December 22, 2014

Ovens and Cooktops from Home-Tech Bring Comfort and Joy

P070576_11zWhile it never gets truly cold here in gorgeous Southwest Florida (after all, isn’t that why we’re here?), according to the National Weather Service, it actually got down to a frigid low 27 degrees on Christmas Eve of 1989. But, if you compare it to what the folks in Indiana in January of 1994 dealt with, which was 37 degrees below zero; our short little winters are downright balmy.

Christmas Comfort

Still, when there’s a little chill in the air and the Christmas tree is sparkling, there’s nothing more comforting than comfort food – and we’re not talking sushi, or a salad, or even soup – comfort food means macaroni and cheese, casseroles, and things made out of dough. Just out of the oven Christmas cookies are comforting, hot from the stove oatmeal is stick-to-your ribs delicious, and pretty much anything with cinnamon in it brings back memories of grandparents and fireplaces for the holidays.

Sparkling Cook Tops and Awesome OvensP080592_59z

At Home-Tech, we can’t provide snow or frost to get you into the holiday spirit, but we can provide you with state-of-the-art ovens and cook tops that will make your holiday comfort food come to life – like Electrolux Wall Ovens in a variety of sizes that currently come with very comforting rebates. There are also rebates on fabulously reviewed KitchenAid and Maytag cook tops.

Stop by our showroom and check out some of the models – and once you get one home, give Grandma’s homemade, comforting holiday cookies a try to keep you warm on a 70 degree Southwest Florida night. You know these are from back in the day, well, because Jell-O.

Colorful Holiday Jell-O Cookies

  • 3/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (3 ounce) package Jello (any flavor/color)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cream margarine, sugar, jello and eggs together in a medium to large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Roll dough into small balls and place on a greased and floured cookie sheet.

Flatten each with a fork.

Bake 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees or until lightly browned at the edges.

Raise the Bar with Home-Tech Appliances

HolidaySpirits ‘Twas just a few weeks ‘til Christmas and all through the house,

the martinis were shaken, but not enough to get totally soused.

 The Kegerator was delivered from Home-Tech with care,

and filled with beer in the hopes that guests would soon be there.

The wine bottles were all snug in the cooler from Home-Tech;

as I in my sparkles waited for arrivals with a glass of Malbec.”

 Perfect Parties

Yep, it’s officially holiday party season and time to get the home bar in order. That means bringing out the corkscrews, carafes, shakers, and flutes in time to toast the season or ring in the New Year. And while you’ll have to shop for the adult libations and research holiday cocktail recipes, Home-Tech can help with some appliances that’ll get this party started.

The Kegerator

Stop by the Home-Tech show room and check out the Kegerator. The Kegerator is not your frat boy’s keg – this appliance, for adults who love their beer cold, convenient, and on draft,  is especially great for entertaining and really completes an outdoor living area. But, whether inside or outside, the Kegerator is the beer aficionado’s best friend.

Wine Cooler Connoisseurwine cooler appliances holidays

There’s nothing like sliding an unopened bottle of wine that’s been stored in a wine cooler at the perfect temperature and uncorking it. You may not have the luxury of a wine cellar, but you can have the treat of a wine cooler – whether it’s built-in or stand-alone, you choose the perfect size for home and for your wine consumption – your party guests will love it.

Cheers!

“As the doorbell rang we sprang to our feet

A party was coming that can’t be beat.

Our guests had come, many from afar

And all is well, we’re loving our bar.”

 

 

 

Convection Ovens Make Crunchier Chips for the Best Guacamole

SpicyGuacWhile the rest of America enjoys gourd season and hot apple cider and an unusually early winter, those of us in Southwest Florida are continuing to enjoy snacks with a decidedly more tropical vibe – because we can. Being as close as we are to the equator all year long, whether it’s shrimp, tropical fruit salad, or lobster bisque – it’s always in season around here. That’s why, for some, it may seem a little nontraditional to celebrate Spicy Guacamole Day in November, but not for us. Bring on the margaritas, the sombreros, and the chips – ole!

Guacamole Wars

The first bit of advice regarding spicy guacamole is to never, ever get into an argument with anybody from Arizona about the “perfect” guacamole, because when it comes to guac, it’s like the pizza rivalry between Chicagoans and New Yorkers – folks from Arizona think their guacamole is the best – Floridians, however, beg to differ. Arizona people like it with heavy-duty kick, whereas Florida folks prefer the cooler, thicker version. But, one thing we can all agree on – the fresher, warmer, and crispier the chips, the better.

Convection Oven Chips For The Win!chips and salsa

With a Convection Oven from Home-Tech, homemade tortilla chips are super easy and make store bought chips pale in comparison. Just cut your corn tortillas into eighths diagonally and spread them on a rack on a baking pan. Spritz them with some cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt – in about 15 minutes, they’re ready to eat – and so delicious.  Why are they so much better?  Because a convection oven circulates hot air with a fan and that circulating air helps everything cook more quickly and to crisp up nicely.

Two “Perfect” Versions of Guac

If you want that spicy Arizona kick in your guac, try this: 1–3 fresh green chilies, depending on heat, and your taste, finely chopped 2 spring onions, thinly sliced handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped 3 ripe Hess avocados,  1 ripe medium tomato, diced juice of 1 lime, salt

1. Put a teaspoon each of the chili, onion and cilantro into a pestle and mortar, along with a pinch of coarse salt, and grind to a paste.

2. Peel the avocados and remove the stone. Cut into cubes, then mash into a chunky paste, leaving some pieces intact.

3. Stir the chili paste into the avocado, and then gently fold in the tomatoes and the rest of the onions, chili and coriander. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Serve immediately, or cover the surface with cling film and refrigerate (leave the tomatoes out until you’re ready to serve).

The Cool Version

While the recipe above might make you sweat, the Florida avocado recipe below should cool you down: Two ripe Florida avocados, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 Tbsp of fresh lime juice or lemon juice, 2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup of minced red onion or thinly sliced green onion, 2 cloves of garlic, minced, a dash of freshly grated black pepper, 1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped.

Cut the avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl. Using a fork, roughly mash the avocado. (Don’t overdo it – the guacamole should be a little chunky.) Sprinkle with salt and lime (or lemon) juice. The acid in the lime juice will help delay the avocados from turning brown. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and pepper. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the guacamole cover it and to prevent air reaching it. (The oxygen in the air causes oxidation which will turn the guacamole brown.) Refrigerate until ready to serve. Chilling tomatoes hurts their flavor, so if you want to add chopped tomato to your guacamole, add it just before serving.

Ditch TV Dinners – Try Steam Cooking with Thermador Steam Ovens

nomoretvdinnerTV Dinner Day was last week and it created feelings of nostalgia here at Home-Tech. Can you blame us? If you grew up before the days of microwaves, you remember the TV dinners of yesteryear from brands like Libbyland, Swanson, and Banquet. They came in tinfoil containers with individual sections for each serving. Do these tasty creations ring a bell?

Salisbury Steak

Turkey with Gravy

Classic Fried Chicken

Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce

Classic, right? Then there were the side dishes — a solid square of “mashed potatoes”, slightly soggy Tater Tots, and overly colorful peas and carrots. Lest we forget the desserts (which as kids, most of us went for first) — cobblers galore, like cherry, peach, and apple with lots more sweet, chewy crust than actual fruit preserves.

Convenience CAN be HealthyThermador Steam Oven

We’ll never forget our moms peeling the tin foil off the trays as our TV dinners came out of the oven, while she set us up in the living room in front of our favorite show (“Brady Bunch” and “The Partridge Family” come to mind) with a glass of Nestlé’s Quik to accompany our Salisbury Steak. But, the truth is, while actually pretty yummy, TV dinners back in the day weren’t exactly known for their nutrients and health benefits. Those cardboard boxes of frozen, processed tastiness were more about convenience. Thankfully, times have changed and not only has convenience gotten healthier, it tastes better — and looks fabulous in your kitchen in the form of a Thermador Masterpiece Steam & Convection Oven (model #MES301HP).

Thermador MES301HPSteamed and Lean with Thermador Steam Ovens

Home-Tech loves this awesome appliance from Thermador for a number of reasons – it’s perfect for foodies who adore cooking – and it’s the best friend of people who’d rather throw a TV dinner in the oven. There are forty – yes, forty pre-programmed cooking modes that make life easier. Humidity and temperature are automatically set for the perfectly cooked meal. Instead of a boxed meal, throw some fresh veggies, some seasoning, and olive oil into a bowl and in ten minutes, you’ve got a delicious and healthy side dish, steamed to perfection. Thermador shares tons of recipes running the culinary gamut from Steamed Mussels with Tomato Garlic Wine Broth to Mocha Cream Filled Éclairs. Plus, at 24” this sleek built-in oven goes beautifully with any kitchen décor.  With the Thermador Masterpiece Steam & Convection Oven, your taste buds will thank you – and while you’re welcome to eat your dinners in front of the TV, what you’ll be cooking, WON’T be your mama’s TV Dinners.

 

 

 

Does Your Dryer Eat Socks?

Dryer ate socksThis time of year, none of us in Southwest Florida should care at all about socks. I mean, truly, it’s 742 degrees outside with 900 percent humidity. No one is wearing socks. That is, except for me, your faithful Home-Tech Blogger, who has been down for the count with major knee surgery.

As a result of being housebound, shuffling around on crutches, and unable to reach past my cumbersome leg brace to put on shoes (flip-flops and crutches don’t mix, trust me on that), I was forced to search through my meager sock collection for temporary footwear – and when I say meager, I mean practically nonexistent. (I’ve lived in Florida since childhood and socks just haven’t been a priority).

Nevertheless, as I rummaged through my sock drawer, I was able to find a total of 17 socks. Not 17 PAIRS of socks, mind you — just 17 socks. Among them, there were just four pair. Now, I’m no math whiz, but that leaves 11 lonely, single, unmatched, very sad socks.

At first, I thought pain medication was playing a factor in my inability to match socks, but no matter how I tried to justify it, a pink argyle sock and a turquoise footie just do not go together — whether you’re on pharmaceuticals or not. And then it dawned on me one evening while my husband and I were bingeing on “House of Cards”.

The Case of the Hungry Dryer

missing sock

Officer, I need to report a missing person!

“The dryer ate them!” I said suddenly.

“The dryer ate what, honey?” asked my husband/nurse with the patience of a thousand saints.

My socks! The dryer must have eaten my socks.”

My husband sighed, “Sweetie, the dryer doesn’t eat things. The dryer doesn’t have a mouth – or teeth.”

I argued (and I think this was the pain medication talking),”Yes, it does. The dryer is one giant mouth and it eat socks.”

My husband rolled his eyes and then asked the proverbial question we’ve all been asking ourselves since we learned to unload a dryer and fold laundry, “Then honey, if the dryer eats socks, where do they go?”

Home-Tech Appliance Repair

Employee Owner, Roger

The Sherlock Holmes of Repair at Home-Tech

Maybe because I’m in recovery I have too much time on my hands, but I was bound and determined to get to the bottom of exactly where socks go after the dryer has eaten them. So, I spoke to the all-knowing top repair man, Roger, at Home-Tech in Fort Myers. At first, he feigned ignorance, “Socks? Lost in dryers? That’s crazy – I’ve never heard of that,” he said with an unmistakable glint in his eye.

I told him I had proof – eleven lonely, pathetic socks, without partners to walk through life with. So, he confessed and shared the ancient secret of disappearing socks with me – and I, in turn, am sharing it with you.

Finally, The Truth About Your Dryer

Stephanie Davis Home-Tech

Stephanie Davis, Home-Tech Blogger

It could be a minor (and common) occurrence – instead of the sock clinging to the side of the dryer tumbler, try feeling around the front of the inside – your stray may be hanging out there. Also, if you feel around the inside of the front, there’s a round felt and/or rubber seal. Wear and tear, plus age, can break down the seal and socks can get stuck there, just tumbling round, dizzily for years, cycle after cycle – a sort of purgatory for socks. And yes, sometimes they fall through a crack in the seal and end up in the innards (I like to call it the stomach) of the dryer. Thankfully, if your dryer starts digesting socks or other small bits of laundry and needs repairing, a Service Agreement from Home-Tech will cover it – and uncover your missing socks so they can be reunited with their life-partners.

Meanwhile, I can only grieve for my socks that have gone missing in action, as I hope to start a clever new trend of wearing one Christmas sock and one Hello Kitty sock. I could be onto something here, unless of course, this is the pain meds talking again…

Refrigerators with Bottom Freezers Perfect for Your Ice Cream

icecreamdayAh, the energy and impatience of youth — those were the two main ingredients that went into making homemade ice cream back in the day. And since National Ice Cream Day fell on the calendar this past Sunday (we here it Home-Tech actually prefer to celebrate the holiday all month long — oh, never mind, let’s be honest — all YEAR long), let’s look back on the days of homemade ice cream and let’s look into the perfect storage for your ice cream – refrigerators with bottom freezers.

Grandma’s Ice Cream Was The Best

Sure, you could buy ice cream at the store, but there was nothing like the rich, smooth, sweet, fresh taste of homemade — and usually, it was Grandma’s recipe, which meant eggs, sugar, vanilla, fresh cream, and the best, most important ingredient of all — Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. If you were lucky, your Grandma let you lick the inside top of the can (so good!). Next came the hard part, which meant dealing with with the ice, the rock salt, and that incredibly heavy wooden and cast iron contraption known as an Ice Cream Maker. And that’s when the adults kicked back with a cold glass of sweet tea and put the kids to work cranking.

Building Muscles and Appetitesbottom freezers

For folks 40-ish and older, childhood just wasn’t childhood unless you did your time cranking the ice cream maker — and you had to keep cranking, fast and constantly, to churn the ingredients. If you got lazy and stopped, you’d just end up with really thick cream instead of the fluffy, delicious, and most importantly, cold, ice cream you craved on a hot July day.

bottom freezerFreezing Your Sweet Creation

While things seemed better way back then, let’s remember that everything was also smaller, including freezers, so there wasn’t much room to fit ice, frozen meat, other staples, plus a carton of homemade ice cream — so you had to either eat it quick, or your Grandma had to do some creative freezer puzzle work. Something that HAS gotten better since childhood is freezers — and Home-Tech carries a variety that not only will fit your budget, but all the ice cream you want — homemade or store bought. One of the most popular models these days is the bottom drawer freezer and Home-Tech boasts proven, quality brands from manufacturers like Bosch, KitchenAid, Maytag, and more — and plenty of these Refrigerators with Bottom Freezers feature money-savings rebates. Just stop into one of our sparkling showrooms in Bradenton or Fort Myers.

Here’s the Recipe

And now that you’re in the mood for ice cream, check out this super easy recipe (no ice cream maker required — you already did your time at the crank):

1/2 cup of cold milk
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 pint of heavy cream

In a medium bowl, stir together cold milk, vanilla, condensed milk, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat heavy cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold milk mixture into whipped cream.

Pour into shallow 2 quart dish, cover and freeze for 4 hours, stirring once after 2 hours or when edges start to harden. Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Yields 12 tasty servings.

 

The Best Microwave – Home-Tech Recommendations

best microwavesWhen it comes to investing in the best microwave, we decided to talk to the experts in Home-Tech’s Fort Myers sparkling appliance showroom. There was a time when owning a microwave was a major luxury and consumers had to save their pennies to be able to afford one. These days, you can walk into just about any grocery store or even pharmacy and pick one up in between the styrofoam beer coolers and box fans — but, are you getting one that’s going to break down after a few months? It may be a bargain, but it’s not what you bargained for.

Less Service Calls . . . More Reliability

The technicians at Home-Tech repair microwaves in SW Florida homes each and every day so they know which brands are the most reliable. The appliance store only provides the best microwave brands with all the bells and whistles and that last the longest.  The appliance sales reps at Home-Tech walked us around the showroom and gave us a tour of the best of the best when it comes to microwaves. Yes — there are some snazzy features you’ll love, but most importantly, these appliances are reliable and THAT’S what it’s all about.

Here are the top three BEST microwave recommendations from Home-Tech:

The G.E. Profile (model #PVM9179SFSS)best microwaves 2014

  1. This sleek, stainless steel Convection Over-The-Range Microwave Oven not only looks great, it’s a G.E., and according to our experts, that means less calls for service.
  2. There are two oven wire racks, which makes multi-tasking easy.
  3. Plus, it’s also a convection oven — two great appliances in one!

The Bosch 800 Series Convection Over-The-Range Microwave Oven (model #HMV8052U)

  1. Another quality manufacturer that the appliance store at Home-Tech loves is Bosch.
  2. With an automatic defrost function and a sensor that lets you know when your food is done, this microwave is one of the best, most trustworthy appliances on the market.

The Whirlpool Microwave Hood Combination (model #WMH76719CS)

  1. Another solid, reliable microwave that will keep you cooking, not calling for service.
  2. This one not only features sensor cooking, but it doubles as a steamer.

You can see these top three recommendations and many more quality top of the line microwaves at one of Home-Tech’s showrooms or at www.home-tech.us.  Check them out and you’ll be cooking in your dream microwave in no time!

Iced Tea Made Easier With Induction Cooktops

PrintIt’s National Iced Tea Day and Home-Tech wants to help you celebrate with our incredible induction cooktops. Let’s face it — it’s hot and we need some relief. In fact, it’s so hot in Southwest Florida these days that the last time I bought a loaf of bread, by the time I got it home it was toast; it’s so hot that I heard one pig say to the other, “I’m bacon!”; it’s so hot that the birds have to use potholders to pull the worms out of the ground.

I know. These are bad. But, just one more: It’s so hot, the chickens are laying hard boiled eggs. Okay, that’s it. I’m done.

Nothing Like Homemade Iced Tea

You can stock up on Snapple all you want, but there’s nothing like good old-fashioned homemade iced tea — yep, the kind Grandma served from a deliciously chilly pitcher with plenty of sugar and lemon. Problem is, you’ve got to boil a lot of water for that to happen and in this heat, who wants to stand over a hot stove in order to cool down? That’s where induction cooktops come in. These incredible cooktops make summer — and life in general — a whole lot easier.

Like a Gas Stove, Without the Fire

Chefs love cooking with gas because of the ease and control — turn it on high and water comes to a boil a lot faster than with a regular electric cooktop — turn down the heat and the water stops gradually stops bubbling quicker. But with an induction cooktop, boiling happens even faster — and nearly instantaneous — and without the fire and the fumes. Plus, these cooktops are flat, convenient, and easy to clean.  Installation is simple since induction cooktops come in standard 30” and 36” widths and can fit into existing cooktop cutouts. Plus, you have the option to install over a single wall oven.  And at Home-Tech, we can show you induction cooktops by a variety of top manufacturers, including Frigidaire, Whirlpool, G.E., and more.

Sweet, Southern, and Ice Cold

Finally, because it’s so hot that you could scrape an egg off the sidewalk (oh, you’ve heard that one before?), here’s Grandma’s Iced Tea recipe (with a citrus twist) to help you celebrate the holiday (oh — and vodka is optional, as always):

2 whole cloves

1 family-size tea bag

1 1/2 cups pineapple juice

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup sugar

Crushed ice

Garnish: lemon slices

Bring 3 cups water and cloves to a boil in a saucepan; reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and add tea bag; steep 10 minutes.

Discard tea bag and cloves. Add fruit juices and sugar, stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and let chill for at least one hour; serve over crushed ice. Garnish with lemon slices.

 

Best Dryers for 2014

Best clothes dryersIt’s that time of year when you’ll find “best” lists all over the media, including the Internet. By the way, in case you were wondering, I did some research for you, and it turns out that the best gluten-free dog food is called Pure Elements; the best swimsuit for ladies size 12 and up is a “tankini” by Tara Grinna; and the best freshwater aquarium fish is the Bloodfin Tetra (they can live up to 10 years!).

Best Dryers

But, let’s talk appliances. Specifically one we couldn’t live without (unless you have the time, space, and inclination to use a clothesline): the dryer.

When it comes to the best dryers out there, I went straight to the Home-Tech showroom in Fort Myers and spoke directly with two of the best reps in the business, Home-Tech experts Cliff Hollinger and Chuck Williams. Here’s what I learned about the bests of the best:

G.E. Standard (model #GTDP740EDWW)

  1. Bottom line? It leads in less service calls over-all.
  2. It’s reliable, sturdy, and does the job.
  3. Cool features include a variety of settings, including “bulky”, “damp dry”, and “wrinkle shield”.

Whirlpool Cabrio (model #WED8900BC)Whirlpool cabrio best dryer

  1. This dryer is sleek, modern, and looks great on the outside, while working hard on the inside – and you can see it do the job through a glass-paneled door.
  2. It even has a steam cycle – throw in your clean, dry, wrinkled clothes and they come out ready to wear.

See what Consumer Reports has to say.

Frigidaire Affinity (model # FAQE7001LW)

  1. This affordable, ultra-capacity dryer with a see- through plastic door features 14 options
  2. Includes an allergen cycle, jeans cycle, and more.
  3. Plus, it’s stable, trustworthy, and can handle large loads.

Home-Tech strongly recommends these dryer models for 2014, so let us do the homework for you — stay tuned for more of our top recommendations on best appliances. When it comes to the best, Home-Tech knows best! You can do more research about dryers on Home-Tech’s appliance store website.

Appliances Have Come A Long Way, Baby – Which Means Happier Moms!

vintage washerAs you order flowers, pick out the perfect card, and make brunch reservations for Mother’s Day, we here at Home-Tech are reflecting on how much easier moms have it in 2014 than back in yesteryear. Sure, we still work hard at keeping our homes in shape, raising kids, and maintaining a career – but, looking back at how primitive appliances once were, you’ve got to wonder how our grandmothers and great-grandmothers managed without anti-depressants or spa days.

Washing Woes

In 1940, grandma had to first fill her brand new state-of-the-art washing machine with water. She then had to feed each item of clothing, one by one, through a ringer – then she had to hand crank the clothes clean. You can still purchase a vintage washing machine for mom on some Internet sites, but unless you want to be disinherited, I suggest a diamond tennis bracelet instead.

Ice, Ice, BabyGE Kitchen

We’ve made leaps and bounds with refrigerators, too. In the 1920′s, our foremothers had to contend with ice boxes. An ice box didn’t mean little cubes for your Diet Coke or a freezer for your Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream. It meant a wooden box with a block of ice in it — period. And great-grandma had to hope for the best that the ice man would cometh on the regular. If not, there was no Febreeze back then to mask the smell of spoiled food.

Dish Pan Hands

As far as dishwashers went in the turn-of-the-century, moms had to first pump the water into a bucket and then transfer it into two tin tubs – one for washing and one for rinsing – but, first, she probably had to make her own soap. Even as fancy and easy as dishwashers are today, we suggest NOT letting mom touch a single dirty dish on Mother’s Day. Breakfast in bed on a tray with a rose and a mimosa is the recommended way to go – and by the time she decides to get up, the kitchen should sparkle.

Home-Tech has the best appliances by Maytag, G.E., Bosch, and more to choose from and to make mom’s life easier (a weekend at a resort is always a good idea, too). Happy Mother’s Day!