Monday, January 4, 2010

Review: The Garlic Zoom by Chef'n

Anyone who prepares a lot of world food at home knows you have to chop a lot of garlic. Sometimes, when I'm not pressed for time, I love to chop garlic. I like seeing how small or uniform I can get each piece. Other times though, my prep time can be better spent elsewhere. That's why I decided to go against all my instincts and give the Garlic Zoom by Chef'n a shot. As I've mentioned in previous articles, I'm not a gadget guy, but I saw the Garlic Zoom and it made sense to me so I decided to give it a try. At ten dollars and change it was a low risk venture.

The Garlic Zoom seems a simple and practical enough device. You fill a small chamber with a few peeled garlic cloves, close it and push it along a flat surface where the wheels drive a few small blades that chop the garlic to your satisfaction.

Truth be told, it does just that - KIND OF. The problem with the Garlic Zoom should have been apparent to me when I saw it. It's just too small and unfortunately, that effects its use in two ways:

A.) It is really only capable of chopping 2-3 cloves of garlic at the same time. For a serious home chef, this is just too small an amount. Sure, you can chop and then empty it and then fill it and chop again, but that's not convenient. It's even less convenient when you realize that:

B.) Because it is so small, it's a little difficult to easily empty the chopped garlic. Chopped garlic because of its oils and moisture content tends to be a little sticky. When using the Garlic Zoom to chop only 3 cloves of garlic, you'll quickly realize that a good deal of the chopped garlic tends to want to cling to the blades and inside of the Garlic Zoom and removing it becomes a real inconvenience.

In my home I do 95% of the cooking, but there are days when my wife cooks. She is not a fan of chopping anything if she can avoid it. For that reason I will keep the Garlic Zoom. I'm sure she will prefer it to chopping the small amounts of garlic she may use.

I'd like to see a version that could hold up to ten cloves of garlic though. I think the added capacity and larger size could make it a valuable addition to the home kitchen. I'd be willing to give it a try based on the design of the unfortunately small Garlic Zoom.

So, while the concept seems good, I cannot recommend the Chef'n Garlic Zoom at this time. Though my wife does seem to like it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Herb Scissors: Do they make the cut?

As far as kitchen gadgets go, I'm what you would call a "hard sell". My personal experience dictates that more often than not, kitchen gadgets are long on novelty and short on function and performance. That is not to say that some gadgets aren't useful, just that in my experience most are not.

Recently, at COBW we received some Herb Scissors from to review. I will confess that my initial skepticism was partly abated when I looked at the Herb Scissors because they are weighty and better made than one would expect. 7.5" inches long and constructed of stainless steel with large, comfortable silicone lined handles. As the photo shows, they are basically several pairs of scissors made into one. Seems practical right?

I'll admit, my first attempt with the Herb Scissors went less than satisfactory. I tried using them on some freshly washed (and wet) parsley and I got a sticky mess. Truth be told, the same would have happened had I used a knife on wet parsley. When using the Herb Scissors on properly washed and drained herbs the results were good. They work as advertised and certainly better than I expected. They work well enough that I still use them regularly after several weeks.

You're not going to use herb scissors to cut a large amount of herbs. When I'm making chimichurri sauce and need cups of parsley, I am going to use a knife and cutting board. That doesn't mean there's no place for Herb Scissors in your kitchen. I find them excellent for quickly and conveniently cutting small to moderate amounts of herbs to a uniform size. They are really handy when adding fresh herbs to the pot or when garnishing finished dishes. For instance, when using a knife and cutting board I find I tend to overestimate what I'll need and that just leads to waste. With Herb Scissors I find that I can add just what I need to the pot or as a garnish. Another great use for Herb Scissors is for cutting nori sheets into a very classy and attractive garnish.

Well made, easy-to-use and really easy to clean, I say that Herb Scissors are a keeper in the COBW kitchen.

If you're interested, you can check them out at Be sure to let them know you read about them at Cook's Stuff!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Websites (and people) We Love: Depression Cooking with Clara Cannucciari

Join 93 year old cook and great grandmother, Clara, as she recounts her childhood during the Great Depression and prepares meals from that era. Learn how to make simple yet delicious dishes as she recounts personal stories of life during the Great Depression.

This is great stuff folks, give it a peak and tip your hat to Clara!

Just click here!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Review: Ontario Knife Company's Watermelon Knife

Personally, I don't find much of a difference between a well-made inexpensive kitchen knife and a premium expensive kitchen knife apart from the purchase price. That's not an uninformed opinion either. I know a fair share about metal and I've used enough knives inside and outside the kitchen to know of what I speak. Truth be told anyone who spends a little time learning what makes a good knife is often going to own some great knives for a minimum outlay of cash. There are no moving parts to this most basic of kitchen implements, it's not rocket science! That's why our opinions regarding the Ontario Knife Company's Watermelon knife were not surprising.

A full 17" overall, the Ontario Knife Company's Watermelon Knife's main feature is of course, its blade. It features a generous stainless steel blade with full-tang construction. The "tang" of a knife is the part of the blade that connects to, or is inserted in the handle. Inexpensive knives often have a partial tang that the handle is hot molded around. A full tang makes a knife stronger, insures a firm grip and greatly improves the knife's useable life. The slip-resistant polymer handle of the Watermelon Knife is triple-riveted to the blade which I believe is the superior way to fasten the handle of a kitchen knife.

Our tester loved the sample I gave him. I would consider him a kitchen knife aficionado and his collection is extensive and growing. He's also the guy who sharpens my knives and he does a damn fine job! While he also commented on the full tang construction and slip-resistant handle, he was also quick to point out a few other reasons he likes the Ontario Knife Company's Watermelon Knife. The blade thickness really impressed him, it's his opinion that a good kitchen knife should have a minimum thickness and the Watermelon Knife fell well above that standard without being too thick. He was impressed at how well the knife took and held and edge. In his testing, he was also impressed with how easy the knife was to control and how well it sliced. His final compliment was the pointed end, which he said many carving knives lack. He favors it because he said you can use it because it is helpful in moving the sliced meat to waiting plates.

In our summary, we found the Ontario Knife Company's Watermelon Knife to be a very sound investment at the $10 price we paid for it. It's also out opinion that calling it a "Watermelon Knife" is a little limiting and misleading as it is of great use as a quality slicer and more. If I have one negative comment regarding the Watermelon Knife, it would be the red, white and blue pattern of the blade. I would prefer the option of a more traditional black or brown. That's a small gripe though.

If you're looking for a great value in a large slicing and carving knife this may be your best bet. We loved the Ontario Knife Company's Watermelon Knife! All for a whopping $10.00 (US).

I guess when it comes to buying knives for your kitchen there are two roads to go. You can learn a little and buy a lot spending almost nothing. Or, you can just spend a lot knowing the extra cash is insurance for quality. I know what we like here at Cook's Stuff!

For more information on the Ontario Knife Company's full line of products, click here.

Review: Ontario Knife Company's Watermelon Knife by Cook's Stuff

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Big John Super Stick Ceramic Sharpening Rod

"Great value" is how I would sum up the Big John Super Stick Ceramic Sharpening Rod by Smoky Mountain Knife Works. It features an overall length of 16", a 1" diameter ceramic sharpening rod and a lifetime warranty, all for an amazingly low $6.49! Try digging up a deal like that at your local kitchen supply or knife outlet.

Apart from its low price, what I like about this ceramic sharpening rod compared to others is its large diameter. I believe this feature offers a superior sharpening and honing contact area and also give you better control while running the blade along its length.

I began using it the day it was delivered and it's a great tool for the money. I use it to put a new edge on mildly dull knives or to finely hone the edge of a freshly sharpened knife. It easily out performs my expensive old honing steel in most applications.

If I had to offer criticisms I would point that it is a bit hefty compared to a traditional hone, which may be a concern for some cooks and chefs. It also arrived with a slightly loose handle, but a quick adjustment fixed that without issue.

If you're looking for an inexpensive and effective sharpening and honing solution for your home kitchen, I have no problem offering the Chop Onions, Boil Water seal of approval to Smoky Mountain Knife Works Big John Super Stick Ceramic Sharpening Rod.

If you visit their online store, be sure to check out their extensive offerings of edged tools and accessories.

Review: Big John Super Stick Ceramic Sharpening Rod by Smoky Mountain Knife Works from Cooks Stuff a Chop Onions, Boil Water info outlet.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Organica Deluxe Ginger Cookies

Recently, Organica Deluxe asked us to sample and review their new ginger cookies. Organica Deluxe describes them as: "mouthwatering ginger cookies... ...baked fresh in small batches, the organic ingredients make these darker and richer than traditional ginger cookies. Topped with sugar crystals, these oversized treats are the perfect compliment to coffee, tea or a cold glass of milk."

The package arrived quickly and my first impression of the cookies is that they looked homemade. Absent were all the characteristics of the store-bought-overly-crunchy-asphalt-like biscuits that make them easy to pass up.

Organica's ginger cookies were soft and moist and the package listed all the organic ingredients. There was also a recommendation that the cookies were "best enjoyed fresh" (naturally), and that they be frozen if not consumed within 3 days. That last one may cause some folks to reconsider purchasing such a product, but for me, it is an indication of wholesomeness and good ingredients.

Upon trying the Organica Deluxe Ginger Cookies my first thought was "Wow, these things taste real!" "Real" may seem a strange term, but when I relayed that thought to my other tester, she agreed that it was the perfect description. Organica Ginger Cookies do taste REAL. A lot of organic food fans out there are going to nod, but the truth is that some organic foods don't taste real. Instead they taste like cardboard or hay. I know, I try a lot of them.

The Organica Deluxe Ginger Cookies were soft, chewey and perfectly sweet. The flavor of the ginger and spices were harmonious but not overpowering. These cookies are the stuff of your nana's kitchen. Eating them made me crave a giant glass of extra cold organic whole milk.

That was my first "WOW!" experience with Organica Deluxe Ginger Cookies. My second "WOW!" was the price. These are damn fine cookies people and they come at a price. A package of 16 of the delectable biscuits are going to set you back a whopping $40.

For a guy like me, that's the choice between a big cook-at-home rib roast or 16 fantastic cookies. Fortunately for Organica Deluxe, the world isn't full of people who will make the same spending decisions on food that I would. Roll on Organica Deluxe!

My final call on Organica Deluxe Ginger Cookies was to give them the Chop Onions, Boil Water seal of approval because they are made of excellent ingredients and they are DAMN GOOD! Price is a personal issue and best left to the buyer! So, if you are looking for a sublime ginger cookie experience there's a good chance these babies are going to do it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Welcome to Cook's Stuff - Chop Onions, Boil Water's Cooking Product Review Blog!

Welcome to Cook's Stuff, the Chop Onions, Boil Water cooking product review blog!

As Chop Onions, Boil Water grows in popularity we are approached more and more by companies that make a variety of cooking products to review their wares. These products include ingredients, prepared foods, kitchen gadgets and more.

We thought it wasn't really fair to not review a good product just because it didn't fit our Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home theme of the main blog, so we've created Cook's Stuff. Using Cook's Stuff we will deliver honest reviews of the various kitchen products we're asked to review, or ones we come across on our own.

We also want our readers to know that our recommendations won't come with a price tag. Our aim is to be honest and sincere in our appraisals so that if you choose to purchase reviewed products you won't be disappointed. If you are disappointed, tell us and other readers why and we can compare notes and make better buying decisions.

Thanks for joining us here! We hope we can be of service, and help you make more informed decisions in your food, cooking and home kitchen purchases.