Baking Tools For Beginners: The Essentials That Every Baker Needs in Their Kitchen

You need only a few baking utensils to make pastry, bake a cake, bread or muffins, so the initial outlay is low, but benefits are much higher. Baking not only warms the kitchen but also the heart. It’s a known fact that if you are staging your home to sell it, just throw a cinnamon-laced dish in the oven when a possible buyer is coming to see the place.

The spicy aroma is sure to win them over, because they can’t resist that welcoming feel that baking gives a home. Having the right tools is essential to successful baking. With the proper equipment on-hand, you will have better results and be encouraged to bake more often. There are a variety of tools that are indispensable:

Kitchen Aid Mixer
-Cuts down on time.
-Easy to use.
-Leaves your hands free.

Rimmed Baking Sheet
-Also known as a jelly-roll sheet.
-Used to make bar cookies, shortbread, and more.

Wire Rack
-Allows air to circulate around cooling baked goods.
-Look for stainless steel mesh and feet on bottom.

Cake Pans
-Graduated cake pans are used for layer cakes.
-Should be 8 or 9 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep.

Rolling Pin
-Look for a slightly heavy wooden pin.
-A pin without handles offers more control.

Parchment Paper
-Heat resistant, nonstick, and disposable.
-Used to line sheets and pans for easy release.
-Eliminates need for greasing.

Nonstick Baking Mat
-Heat-resistant silicone mat.
-Used to line baking sheets.
-Washable and reusable.

Mixing Bowls
-Typical three-bowl set includes a 1 1/2-quart, 2 1/2-quart, and 4- or 5-quart bowl.
-Look for deep bowls with a flat base for stability and a curled rim for pouring.

Measuring Cups and Spoons
-Measure dry ingredients in graduated metal cups.
-Graduated measuring spoons used for dry or liquid.

Kitchen Timer
-Even if your oven comes with a timer, you need another one on hand to time several things at once.

Whisk
-Look for stainless steel with fine wires.

Rubber Spatula
-Choose silicone so it is heatproof.

Bench Scraper
-Used to loosen dough from work surface, score cookies, and transfer nuts or chocolate into a bowl.

Pastry Brushes
-Come in a variety of sizes.
-Used for buttering pans and applying egg wash.

Pastry Bag and Tips
-Essential for decorating cakes.

It can be daunting to think about all the things you have to buy for the kitchen, but remember: the kitchen is the most used room in the house! While it may be a big hit financially all at once to buy these items, you’ll have to do it sooner or later. Better to make just a few trips to different stores to buy everything you need rather than keep running to the store a few times a week when you realize you need something to cook!

Do You Need Kitchen Appliances, But Are On a Tight Budget? Read Here to Find Out The Appliances You Must Have, and The Ones You Can Forego

There’s an overwhelming number of kitchen appliances on the market place. With that comes the ever-present opportunity to overspend on appliances you probably don’t really need. While there’s no doubt that some can streamline the process of cooking, there are others that don’t necessarily warrant the cost. To help decide what’s worthy of a purchase, we’ve compiled tips that break down the process of choosing and also highlighted some of the best appliances to have in a frugal foodie’s kitchen. To avoid overspending on kitchen appliances, ask these five questions before making the big buy:

What’s the return on value?
The answer to this question is the biggest deciding factor in whether an appliance is worth the purchase. To get worth out of a purchase you want to earn back value that meets and –ideally—exceeds what you spent on the item. There’s a reason that refrigerators are standard in a kitchen. They have a consistent benefit to anyone storing perishables. Since that applies to most people, they have a high return on value.

Slow cooker
What makes it so cost effective: It’s not so much the slow cooker itself that’s valuable, it’s value lies in the time that it frees up for a busy cook. While cost effective ingredients (like beans and end cut meats) simmer in the crock pot, you’re free to go about focusing on other tasks in your life.

How frequently will you use the item?
You could own an electric ice cream maker that churns out the best ice cream that you’ve ever had but if you only use it a handful of times during the summer then it might never reach it’s return on value. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to buy an appliance that will be used infrequently. Another way to look at the impact of buying something that won’t be regularly utilized is to break down the cost per use.

Microwave
What makes it more frequently used than other appliances: It speeds up the cooking and reheating process. This efficiency alone is useful in most kitchens. And while it’s not necessarily going to churn out a gourmet feast on its own, it did revolutionize the way that we utilize our cooking time.

Can you make do without it?
This is the best question to help you distinguish if an appliance supports your needs or your wants. Many kitchen tasks can be completed without an appliance but we’ve come to rely on the convenience of having something perform an action for us. What kind of hard-line you draw between needing and wanting an appliance comes down to your preferences, but

Countertop blender
What makes it so useful: Even the best of knife skills won’t break down ice the way that blender blades can. Beyond smoothies, blenders also combine ingredients efficiently and quickly and is a smart addition for mixing and blending needs. A good blender can blend ingredients into pesto, hummus, peanut butter etc. and does so in a way that chopping and grinding by hand won’t achieve.

Will Having to Clean the Appliance Deter You from Using It?
The number one example of a difficult to clean appliance is the food processor. While a valuable appliance in some people’s kitchens, the amount of work spent disassembling and cleaning the blades can deter others. Think about the time from beginning to end, and whether you find the timeline reasonable.

The fussier an appliance, the less likely you are to take full advantage of it on a regular basis. When choosing something, keep ease of use in mind.

Hand mixer
What makes it the best easy to clean appliance: For an avid baker, there’s the coveted (and pricey) Kitchenaid stand-up mixer but most baking needs can be met quickly with a hand mixer. The best part about clean up with this appliance is that once you pop out the metal beaters, they’re as easy to clean as a piece of silverware. It’s a huge advantage when the “messy” part of an appliance detaches itself.

Some appliances fall into the “specialty appliance” category. Though fun, they’re not generally considered necessary. You can file things like a quesadilla maker and a breakfast sandwich maker here. So before buying any appliance, take the time to understand if you’re just being dazzled the packaging, the marketing or just the general idea of it.

Consider alternatives to buying brand new appliances

Share appliances or borrow from a neighbor or friend. Sharing appliances is a completely feasible thing for certain appliances. Obviously ones that have been installed into your kitchen can’t be moved, but other small appliances can be shared among friends and family.

Buy used: Buying used is a great option if you’re eyeing a pricy appliance but want to save money. Two stipulations to this suggestion, though: check for quality and don’t discount the above questions. If you really want to see what kinds of things have a low return on value or at the very least seem to be more expendable, visit the appliance section of your local Goodwill or second hand store.

Take your personal needs into account: If you buy a refrigerator but store nothing in it, your lifestyle will not benefit from the purchase. This goes for any appliance. Even though a slow cooker can be an excellent tool to turn low-cost ingredients into a meal, if it will remain in your cupboard then it doesn’t make sense to buy one.

Ready to Install a Sound System In Your New Home? Read This Article to Find Out Everything You Need to Know Regarding Home Theater System Planning

A home theater system is an exciting entertainment option that provides you with an immersive viewing and listening experience. Your home theater system can be something as simple as 32-inch LCD TV and a home-theater-in-a-box system, or a sophisticated custom-built system with a video projector and in-wall speakers. However, there are lots of other things to consider when debating about buying surround sound. Read on to find out!

The Room
The first place to start is the room you intend to place your home theater system in. The size of the room will determine the size and type of video display device (TV or projector) that would be best to use. However, whether your room is large or small, additional questions to consider include:

Is the room carpeted or not carpeted? This will affect how sound, especially bass, is distributed throughout the listening area. Hard floors will be more reflective, which can result in unwanted sound echoes and uneven bass, while carpeted floors will help in the absorption of unwanted audio artifacts. What type of wall construction do you have? Wall construction can contribute to the acoustic properties of the room.

Will you be placing your home theater system components in free space, or will you be housing your components in a cabinet or closet and installing your speakers in the wall or ceiling? Depending on how you want the room to look will determine where and how you place your components. Also, whether ceiling or in-wall speakers (and speaker placement in general) are best depends on what surround sound formats you will be most commonly using. Where will you be sitting in relation to the screen image? This will determine the optimal screen size for the best visual experience.

The Video Display Device:
This is the first actual component to consider for your home theater system. After all, the idea of home theater is to bring the movie theater experience home. The most important element of this experience is the visual experience of viewing a large image on a screen. This is where you have a choice of a flat-panel LCD, OLED TV. Also, you have a choice of TVs that can display 720p, 1080p, or 4K Ultra HD resolution images.

A Video Projector/Screen Combination.
The actual size of the room will help determine the size of the screen that can be accommodated. From there, you need to decide what type of video display device would be most appropriate. You also have the option of incorporating 3D viewing into your home theater system. However, you will need a 3D-enabled TV or video projector and other supporting components to do this. For more details, read my Guide to Watching 3D at Home. If you’re using a 4k video projector, get more details about how those work.

The next essential element of the movie theater experience is sound. The way this is implemented in a home theater system is either a home theater receiver or Preamplifier/Amplifier combination. However, in many higher-end home theater system installations, the functions of a Receiver are often provided by separate components: Preamp/Processor, Tuner, and either a single multi-channel power amplifier or even separate amplifiers for each channel.

Loudspeakers
The next components to consider for your home theater system are the loudspeakers. Just as the size and type of room dictate the type of video display device you need, the same factors also affect the speakers you need for your home theater.

Before you buy, listen to several types of speakers and setups. Consider buying the same brand and related model speakers for your home theater. This will ensure that you will have a better acoustical match between both the speakers and the room.

Reasons You Need an Alarm System That You Hadn’t Considered Yet. Find Out Here The Additional Benefits of a Security Alarm System

There are so many reasons that getting a security alarm system is a good idea…and not just because it provides peace of mind. Read on to find out some of the perks of an alarm system that you might not yet have thought of.

You can get medical assistance if you need it

Medical conditions are a real concern for many homeowners and many home alarm companies offer medical alert pendants or emergency pulls. These types of devices are designed so that individuals can press a button or pull a cord and immediately have emergency services dispatched to their home. Most commonly these types of services are requested by children of elderly parents, family members of sick individuals and those living with loved ones who have special needs. One of the biggest concerns for family members of the elderly is the potential of falling; fortunately, with a medical alert feature, if an elderly person falls at home when they are alone, they can signal the authorities for help immediately. For families of sick or special needs individuals, this service can be used in a similar way, signaling authorities or medical professionals that assistance is needed in the event of seizures or other medical emergencies. This feature is not standard on many home security systems, but is common enough that it can be obtained for a fee.

You can reduce energy consumption

Home automation is a relatively new concept and as such it is not offered by many home security companies yet but is becoming more popular. This service allows users to access and control the lighting, thermostat and, in some cases, small appliances of the home through remote access. Some homeowners utilize this feature to shut down heating and cooling when no one is home and log on to start it an hour or so before heading back to the home so they arrive to a comfortable home. Other home owners use this feature to turn on lighting in the home before they leave their office so they do not have to enter an unlit home. This feature is also beneficial for deterring intruders since it allows homeowners to make it look as though someone is home when they are not.

Additional reasons

Security systems not only protect family and possessions, but they also provide protection for pets. If a fire were to break out when no one but the family pet was home, without a home alarm system that pet would be doomed.

Home security systems allow for homeowners to secure less frequented areas of the home such as the basement and the garage. This makes it more difficult for intruders to take their preferred methods of entry into the home and go unnoticed.

Home security systems mean that homeowners do not have to depend upon neighbors to watch over their home when they are away. There is less chance of human error with alarm systems.

Home alarm systems prevent home intruders from staying too long if they do gain access to the house since there is a higher likelihood of them being scared away when an alarm is sounding loudly. Modern wireless alarm systems are affordable and much easier to set up and maintain than the wired systems of the past.

Having a home alarm system installed actually increases your home value when it comes to selling your home. As an added bonus, it also keeps your home protected throughout the selling process where a number of strangers will be inside your home.