29 December 2012

Product Test: Philips HR1871 Juicer (30 March 2012)

Juice to your health

Thanks to Andrew Baber from Fleishman-Hillard for giving me the opportunity to product test the Philips HR1871 Juicer. After watching a few videos by the ambassador Jason Vale I was familiar with what it could achieve. Its construction is sturdy and parts are easy to put together and take apart. The power of the juicer had no problems juicing whole carrots and apples that could fit in the large chute. The real test for me was how well it washed up. It's promoted as a quick clean and achievable within a minute but in real world testing I found this not quite achievable and closer to two minutes. The reason being I'm trying to empty the pulp into a small bin so it takes time to be careful and clean. If you have a small sink this doesn't allow you to do as quick a hand wash than having a large sink because you need to be more careful not to splash water all over the place like a dolphin. Having little bench space to put parts out to dry can also be a time and space challenge. The biggest cleaning challenge is the metal filter sieve. Videos will say you can simply rinse easily under water but I never found this effective enough to actually get all the fruit and vegetable pulp out of the holes. I needed to use a cleaning sponge to give it a fairly decent scrub to do a proper job.

Here's a great demonstration video of the juicer in action by Appliances Online. The only downside of the video is that it actually doesn't show it being cleaned after use. A review by Choice gives it 4 out of 5 stars. If you like juicing fruit and vegetables for a healthy drink then this juicer will definitely perform well. Whether you keep using it after time will come down to how much you like washing it up. Even if you can achieve the one minute wash up it's still washing up to be done. I'd love a juicer that can self clean itself after use but perhaps I'm dreaming.

PROS: Easy to use, Powerful, Simple design to take apart and put back together, No need to peel or cut most fruit and vegetables except oranges, Nutrient rich drinks, Tastes good, Healthy end product
CONS: You still need to clean it after use, Spout prone to drips after juicing, Takes up a fair amount of bench space, Makes a fair amount of noise when juicing
MUST TRY: Using it as often as possible for healthy drinks
VERDICT: It's a powerful and easy to use juicer but will still require washing up after use. 
Most fruit and vegetables can be juiced whole, although oranges need to be peeled 

Large chute can handle a lot at one time

Whole apples can be juiced if they fit in the chute

The metal filter is the most time consuming part to clean but relatively easy with a bit of scrubbing with a sponge or brush. I couldn't achieve a proper clean by simply running under water.

Pulp is fairly dry and easy to clean out. Much easier discarding in a large bin than a small one.

At times some bits would get stuck in the central cutter which can be a little tricky to clean out. A toothpick would do the job.

Serving up juice in a wine glass makes it more special

26 December 2012

Isabelle celebrates her 1st Birthday with a Hootabelle cake (15 Dec 2012)

A hoot of a 1st birthday

I think a 1st birthday is more a celebration of the parents surviving one year of bringing up a new born baby and in this case it's my daughter's 1st birthday. You certainly learn a lot about yourself and discover a new level of patience in the first 6 months that you never knew existed. I always feared the sleep deprivation that comes with parenthood but nothing prepared me for the crying of a baby in need of food, change of nappy, being too hot or cold or for some unknown reason that couldn't be deciphered in the middle of the night. I personally couldn't have survived without the amazing support from my beautiful partner Lorraine — super mum to Isabelle. 

For the party my brother kindly offered his humble abode for a gathering of guests and kids in tow. If you're ever planning a 1st birthday at home make sure you try and kid proof the place as much as possible — they will certainly entertain themselves by any means possible. I can now understand why parents have their kids birthday in parks or party venues. No need to then worry about the aftermath cleanup or the possibility of precious items being broken as they run amuck. I'd like to thank all our friends and family for their generous gifts and making it a very special day. Also a very special thanks to Fintan and Chris for organising the fantastic Hootabelle cake from Sweet Stix.

PROS: Adults can have just as much fun as the kids at a 1st birthday
CONS: Best not to have a kids birthday in a confined space — they need room to move and are guaranteed to make a mess when chips fall on the floor
MUST TRY: Finding a suitable venue for Isabelle's 2nd birthday
VERDICT: If you're in need for a special cake then Sweet Stix might be able to help. Also make sure you label the alcoholic punch so parents know not to serve to their kids.
Hootabelle 1st birthday cake created by Sweet Stix — very cool

Kids it's time to look away now

Hootabelle's spongey inners

Hootabelle meets Face/Off

Kids and adults young at heart love chocolate crackles

It's not a 1st birthday without fairy bread

One dip wonder Mexican salsa — tasty and so easy to make

Tasty homemade mini sausage rolls disappeared quickly — thanks Dom

Good old fashion sausage sizzle plus some Madam Char Char salads — they make a might fine potato salad

Great present for the Christmas tree and mummy and daddy's sugar fix

Isabelle is a big fan of Giggle and Hoot

Pink and purple balloons from Balloon Saloon

We always seem to end up with more alcohol than we started with

Thank you for all the generous gifts for Isabelle

OK Isabelle, you can now touch your toys now that daddy has taken a photo of them

24 December 2012

Pre-Christmas midnight shopping at Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont (24 Dec 2012)

Bank Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009

Seafood lovers Christmas

If you love your seafood then you'll certainly love visiting the Sydney Fish Market. I certainly do and over the last few years its become a family tradition to shop for the Christmas lunch during the 36 hour non-stop trading marathon. The first time I went at midnight I was surprised to find it was as busy as a normal weekend crowd and things haven't changed. The benefit of going in the middle of the night is that you'll still find free parking outside around Wentworth Park and there isn't as much traffic on the roads compared to the daytime. Oysters and prawns are always on the shopping list with sometimes lobster, mussels and Alaskan king crab. I usually buy my oysters from Nicholas Seafood Traders which is the first shop you pass opposite Blackwattle Deli. They supply the black plastic trays with your purchase which is handy for transporting the oysters safely. This year I noticed Doyle's at the Fish Market were shucking oysters to order and also supplying the black tray so thought I'd give them a go. They were more expensive at $18/dozen but at least I knew they were just shucked so they would be as fresh as possible for Christmas lunch. One year I need to learn how to shuck the oysters myself so they are super fresh on Christmas Day. I usually buy my prawns from Nicholas Seafood Traders as well. Their Gold Coast Tiger Prawns always look so super fresh.

PROS: Extensive variety of seafood from many different shops, Late night pre-Christmas trading, Large selection of oysters
CONS: Always crowded, Traffic can be busy during peak times, Limited free street parking close by, Seafood isn't cheap
MUST TRY: Learning how to store and shuck oysters
VERDICT: The Sydney Fish Market is a one stop market for fresh seafood
Sydney Rock Oysters from Port Stephens ($18/dozen) shucked to order at Doyle's

Looks like the same oyster opening system they use at The Morrison

Jumbo Cooked Black Tiger Prawns ($31.99/kg) — I'll have 25 please

These scampi looked very good — maybe next time

Plenty of lobster to choose from

Waterside Fruit Connection is a pretty good for fresh fruit and vegetables

Midnight dining for seafood lovers

Big delivery of fresh seafood arrives

Paid parking available onsite but gets full quickly

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