Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

ANVil COA8004 ½ size oven Review

ANVil COA8004 ½ size oven

First of all I’m not a cook, nor a baker, more like a flunky. But after having gotten interested by a friend who bakes and cooks as a hobby, I learned that a oven is almost like a wife, get a bad one and you can’t live with it, get a good one and you can’t live without it. When did I learn all this? After about 65 years, and 2 divorces, and a few months trying to bake bread and other assorted goodies. I spent about two months looking for a “decent” locally made oven, finally giving up and went online looking. A baker (hobby) in Singapore took some pictures of his bread and posted online and it showed a small oven that looked like it would do the job so I inquired the brand name and he sent me the info. UNOx, So I started looking for this brand and found a place in England that sold the brand, but wouldn’t ship to the Philippines, more searching and finally found the Cadco brand, which is made by UNOx. Well to make a long story short, Cadco only sells to dealers, although they do have a consumer Div. called Broil King. Not a lot of help there I’m telling you. Last years models, returns, reconditioned units. A220 V ½ size oven was double the price of a 110V model, same oven overall. Then I saw ANVil brand, and started checking it out. Made in S.A., shipped world wide, with a nice dealer network in the states.
So I go to Google Product search and dang, prices all over the sky, from $925.00 plus shipping to $2000.00 plus shipping, and this is the same model I’m looking at. OK, can’t be helped, I want an oven that works, so I pick out the best looking dealer, and make the purchase . Damm, Google check out uses a default shipping address, and I wanted this oven to go to LA for trans-shipping. So I called the dealer and the woman, girl, whatever she was gave me a hard time so I just told her to cancel the whole thing. A couple days later I re-ordered the same oven and included the correct shipping address. Success. A week goes by and nothing about shipping my oven, and I want my dang oven, so I called again, thankfully I got a different customer service lady (this one didn’t piss me off) and a couple hours later got an email that it was being shipped directly from the manufacture.
Oh boy, I’m happy!
I track that sucker all the way across the US (N.C. to Ca.) and it moved fast, like 4 days. Woopee!
Its gets to LA and then the fun begins, I have to pay the freight forwarder bank account in PI to ship it over. No problem, so I go to the BPI and took cash, (I knew they wouldn’t take a check), wow, P200 ($4.50) charge to deposit money in someone else’s account. What a racket the banks have here! (That’s a future post, Banks in PI). So ok, every thing is paid, now 3 weeks for the shipping.
Last Friday my oven arrives, and my new mixer (see Electrolux) and I went to work. Got my 100lb. wife to help me set it on the counter and the very first thing I did was to check the preheat time. Oh yeah, 450F took 21 min., 12 min. for 350F, and 16 mins for 400F. Dang, that’s quick, and I’m happy.
Since that Friday, I have baked about 10 batches of cookies, every batch different, and about 6 different kinds of bread. I’m a happy camper!
I have rendered some lard, slow baked a pork roast @225F all day (6Hr.), Several roasted, injected chickens, broiled some beef tenderloins and this oven has done most everything to perfection.

The pro’s
Takes ½ size commercial baking sheets or pans.
Really, really great insulation, as you can place your hand on the out side at 450F without pulling away from it.
Oven handle stays cool to the touch.
Operating temp from 170F to 550F.
Small foot print- 23”hX 23”wX 25”d.
All Stainless, inside and out.
Temperature reflecting glass in the door.
Light inside oven, stays on while oven is on.
Separate control for broiler function.

The Con’s
Thermostat setting is off, like 15F
Weird settings on thermostat ( 120 l l l l 210 l l l l 300 l l l l 390 l l l l 480 l l l l 570 )
No dealers in PI
Common to most ovens, weak door gasket.
No fan control switch, to turn off or select a slower speed.

Bottom Line
Love it, would buy it again.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Electrolux Assistent (DLX 2000 Mixer ) review

Electrolux Assistent (DLX 2000) N24-N26 220V model 700W
Their spelling, not mine.

These are my thoughts, make your own judgments, pay attention to all safety instructions and follow all operating instructions provided by the manufacturer.


Great mixer, no reservations.

Many attachments available on line.

Electrolux DLX 2000 Mixer

Here is some of the things I learned trying to use my new mixer.

Basically, throw away the instruction manual, about the only thing I found it might be good for is toilet paper, but I think it might be too slick. There is two parts that have to be assembled to use the mixer, the scraper which just slips into a hole. No problem with me doing that, matter of fact I tried doing it with my eyes closed, and again no problems. Next is installing the roller, holding roller in one hand, pulling over the spring loaded arm with the other hand and pushing a large “pin” into the roller. It’s easier than it sounds.

Bread Dough’s

The book tells you to set the distance between the roller and the mixer bowl based on number of cups of flour used. Just pull the roller somewhere between ½ and 1” from the edge of the bowl and tighten set screw, simple believe me. Add your liquid, then add the dry mixture holding back about ½-3/4 cups. There is an “on” position, and beyond that it becomes a timer. I just use the “on”. This generally will leave some flour in the center of the bowl; just pull the spring loaded arm back to the center of the bowl and it will incorporate the dry mixture into the rest of the dough. I feel the dough as to stickiness and add remainder to adjust. Just let it go and you will wind up with perfectly kneaded dough. And I do mean Perfect. On the average it takes about 5 min. to complete, using less than 7 cups of flour. (Remember I eating most of this stuff as my wife is not a bread eater) As the dough is kneaded, it is turned by the scraper, and the friction of the rotating bowl, so it squeezes the dough by spring loaded actions to achieve that perfect kneaded dough. As the dough is kneading, the spring loaded arm will swing quite a bit, don't get all shook up, it supposed to move.

Creaming and other mixer uses.

Just let the roller run against the bowl (there is a rubber lined grove for this reason) to cream butter and sugars, I use high speed as a slower speed takes longer to complete. I drop the eggs into the creamed mixture one at a time, along with all the other liquids, and then add the dry ingredients. It doesn’t break up the chocolate chips, nuts or what ever.

Whipped Egg Whites

A special bowl is included for this purpose, but I find it does just fine using the roller and scraper as per above.


Awful instruction manual, worthless to say the least.

No dealer's available in the Philippines.

I plan in the near future to make a short video to show several functions.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Anvil oven

A few months ago, I decided I wanted a new oven. I had a small convection-Microwave type, but was limited to a small round pan, it works good, just not big enough. Then I also have a small counter type by La Germaina bought locally, it may do the job, after a fashion. 170 C only takes about 30 mins to heat, but 210 might take all day if then, so you see what I was referring too when I say "may do".
I searched and searched for ovens, convection, bakery equip., and who knows what else. Finally found a nice convection oven made in Taiwan, the only problem was the price.... and no stock. Php 300,000, about $6,800+, oops, beyond my range. I think I could buy a small bakery for that much. So I ran across a web page and it had a picture that I was able to search out the Manufacturer UNOx (Italy), traced that to the US and came up with CADCO Ovens. Well Cadco is a distributor selling to dealers only, but they had a consumer div. under the name of Broil King sold at, but only the small size oven ( interior size 9X13X9), powered by 110V. Well here 110V kinda sucks, as I would need a transformer to convert 220V down to 110V. Making a long story short, I ran across over Anvil Brand Ovens, made in S. Africa, but sold world wide. Made my choice of size and 220V and had it shipped. Don't know what customs is going to hit me for, but at this point, almost don't care. Did I say that?

The ship should arrive Manila this week, Can’t wait to try it out, several big points I’m interested in, preheat time, say 450F, Hot for bread, cold for pizza, but I can watch as it preheats and get the time to reach 350F for most yeast breads. But I best not count my chickens before the eggs hatch, too many if”s. Next week? Or maybe the week after.

As soon as I can turn it on, look out, me and messes while cooking can not be overlooked. Don’t need any oil to bake do I?

A few of the things I learned while searching for an oven.

The prices range from about 50% off to almost full list price. I really don’t think any of the dealers stock the ovens themselves. You place an order, and then they place an order, at a big mark up.

Shipping ranges from $89.00 to $230.00 for the exact same oven. (These dealers remind me of used car dealers, watch your rear)

Got a question about that oven? Good luck. I did not get 90% of my questions answered by any dealer. As a matter of fact most dealers did not reply to e-mail question at all.

Even the spec. sheet gives you almost no answers. If you are lucky you will get max. Power consumption, exterior size, shipping size, and the size of the pan that you can use.

It would be nice if they included some numbers like to maintain a set temperature, power usage is XX Kw, Interior size, and parts that need to be replaced often. But then I'm a day dreamer.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shopping in PI

Cooking in the Philippines is different than cooking in the states. Oh really? How could cooking in PI be different that cooking anywhere else you ask?
Well there are several reasons, from shopping for the basics, to shopping for kitchen equipment, to buying chicken at the public market, or trying to get specific cuts of meat, like pork ribs, or a pork shoulder, or a nice beef roast, and it never stops, the reasons that cooking here is different.
One of my friends in Olongapo got me interested in baking bread several months ago. So I started shopping for flour. Yup, flour. Well I found soft wheat flour, hard wheat flour, cake mix, rice flour, and a few other flours that I had no clue as to what was what. Well I wanted some Whole wheat flour, some corn flour, some WW pastry flour, a little of this, a little of that, you know, just basics for the states. So I spent a few days checking out the duty free stores on the near by old Clark AFB. Well the first flour I see is Pillsbury bread flour, only $7.50 for 5#s. Hmmm, do I want some WW bread that bad? Didn't find anything else there so I called it a day and went home, without the gold plated flour. I was telling my friend as too my problem, and he tells me that Royal duty free store on the old Subic Naval Base carried a lot of US products, so the next day off I go. The Philippino Government just completed a new 4 lane freeway to Subic, and I decided to try that. Hmmm, an hour later I still haden't gotten on as they only had one entrance up north of where I live. Man oh man, traffic you wouldn't believe, after about 45 mins I found the on ramp...., but it was going in the wrong direction. What now coach? Stopped and ask some PNP for directions (Philippine Nat'l Police). After about 5 mins of practicing english, I was instructed to get on going in the wrong direction, and to go down the road, but stay in the left lane (fast lane that is) and make a U-Turn at the first paved area I come to. OK, that was easy. Sucess!!! on the road to Olongapo. As we traveled thru the old Clark AFB we (wife and I) came to the southern limits of CAFB and we knew exactly where we were at, in our own neighborhood. A few mins more and we see a sign "off ramp planned for this location", hey that will be nice if and when it ever gets done I tell my wife. Only 10 mins. from my house I'm thinking, instead of the 1 hr. of traffic to get on the "Freeway" actually "Tollway" that was encoured today. So anyway we keep going, and several miles later another sign saying the same, but this one had more on it, "GMA cares" (GMA being the President). No problems, beautiful country side, pristene hills, coconut trees swaying in the breezes, ahh I'm in heaven.
But onward we go, SBMA here we come. We see two or three more of these strange signs about on-off ramps to be constructed, and GMA cares, NO, can't be, a friggin off ramp, no town that I can see, but a off-ramp never the less. I take it just to see where it goes, and guess what? It takes you about 15 miles from the nearest town in that area. Hmmm, what gives here? To hell with this, back on the tollway, headed to Olongapo, sucess, a toll stop, only $2.25 no problem. Take off again, What? Two mins. later another toll stop. OMAA (Oh my aching ass), but I will have to say, there was no "GMA cares" sign. By this time I'm getting tired and a little cranky, but Royal DF store was in range, 5 more mins and we woulf be there. So I thought anyway.
Tollway remodeling now in progress the sign said, GMA cares. OMAA, gotta go pee, need to buy some stuff, knowing GMA cares is going to cost me some money, whats a guys to do? Keep on going, thats what. So about 45 mins later (remember Royal DF was 5 mins away 45 mins ago) we enter the parking lot. Big sign: out of stock. No, just joking.
We enter the store and asked where was the baking section, and I have to say, service in the Philippines is the best in the world, every clerk, butcher, employee has a "good morning sir" can I help you? We where escorted to the baking section, I had the pleasure of a young lady taking my hand and leading me as if I was blind, which I didn't mind at all. I didn't even get a cheap feel, but what a difference from Kroger. Any way we found some corn meal, some bread flour that wasn't gold plated and 10#s of WW flour, made my day I'm telling you. We stopped by the meat section and I was able to buy 6 whole tenderloins(beef) Two whole rack of pork ribs, and the guy cut them on a saw the way I wanted. Hmm This is taking the ache out of my ass fast. No beef roast tho, that will be another excuse to return again later.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I have been married for most of the last 49 yrs. I have always been interested in home cooking, but I never had a wife who allowed me in the kitchen ( and I have never blamed them as I create the biggest messes you will ever see). For instance I bought a new Induction cook top last week. No messes there, as I have been checking it out by heating water, hard to make any mess with water , right?
But last night I decided to try some serious frying, double frying french fries. Put my old standby cast iron skillet on the new Induction cook top, punched the power button to stir fry mode,(6 modes, eack of which has 9 levels of heat, ) and cranked the heat up to 350F or 170C. No problems , no messes (hey love this new toy). So I fried away, three potatoes, sliced thin, thick, and whole slices 7mm thick. As I fried each potato I would lose a lot of heat in the skillet, so I jacked the heat up a couple notches (Emeril style of course), then place done potato on drain cloth, then to cool in basket (bowl). OK, we're rockin now, no messes. Got all the 1st fry done, now time for the 2nd fry. Crank that cook top up a couple more notches, just like Emeril, hey this is rockin.
Now I'm thinking, if hot is good, wouldn't hotter be better? Crank it up to max power, even put on lid to keep heat in. Already cooked out most of the moisture, right?
Gentle put in the 1st batch of thin sliced fries, and put lid back on, whups, moisture clouding up my glass cover, so I decided to raise up the top a little so the moisture can escape. Smart eh? Using my head for a change. Heck the US government spent thousands to get me an education, I should make more use of it. Hey everything still going good right, no messes, keeping everything confined to the skillet, two sheet pans , a few dish towels, a lot of paper towels, three bowls, a fork, deep fry strainer/ wire ladle? What ever you call them things to leave the fat in the skillet and take out the object being fried. Marble floor still pristene, no problem there either.
About this time the timer went off to remove the batch I was working on, still had lid in my hand holding and as I turned to set the lid down, moisture run off the lid into the skillet. Ooops, so I put the lid back on the skillet, no mess yet, using that education the government paid thousands for right? So after everything quit popin, I raised the lid again, OOOps, more moisture run off. Ahh what the hell, moisture is a fact of life, we live with it all the time, don't we?
Excuse me, water and melted lard is messy, don't try to find out, just take my word for it. Ok, are you with me? So a few pops here and a few pops there, and I take a step. OMG, lard all over that pristine marble floor, but then not too much right, just a few spots here and there.
I have failed to tell you my little wife is standing there watching the master work, envious I would think, that I have been able to confine all this hot pig fat to just a few dozen different pans and a dozen towels. I had up to this point been breaking my arm patting my self on the back for not having made any humongous messes. Oh well, life goes on.
So at this point, I call for reinforcements, just another dozen kitchen towels, throw some of them on the floor to absorb some of the hot fats, ....and to wipe my bare feet(didn't I tell you I go barefooted in the house?). But at this time I have completed my equipment and cooking tests and now it is time to render my conclusions.
I love the induction cooktop, it's like cooking with an instant gas burner, instant on, instant heat, instant temperature control. But I hate the manuals provide by the offshore technical support people. The best way I can describe it would be a cook writing a surgery how to that really had never stepped into a hospital.
The fries, the 7mmX7mm came out crunchy and grease free, the thicker cuts were almost crunchy with a little fat residue, the thick slices sucked! Soft, soggy, tasteless blobs of yuck. But a lot of salt, and tomato ketchup saved the day.