June 28th, 2017

Instant Pot Review (and a Recipe!)

With the introduction of the Instant Pot to my kitchen, making meals for my family has gotten so much quicker and more efficient! I’d been hearing about the Instant Pot and its miraculous time-saving ways, and there is no better time to try one of these fantastic tools out than the summer. Not only does this amazing cooker save time and energy, but it also helps keep your kitchen cool with its super-efficient insulated cooking system – no more sweating over a steaming pot on the stovetop or turning your kitchen into a sauna by roasting dinner in the oven on a hot day! As an added bonus, less heat lost into the air in your kitchen means less energy needed to cook your meal perfectly, helping to minimize your energy footprint for a greener kitchen.

The Instant Pot’s myriad functions make this multifunctional cooker more than worthy of its counterspace footprint – with pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sautéing, and warming functions, this handy package can replace multiple old, worn-out appliances in your kitchen – even down to your yogurt maker, with pre-calculated programs for cooking soups, meats and stews, beans and chilis, poultry, white rice, multigrain, and porridges, to take the guesswork out of preparing these staple dishes.

While I was skeptical at first that the Instant Pot, with its wide range of uses, would measure up to appliances that focused only on a single utility, I was blown away by how well it performs all its functions. In a head-to-head with my rice cooker, the Instant Pot managed to cook rice perfectly in half the time! I was equally impressed by the ease with which it cooked lentils (only 30 minutes from dry!), soup (tasted like it had been simmering all day after only 45 minutes!), and beef (falling-apart-tender in under an hour!) – all-in-all, this multifunction miracle won me over quickly and completely.

London Drugs carries two models of the Instant Pot – the IP-DUO60 V2 and the IP-DUO80, and I’ve tested them both to help you choose which model is the best fit for your kitchen. The two models are almost identical except for their size, boasting the same great rundown of features – multicooker capability, easy steam-release valve, automatic stay-warm function, heavy-duty stainless steel inner pot, included steam/roasting rack and utensils, detachable power cord for easy storage, and more.

The primary difference is in the size, with the DUO60 having a 6-quart (roughly 5.7-litre) maximum capacity, and the DUO80 holding up to 8 quarts (approximately 7.6 litres). This difference adds up to roughly two inches of difference in diameter and another two inches in height, which sounds minimal, but when seen side-by-side, the DUO80 is a very clearly a much larger appliance (it consequently also takes slightly longer to come to temp or full pressure). If you’re cooking for a large family or like to make large batches of meals to freeze, I would definitely recommend the DUO80 for its extra capacity, but if your kitchen space is limited and you don’t need to feed crowds, the DUO60 is the way to go. If you’re not sure which model will work best in your kitchen, I definitely recommend looking at the product at your local London Drugs – as the Instant Pots are packaged very efficiently, just looking at the box gives you a fairly accurate idea of how much space it will take up in your kitchen.

All in all, using the Instant Pot has been an absolute pleasure, and I expect I’ll be using it many times a week long into the future. If you’re looking to invest in a new cooking appliance or replacing an old one that’s seen better days, I can’t recommend this product highly enough!

Korean-Fusion Style Burritos, makes 6-10 servings. Recipe time: 1 hour (not including burrito assembly)

Ingredients for kalbi-inspired shredded beef:

  • 1-2 kg large chunks of braising or stewing beef (2 kg will fit in the DUO80, but may not fit in the DUO60)
  • ½ cup rice wine
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 Asian pear, grated
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ large white or sweet onion, grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped

Ingredients for burritos:

  • 6-10 large burrito-sized tortillas
  • 3-5 cups prepared white or brown rice (approx. ½ cup or more prepared rice per burrito)
  • 1-2 cups seasoned rice vinegar (or plain rice vinegar with 2 tablespoons each of sugar and salt whisked in, per ½ cup vinegar)
  • Chopped kimchi (approx. ½ cup or more per burrito, to taste)
  • Chopped raw cabbage or other greens
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped green onions
  • Sriracha (optional)

Mix all ingredients so that the meat is well-coated (this may be done inside the Instant Pot to minimize dirty dishes).

Place the beef in the Instant Pot, and pour in remaining mixture on top. Close Instant Pot lid firmly, and select the Meat/Stew function with the High Pressure option for 50 minutes.

While the meat cooks, cook your rice in a second Instant Pot, rice cooker, or on the stove (you can also wait until the meat is done and cook it in the Instant Pot your beef is currently cooking in, though you’ll have to wash the pot in between – if you do this, recipe will take an additional 20 minutes, approximately). When rice is cooked, allow to cool slightly, and sprinkle with ½ cup seasoned rice vinegar per cup of prepared rice before mixing gently to distribute the vinegar evenly.

Chop kimchi, raw cabbage or other greens, cilantro, and green onions.

When the Instant Pot is finished cooking, remove the beef to a clean bowl. Meat should fall apart easily – shred it using two forks before serving.

Allow each diner to assemble their burrito to their own tastes.

(The liquid left in your Instant Pot will be highly flavourful, and can be used as a great beef soup base after straining out any remaining solids and skimming off the fat.)



March 18th, 2017

5 Ways to Brew Amazing Coffee at Home

 

These days, coffee is about more than taking breaks or boosting energy. Increasingly, it’s considered a complete experience unto itself. There are even gourmet coffee tastings  – called “cuppings.”

No surprise, then, that we’ve become determined to brew the best cups possible at home. Partly, that means trying new brewing methods. Which is best? That depends on your needs and tastes.

Our beginner’s guide to at-home coffee brewing:

READ MORE



January 27th, 2017

Child-Proofing Your Furniture 101

This year, London Drugs hopes to help our young (and young at heart) readers in their quest to “adult.” We know, the struggle is real.  A big part of adulting for many is welcoming their first child into the world–and, more practically, into their home. 

The truth is, there are many dangers to consider: everything from stairs and electrical outlets to household chemicals and even certain family pets.

But, did you know that your furniture and appliances represent some of the biggest threats to children’s safety in your home? The problems with furniture and appliances arise mainly if they’re tippy or pointy, or if dangerous objects are accessible inside or on top.

In early 2017, a video of a Utah family went viral after the family’s twin toddlers tipped over a large dresser, and were caught on a home security camera. One brother was trapped beneath it while the other worked valiantly (and successfully) to free him. Thank goodness!

Still, we can all agree it would have been much better if the dresser had not fallen to begin with. Hence, prevention. And luckily, child-proofing your furniture doesn’t have to be a monumental task. If done right, you can also design a home that’s both kid-friendly and stylish. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Re-Design From The Ground Up

Reorganization is the first step to baby-proofing your furniture. Consider the needs of your adorable new roommate–from his or her perspective. Start by getting on your hands and knees and actually crawling around to see your living room through new eyes.

One of the first things you may notice is how cold and uncomfortable it is to crawl on hard surfaces. For this, consider getting a large rug or carpet, especially for the living room. [SPOILER ALERT: This suggestion won’t just benefit the baby. You’ll also be doing a lot more crawling around.]

Next, look for any sharp furniture edges you could bump your head on. Whenever you find one, often on a coffee table or side table, ask yourself if you can live without that object. After all, the best way to invalidate a threat is to physically remove it. If you can’t or don’t want to do without it, consider where in the room that object poses the least risk. Perhaps on the far side of a couch or in a low traffic area?

Think, too, of course about how you can make it safer. One clear option is covering sharp corners with protective foam or made-for-kids corner guards. In general, in the future, look for furniture with soft, rounded edges, such as a padded ottoman instead of a traditional coffee table.

The last thing to do from floor level is to test which furniture surfaces little arms might reach. Consider the consequences of grabbing or pulling on what is in reach–think: heavy statues, glass vases–and find a new (preferably higher and harder to reach) home for those objects. It will take some time for your little one to understand that not everything is a toy.

On the subject of toys, do also prepare an easy-to-access shelf, case, or chest where all your child’s toys will belong. This simple timeworn trick will help keep your house tidy, and will give them access to safe entertainment–with luck, minimizing their desire to seek out more dangerous entertainment, like climbing on your furniture.

Step 2: Anchor & Secure All Heavy Furniture

Now that your furniture is safely positioned and cleared of potentially dangerous items, you can secure it in place.

Any large piece of furniture that could potentially be tipped over should be anchored or tethered to the wall. You can accomplish this using clips designed just for this purpose, or with standard items purchased from any hardware store. Whatever you do, make sure it’s done right.

Of course, tipping isn’t the only hazard. Drawers can often fall out if pulled past their limit and swinging cabinet doors have their own risks, like pinched fingers. To make your furniture baby-proof, consider latching each drawer and door.

Step 3: Don’t Forget the TV

This may seem obvious, but a free-standing, flat screen television can be the cause of a home injury to toddlers. In fact, 70% of all TV tipping incidents in Canada involve a child under four years old.

To protect your child, place your set high enough off the ground so that it’s out of reach, anchor the television to the wall, or purchase and install a wall mounted bracket system.

Taking these steps should give you a good start to child-proofing your home. Ask an LD Expert for help in choosing the right options for you, and to discuss any home and life insurance updates.

Talk to one of our insurance experts any time in-store or visit them online today. Best to your family!



August 21st, 2016

The Ultimate 2016 Student Gadgets Guide

Attention College Students: it’s time to think again about #dormlife. Whether you’re entering your first year or you’re a vet of shower flip-flops and common room chill-outs, this guide is for you. (Yes, you should still check it out if you’re “living large” off campus.)

London Drugs College Gadget Guide

You’ll need survival basics and school supplies, of course. And London Drugs also has you covered for student tablets and study session laptops.

But then there’s the fun stuff. Those small, supposedly optional, but massively life-saving protectors of your comfort and happiness.

That’s right: student gadgets. Here are some to consider scooping up for 2016. READ MORE



September 21st, 2015

5 Easy Slow Cooker Recipes That Will Set You Daydreaming

brownies

They say everything old is new again—and so perhaps it’s unsurprising that just like macramé, fringe and jumpsuits, slow cookers have made a huge comeback.  But this is not your grandmother’s Crock-Pot; today’s slow cookers are smart, being WiFi enabled and remote controllable from your phone or tablet.

And it’s not just the tech that’s superior: so are the meals.  Long gone are the recipes for mushy meats, bland beans and overdone veggies from yesteryear.  Instead, celebrity chefs and foodies alike have developed ways to sex up slow-cooked suppers.

Here are five easy recipes guaranteed to keep your pot hot, and your belly happy.

[Related: 6 brilliant slow cooker recipes for busy mornings]

* * *

Really Easy Ramen: Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup

Long an Asian staple, ramen recently conquered the dining tables of the Western world. Become your neighbourhood’s Ivan Orkin (the Tokyo Ramen genius!) to make a delicious home cooked bowl on the double.

In fact, this is one of the most shared Ramen noodle recipes on Pinterest for a reason…it’s AMAZING. And you’ll have plenty left over for later.

Pro tip: If you can swing it…don’t skip the curry roasted acorn squash! That savoury sweet topper puts this soup over the edge.

* * *

Low To No Prep: Black Bean Enchiladas

To be fair, not all slow cooker recipes are created equal: some require just too much advance prep for folks in a rush. Thankfully, it’s not that hard to find recipes like this one, involving low-to-no prep.

And unless its super warm in your kitchen, you won’t even break a sweat from chopping the onions and peppers for these bean enchiladas… and then you just toss the veggies and roll ‘em up in some tortillas. Heck, they don’t even have to be rolled that well because the entire mess is covered in mmmmm-elted cheese (make sure to get the pre-grated kind.)

A de-lish dish, to be sure.

* * *

Versatile Veggies: Quinoa-Stuffed Red Peppers

Vegetarians were once entirely overlooked in Crock-Pot cookbooks—and for good reason, since tackling vegetables in the slow cooker is a delicate task: too much time means a soggy soup, and not enough can be tough on teeth. Thankfully, sophisticated slow cooker veggie recipes are much easier to find nowadays.

For instance, these stuffed peppers make the perfect Sunday supper. And the stuffing can be done with pretty much any type of grain, bean or cheese you have on hand. Perfect every time.

* * *

Starch-Free Suppers: Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta

Historically, slow cooked meals too often involved heavy starches, like pastas and potatoes. Now, newer recipes bring in hearty alternatives like oats and grains that are easier on the starch—and the waistline. In fact, this recipe for velvety beef goodness dished over polenta melts in your mouth, and the ragu tastes even better on toast for leftovers the next day.

Trust me, this is one you’ll want to try.

* * *

Decadent Desserts: Triple Chocolate Brownies

brownies

Naxon Beaneries (the original name of the slow-cooker) are for more than just cooking dinner. Delicious desserts like cheesecakes, cobblers and crumbles are family favourites you can easily whip up in a slow cooker.  These brownies by Martha Stewart for one, are an essential in the Crock-Pot canon—because really, why stop at a single chocolate brownie when you could triple that?? ‘Nuff said.

With twice as many households using slow cookers than just a generation ago it’s no wonder that today’s time-strapped families rely on them for everyday survival.  If you don’t have one yet, consider the investment… a good slow cooker is worth its weight in gold…er, at least truffles?

[Related: 6 brilliant slow cooker recipes for busy mornings]

Buono appetito!

 



June 25th, 2015

Beat the Summer Heat with Air Conditioners and Fans

Summer is here and that means we are in the midst of living in 25°C weather and above. With the prediction that we are approaching one of the hottest summers yet, it might be time to start thinking about the best ways to beat the summer heat. For those that love to keep their living spaces cool in the summer, consider an air conditioner or fan to keep the summer heat out and the cool temperatures in.

How to pick an air conditioner:AC Chart

When picking the proper air conditioner for your living space, there are a few things to keep in mind. If the room is heavily shaded, it may be best to choose a unit with less capacity than recommended on the chart. However, if the room has a vast majority of sunlight, a unit with more capacity is best. For rooms that have two of more that regularly occupy it, more capacity is required. In addition, air conditioners that will be installed near the corner of a room will need a unit that can send airflow in the right direction.

READ MORE



September 17th, 2014

The Ultimate Culinary Companion

No kitchen is complete without a high performance microwave oven.  Powerful and versatile, Panasonic’s Genius Inverter Microwave Ovens feature Inverter technology, which delivers a continuous wave of energy at the appropriate power level to retain foods’ natural juices, flavour and nutritional content. Featuring a 1.6 cu. ft. oven capacity and a beautiful stainless steel finish, this microwave integrates seamlessly into any kitchen.

The Panasonic NNT795S Microwave Oven  is available at London Drugs.

Curry Chicken Pasta Recipe

Curry_Chicken_Pasta

Wow guests with a dish that fuses elements of cuisines around the world.

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