A while back I did a blog post on umami – the so-called fifth food taste. Serious cooks these days have a good idea about what umami is, but not everyone has a grasp of the concept. In fact, it has only been a few years since I have understood what the ambiguous ‘fifth taste’ was.
If you want to know more, you can search the internet or read my previous post, but in a nutshell, umami is the taste-feeling we get when our body’s taste receptors detect L-glutamates. Glutamates are the salts from glutamic acid, which is one of the 20 amino acids. These glutamates are present in many foods such as milk, bacon, mushrooms, cheese and other protein-rich foods. Think about that juicy cheese burger or pepperoni pizza. It isn’t sour, salty, bitter, or sweet – it’s umami, which is a Japanese term for ‘good taste’. In English we often refer to it as savoriness.
Anyhow, I was reading in EveryDay with Rachael Ray that mothers’ milk is spiked with glutamates, which piqued my interest. A quick search of the internet revealed several pieces written on the subject, and according to this Guardian article, mother’s milk has 10 times more glutamates than cow’s milk. So for many of us, our first taste of umami came during those first days of life – even though we didn’t learn about it until much later in life.
The biological idea is that our perception of umami is used to guide us to foods that optimize nutrition, just as sourness steers us away from foods that might make us sick. Of course, cheeseburgers may not be the best vehicle for nutrition, but you can’t argue with the goodness of mother’s milk.
I have owned one of these Stokke Tripp Trapp highchairs for years and absolutely love it. They are well made, sturdy, and stylish but most of all they are a great product that grows with your kid. My daughter who is 6 years old continues to use it for eating and doing all sorts of activities at the table, and she doesn’t even think of going for a regular dining chair. The Stokke is much more comfortable and keeps her at just the right height for table activities.
The idea is that both the seat and foot planks adjust so that the chair can be made to fit all creatures big and small. The product guidelines say that the chair can be used from 2 years onward or as young as 6 months with the baby attachment. Even adults can sit in it, but I can’t see myself using it as a dining chair any time soon.
Stokke is headquartered in Norway, and the design for this chair has remained virtually the same for almost 40 years. The price is admittedly steep at $260, but out of all the investments I have made for my child, I think this one ranks up there as one of the best. Not only will the cost be spread out over many years, you can also avoid ruining your nice dining room chairs with food stains and other child-related damage.
The chair above is a new limited-edition purple. I have had both green and natural wood colored chairs, but I think this purple has a nice look to it. You can also choose from a variety of seat cushions, which will cost extra, but I’ve never used them. I don’t really they they are necessary and it is just one more thing to get dirty. If you go to the Stokke website, they have a nice ‘customize your Tripp Trapp’ page where you can check out all of the wood colors and cushion designs and see how they look together. It works pretty well.
There are many sellers of this popular chair on Amazon and most offer free shipping, but you may have to search around for the vendors that have the color you want. I only saw one seller with the purple chair.
If the price of the Stokke is out of your range, the Keekaroo highchair has a similar concept, is made in the USA, and will only cost around $140. It also gets very high ratings on Amazon. Regardless, both the Tripp Trapp and Keekaroo are stylish and will avoid those huge plastic eye sores that are so common these days.
Mastrad specializes in innovative silicone kitchenwares, and this year they came out with what could prove to be a useful kitchen gadget. The Apple Steam Cooker is meant to cook any fruit that fits in it really, but pears and apples seem the likely choices. The silicone cooker can be used in a microwave and a traditional oven, and comes in three colors (red, green, and black). Of course it is appropriately shaped like an apple.
According to the product description, the fruit cooks evenly in its own juices and only takes minutes. With that said, there is no place that currently sells this product online in the US, so it is a bit difficult to test out. I’m hoping that vendors will start to carry it in the coming months. Even in Europe the product is new and hard to find.
I really think this is going to be a fun gadget for the kitchen. Not only would the apple cooker help make tasty, healthy desserts for the kids, but it would also be useful for making cooked fruit for some quick baby food. Just microwave the fruit and then put it through a mini-food processor or chopper.
I’m not sure of the retail price at this point, but on Amazon France, one apple roaster is selling for 12 Euros, so I would imagine the price to be around $15. Also, if they follow the French packaging, they might offer a case containing four apple roasters, a recipe book, and a spoon all together as a special set. That is selling for 42 Euros from online vendors in France.
All in all, this is an intriguing product, and I can’t wait to try it out.
I love the look of this drying rack from Boon. The square of faux grass is elegant, yet whimsical and the good design comes without sacrificing functionality.
The rack is a good size for drying bottles but not too big that it can’t be stored after use. Also, the bottom tray is enclosed, meaning it’s portable. Dish racks that drain have to sit next to a sink, but this one can be moved around because the water won’t leak out.
But what I like most about this product is that the blades of grass allow any size of bottle and all the tiny bottle pieces to be dried in an upright position. Ordinary drying racks usually don’t have prongs to let bottles dry vertically, and smaller items tend to fall through the cracks. This drying rack eliminates a lot of these annoyances.
Lastly, this product is easy to clean. The grass part comes out easily and can conveniently be put into the dishwasher to disinfect it when necessary. That’s a nice feature.
The Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack costs around $16 on Amazon where it gets very good reviews.