Best Outdoor BBQ Propane Tank Gas Grills: How to Choose Weber, Coleman, Char Boil, Ducane, Thermos etc
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |

Propane grills can sear meat better than an electric grill and are easier and faster to start than a charcoal grill. The main considerations when choosing a propane grill are

  • Price, quality, construction and manufacturer's reputation.
  • Size, power and cooking effectiveness.
  • Features and accessories.

Popular brands include Weber, Coleman, Char Boil, Ducane and Thermos. This article covers multi-burner full sized grills, not single-burner portable grills.

Propane Grill Price, Quality and Construction

Propane grills can cost a few hundred dollars for a basic model. Large 800 inch models can reach over a thousand dollars for well-known brands.

While all grills will cook, a premium brand grill is likely to

  • Be sturdily built to support the weight of the burners, grates and propane tank. No flimsy, swaying, lightweight construction.
  • Have burners protected from grease drips for easy cleanup and reduced flare-ups.
  • Have a 5 year guarantee.
  • Last 10 or more years.
  • Have spare parts available even when the model has been discontinued.

Propane Grill Size, Power and Cooking Effectiveness

The cooking area of propane grills range from 300 to over 800 square inches (in comparison, indoor electric grills seldom exceed 200).

The grills are rated by the number of burners (typically 2 to 6) and the BTUs (British Thermal Units) of heat generated per hour. An average rating is 12,000 BTUs per burner.

Some users have reported that more BTUs don't necessarily mean a hotter, more powerful grill. This is because the heating efficiency of the grill is also important. In any case, most grills will be hot enough for normal grilling (easily reaching 550 degrees Fahrenheit) so the BTU rating isn't significant.

More important is even heat distribution and the ability to hold a constant temperature. Premium brands have a good reputation for this.

Independently-controllable burners allows more cooking options such as indirect heating, and cooking on part of the grill while warming on another.

Propane Grill Features and Accessories

Propane grills typically have more add-ons and features compared to other grills. Useful features include

  • Side burner.
  • Warmer.
  • Cover with built-in light, to check on cooking progress in the dark.
  • Cover with built-in thermometer.
  • Replaceable drip pans.
  • Rotisserie attachment.
  • Fold-down shelves, to reduce space when not in use.
  • Onboard storage for propane tank.
  • Propane tank gas gauge.
  • Hooks for hanging cooking utensils.
  • Wheels.
  • Battery or piezo-electric ignition.

Some grills have front-mounted burner controls. These take up less space compared with top-mounted controls, but require awkward bending over to see clearly.

The Best Propane Grill

Propane grills are more expensive than other types of grills. This increases the temptation to go for a cheap brand. However the weight of the burners and grate means that solid construction is necessary for years of trouble-free operation.

This is one type of product where "you get what you pay for".…

5 Best Restaurants in Old Town Alexandria Virginia
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |

Restaurant Eve

Dublin native chef, Cathal Armstrong has brought innovation and passion into Old Town with his cuisine. Restaurant Eve is a family business that Armstrong started with his wife, and the restaurant is named after their first child. The restaurant has two different dining experiences, which are the bistro and the tasting room. Each offers their own menu and atmosphere in two separate rooms. The food is tantalizing yet still homey with such dishes as roasted belly of Korubuta pork and seafood chowder with shellfish, baguette croutons and aioli. For desert try the birthday cake which is delicious. The restaurant is expensive and dress attire is required.

110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-706-0450;


Grape + Bean

Grape + Bean is located in a quaint row house on Royal Street. Grape + Bean is known as a wine and coffee stop with a lunch and dinner menu. Grape + Bean is the brain child of longtime Alexandria residents David Gwathmey and Sheera Rosenfeld. The goat cheese and onion jam on a toasted baguette is enticing, and if you are looking for a bigger meal, try the American Artisan Flatbread with shaved prosciutto. For desert have some coffee and ask for a sample of the chocolate coco nibs or skip the coffee and just have the nibs. The menu is limited but inexpensive. Check the Grape + Bean calendar for wine tastings and wine education classes.

118 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; 703-664-0214;

A la Lucia

This casual Italian eatery is full of rustic charm and offers homemade pastas, as well as brick oven pizzas. You can sit at the bar, one of the two dining areas or pick up your to go order. Several local favorites are house made lasagna and thin crust pizza gorgonzola or have a cannoli for dessert. The menu prices are moderate and the atmosphere is casual.

315 Madison Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-836-5123;


Fresh ingredients and premium frying take this chipper to the next level. Who needs fast food when you can have Eamonn’s fish and chips? The restaurant is owned by Chef Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong who also own Restaurant Eve and The Majestic. People go there for the cod, but there are other different kinds of fish with a great selection of homemade dipping sauces. Don’t forget dessert, where there is a variety to choose from including fried bananas, dough balls and candy bars. Eamonn’s is an inexpensive place to have a perfectly fried meal.

728 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-299-8384;


This restaurant boasts the talent of executive chef Tony Chittum and recently won the 2010 RAMW award for the best upscale casual restaurant. Located in a quaint row house with yellow trim, chef Chittum marries fabulous food with moderate prices. The pastas, sausages and scrapples are all made in house. Try the “brandade” crusted halibut or the beef striploin. Follow it up with the crispy ricotta fritters for dessert. On …

Little Tibet Restaurant: Tibetan Cuisine on Queen Street West in Toronto
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |

Little Tibet is a small, unassuming Toronto restaurant that used to be in Yorkville and is now on Queen Street West, a few blocks west of Bathurst. Although allegedly very popular in the evening and on weekends, the place is quiet at lunchtime on a weekday.

While Tibetan food is spicy in the sense that it is seasoned with ginger, garlic and spices from India, most of it is not hot. Not well known in North America, the cuisine is based on barley, dairy products, and meats such as lamb and yak. Staples such as rice are borrowed from neighbouring China; few vegetable crops grow at the high altitudes of Tibet.

  • Hours: Lunch Tuesday-Saturday 12:00-3:00 pm, Dinner Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday 5:00-10:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 5:00-11:00 pm
  • Prices: At lunch, meatless dishes range to about $14; meat dishes go up to around $16
  • Location: 712 Queen Street West, Toronto (near Niagara Street)

Tibetan Herbal Tea, Tsampa, and Tenchung

Besides the de rigueur barley tea with yak's milk, there is a Tibetan Herbal Tea with the alluring description: "A blend of handpicked herbs from the Himalayan Mountains. Used by Tibetan healers." One regular patron claimed that the herbal tea is reminiscent of a new-mown field of hay. Along with several homemade sauces, the tea is available in packaged form to take home.

Several soups are available to start the meal. Tenchung is a "red lentil soup with roasted onion, garlic, herbs”—salty but not otherwise spiced. It is fine-grained and delicious. The less interesting Tsampa (named for one of Tibet’s staple dishes) is "roasted barley simmered in chicken broth with thinly sliced radishes and lean minced beef."

Meatless Items at Little Tibet

The Tibetan staff spends the off-moments of the lunch hour preparing a beautiful array of Momo (steamed barley flour dumplings) at the back of the room. One option is Cheese and Spinach Momo, an excellent plate to share; "marinated in roasted onion, ginger and oregano” and served with a green salad, the dumplings also come with a mild tomato relish or salsa for dipping.

Shogo Ngopa is similar to very thinly scalloped potatoes and it has only one fault—it is virtually impossible to eat with chopsticks. Bo Thuk Ngopa is a dish of “pan-fried egg noodles topped with salted mixed seasonal vegetables tossed in a light ginger and garlic sauce.” Tasty, but very mild.

Meats (Beef Sham-Dae), Desserts (Mindha), and Extras (More Momo)

Beef Sham-Dae is “Cinnamon spiced beef curry slow-cooked in ginger, garlic, onion, and seasoned with exotic Indian spices.” For meat-eaters, this is one of the more memorable among the main lunch dishes. It comes with a separate bowl of steamed rice. The beef is very tender and deeply flavoured by the sauce, which is exquisite.

  1.  Momo (also called Tingmo) is like an ultra-pure dumpling: it is unfilled Tibetan steamed bread, which patrons call "spongy" and "interesting.” Indeed, the texture is hard to describe: it manages to be puffy and substantial at the same time.

An unusual …

Where to Eat at Pike Place Market Seattle – Best Restaurants
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |
The Pike Place Market is a legit and historic place. It was started in 1907, long before Disney or Hollywood had ever heard of the small town of Seattle. Way before cruise ships went to Alaska on a regular basis, Pike Place Market, also called The Public Market, or just The Market, was a real “farmers market” with produce, meat, fish, tea, coffee, and restaurants (the Athenian). It was something like a “front porch” for Seattle locals. Seattle Tourist Attraction Back in the 60s and 70s city officials kept trying to tear the Pike Place Market down. Fortunately, there was a community backlash against the “evil” developers and The Market lived on. So, The Market is not really a “tourist” attraction. It’s just a cool place to hang out, shop, drink, eat, and watch the:
  • Tee shirt buying tourists from cruise ships
  • Street musicians (good and bad)
  • Pretty girls
  • Old hippies
  • Crazy fish-throwing loonies
Well, don’t forget the digital camera (and some wide-angle or telephoto lenses). There are some fairly amazing views and quirky scenes, inside and outside The Market, and they rival any photo op on earth. Eat Breakfast at Pike Place Market Here are some spots for taming those early morning munchies:  
  • The Daily Dozen Donut Company: This place is sort of at the entrance to the Pike Place Market, so look for the line. Government Food-Nazis may frown, but mini donuts are definitely part of any healthy well-balanced diet.
  • Le Panier: Le Panier’s croissants (amandine, raspberry, ham and cheese, chocolate-almond paste) are very French. Add a cup of hot coffee to burn off the morning chill. (On the other side of street from main building.)
  • Lowell’s Restaurant: This place is right in The Market and some tables have a nice view. Lowell's has hearty American-style-working-man’s food.
Lunch or Snacks at Seattle Market There are lots of yummy options to consider.
  • Buy a Dungeness or other crab (they are cooked) from a seafood vendor and have them crack it. Get some fruit, cheese, or whatever looks good, and have a picnic at Victor Steinbrueck Park (just north of The Market) or take the food back to the hotel room.
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: Cheese curds, sandwiches, or delish Mac n Cheese. (Across street.)
  • Three Girls Bakery: Great bread, good sandwiches. Try the turkey or baked salmon. (Across street in Post Alley.)
  • Pike Place Chowder: Lovely hot soup and samples for customers. (Across the street in Post Alley.)
  • Mee Sum Pastries: Great barbeque pork or curry humbow and potstickers. (Across street.)
Another option, for Market newbies, is to look for a crowd and get in line. Avoid the line if people look like they're from a tour bus. Good Restaurants at the Pike Place Market Some restaurants need reservations for dinner, but it depends on what night of the week it is.
  • Matt’s In The Market: Foodie people love this place and Matt’s has a nice view. For lunch, consider the lamb burger or fish sandwich.
  • Place Pigalle: French
Catering Supplies
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |
Catering supplies can make your catering business a well-oiled, food preparing and serving machine. As a caterer, people depend on you and your staff to provide the highest quality food and service. With the right serving trays and tableware, you can create a memorable experience for your customers. Useful catering supplies have to be easy to handle and easy to transport. One evening you may be serving dinner at a five-star hotel. The next evening, you could be serving breakfast at a local church. You need supplies and a staff that can adapt to fit any serving situation. What should be constant regardless of your client is the idea that the customer's needs are most important.   Tips for Catering Supplies One of the easiest ways to create an elegant catering affair is buying uniform catering supplies. Outfitting your staff with elegant looking aprons and chef coats can create the professional atmosphere that your clients demand. You can also create an elegant feel with glass stemware and fine silver utensils. For more casual events, like picnics and benefit luncheons, you can use plastic forks and disposable plates, if desired. When buying catering supplies, it's always a good idea to buy an extra supply of serving trays, utensils, and beverage ware. These items get the most use, and as a result, they are most likely to get damaged or broken during events.…
Villa Catering
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |

Villa catering is the icing on the cake as far as villa vacations are concerned. Most people who discover the benefits of villa vacations don't go back to hotels and resorts unless they absolutely must. A further enticement is the option of villa catering, offered by villa rental services on their properties. Most villas have gourmet kitchens with all the accoutrements for preparing fabulous meals, but finding a willing cook while you revel in paradise can be a challenge.

Whether you plan your next vacation at a historic plantation villa in the Caribbean or a sumptuously modern home on a Hawaiian beachfront, dining is a priority. Some large estates offered for vacation rental have courteous staffs ready to attend to your every whim, others have a resident chef or gardener. Such grand estates are ideal for planning a vacation for your extended family or a group of families including all the children.

Catering can be a great solution for groups of any size. Honeymooners don't want to spend time cooking while they're in paradise. Large groups require massive amounts of food, so don't hesitate to inquire for villa catering services if your villa doesn't have a resident chef.


Villa Catering Is Not Only for Large Groups

Villa catering services are also available when you travel as a couple or as a single family. The idea of cooking ones own meals during a villa vacation sounds nice, but is often impractical, considering the amount of time necessary to buy and prepare the food you expect. Villa rental companies will arrange for a superior chef to prepare your meals at your villa, under your supervision, or for meals to be prepared and brought to you at the appropriate moments. Your villa vacation will offer countless precious moments to enjoy with your loved ones, and villa catering preserves many more for your memories.


Top Indoor Electric BBQ Grills: George Foreman, Sanyo, DeLonghi, Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart etc
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |

Indoor electric barbecue grills make a lot of sense during cold weather and for apartment dwellers. Their convenience can tempt even hardcore charcoal grillers. Popular brands include Salton (George Foreman), Sanyo, DeLonghi, Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart.

Grill Size and Power: Watts, Temperature and Power Density

The grill needs to be hot enough to sear meat for that grilled taste and browned look, otherwise the feared "boiled meat" taste will result. Many manufacturers claim a maximum temperature of about 425 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also important is the power density of the grill. A larger grill obviously needs more power. To compare grills, the power of the grill (Watts) should be divided by the area of the grill (square inches) to get the power density. For clamshell grills, the area of the top grill should be included in the calculation.

Power densities can range from 6 to 18 Watts per square inch.

Grills range in size from about 36 to 200 square inches. Depending on the type of food grilled, 30 to 50 inches is needed to cook for each person. For clamshell grills, some manufacturers report the cooking area to include both the top and bottom hot plates. Others don't.

Clamshell Double-Sided Contact or Press Grills

These are like panini sandwich makers. Heating elements at the top and bottom means

  • Shorter cooking times.
  • Less heat and grease splatter.

Features to look out for:

  • Floating hinge to adjust for different food thicknesses, up to 3 inches is possible.
  • Open flat hinge. Some grills can be opened 180 degrees and used as a conventional flat single-sided grill.
  • Tilt control and grease channels to collect grease. A built-in drip collector is convenient.

Removable plates are a major feature that should be considered.


  • Easy to clean. The cooking surface is popped out and can be soaked in the sink. Some are dishwasher-safe.
  • Flat or ribbed plates can be inserted depending on the type of food cooked.


  • Some users complain of less heat and/or uneven heat distribution compared to fixed plate models from the same manufacturer.
  • Plates can fall off in the middle of cooking if not properly secured. Locking latches can loosen or break over time.

Traditional Single-sided Grills

Single-sided electric grills try to simulate charcoal grills. A metal grate has electrical heating elements built into it. It is placed over a drip pan. A glass cover is sometimes provided to reduce splatter and shorten cooking times.

While less well known compared to the George Foreman clamshell grills, they are popular with people who like traditional grills and who don't like to squash their meat. There is even a George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor single-sided grill with a domed cover.

Some models have waterproof soakable grills for easy cleaning but most need to be wiped clean to avoid short-circuiting the heating element.

A raised rim is useful to prevent food from falling off.

Electric Grill Features

Popular features include

  • Variable temperature or power to allow more control over the cooking.
  • Timer. Some timers cut
Uses for Baby Wipe Boxes and Food Jars
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |
Anyone with kids has more left over baby wipe and food containers than they know what to do with. You hate to throw them away because, damn it, they could be useful. You just, don't know what for. I have some ideas! Baby wipe boxes: You can buy one diaper wipe box and then get wipe refills, but I think every parent has that moment where it's cheaper to buy the diaper wipe boxes because they are on sale, you forget you have baby wipe boxes or maybe even you're out of town and forgot that neatly packed diaper bag on the bed. Either way with kids you eventually end up with quite a few baby diaper wipe boxes, and really you likely only use one, possibly two for wipes actively. What you could do with them: Organize your closet/junk: Baby wipe boxes are the perfect size for stackable storage everywhere from the kitchen to the garage. Crayons, coins, carpentry nails, tiny pink fruity drink umbrellas, you name it, it's safe and neat in a baby wipe box. Crafts/Playtime: Re-use them for those same kids you bought them for. Make treasure boxes and play pirates, or place clues in each one and hide them around the house for a fun scavenger hunt. Safe guard camping supplies: Baby wipe boxes are also fairly water proof so when camping they make a good place to store those important things you like to keep dry and easy to find, like the toilet paper and a flash light. If you want to cut out the boxes all together mom to mom makes a wipe that comes in a bag with an easy pull spout. No more boxes! Less expensive! You can read my review here. Baby food jars or containers: There is no accidentally bought more or forgot the diaper bag about baby food jars, if you aren't making baby food at home, you've got a surplus of jars. Some people throw these away, and what a waste of good glass these tiny bottles have uses too. Or is that tiny tubs? Gerber seems to have recently changed some of their packaging from good old glass to small Tupperware like boxes. Don't worry you can use those for most these ideas too. What you could do with them: Crafts: Baby food jars or tubs may be small, but then so are many craft supplies such as beads. The tubs especially work well for this because they seal tight but open easy. You can also use jars and tubs literally in crafts decorate them with the kids so they can store their tiny treasures. Cooking: Grow your own herbs and don't know what to do with the excess? Dry it, and store it in baby food jars. You can buy herb jars in stores, but their basically the same thing. You can also buy bulk and use the baby food jars to save space on your spice shelf. Put the big bottle in a pantry.…
Delicious Indian Recipes
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |
I found these tasty Indian recipes at the library. They are made from ingredients that are relatively easy to find, yet combined in unusual ways. The lentil soup, for example, contains ginger and chickpea powder. Some of the traditional Indian recipes have been changed to use ingredients more easily found in the United States or for more rapid preparation time.
This dish is flavored with turmeric, the spice that gives curry it's yellow color.
1.Boil 4 medium sized potatoes until warm but not mushy (14-17 minutes)
cool, peel and dice
2.Heat oil in skillet on medium high heat,
add mustard seed and cumin seeds. When seeds sizzle and splutter add 2 to 3 diced MILD chiles OR 1 to 2 medium or hot diced chiles. Remember: chile seeds=heat. Scraping seeds from chile skin will cool down dish, Decide what tastes good to you. Wear gloves and /or wash hands when touching hot chiles. Turn down heat to medium. Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Cook 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add potatoes, 2 to 4 tablespoons raisins, 2 cups peas, and 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped cashews. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt if you use unsalted nuts.
4. Just before serving sprinkle with 1 teaspoon lime juice and garnish with cilantro.

Mix 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup original or low fat sour cream, 1/4 tablespoon honey OR 1/2 tablespoon applesauce. This is a tasty dressing for a lettuce and/or cucumber salad.

Indian Style Lentil Soup
Heat 1and 1/2 tablespoon oil in a soup kettle on medium high heat
Add 1 inch piece of ginger root and 3 cloves of garlic
Stir in vegetables of your choice. I like chopped carrots, potatoes, and a small amount of cabbage or spinach.
Add 1/2 cup lentils and 2 inch cinnamon sticks, cilantro, and 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour. Gradually add 4 cups of water.

Creamy Corn and Bean Soup
The original recipe called for mung beans. I was in a hurry, and I couldn't find mung beans at the store. I substituted garbanzo beans, and receiveved no complaints from my guests.
1.Simmer 1/2 cup canned garbanzo OR mung beans, 1 cup corn and 2 cups water together for fifteen minutes. Remember, if you use dried beans rinse, sort and soak following package instructions. Dried beans will also take quite a bit longer to cook.
2.Add more cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice.
3. Serve in individual bowls and add a large dollop of original or low fat sour cream and garnish with watercress.…

Easy Pizza Recipes
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |
Once you master the art of this easy dough, pizza's sure to become a regular on your family menu. These simple recipes give perfect results every time, whether you like your pizza thick or thin. For a quicker version, purchase pre-made pizza bases or use pita or flat bread as a base. For mini pizzas use English muffins sliced in half and topped with your favorite pizza topping.


  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 7g sachet dried yeast
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 2/3 cups plain flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Preheat the oven to a moderate 350F (180C). Lightly grease one or two 12 inch (30cm) pizza trays with oil. Combine sugar, onion salt, garlic, yeast, oil and warm water in a bowl. Add flour and mix to a dough. Knead dough for 5 minutes.
  2. Roll the dough into a circle, about 12 inches (30cm). For thin bases, roll dough into 2 x 12 inch (30cm) circles. Transfer to the tray ore trays. To form a thick crust, turn the edges of the base under. Glaze with a beaten egg, top as desired and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden.


Spread prepared pizza base with pizza sauce. For kids, use ½ cup of tomato sauce. Drain a can of pineapple pieces. Chop a few ham steaks or four rashers of bacon, dice a red capsicum. Top the prepared pizza base with pineapple pieces, prepared ham, chopped red capsicum and 1 cup of grated cheese. Sprinkle toping with 1 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs of 1 teaspoon dried basil or oregano, then bake for 30-35 minutes or until crust is well browned and cheese is melted.


Place an 8oz (250g) jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil in a food processor, add 1 teaspoon garlic and process to a spread. If necessary, add a little more oil. Spread over prepared pizza base, top with chopped salami of your choice, 1 cup of grated tasty or parmesan cheese, and scatter the top with black olives. Bake for 30-35 minutes.


Cook 7oz (200g) beef mince in oil, and then add ½ cup tomato pasta sauce and 1 teaspoon each of chili powder, dried coriander and cumin. Spread prepared pizza base with pizza sauce. Top with cooked mince and sprinkle with ½ cup of grated tasty cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes, and then top with sour cream and avocado before serving.…

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