 6 cups. We drink a lot of tea, so we use it daily, but I also use it whenever I need hot water in the kitchen: to rehydrate dried mushrooms, tomatoes, and soups; or to jumpstart a pot of water for pasta, steamed vegetables, or potatoes. It’s one of my handiest kitchen appliances, in its snazzy black and silver design.
Cutting boards get greener, and handsomer, everyday. The latest model to cross my countertop is the Architec Cork Cutting Board. According to the company, it’s made of small particles of cork adhered together using heat and pressure, like traditional wine corks.
Cork comes from the bark of oak trees in Spain, Portugal and China, a sustainable and renewable green material, produced with minimal environmental impact. The cork is hand-harvested by gently peeling the bark off the tree, leaving the tree intact and ready to produce again. In the kitchen, cork is naturally antibacterial and easier to clean.
Cork is a wonder of nature. Each cubic inch of cork is made up of over 625 million 14-sided cells. Suberin, a natural substance, makes it impermeable to gases, liquid, dust and odors, and it is naturally fire retardant. Its ability to recover from compression means it doesn’t suffer marring like most woods do, while being gentle on the knife blade.
The Cork Cutting Board can be used for all cutting and carving needs, from fruits to vegetables to raw meats and cooked roasts. Wash by hand with non-antibacterial soap, dry before storing, and season with mineral oil about every ten uses. The Architec Cork Cutting Board comes in two sizes: Large (12 by 18 inches) and Small (9 by 12 inches). A round aluminum insert located in the corner of the board serves as a handle. Suggested retail prices: $29.99 (large), $19.99 (small). They are sold at specialty and online retailers including Crate and Barrel stores and architecproducts.com.