Thursday, April 28, 2016

Swiss Diamond Grill Pan

When I replaced my electric stove - the one that came with this house - with a new stove with a gas cooktop, the second thing I did was buy a cast iron grill pan.

The first thing I did was char some red peppers. But that's besides the point. Having a big grill pan that would fit across two burners was one of the things I really really wanted.

But then the nice folks at Swiss Diamond sent me an 11x17 cast aluminum grill pan with a nonstick coating. It cooks just like the previous grill pan, and possibly better. Nice grill marks.

But the magic - the real magic - is when it comes to cleaning the pan. Trying to get the valleys in the old grill pan clean was no fun at all. Nope. It reminded me of when my mom asked me to dust and wax her intricately-carved furniture. Tedious.

But the Swiss Diamond pan releases the cooked-on stuff really easily. A sponge or scrubbie gets all the stuff out of those valleys. It practically rinses clean. Whoosh.

Who's it for: People who need a big grill pan and have a stove it will work on.

Pros: Soooo easy to clean. Large. Nonstick. Lighter than cast iron.

Cons: Spendy.

Wishes: Some other grill pans have a griddle on the other side. This one doesn't.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Polar Bottle

It's always interesting for me when I find products made by local companies. In this case, the local company is Polar Bottle and the product I got was the Ergo Spectrum Bottle. It comes in a bunch of pretty colors and can be used for either hot or cold drinks. The company claims it keeps drinks fresh twice as long as single-wall bottles.

If you're into personalizing - or if you're the sort who loses pieces of things - you can buy replacement lanyards and caps in different colors.

To drink from the bottle, you turn the cap so the water droplet marks are aligned - it's a sipping cup rather than a straw bottle.

But wait! There's more!

Well, maybe not more about this particular bottle, but Polar Bottle has a bunch of other styles of bottles, including custom designs, if that's what you're looking for.

Who's it for: Thirsty people.

Pros: Pretty colors. Unbreakable. Insulated. Affordable. Lightweight.

Cons: The website doesn't mention if it's dishwasher safe, so I'll assume it's not.

Wishes: I wasn't super-crazy about the lanyard, but it's removeable. Some folks might want one, though. So there ya go.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Are you the carting-food-to-work sort of person? Do your kids take lunch to school? Would you like a food-transportation device that's both a container and a serving vessel?

Well, maybe you'd like PlanetBox.

It's not a box to put your planets in (not even poor downgraded Pluto) but instead it's metal compartmented tray that fits into a cute little carrier. It comes with a couple of metal tins for things that should go into tins, and there are magnets included to decorate the top lid of the tray.

The carrier has a couple of places where you could carry extra things, like a water bottle, extra napkins or wet-wipes or whatever else you need to bring along. And the carrier comes in a whole bunch of colors.

At first glance, I thought the tray looked a little small for an adult lunch, but on closer inspection, it's probably sized pretty well. One compartment would snugly hold a sandwich. Note: I don't buy commercial bread, so I'm not sure how snug. Pretty snug.

And then there are the other compartments. And you could use the front pocket for a thermos with soup or a banana or apple You could tuck in a single-serving pack of chips. And then there are the little containers for cole slaw, dipping sauce ... whatever it is you bring for lunch. And there's spare space in the carrying case, so you could tuck in a magazine or something. An extra bag of chips. Sorry, I'm a little peckish and chips sound sort of good at the moment.

And since space is a little limited, it would be good for portion control. I mean, even if you're eating at home, you could make the sandwich, add a small portion of chips, a few pickles, a salad ... and when lunch time comes, you've got it all ready to go.

It would be cute for kids, too. Just fill it with less stuff, right?

The bags come in different colors, so everyone in the family could have a different one, making it easy to tell who gets the sushi and who gets the turkey sandwich.

Who's it for: Mostly for people who bring lunch to work or school. Could be fun for picnics, too.

Pros: Dishwasher safe tray. Nice tote for carrying.

Cons: The tray might be a tiny bit small for adults with big appetites.

Wishes: A place to store clean and dirty silverware would be nice. And it would be sort of cool if it come with a variety of magnets, so kids could decorate in different ways on different days.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Although I don't normally pack a lunch - hey, I work from home - there are plenty of people who brown-bag it regularly.

This little black bag (called the FreshyBag) is a nice alternative to the basic paper bag. It's insulated and has two separate compartments so you can keep your squishy sandwich away from your heavier items.

When I first got this, I was a little puzzled, though. First, I thought the bottom section was for a freezer pack, but that makes no sense. Why put it under the food, and why put it in a completely insulated space? Duh. It's for your sandwich or whatever else you want to shove in there.

The second thing that momentarily baffled me was that the top section doesn't open from the top. Duh. It opens from the side. That seemed to be an odd, but it makes more sense if you're stacking foods in there. It's easier to see them and to remove just one item than if you open from the top and can only remove the thing from the top of the stack before you get to the next one and the next.

The bag is insulated, and it seems like a decent amount of insulation. I haven't tested it to see how long things stay cold, but it should be as good as any other insulated bag.

But one thing I really like is that it's completely machine washable. That makes so much sense for a bag that you're going to use to carry food. Because food can be messy, leaky, or sticky. So if your barbecue sauce container opens up and it gets all over inside the bag, you just toss the bag in the washer instead of trying to sponge out the goo.

When I first saw this bag, I thought it looked a little small to hold a normal-sized lunch, but it's actually pretty roomy. And since you can separate squishables from other things, you can make better use of the space.

Who's it for: People who carry lunch or other foods to work or elsewhere.

Pros: Nice bag. Sturdy zippers.

Cons: The name Freshy on the side is a little weird. Well, the font is weird. From a distance, I kept reading it as Fleshy.

Wishes: It only comes in black, which is fine with me. But other people might like other colors.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.