CDN ProAccurate® Heavy Duty Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer
Other than the heater and AC, the biggest energy-guzzling appliance in your house is your refrigerator. To keep fridge and freezer, and the food that’s in them, at their optimum temperatures, use a thermometer. Ideal temperatures extend the life of perishables without burning excess energy or risking contamination.
I’ve been using the CDN ProAccurate® Heavy Duty Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer (model RFT1). It’s got several features that make it a winner: an easy to read dial (no squinting at thin red bars), at-a-glance indicators to show the ideal range, and mounting options for hanging or sitting wherever you want (no suction cups). It comes with a 5-year warranty but looks sturdy enough to last a lifetime. By using it, you can save energy and prevent food waste. At $7.99 or less, this CDN thermometer is money well spent.
It’s not that Europeans haven’t told us about thermal cooking. After all, they’ve been using this method of energy efficient cooking for centuries, in the form of homemade hay box cookers (in which hot pots were started on a stove, then tucked into straw-lined boxes, and left to cook using only retained ambient heat). Now, with global warming and fuel costs out of control, it’s an idea worth revisiting. And with Kuhn Rikon’s colorful new Hotpan Cook & Serve Sets, embracing the concept just got easier.
Here’s the hip, modern Kuhn Rikon Hotpan version of hay box cookery: Cook food on the stove in a high-end, stainless steel pan with insulated, convex lid (the lid’s shape helps baste the food). Then, before the food is done, remove the pan from the stove, place it in a brightly colored insulated shell to create a double wall of insulation, and let it passively cook, without added fuel, until done. With such gentle cooking, the food remains hot for up to two hours and will never burn or dry out. Plus, actual cooking time on the stove is scaled back.
In fact, Hotpan thermal cooking uses 70% less cooking energy than traditional stovetop methods. For example, simmer brown rice on the stovetop for 10 minutes, then transfer the pot to the thermal shell for 30 minutes. Simmer polenta for 1 minute, then let it passively cook for 20 minutes.
The Hotpan Cook & Serve Sets come in various sizes, from 1- to 4-quart, and in colors pretty enough to serve at table. (The 3-liter is probably the most versatile, if you pick only one size.) The outer shell isn’t a one-trick pony either: when not hosting the Hotpan, it works as a salad bowl or serving bowl, and it keeps breads warm or ice cream cold. You can also buy the shells separately (in orange, black, red, blue, and white), and the sizes nest inside each other for compact storage.
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.
“If you say you can remember the 60’s, you weren’t really there.”
While Bill Graham’s Fillmore pulsed with San Francisco psychedelicos, the Vulcan Gas Company was blowing open its doors to a nascent Austin counterculture, deep in the heart of Texas. Then came the Armadillo World Headquarters, where acts like BB, ZZ, and Zappa played to a mixed bag of hippies, cowboys and suits.
Now, Austin, TX has rolled out a new music stage. Literally. It’s on wheels, it’s green, and it may be heading for a town near you.
Austin remains an incubator of cutting edge everything, from music to tech to green. Besides billing itself as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is host to SXSW (the South by Southwest Music, Film, and Interactive Festival), and the PBS series Austin City Limits, on air since 1976 and now an annual festival in its own right. So it’s not surprising that a portable solar powered music stage has fired up here.
Sustainable Waves converts trailers to green music stages: Solar panels generate enough energy to power up sound equipment, as well as charge reserve batteries for use on cloudy days. The sides of the trailers lock down in transit, then pop up upon arrival. In just minutes, the stage is ready to rock and roll, compared to the hours a crew of stage hands needs to mount a traditional stage. And because it’s completely self-powered and self-contained, without wiring or plug-ins, music can go wherever the trailer goes, to parks, lakes, ranches, beaches or neighborhoods. Sustainable Waves rents their big green music machines to bands for performances both in town and on the road.
Plus, listeners get to hear solar energy in action. They come away with a good time and a greener perspective. So far, the Sustainable Wave and its Eco Tune package has made a splash at venues in Telluride, Joshua Tree, San Diego, Santa Fe and other hip places.
You can, but you don’t have to, go vegan or grow your own vegetables, just to go green in the kitchen. This site is more about how you cook than what you eat. Not that organics and local foods aren’t important. They’re hugely important. But don’t we already get that message?
There are so many other ways not being addressed by media or publishers to reduce greenhouse gases and shrink your eco-footprint. The real news, the untold story, lies in the fuels you use, the method (steaming, boiling, baking, for instance), the cookware, and the clean-up. Let’s apply a concept of “bright green cooking,” very specific actions and totally practical plans that have more impact than “light green” steps alone, but are just as easy to do.
As a bonus, stretching energy consumption directly relates to saving time, too. Less time in the kitchen means fewer lights on, less cooking fuel used, and more personal time for you to do other things.